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Apr 9, 2014 08:56 PM

Looking to buy a new knife

So I was using a $10 knife from walmart that looked a lot like this:

I decided to upgrade and saw that this victorinox knife ( seemed popular and got great reviews, so I bought it.

I'm not a huge fan though. The grooves that the walmart knife has really help with stopping food from sticking to the side of the knife. This really helps to keep what you're slicing together so you can easily turn it and slice it the other way.

Secondly, I find that the shape of the end/point of the cheaper knife leads to fewer accidental pokes of your hand, and I don't really see any reason to need a pointy end like the Victorinox has.

Thirdly, it doesn't seem especially sharp, or keep it's sharpness for especially long.

The only pro I find is the shape and thinness of the knife which makes it feel very nice in your hand and is enjoyable to wield. Is this really the only benefit from paying 4x more for this knife?

I gave my $10 knife away to goodwill already so I'm looking to buy another knife... any thoughts/info/suggestions? I'm thinking I might just go to target and pick out a similar knife to my first one.

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    1. Some of your issues could be solved by a new knife. But several of them would be better addressed by working on your technique in cutting and/or sharpening.

      Your previous knife was a santoku. It features the less pointy tip you mention, and is typically shorter and a bit easier to handle than a chefs knife. Also, Western-made santokus often have the grooves you liked (Japanese-made santokus sometimes do but often don't - though they have other ways to keep sticking to a minimum).

      Your issues:

      --- You don't like pointy tips because of poking yourself with em.---

      There's nothing wrong with buying a santoku (or even a nakiri, which has no point at all) for this reason. However, you would also probably benefit from working on your control while handling a knife, as poking yourself with the point is not a particularly common way to cut yourself while using a knife well. Consider using a pinch grip (or choking forward on the pinch grip you already use) to give you better control while using a knife. Here are a bunch of images:

      -- The victorinox feels dull, doesn't hold an edge long --

      You'll find relatively few knives on the low end of the price scale that really shine in terms of edge retention. Victorinox is nothing special in this regard, but it's certainly not bad for affordable knives either. And in my experience, they sharpen reasonably well. You didn't mention whether or how you sharpen knives. This is a crucial factor that's often far more important than which knives you own. There are a lot of threads on chowhound about sharpening. I could recommend knives that hold an edge for an especially long time or that sharpen especially well, but most are in a higher price range.

      ---The dimples help food stick to the blade less ---

      In most cases, the dimples make a relatively minor difference. It may be enough of a difference to matter to you, but there are other things you can do to help keep food in place and make your cutting more efficient. One thing to try is a draw cut. This is where you put the tip of the knife on the board and pull it through foods (usually vegetables). It minimizes foods sticking to the blade. Here is a video (the draw cut is demonstrated at about 2:25):
      Likewise, with some foods you can use the pointer finger on your off hand to keep the food in place after a cut. Here is a video of that (check out 0:35):
      There are other knives with dimples that work even better and other knives that are shaped in such a way that food sticking is very minimal. Again unfortunately, these are generally more expensive knives.

      -- You like the thinness and ease of cutting the victorinox provides --

      Yeah, this is a lot of the reason they're well regarded as inexpensive knives go. When sharpened up, they cut pretty well. There are some other relatively inexpensive knives that cut well, but just walking into a target/walmart and hoping to buy one that competes is a losing proposition. Given the preferences you've already stated, I'd suggest just buying the victorinox santoku Tanuki Soup linked to above, and then working on your technique and looking into sharpening solutions. If you want an even cheaper blade, it sounds like you might like some of Rada's offerings. They're light, easy to handle, cheap, and sharpen up well (though the edge retention isn't very good).

      2 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        Cowboyardee's post is excellent advice. Sharpening - in particular how and when you sharpen - is just as important as the knife itself. Even a $2,000 honyaki yanagiba will need to be sharpened--the key difference between high end performance knives and $10 knives (aside from grind, materials, profile, etc.) is that they can take a more acute edge and hold that edge much longer. It shouldn't be a surprise that a $40 knife will go dull over time--even a $400 knife will go dull and eventually, after several sharpening sessions, will need to be thinned out again.

        1. re: Cynic2701

          Oh, and here's a picture that shows how a knife thickens after several sharpenings:

      2. You got some really great replies here, especially from cowboyardee, and supported by Cynic.

        I like to reiterate cowboyardee's. Your Walmart knife is probably a Santoku knife. The Victorinox knife in your amazon link is a (Western) Chef's knife. Thus, they are meant to be different.

        If you like the sharp of a Santoku knife, then you can continue to buy it, like the one from tanuki soup.

        I don't think neither Victorinox nor Dexter knives have super great edge retention, but they are not bad within their respective price range.

        How much are you willing to spend? The Tojiro DP Santoku is on sale at $50. Great deal for its quality.