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tam.audio
08-20-2009, 07:10 AM
I've been looking around the internets for an affordable block set of knives to use for cooking as well as steak knives. I currently have some cheap set that is serated and is absolutely terrible. I'm not looking to spend a whole lot of money but want something better than what I currently have.

The other day I was looking at one of these sets (http://int.jahenckels.com/index.php?view=blocksets&subcategory=36); what do you guys think? Other suggestions are welcome. My budget is probably $300 or less.

Thanks

Dennis
08-20-2009, 07:27 AM
Unleash the kitchen knife hounds....

The advice you will soon receive is to NOT purchase a block of knives. For $300, you can get a couple of top notch knives instead of an entire block of knives of which you might use 2 of them regularly. You really only need a chef knife, a paring knife, and if you cut bread up regularly, a bread knife. You can buy a set of steak knives separately. I offer up Victorinox Forschner knives as inexpensive and high quality, and the Japanese knife appreciators (of which I am one) will be along shortly.

ouch
08-20-2009, 07:42 AM
Buying a set of knives is analagous to buying a set of pots and pans. You will find some of the pans so useful that you may need more than one of them- I don't think I could survive with only one 8" or 10" skillet. Other pans may never get washed due to lack of use- the asparagus steamer, fish poacher, and double boiler won't see as much use as a 3qt pot.


A Chinese chef will perform every single task with a cleaver. It's a marvelously useful tool, but, more importantly, it underscores one of the fundamental principles of knife use- get a knife and learn how to use it. It's great to have good tools, but it's far more important to learn how to use (and maintain) them. Better than 90% of your tasks will be performed with a single knife- the chef's knife. This is where the bulk of your money should go. It doesn't matter if you have a drawer full of hollow ground ham slicers, boning knives, or the like if your primary knife isn't good. The first thing to do is to get a good chef's knife. You can get your wood block and steak knives from Ikea or anywhere else.

If you have $300 to spend, you can get great knives, but you also run the risk of spending $300 on a mediocre set. A the lower end, Dexter and Forschner/Victorinox are value packed workhorses. Wusthof and Henckels are tried and true knives that will provide decades of service. But if you really want to get something nice........
http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/
www.korin.com

Whatever research you put into this will be well rewarded.

alexo
08-20-2009, 08:25 AM
+1 with Ouch. I cook almost everyday and prepare a daily salad and all with mostly one knife, a santuco by Mercer that cost me less than $40. It's a Taiwan based company that uses a hard German stinless steel. It holds an edge for an amazingly long time. I can cut a tomato after weeks of use with no problem. The tool I use to maintain the edge and hone it is by Global with the 3 stone wheels. My previous knife was a chef knife by Lamson. A good knife but not as the Mercer.
http://www.mercercutlery.com/

tsmba
08-20-2009, 08:44 AM
I agree 100%! You'll be FAR happier getting individual knives that meet your needs. My fav is a Nenox S1, but there are many less-expensive alternatives. All one *really* needs is a chef's knife/gyoto, a paring/utility knife, and a bread knife. The most important factor is how a knife feels in your hand. As long as you have the goods to maintain a sharp knife(knives) and a safe place to store it, you can do almost everything with 1-2 knives.

I'll second Ouch's recommendation of japanesechefsknives.com. Their service and pricing is excellent. For a flat $7 shipping charge, your order will arrive from Japan in a couple days.

andrewckellogg
08-20-2009, 08:58 AM
Just get a great chef's knife, and a decent paring knife. Live with those for a while then decide what else you need. Half the knives in a block are worthless depending on how you cook.

Jasonian
08-20-2009, 09:07 AM
As much as I loved using a chef's knife, I've discovered that I much prefer a santoku. It's more versatile than a chef's knife, and still does the same tasks just as well.

Spend your money on good quality steel, and on a forged blade. If I had to shop stores, I'd go for Shun. That having been said, you'll probably do fine at japanesechefsknife.com.

Also, I agree with the others. You really only need two or three really good knives to do almost everything, and it's worth shelling out extra for them.

tam.audio
08-20-2009, 09:27 AM
This is the reason B&B is a great place to ask these sorts of questions. Thanks

Jwolf24601
08-20-2009, 09:47 AM
I bought a Shun 7" Santuko and 3.5" paring knife with stainless steel handles

http://www.kershawknives.com/searchresults.php?search_by=category&search_value=23&brand=shun

The only two knives I use anymore.

Crazy Dave
08-20-2009, 09:53 AM
I have a completly different take on it. I say, go down to Sears, Macys, Marshalls, TJ Max, etc. and buy a decent but not high end clearance for $40 to $100. Use them and find out what you like, then buy good ones. When you've bought the good ones, use your that set for backup. You can throw them in the diswasher and they are always ready. They are more than good enough for steak knives. Examples: http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=389866&CategoryID=41032
http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=361896&CategoryID=41032

tam.audio
08-20-2009, 10:03 AM
I have a completly different take on it. I say, go down to Sears, Macys, Marshalls, TJ Max, etc. and buy a decent but not high end clearance for $40 to $100. Use them and find out what you like, then buy good ones. When you've bought the good ones, use your that set for backup. You can throw them in the diswasher and they are always ready. They are more than good enough for steak knives. Examples: http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=389866&CategoryID=41032
http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=361896&CategoryID=41032

I feel like that's a step I can skip considering I have a block set that I am already unhappy with.

Scotto
08-20-2009, 10:10 AM
As much as I loved using a chef's knife, I've discovered that I much prefer a santoku. It's more versatile than a chef's knife, and still does the same tasks just as well.

Spend your money on good quality steel, and on a forged blade. If I had to shop stores, I'd go for Shun. That having been said, you'll probably do fine at japanesechefsknife.com.

Also, I agree with the others. You really only need two or three really good knives to do almost everything, and it's worth shelling out extra for them.

Your razor must have 4 blades.....:closedeye


Sorry, couldn't resist. :001_tongu

danek
08-20-2009, 10:20 AM
I'll throw in my compliments for Kershaw's Shun knives. I replaced an entire Henckles set a few years ago with a santoku and a boning knife (I like the narrow blade and sharp point for precision work). However, I did keep a couple of the Henckles for 'utility'.

One cutting tool that will always remain in my quiver of weapons is a quality set of kitchen shears. I love these things! They are truly a multi-tasking machine. Everything from snipping up dried chilis, to openning today's heavy plastic consumer packaging, to cutting the backbone out of a chicken, these babies are great! Just make sure you get a pair that separate easily for cleaning.

Crazy Dave
08-20-2009, 10:41 AM
I feel like that's a step I can skip considering I have a block set that I am already unhappy with.

Yes but you got a serrated set. You can't tell anything from that.

I am no stranger to good knives. I has a non stainless Sabatier 10", chef 6" chef and cleaver, Sabatier stainless 6" chef. I cant remember the brand of my boning knife, but it is very good and expensive. (I spent a lot of time looking. Most of them, even the expensive ones, suck!) I have been cooking for almost 4 decades and have friends who are professional chefs. I cook French, Chinese, Korean and American. I love great knives, but if you know how to sharpen and wield a knife, you can get comparable as results with a relatively inexpensive Chinese stainless, as long as the stainless steel is good quality. Fit and finish will not be as nice, but you will save a lot of bucks. Of course you can't get any stainless to be a sharp as a great quality high carbon steel non-stainless knife like the Sabatier, but I did not think you were looking for that type of knife. They are great, but they are high maintenance.

http://www.sabatier.us/kitchen-knives_15_au-carbone-vintage_.html

Dave

Jasonian
08-20-2009, 11:05 AM
Your razor must have 4 blades.....:closedeye


Sorry, couldn't resist. :001_tongu

:lol: It has more than that. They're just not all installed at the same time. http://i.pbase.com/o4/98/583898/1/63713939.VPwOC7GO.rimshot.gif

ouch
08-20-2009, 11:23 AM
As much as I loved using a chef's knife, I've discovered that I much prefer a santoku.

I plugged "santoku" into bablefish. It returned "girl's knife".

Mr. Clean
08-20-2009, 11:40 AM
French Chef's knife and paring knife top two users for certain, but I wouldn't discount the carving knife. It gets pulled out regularly to deal with a roaster, and not to mention the turkeys and hams that bow to its serrated blade. :smile:

knlgskr
08-20-2009, 11:47 AM
Excellent thread & advice. You needa Santoku or Chef's knife, paring, and shears with perhaps a boning knife if you break down large cuts of meat. I am constantly surprised at the quality of today's knives; what is taken for granted today was at one time wishful thinking.

Things of quality, utility, beauty are joys forever.

danek
08-20-2009, 12:29 PM
I plugged "santoku" into bablefish. It returned "girl's knife".

Is that a litteral translation?!? DAMN, I've been using a girl's knife?:ohmy:

Actually, I don't think I'd buy the santoku shape again. Coming from a chef's style a couple of years ago, I think I prefer that shape. The sharper point seems to provide a little more precision for me.

Emmett
08-20-2009, 12:35 PM
One cutting tool that will always remain in my quiver of weapons is a quality set of kitchen shears. I love these things! They are truly a multi-tasking machine. Everything from snipping up dried chilis, to openning today's heavy plastic consumer packaging, to cutting the backbone out of a chicken, these babies are great! Just make sure you get a pair that separate easily for cleaning.

This x1000

ouch
08-20-2009, 01:27 PM
Is that a litteral translation?!? DAMN, I've been using a girl's knife?:ohmy:

Actually, I don't think I'd buy the santoku shape again. Coming from a chef's style a couple of years ago, I think I prefer that shape. The sharper point seems to provide a little more precision for me.

Some of the resentment towards the santoku stems from the shameless plugging at the hands of the Rachael Ray's of the world. It's a pretty good vegetable knife, but the lack of belly (and length) makes ita poor substitute for a chef's knife. It's sort of a mini cleaver, and the shape was derived from the ancient kamagata usuba, shown below.

Jasonian
08-20-2009, 01:55 PM
I plugged "santoku" into bablefish. It returned "girl's knife".

Then stick a bow on me and call me princess, because I'm sticking with my santoku.

danek
08-20-2009, 02:25 PM
This is my main knife, but like I said, the next one I buy is going to be a chef's shape.

Topgumby
08-20-2009, 11:47 PM
A set doesn't have to be a bad way to go or a waste of money.

I had an old US made Chicago Cutlery set for years, and it was OK but the wooden handles started to show signs of age and abuse...my wife thinks the world should go in the dishwasher...:mad:

After poking around the looking for some knives that wouldn't kill the family budget I settled on an 8 piece set from Forschner with the Fibrox handles (http://www.swissarmy.com/Forschner/Pages/Product.aspx?category=forschnergourmetsets&product=48891&) , based on a lot of positive reviews. I'd tried some forged knives and liked them, and was hesitant to go stamped but the Forschner name kept turning up as a being a great value.

Having lived with them for a year, I can say they are marked improvement on what I had before. As others have pointed out, there are some knives that get used more than others, but the knives are well chosen for most kitchens, I think.

The 8" chef is the workhorse, and if I could only have one it would be this knife. The 10" slicer rarely gets used. The 4" rabbit (paring) knife is a daily performer, the 6" boning knife is nice to have as is the 8" bread knife. The kitchen shears get heavy use. I use the 10" steel as needed.

In short, for $100 I got a lot of bang for the buck and only one "clunker" knife, the slicer, and even it gets used a few times a year when I'm doing a turkey or roast, or for slicing up beef ribs. I added a Montana Knife Works 8" Santoku (a "what the Hell, it's cheap" purchase at a CostCo sale) that gets used when the wife is hogging the Chef's knife when we are both doing prep and a 3" Forschner flexible paring knife the wife wanted.

I don't think this kit will make anybody who has topflight custom or forged knives drop what they have, but several guests who have tried them have been favorably impressed, and my wife now takes the knives she'll need with her if she'll be working out of our kitchen rather than chance having to make do with something else.

dpm802
08-21-2009, 12:48 AM
I offer up Victorinox Forschner knives as inexpensive and high quality

+1 on these knives ... they get excellent reviews from home cooks and pros alike. I've been wanting a set for years. I can order them from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Victorinox+Forshner&x=13&y=22), except I wanted to see 'em in person before I bought them online. But I can't find them in any BnM stores.

You can get 9 Victorinox knives (i.e. Chef+Utility+Paring (http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Cutlery-3-Piece-Fibrox-Handles/dp/B0000CF99O/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1250836701&sr=8-3), 6 Steaks (http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Cutlery-6-Piece-Steak-Knife/dp/B0009NZ6JS/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1250836796&sr=8-17)) for around $100.

wimbouman
08-21-2009, 02:51 AM
I think a Gyuto (http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/gyuto.htm)is a nice all round knife.

I use this beauty together with a chef's knife and an office knife:

http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/kurouchi.jpg

holiday
08-21-2009, 04:07 AM
If you decide to spend a whack on quality japanese/german knives, you need to be able to hone them properly on stones, otherwise once they start to dull they will be pretty redundant & no better than a cheap knife. This is a worthwhile skill to learn(if you can't already). I always recommend the victorinox knives to home cooks, I think they are excellent value & get the job done. I still use one thats about 10 years old for heavier tasks when I'm worried about damaging my more expensive knives. Like splitting lobsters for example. The blade on the Victorinox is still in great condition & takes a good edge, its more than sharp enough for general use. May I also recommend MAC knives, they have an inexpensive line called superior, I use the 8'' utility knife over any of my other knives daily.

blantyre
08-21-2009, 05:00 AM
I would start out with a qualty chef's knife (8-10"). a serrated edge, and a parer from a quality mfg like Sabatier, Wusthof... and a steel to keep them sharp. Hand wash the knives only. Add more knives as needed.

johnniegold
08-21-2009, 06:09 AM
I know nothing about knives but I recently bought some Cutco knives. A colleague of mine told me his son was home from college for the summer and was working for Cutco selling knives and asked me if he could set up an appointment with me at my home.

His son appeared at the appointed hour, did a very nice presentation of Cutco's wares and I purchased several items. They seem to be very nice and I am happy with them.

Not up to Jay's standard but they can cut through a loaf of Italian bread like nobody's business. :wink: :biggrin:

ouch
08-21-2009, 06:21 AM
I think a Gyuto (http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/gyuto.htm)is a nice all round knife.

I use this beauty together with a chef's knife and an office knife:

http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/kurouchi.jpg

That's not a gyuto. That's a wa-gyuto.

joto
08-21-2009, 06:47 AM
I have a couple of the Forschner stamped kitchen knives, and find them just OK. Whatever steel they use, I have found it doesn't hold an edge as well as I would like. Granted, the kitchen is a tough environment for a knife, but I feel it should be better anyway- after using them a few times the edge has significantly degraded, and no, using a steel doesn't help. Back to the Spyderco Sharpmaker they go. If it won't shave arm hair, it's dangerous in the kitchen by my standards- slipping all over vegetables. That said, they were much cheaper than higher-end stuff, and appear to be otherwise holding up well after several years of use. No chipping on the edge, handles are still tight, etc. I suppose you get what you pay for, and these are probably the upper tier of the lower end. Whatever you do, DON'T buy those crappy 'Chef Tony' infomercial brands. A relative got them for us and they were GREAT... for about six months, at which point they began to literally fall apart during use- a couple of blades broke! The others had the serrations bending and breaking off over time, something a real knife would NEVER do. Any knife that claims it 'never' has to be sharpened... I would never buy.

I remember reading an article somewhere that a lot of kitchen knives, even some high end ones, have softer steel in them to appeal to a wider variety of consumers- easier to sharpen and stainless to stay pretty. I can't speak to which brands, only that after using mine and several relatives brands, I would say there might be something to that. Anyone know of brands/ steel styles/ that hold their edges better?

mainaman
08-21-2009, 06:50 AM
You need to research Japanese knives, everything that is not made in Japan or some custom makers (very expensive) is 99% junk.
A nice place to look for block sets
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tojiro8pcset.html

this is actually one of the really good basic brands to use.

mainaman
08-21-2009, 06:51 AM
That's not a gyuto. That's a wa-gyuto.
meh nitpicking here.. the difference is the handle style and a presence a bolster on most western handled guytos.

elosamurai
08-21-2009, 07:13 AM
All of these suggestions on japanese knives are right on but I must say that 300 dollar budget gets tossed out the window with just one knife...

Block sets are made up to give the most value..On some of those Henkels sets you can purchase a block set with just a few more bux than the chef knife alone..
I bought these http://www.target.com/metal-end-cap-Henckels-logo/dp/B001PQOB3A/ref=br_1_2?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&searchView=grid5&searchNodeID=13017071&node=13017071&searchRank=salesrank&searchPage=2&searchSize=30&id=metal%20end%20cap%20Henckels%20logo

The chef knife alone goes for 100 bux.. And these are forged knives not stamped metal, entry level pro's...
And best of all I went to Target to find them as there not sold online.. Well the very last set was complete but with a torn up box... I asked for another and was told it was the last, but they offered it to me at open box/damaged price...
Well for 119.99 I couldn't say no.....
They're fantastic...Well worth the money.. you can always do better but there is a point of diminishing returns on knives..If I made a living as a chef Id have the thousand dollar beautys but since all I need to do is occasionally carve up a carcass these will do more than well enough...
Of coarse youll have to determine what floats your boat....
Regards
elo

Dennis
08-21-2009, 07:28 AM
All of these suggestions on japanese knives are right on but I must say that 300 dollar budget gets tossed out the window with just one knife...

The most frequently recommended Japanese gyuto here is the Tojiro DP series which is far less than $300. I bought mine for about $50 a couple years back but I think they have gone up a little since then. I don't think anyone is suggesting that Tam drops $300 on one knife thus the suggestions for a wide range of knives from Japanese to stamped commercial.

tsmba
08-21-2009, 07:36 AM
Cooks' Illustrated offers practical advice on choosing kitchen knives. Opinions abound, but you cannot go wrong with Victorinox, Chicago Cutlery, and Dexter knives if you're economy-minded.
There's a lot of hooplah over the sankuto shape. I finally bought one and found it far less useful then a chef's knife/gyoto. If you aren't familiar with these knives, I'd say to buy an economical one PRIOR to spending more on a top-notch model. Blade length, weight, and style all make a big difference in how a knife *feels*. Ideally, try one out on a range of tasks.

Scotto
08-21-2009, 07:42 AM
A lot of it depends on how much you cook (and of course how much you like it). I would direct the serious home cook to the Japanese suggestions above, but if you are the casual type, cheap Victorinox stamped blades work very well.

For me, my arsenal of Japanese steel gives me no end of pleasure.

Carnivore
08-21-2009, 09:28 AM
A lot of the German and French knives are quite heavy. I prefer the lighter Japanese style Globals. They use a similar alloy as the Shuns, with Chromium, Vanadium, and Molybdenum. This makes a very hard steel that keeps a very sharp edge for a long time.

Here's a picture of my very favorite knife:
http://common.csnstores.com/common/products/BRV/BRV1007_l.jpg

It's about $100, but it's useful for just about anything.

Here's a pretty nice set that I got as a present:
Knife set at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Global-5-Piece-Knife-Storage-Dock/dp/B00006JIUK/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1250868259&sr=8-13)
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41115FM6VVL._SL500_AA280_.jpg
It's going for about $415 now.


As for maintaining them, you should get a ceramic hone like this one:
http://www.cutleryandmore.com/img/1100.jpg

Never use a grooved steel on good knives. They remove material and that's not what you want for daily or weekly honing. All you want to do is straighten the cutting edge.

For twice yearly sharpening, in which you remove material, a Japanese waterstone is great. These synthetic ones will probably last a home user forever:
http://www.cutleryandmore.com/img/6296.jpg

This may seem like a lot, but you really don't need it all at once. My dad and I traded knives and knife accessories as gifts for about 5 years and that was great! The upfront cost is relatively high, but it ends up costing the same or less than set after set of crappy knives over the years.

I have gotten good deals from cutleryandmore.com and Amazon has some pretty fantastic prices sometimes.

mainaman
08-21-2009, 09:31 AM
Cooks' Illustrated offers practical advice on choosing kitchen knives. Opinions abound, but you cannot go wrong with Victorinox, Chicago Cutlery, and Dexter knives if you're economy-minded.
There's a lot of hooplah over the sankuto shape. I finally bought one and found it far less useful then a chef's knife/gyoto. If you aren't familiar with these knives, I'd say to buy an economical one PRIOR to spending more on a top-notch model. Blade length, weight, and style all make a big difference in how a knife *feels*. Ideally, try one out on a range of tasks.
chicago cutlery is one of the worst brands one can buy. I still cant sharpen mine to even be decent. My Japanese knives can shave on the other hand.

Suzuki
08-21-2009, 09:59 AM
A lot of it depends on how much you cook (and of course how much you like it). I would direct the serious home cook to the Japanese suggestions above, but if you are the casual type, cheap Victorinox stamped blades work very well.

For me, my arsenal of Japanese steel gives me no end of pleasure.

Cutting to the chase, this is good advice.

In fact, I have some inexpensive western knives, some moderately priced Japanese knives, and some expensive Porsche knives that I got as a gift (sort of a fusion between western and Japanese knives in terms of construction and geometry).

Properly sharpened and maintained, any of these would be more than adaquate for my needs (and I do a fair bit of cooking).

I also agree that the two knives you should have are a chef's knife (or Japanese gyuto) and a paring knife. I have other knives, but these are the ones that get used regularly. Sets are a complete waste of money.

If you don't do a lot of cooking or just don't want to break the bank, find a shop or online vendor that caters to the food service industry and pick up a Forschner, Henckles or Mundial chef's knife (the last has just been praised in a cooking rag as one of the best knives under $20). These are all stamped knives with molded plastic handles that will run you between $20 or $30. Buy at least an 8" knife as anything smaller is a waste of time since. As stated above, they are certainly not the hardest steel or prettiest knives out there, but they are perfectly fine for the average home cook and represent AMAZING value for the money.

In terms of entry level Japanese knives, the Tojiro DP knives are very good value - Korin also often has sales.

If you want to go top shelf, then the sky's the limit, but in terms of western knives, Sabatier and Wustoff are my favourites (but that's just personal preference and there are many other good makers out there).

In short, if I could start from scratch and had to keep it minimal and on a limited budget, I'd by an inexpensive 10" chef's knife, a Forschner paring knife, a Tojiro DP gyuto, a CCK cleaver (not necessary, but nice for the tough stuff), an inexpensive (i.e., Forschner or Mundial) bread knife. The only other addition I see as necessary is a ceramic steel.

I could get all of these for around $170. If you cut out the cleaver and Japanese knife, you're down to around $100 for a set up that will serve you well for years if properly maintained. The only other additions you might want to consider would be an inexpensive tomato knife and boning knife - which you can get for about $30 for both.

Hope this helps.

tam.audio
08-21-2009, 10:09 AM
I see no one has suggested ceramic knives. Any reason?

danek
08-21-2009, 10:13 AM
While I've never used them, I've never trusted them; they are reportedly very brittle. For example, I use the flat side of the blade to crush garlic, can ceramic do that without breaking? I don't know. Also, no sharpness lasts forever; how can you sharpen something that's harder than you're sharpenning tool?

ouch
08-21-2009, 10:18 AM
I see no one has suggested ceramic knives. Any reason?

They're small, expensive, and brittle.

tsmba
08-21-2009, 12:39 PM
For the past 12+ years, I've used knifemerchant.com for knives, pans, and other kitchen supplies. Its owned and operated by a couple chefs, and they'll help in choosing. Their prices are good, too.

ouch
08-21-2009, 01:18 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that despite the vociferously opinionated replies a thread like this will generate, there is more than one way to skin a cat. If I had never discovered Japanese knives, I would have been perfectly happy using my drawer full of Henckels, which served me well for close to two decades. It was not until I tried the thinner, harder, and sharper gyutos that I had any complaint whatsoever with my German knives. Now they feel like shovels, but not everyone is going to go off the deep end with knives. Find something you like, learn how to use and maintain them, and you'll do just fine.

Topgumby
08-21-2009, 11:14 PM
chicago cutlery is one of the worst brands one can buy. I still cant sharpen mine to even be decent. My Japanese knives can shave on the other hand.

I don't think the Chicago Cutlery of today is what it once was. IIRC, my light research showed current production is in China, and the vintage stuff was made in the USA and pretty state of the art at the time.

wimbouman
08-22-2009, 12:54 AM
That's not a gyuto. That's a wa-gyuto.

Fair enough, but I thought it best to refer to it the same way the maker does, so from Watanabe:

Kuro-uchi Gyuto knife Blade: 180mm
Total length: 320mm Width: 45mm Thickness: taper spine 3.5 - 1.5mm
Limited 10 pieces in every months

Double bevel, Blade: Yasuki blue steel core with stainless outer, Handle: burnt chestnut wood

Fnord5
08-22-2009, 01:15 AM
I see no one has suggested ceramic knives. Any reason?


While I've never used them, I've never trusted them; they are reportedly very brittle. For example, I use the flat side of the blade to crush garlic, can ceramic do that without breaking? I don't know. Also, no sharpness lasts forever; how can you sharpen something that's harder than you're sharpenning tool?

Brittle, yes.
Expensive, yes.
Sharpening needs to be done by the factory (in the case of kyocera, you ship the knife to their facility)
Also rarely mentioned is Ceramic's heat conductivity. Lay a blade on a hot burner, and nearly instantaneously, the handle may start to melt.
Ceramic also does not cut nearly as well as steel, it does stay sharp longer, but the level of sharp is about 6 notches below stainless, and about 20 below carbon steel.



One thing to keep in mind is that despite the vociferously opinionated replies a thread like this will generate, there is more than one way to skin a cat. If I had never discovered Japanese knives, I would have been perfectly happy using my drawer full of Henckels, which served me well for close to two decades. It was not until I tried the thinner, harder, and sharper gyutos that I had any complaint whatsoever with my German knives. Now they feel like shovels, but not everyone is going to go off the deep end with knives. Find something you like, learn how to use and maintain them, and you'll do just fine.

+1
Japanese knives, are superior in nearly all aspects of cutting.
The only thing that they lack, is durability when cleaving bone.
My ideal setup is Global knives for everything, with a Henkles of Wusthof 10" chefs for the brutal chopping work.

ouch
08-22-2009, 08:42 AM
Fair enough, but I thought it best to refer to it the same way the maker does, so from Watanabe:

Kuro-uchi Gyuto knife Blade: 180mm
Total length: 320mm Width: 45mm Thickness: taper spine 3.5 - 1.5mm
Limited 10 pieces in every months

Double bevel, Blade: Yasuki blue steel core with stainless outer, Handle: burnt chestnut wood

I was just kidding.

I should also mention that you've got yourself one helluva blade there.:001_tt1:

rtaylor61
08-23-2009, 12:27 AM
I have an assortment of Dexter knives I've had since 1977 (my high school restaurant cooking days). I also have an inexpensive "block" set of Chicago Cutlery that are "decent" and I use for convenience, but never for "precision" cutting. The best knife you can have is the one that you can sharpen and use effectively.

Randy

Lara Croft
08-23-2009, 07:01 AM
The knives you asked people their opinion on are garbage. If you buy Henckels than you have to at least buy the Zwilling J.A Henckels (the ones with two men on them) made in Germany. The ones with only one guy on it are made in China and you'll be throwing your money in the garbage.

Do yourself a favor and look into Japanese knives. Some people mentioned Shun and Global. Both are great, but they can be costly. If money is no object than I think you'll love those brands.

Otherwise, a few people mentioned Korin (www.korin.com). Look at the western style knives. They have expensive knives and very reasonably priced ones. If you're in NY you should visit their store. They're very helpful and knowledgeable and you can try out the knives. They also have a japanese knife master sharpening knives which is cool to watch. I've gotten some great Japanese knives from them. Definitely worth a look. Once you try Japanese knives you'll stay with them. All professional cooks I know swear by the edge of Japanese knives and I'm an avid cook and I wouldn't use anything else anymore.

I think a knife block is a waste of money. Buy your knives individually that way you really get what you want. I love buying knives the way some people love to buy razors on this forum. I'd recommend a chefs knife, a paring knife, carving knife and a bread knife.

Best value chef's knife:

http://korin.com/Tojiro-DP-Gyutou?sc=7&category=17368

Works as well as my shun but cost me a lot less money.

ouch
08-23-2009, 07:18 AM
Otherwise, a few people mentioned Korin (www.korin.com). Look at the western style knives. They have expensive knives and very reasonably priced ones. If you're in NY you should visit their store. They're very helpful and knowledgeable and you can try out the knives. They also have a japanese knife master sharpening knives which is cool to watch.

He's also an accomplshed master of gangsta rap.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnFH2LKZ4sQ

It's a shame the Tojiros have doubled in price. They're still very good value, but the folks who bought them at the original prices are looking pretty smart now.

mainaman
08-23-2009, 07:57 AM
I don't think the Chicago Cutlery of today is what it once was. IIRC, my light research showed current production is in China, and the vintage stuff was made in the USA and pretty state of the art at the time.

well that is another thing, however stores sell only made in China ones. For the uneducated there is no such thing as once-made-in-USA Chicago Cutlery.
Forshner is a cheap and very good alternative imo.

Fnord5
08-23-2009, 11:53 AM
+1 on getting the real Henkels.
Avoid like the plague Henkels International.
I have a set of pairing knives from them, and they do take a wicked edge.
However the edge deteriorates quickly.

evilEgg
08-24-2009, 08:02 AM
And while we are on the subject of knives, one cannot fail to mention the ying to their yang the cutting board.

If you have a glass or granite one, get rid of it. Plastic or wood are your best options. Cook's Illustrated says bamboo or composite is good too.

My main board is a large end-grain deal that gives me room to work and is nice to my knives. The only real drawback is it's a pain to clean.

ouch
08-24-2009, 08:06 AM
And while we are on the subject of knives, one cannot fail to mention the ying to their yang the cutting board.

If you have a glass or granite one, get rid of it. Plastic or wood are your best options. Cook's Illustrated says bamboo or composite is good too.

My main board is a large end-grain deal that gives me room to work and is nice to my knives. The only real drawback is it's a pain to clean.

Bamboo is pretty hard on knives. A good end grain board is the holy grail to most, but cleaning wood isn't fun.

I find the SaniTuff boards to be a great combination of hygiene, ease of cleaning, knife friendliness, and decades long durability.

Mr. Clean
08-24-2009, 08:29 AM
I know nothing about knives but I recently bought some Cutco knives. A colleague of mine told me his son was home from college for the summer and was working for Cutco selling knives and asked me if he could set up an appointment with me at my home.

His son appeared at the appointed hour, did a very nice presentation of Cutco's wares and I purchased several items. They seem to be very nice and I am happy with them.

Not up to Jay's standard but they can cut through a loaf of Italian bread like nobody's business. :wink: :biggrin:

Congratulations on your purchase, and I'm sure the young man appreciated your business. Cutco doesn't get a lot of love, though I know of no one who owns them and uses them who has anything negative to say. I can tell you for certain they are durable knives and usable knives. I purchased my set from a friend in 1973. Other than a paring knife, which somehow managed to misplace itself after being replaced by Cutco after the tip was broken; all of the set is intact and still looking good. The handle, as you will remember the spiel, is very comfortable and solid even with wet hands. I don't have a leftie to confirm that it is truly an ambidextrous friendly design.

Did you get the Spatula/Spreader? Quite a unique little tool. With the loss of the Paring knive, the Wife's favorite is the Petite Slicer. She thinks she can do anything with that knive. :smile:

You mention the Bread knife. As you say it can deal with the softest of breads w/o "smushing".

I will say that they are not value priced, but base on their longevity, the have turned out to be quite affordable. Is there still a lifetime guarantee?

jtoddaz
08-24-2009, 09:08 AM
+1 on Forschner/Victorinox. All we have, and they ARE workhorses. Not to say I won't buy a Shun someday, but for the money these are the best. We bring them to a guy to sharpen them, and every single time, he admires them and talks about their value. Good luck.

Crazy Dave
08-24-2009, 01:29 PM
Is that a litteral translation?!? DAMN, I've been using a girl's knife?:ohmy:

Actually, I don't think I'd buy the santoku shape again. Coming from a chef's style a couple of years ago, I think I prefer that shape. The sharper point seems to provide a little more precision for me.

I like my Santoku, but it would never take the place of a chef's knife. It is nice for slicing though.

Dave

JohnDoom
08-26-2009, 01:08 AM
+1
Japanese knives, are superior in nearly all aspects of cutting.
The only thing that they lack, is durability when cleaving bone.
My ideal setup is Global knives for everything, with a Henkles of Wusthof 10" chefs for the brutal chopping work.

I seem to only use two knives, my global 10" chefs and 3.5" pairing knife. I cook all the time, but never seem to reach for anything else.

I'll say +1 to global, but like I'm sure a trillion people said already; you have to find knives that FEEL good to you.

tam.audio
08-26-2009, 08:19 AM
Okay, so it looks as though I'll likely purchase a chef's knife all by its lonesome. What do you guys do for storage since there is no block? I'm assuming they come with some sort of blade cover which would allow it to live nicely in a drawer, no?

Dennis
08-26-2009, 09:08 AM
Okay, so it looks as though I'll likely purchase a chef's knife all by its lonesome. What do you guys do for storage since there is no block? I'm assuming they come with some sort of blade cover which would allow it to live nicely in a drawer, no?

I use a magnetic knife rack from here (http://www.benchcrafted.com/).

Crazy Dave
08-26-2009, 09:41 AM
They sell blocks separately. You can also find them in thrift stores.

Dave

mainaman
08-26-2009, 09:44 AM
Some knives come with saya, but they are the more expensive and high end ones. You can also purchase saya separate, from korin for example

Fnord5
08-26-2009, 10:16 AM
This works absolutely amazing if you do not have a block.
You cannot pull the blade out unless you open it.
http://riversedgecutlery.com/images/47303.jpg

Lara Croft
08-26-2009, 03:03 PM
I use a knife sleeve and a knife bag for most of my knives.

tsmba
08-30-2009, 09:00 AM
I use a block, but anything that protects the blade is acceptable.
Has anyone heard of "Cutco" knives? I posted a thread about the Modern Marvels "Sharp Tools" episode the other night:

http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=105445

This brand is mentioned as being "the sharpest kitchen knives", which seemed to be a wild claim. It was interesting to see their testing methods, but I think their definition of "sharpest" is open to debate.

Mr. Clean
08-30-2009, 01:34 PM
...Has anyone heard of "Cutco" knives? ....
See posts #29 and #57 in this thread.

Jasonian
08-31-2009, 07:27 PM
It's nice to know that a quote can be taken out of context and used as a custom user title.

I'll take it.

RazorDingo
08-31-2009, 07:46 PM
I'll confess to more than a little skepticism over some of this Japanese knife talk.

Don't get me wrong: I certainly appreciate the incredible craftsmanship, and indeed almost mythical sharpness that some of these knives possess.

But with that said: Its just a knife.

I've had a set of Wusthof kitchen knives for about fifteen years now. I guess I get them sharpened every year or so. Run them over a steel now and then. I paid about $150 for the set, and I think I've added a couple of "open-stock" items over the years.

I've NEVER felt that my cooking has been compromised, that there was some task I couldn't accomplish, or could have accomplished better with some other sort of knife.

I'm not a Sushi chef. In fact, I pretty much leave the whole "raw fish surgery and preparation" thing to the professionals.

About six months ago, I was cleaning up in my kitchen, with the garbage disposer running - when a Wusthof paring knife slipped out of my hands, and slithered, tip first, down the drain. Clang...

Result: A horribly bent, and effectively ruined paring knife. But not a financial catastrophe: I replaced it for about $20.

ouch
09-01-2009, 07:33 AM
I'll confess to more than a little skepticism over some of this Japanese knife talk.

Don't get me wrong: I certainly appreciate the incredible craftsmanship, and indeed almost mythical sharpness that some of these knives possess.

But with that said: Its just a knife.

You're absolutely correct- it's just a knife. It is, however, a much better knife.

I bought a set of Henckels Four Stars in the mid-80's, and they served me well for a long time. I must have added every knife they sell to the set- santoku, hollow ground ham slicers, you name it. They're tough, well finished, and good looking, just like the Wusthofs. They do, however, have fairly soft steel. That's why you can use a steel on them- soft steel tends to roll at the edge and needs constant realignment. They also don't hold an edge very long.

When I first tried Japanese knives, I was probably far more sceptical than you are. After all, I didn't buy my German knives on the cheap. I thought "how can the Japanese knives be better?" After I tried them, I never used the Henckels again. I have either sold them, given them away, or tucked them into a drawer. On the rare occasion I pick one up, it feels like a shovel.

Now the Japanese knives are certainly more delicate than the French/German/American ones, but that's a small price to pay for the superior performance. They have models especially designed for harder tasks. A western deba makes a German chef's knife seem as substantial as a letter opener. You also need to alter your technique a bit to accomodate the sharper blade- you may find your knife "sticking" to the cutting board. As for sharpening, every knife needs to have that addressed, and most of the guys here already are up to their necks in sharpening stones.

Knives aren't just for sushi. Slice a tomato with a sharp knife, and you just can't go back again.

danek
09-01-2009, 09:48 AM
Yes, it's just a knife. And a Ferrari is just a car, a Kent is just a shaving brush, a President is just a razor; you see where I'm going with this.

It's about enjoying using a high quality tool to accomplish your task. Can you get a shave in 5 minutes with a 50 cent disposible razor and a 3 dollar can of goo? yep. But don't you enjoy (and get a better shave) with your 1957 flair tip, Feather blade, Rooney brush, Trumper's cream, etc...?

I think when you really enjoy a task and the tools you are using, you do a better job; whether it's shaving your face, building a bird house, or cutting up a buch of veggies.

RazorDingo
09-01-2009, 10:25 AM
Yes, it's just a knife. And a Ferrari is just a car, a Kent is just a shaving brush, a President is just a razor; you see where I'm going with this..

I do indeed see where you're going with this. But let us just step back, for a moment, and consider a couple of things:

In considering the purchase of virtually any product, one comes eventually to a point of diminishing returns. At the very high end, in order to achieve an almost miniscule increase in utility, one has to spend geometrically greater amounts of money.

And for my money, that is the case with kitchen knives. I'm happy to spend four to five times as much to buy a good quality German-made carbon steel knife over what I'd pay for "bargain" knife. The low-carbon stainless steel "bargain" knife isn't very sharp to begin with, doesn't hold an edge very well, and generally has a poorly designed handle, and is virtually impossible to sharpen. You generally can get a year or two of "acceptable" use out of it, and then you throw it away and buy a new one.

The good quality German knife, by way of contrast, is well designed, holds an edge very well, and can be repeatedly honed and sharpened. Barring accident or gross misuse - its lifetime is measured in decades.

There is no doubt that one can achieve almost miraculous demonstrations of sharpness with some of the artisan-made Japanese knives. But I'm cooking here - I rarely, if ever, find a need to shave my forearm or (literally) split hairs in the kitchen. My Wusthofs seem to slice tomatos, cut squishy bread, or separate a wing from a chicken well enough.

Mr. Clean
09-01-2009, 10:51 AM
... Slice a tomato with a sharp knife, and you just can't go back again.
Ouch, I appreciate your fervor and knowledge of all things kitchen cutlery, but that one is a weak example. I can slice the heck out of very ripe tomatoes day in, night out with a cheap, plastic handled, throw-away Ginsu.
Slice 'em so thin, they've only got one-side :lol:


...In considering the purchase of virtually any product, one comes eventually to a point of diminishing returns. At the very high end, in order to achieve an almost miniscule increase in utility, one has to spend geometrically greater amounts of money.
...
...There is no doubt that one can achieve almost miraculous demonstrations of sharpness with some of the artisan-made Japanese knives. But I'm cooking here - I rarely, if ever, find a need to shave my forearm or (literally) split hairs in the kitchen. My Wusthofs seem to slice tomatos, cut squishy bread, or separate a wing from a chicken well enough.

I agree on both points.

Crazy Dave
09-01-2009, 11:25 AM
I am very puzzled but the references here to the hardness of the steel. Hardness allows the knife to hold an edge, but if you get too hard a steel, you won't be able to sharpen it. I have always looked for a balance between the ability to hold an edge and the ability to be sharpened. High carbon steel knives are not the hardest knives. They excel more in there ability to be sharpened. I steel my knives every time I use them, and whetstone them when they need it. I can get a great edge on both my modest stainless steel set and my Sabatier high carbon steel knives and my modest stainless kives. I can cut tomatos paper thin with my Wusthof, German stainless steel, made in China Santoko that I bought at Target for around $15. The fit and finish is not a good a Sabatier, and the balance it not as good (but it is not bad!). I am not saying that these are not things worth paying for. Nor am I saying that I would not want the expensive knives (and a Ferrari, etc.). I just don't get where you say you cannot put an edge on a modest (but decent) knife. I also don't understand the hardness "uber alles" philosophy.

Dave

Suzuki
09-01-2009, 11:55 AM
Not sure how this post got to where it is - its a matter of finding the right tools for you.

I have, use and enjoy both German and Japanese knives in several price ranges and, while the sky's the limit in terms of what you can spend on knives, for the average home cook a few decent quality knives are perfectly sufficient - in fact, I'd say that having a couple of Forschners (inexpensive, but very serviceable), a couple of sharpening stones (and you could get by with a Norton 220/1k) and a steel (my favourites are the ceramic rods) and the proper knowleged as to how to use all of these items is better than having a dozen of the fanciest German or Japanese knives, but have no idea how to maintain or use them.

I am not knocking expensive knives - a finely crafted blade is a beauty to behold and a joy to use. But the reality is that the vast majority of the food churned out by even the best dining establishments is cut using a relativley affordable (and in many cases, downright inexpensive) knife. Similarly, a couple of Forschners (or substitute the service industry brand of knife of your choice) will provide the average home chef with all the cutting power they need.

As to the German/Japanese debate, its a matter of preference - that you're happy with the knives you own is all that matters. While there are differences between these designs, if properly maintained, both types will serve you well.

I will say that the only heavy German knife I have remaining in my collection is a large, heavy Henckels (that I purchased at a restaurant supply shop (complete with day-glo yellow fibrox handle) for $25) - I typically use my Japanese or Porsche design knives (German/Japanese, but closer to Japanese fusion design that I got as a gift) unless I have some heavy chopping to do. The simple reason being that, having gotten used to a lighter, thinnner knife, I do find the heavier knife less enjoyable to use. In fact, even if I'm using one of my inexpensive knives (I keep the inexpensive knives in the block and the better knives tucked away so that no one else messes up the good ones :biggrin:), I invariably prefer a thinner blade over a thicker one for all but the heaviest chopping (read dealing with hard root vegetables, hacking stuff with bones, etc.) - all things being equal a thinner blade will cut better (meaning with less effort) than a thicker one.

Sorry for the long-winded post, I just didn't want to see this degenerate into a German vs. Japanese or expensive vs. inexpensive debate. The last pints I'm going to make before I shut up is that (i) a person's choice of knives is entirely a matter of personal preference and budget and (ii) no one should think they need to spend a fortune on knives to obtain all the cutting power they're likely to need in the kitchen.

NoFair
09-01-2009, 12:28 PM
I use a magnetic knife rack from here (http://www.benchcrafted.com/).

So do I. Great product and the custom large ones are gorgeous even if shipping to Norway was a bit... :blush:

Most of our knives are Japanese or handmade US knives and are pretty hard (about 60-61RC), but only one is extreme and that has an edge that looks very much like a straight razor:cool:

Victorinox/Forschner would be my choice among lower priced brands; they are easy to sharpen, hold a decent edge and can take quite a bit of abuse.

ouch
09-01-2009, 12:34 PM
I do indeed see where you're going with this. But let us just step back, for a moment, and consider a couple of things:

In considering the purchase of virtually any product, one comes eventually to a point of diminishing returns. At the very high end, in order to achieve an almost miniscule increase in utility, one has to spend geometrically greater amounts of money.

Boy, you're not kidding. As with almost any item, you'll pay a disproportionate amount for the slighest gain in performance.

But that's exactly where Japanese knives kick butt- they're some of the best bargains I've encouintered. The chef's knife I reach for most frequently (a 240mm Tojiro DP) is cheaper than almost any German knife of similar size. And my Hiromoto AS that ran a whopping $100 on sale at JCK is as good as any I've tried from any company. I have had some that cost several times as much, but I'll be the first to admit that they're not much better, if at all.

If these were super expensive toys, I'd recomment against buying them. Ultimately, you should use whatever you enjoy.

RHVette
09-01-2009, 01:36 PM
I'm actually using a set of Sabatier knives: 8" chef, 8" slicer, and 10" bread knives. Total cost: $45. Throw in a honing steel and it's $60. And I can cut just about anything with them. All I need is a 3" paring knife and a 6" boning/filet knife and I'm set.
Personally, I'm a fan of high-carbon stainless. It's a good compromise between carbon steel (rusts sometimes in minutes, but razor sharp and super easy to hone) and stainless steel (rust resistant but nigh unsharpenable.) I can keep mine sharp but they won't corrode from cutting tomatoes.
Finally, I would actually advise against a knife block. I don't like the idea of cramming my knives down a dark hole with who knows what lurking at the bottom. If they made a block that comes apart for cleaning, I'd be all over it, but AFAIK, they don't. Also, a block tends to limit the size of the knives you can put in it. All in all, I like the magnetic mounting strips instead. Plus I think having those knives on display just looks cool.

tsmba
09-02-2009, 07:57 AM
I've already posted the story of my progression to Japanese blades. I did just fine with German blades for years and wondered the same kinds of things about the Japanese blades. I ended up simply buying one, and as I used it, I quickly realized the value of the edge angle, ability to hold an edge, etc. I'm much more picky than what I consider to be "average" from the years of cooking for a living.

If you have access, there is an excellent book by Chad Ward called "An Edge in the Kitchen" that is packed with info. I've also found Fred's Cutlery forum and the kitchen section of knifeforum.com to be great sources.

ouch
09-02-2009, 08:10 AM
I've also found Fred's Cutlery forum.....

That's a great resource-
http://www.foodieforums.com/

Deltaboy
09-02-2009, 09:25 AM
Go to a good hardware store and buy you a set of Old Hickory Carbon Steel Knives and you will be set. I am using 3 such knives that belonged to my Grandma. They are over 50 years old.

kingfisher
09-02-2009, 09:27 AM
I bought a Shun 7" Santuko and 3.5" paring knife with stainless steel handles

http://www.kershawknives.com/searchresults.php?search_by=category&search_value=23&brand=shun

The only two knives I use anymore.

+a million on the Shun Santoku knife. I've used Henckels and other luxury European knives and IMO they're not even in the same category. Not even on the same planet as the Shun.

That Japanese cutlery site has some seriously sweet knives on it. Must. Resist. Going. To. That. Site.

NoFair
09-02-2009, 11:51 AM
Go to a good hardware store and buy you a set of Old Hickory Carbon Steel Knives and you will be set. I am using 3 such knives that belonged to my Grandma. They are over 50 years old.

I think the newer ones aren't as good. The ones I got didn't even have an edge on them.. Fortunately I have a grinder and know how to use it:biggrin:

They do work very well when one has put an edge on them and the price is extremely low.

Sverre

ozzy_scl
09-02-2009, 01:33 PM
I'm a Chef, and I've tried different knives, from the lightweight and nice looking globals, to bendi Japanese.
But what I carry around with me, are my Henckels, After 12 years of heavy use, I still use them, and haven't wear at all.
I met another chef, who uses Globals, he's are so worn that sometimes is hard to do a Julienne (strips of whatever) with.

Henckels are heavy, and some don't like this, but that's a must for me. As the head on a razor, I use my knives weight, considering sometimes I'll be chopping, dicing, etc. For hours.