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Dec 28, 2013 03:10 AM

Six inch vs 8 inch cook's knives?

I say "cook's knives" advisedly, not chef's knives. All my American friends use 8 inch knives, often awkwardly (which is no shame, for home cooks): almost everyone I know over here (in the UK and France) uses, roughly, a 6 inch knife, though often one so worn down by repeated sharpening that it is impossible to know where it started. I ask because all the good-value knife blocks seem to have only 8 inch knives nowadays and I need a new one: is this just aspirational, or could I learn to love it (for more than chopping parsley, which is all I do with my current 8 inch knife, essential as that is).

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  1. When people post about buying assembled sets of cookware VS buying individual pots, often not from the same brand, the common wisdom is to buy individual pots. I don't see why that advice doesn't apply to knife sets and that includes knife blocks filled with company-selected collections of knives. Recently, at Chef's Resource online, I bought an unfilled 22-slot knife block for my already-purchased Shun knives. (The block is listed as a KAI brand, but if you look closely, the Shun logo is visible on the front.)

    I just did a search at the Chef's Resource web site using the key words "knife block." I got 592 hits. Scanning only as far as hits 61-70, I have spotted an empty knife block for Global knives, another for Zwilling JA Henkels, and two KAI/Shun blocks of different sizes. That's three major we've got covered already. If you continue to scan those 592 hits, I'm sure you'll find a knife block that will work with your brand of knives. Then, finish your shopping by buying any 6" chef's knife that makes you happy.

    1. I use an 8 pretty much all the time but, a 6 for smaller things.

      1. i would only ever buy individual knives, not sets. some people think they need one of everything...some of us prefer to do go by our own path.

        i have a 6" which i use constantly. my hands are smaller than my husband's, and i feel like there is more control. my husband chooses the 8" more commonly than i do. when i need an 8" it's usually for a larger item i'm cutting. not often needed, but when i DO need it, a smaller won't suffice. there is room for both in my kitchen.

        1. In my experience the way the knife is designed and built has a major impact on how quickly I fall in love with it or decide I never need to try it again. For example I'd find an 8" Nogent easier to use than a heavy 6" Wusthof for most chores. I'd suggest you find your brand and style preferences for different tasks before committing to one size or the other. Also an aspect of Japanese knives I find intriguing is the range of shapes. A small Nakiri might be just the ticket for you.

          1. A knife that size is very versatile, though not as efficient as a "standard" size knife. When it comes to chef knives, most will recommend something larger than 8" but a 5" or 6" petty has a home right alongside it. If you like the profile of a french or japanese chef knife, I would look for either a Japanese petty knife or fruit knife. There are other options in the 6" range like nakiris and Chinese cleavers, also.