There are at least eight disadvantages to Cutco knives.
1)Inferior tempering. Cutco is stamped instead of forged. All best knives are forged (with the exception of Henckels Twinstar which is using a new technology called sintering) because forged knives make a better edge among other reasons. All the worst and cheapest knives are stamped because it is cheaper and easier. The forging process randomises the metal particles for a slightly tougher knife. It also permits the differing thicknesses of metal which is necessary for a heavy raised bolster between the knife handle and knife blade. Forged knives have more metal than stamped knives and thus are heavier. The forging process enables extra metal proportioning to give the knife perfect balance. Most prefer the weight of a forged knife. It feels heftier and more substantial. Forged knives generally are thicker, have more heft, hold an edge better, provide bolsters which brings better balance and safety, and obviously have been made with a lot more care and craftmanship. The forging process enhances the flexibility (making it less likely to snap to break), density, and hardness, and better solidifies the structure of a knife.
2)Steel. Cutco claims they use the highest quality steel money can buy. They call it high carbon surgical grade steel. While this is subjective Cutco uses 440A grade steel while most top of the line knives (which is where Cutco is priced at) uses 440C, which is higher in carbon. 440C is more expensive to make, buy, and manufacture with. 440C also makes a sharper edge, and holds it better. Because of it's grain structure 440C is also more stain resistant. And while 440C steel is generally only found in top of the line kitchen knives, 440A is often found in the cheaper, run of the mill type kitchen knives. Where they got the surgical grade label is beyond me, 440A steel doesn't have a regular grade and a surgical grade. When you think of surgical instruments you think sanitary, expensive, and high quality- it's just sales hype.
3)Lack of bolsters provides for inferior balance and less safety.
4)Double-D edge. Most cooking enthusiasts prefer a straight edge which the double-d is not and you cannot sharpen Cutco edges yourself whenever you please. Salespeople use the ol' rope a dope trick when giving a presentation because the serrated pattern cuts tougher objects better, but any chef or cooking enthusiast will tell you that kitchen knives are made to cut through food like meat, bread, and tomatoes- not rope or leather. For that a utility knife is best- and there's are plenty of utility knives that cut through rope and leather better than Cutco's.
Cutco's salespeople swear up and down double-d edges are neither straight, nor serrated but unique (don't all salespeople?). The Double-D edge is in fact another type of serrated edge. Cutco calls their serrated edge "Double D" just like Spyderco calls their serrated edges "Spyderedge." Except Spyderco isn't trying to fool anyone and markets their as a superior serration pattern while Cutco tries to claim theirs is different.
But anyone who knows anything about knives can tell you the ^^^^ pattern on the edge (take a look at the cutco.com website for an explanation and drawing, currently at: http://www.cutco.com/jsp/catalog/features.jsp
) makes it a serrated edge. The whole double-d thing is just hype like everything else about the knives. The Double-D edge is not patented and never was.
The problem with the serrated pattern is that it doesn't make a clean cut- little nicks and tears in the food is made. Serrated knives are generally only good for fibrous vegetables and bread- where it is needed. Cutco reps may claim that it makes a clean cut, but this is only true for cutting stuff you can press straight down on (like butter), but for things you need to slide the blade back and forth on (like meat) the teeth will tear it up. Serrated edges are also somewhat more difficult to clean.
As for sharpness, you may think they stay razor sharp but in reality only the crevices of the blade edge are. You see serrated edges like the Double-D's look like this: ^^^^^^ when contacting the food the points get worn down rather quickly but the crevices stay sharp, so it may seem like it is razor sharp but in reality only the crevices are. It can never be as sharp as a well maintained plain edge, the edge preferred by cooking enthusiasts and professionals. Maybe a serrated edge is better at cutting rope (the rope a dope trick), but the best kitchen knives are not made to cut through rope, they are made to make a good, clean cuts on food. Master chef Wylie Dufresne just recently told GQ magazine in their Sept '03 edition, "I have plenty of friends whose parents have Cutco in a knife block. You pull them out and they're all as dull as can be."
Other knives you can sharpen yourself whenever you want, but with Cutco knives you need Cutco to sharpen them for you. I will refer you once again to Cutco's own website: at cutco.com, currently here:
"For resharpening of Double-D® or straight-edged knives, send them along with a return shipping and handling fee of $5.00 (1-3 items) or $8.00 (4 or more items) to the CUTCO address below."
You have to pay for them to be sent in and sent back all the while without your knives. I've heard of representatives of the company coming out and sharpening them for you, but this is by no means guranteed to happen so there is obviously good reason they don't state this on their website.
5)Handles. Of course this is subjective but the handles are different from any of the others and some people find them uncomfortable (especially those with extremely large or small hands since they were designed for the average hand), some others find them dorky looking and wouldn't want to set them out on the dinner table. Sure the handles were designed to be comforable- all handles are designed that way! And like all good salepeople, Cutco even has a good story to tell about it. That doesn't mean they actually ARE comfortable. Consumer Reports, the leading consumer magaine, also found the handles to be uncomfortable. The handles are made of what Cutco call "Thermoresin" and thermo=heated and resin=plastic, injection molded plastic is the absolute cheapest material cost and method possible. And the type of plastic the handles are made out of, celluloid plastic, is highly nitrated and self-oxidizing like the gun cotton in smokeless gun powder (to a lesser extent) thus highly flammable- not good for a kitchen knife. Although the rivots are made of what they call "nickel-siver", there is no silver in them. They call it nickel-silver because it has a silver color to it. The handles have no current patent on them, other companies could copy them but choose not to. Wear Ever cookware had handles designed by the same person in the 30's and 40s, they have since dumped this design.
6)Corrosion. Many people (including Consumer Reports magazine) believe that Cutco blades corrode a little easier than most. Consumer Reports seemed to hint that it may have to do with the type of metal used, polishing, or coating.
7)Restrictions when buying. Since you can only buy from a Vector rep, you are forced to select your rep with care because a flock of amateur sales reps can and will include a range from the best professionals through the worst rip off artists.
8)Price. Many will agree that Cutco is not best for commercial use but it is priced for commercial use. You can get a 7 piece block of top of the line hand-forged, bolstered, well balanced Wusthof-Trident Grand Prix for $249. A similar set of Cutco can easily run you $300-$400. Tramontina Professional is supposed to be the best value having the same features as the best knives but at about 1/3 the price. There may also be hidden costs added (such as shipping & handling, C.O.D., sales tax, etc.) that make the actual price much higher that the displayed and originally discussed price.
Cutco is sold at prices very similar to knives that are top of the line yet are not as good as them in almost every way except they do have comparable rockwell hardness, are full tang, and have a good guarantee. I wouldn't spend my hard earned money on guarantees though and the other qualities you can find in much cheaper knives.
The average household has very cheap, low quality knives that generally only last 5-15 years. So when they hear there is a forever guarantee it becomes the main selling point. What they don't know is all knives in that price range are built to last a lifetime and with proper care they definately will. The only way they won't is if you abuse them, which Cutco's guarantee doesn't even fully cover. Also, in case it doesn't last a lifetime, many top of the line knives carry a lifetime guarantee.
Cutco's money back guarantee is for 15 days. Most large retail chains like Sears and Walmart carry a 30 day money back satisfaction guarantee. The forever guarantee is nice, but a couple nitpicks: "Should you damage your CUTCO through misuse or abuse, we will replace the item for one half of the current retail price." it needs to be sent in to Cutco "with an explanatory note" and Cutco is the sole determinor of what is misuse or abuse (such as chipping your knife), also the "guarantee is intended solely for consumer/in-home use." Don't believe me? Check out the Cutco website yourself:
I you are looking for the guarantee, Henckels Twinstar and Messermeister (among many others) both offer similar lifetime warrantees and are of better quality (in many people's opinions). If you must have the best kitchen knives available, Wusthof Trident Grand Prix is highly regarded as the best kitchen knives money can buy and the prices are similar to Cutco's. If you are looking for brand name, Henckels is considered the #1 selling brand in the world, been in business since 1731, and they will replace their twinstar knives that have a "diamond edge" with new ones if they get dull. For the best value, you can find high quality, forged, full tang knives with bolsters at a very reasonable price (about 1/3 that of Cutco's) you might want look into the Tramontina Professional Series which is regarded as the best value in the knife industry. If you don't want to spend very much money on knives, the Forschner Victoronox is made by the same people who make Swiss Army Knives and considered the best of the very cheap kitchen knives. If you don't want to sharpen your knives, you might want to look at the Regent Sheffield Infinity Edge or Henckels Twinstar depending on how much you want to spend. Most retail stores have a 30-day money back guarantee.
My opinion is that Cutco is not worth their price and I'm sure most professionals would agree. In fact you would have great difficulty finding one culinary arts school, master chef, or knife expert that recommends this brand. Norman Weinstein, a nationally recognized knife skills instructor who's taught since 1995 at the Institute of Culinary Education was quoted by the Baltimore Sun newspaper as saying "Why, why, would you buy such a knife?"
Cutco is able to sell their knives at such a high price because they are being sold to people by their sons, nephews, and granddaughters (basically people who care for them and trust them, or their friends, and know very little about knives). Consumersearch.com looked over all the professional reviews available and while 11 professionals liked Wusthof Trident the best, only one liked Cutco and that one only liked Cutco compared to other stamped knives:
The bottom line is that no brand or set is best for everyone and you should check them all out and compare to decide which is best for your needs, wants, and preferences. The retail store is probably the best place to do this, unfortunately Cutco is not sold there.