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Old 08-23-2014, 05:00 PM   #1
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Question I need good kitchen knives

Hi everyone!

I'm trying to find some good kitchen knives that are economical, sharp and will last me a long time. After reading several posts I've determined which knives I need like a paring knife, etc. so I know what I'm looking for but am stuck at a couple of things.

First: Is there a particular brand that I need to stay away from? Either because they are way too expensive, or have really bad products, etc.

Second: Which type of blade do I need? Do I look for stainless steel? Ceramic? Carbon? Steel? Plastic? j/k on the plastic part.

Thanks for the help.

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Old 08-24-2014, 08:45 AM   #2
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This is the sort of question that frequently arises about all sorts of things. Cookware is another. Here's the deal.

Opinions about knives include a natural partisanship for those the respondent has chosen, and the discussion of virtues and liabilities ends up sounding like differences are far more important than they really are. But like discussions of the relative merits of cast iron, aluminum, coated, stainless, ply, etc., in cookware, the reality is they all work. If you use any cookware properly, it doesn't stick. If you use any knife properly, it cuts well. You can, of course, try to fry an egg in a stock pot. You can do it, but it's not fun. You can try to cut up the ingredients for a stew with a serrated bread knife. It will do it, but it won't be fun.

Survey the types of knife by function to decide what you want to have around. read up a bit on the basic traits of quality knives, which won't mean that cost or brand will be what matters.

Here's a short piece:


You probably won't need every type of knife. Don't buy something just because there is a category listed, thinking you need it. But there are some standards you will want. A chef's knife is the workhorse of the kitchen. It will do most of what the others will do, also. Get one that feels good. If you cook a lot, you'll spend a lot of time holding it.

I think it's a mistake to go out and buy an expensive knife set to begin cooking. You simply don't know what your preferences will be. If a knife is structurally well put together, and you keep it sharp, you'll be able to work with it long enough to understand what you want in a knife. If you pick up an assortment of decent knives cheap through Goodwill and yard sales, you'll find that, as time goes by, you will keep reaching for a very few of them. I have some nice knives, but I almost always reach for a large chef's knife from the flea market, a knife that was distributed by a company that placed them in restaurant kitchens and came around and changed them out for freshly sharpened. It is perhaps not the knife that holds a razor edge longest, but it's easy to sharpen (which I do anyway when I pick up a knife), and it just seems to be exactly the right size and feel for much of what I do. I also have an very small, oddly shaped knife, just a cheap thing that was probably in a cheap set. But I pick it up a lot for fine work. It's just so perfectly shaped.

So, I'd say scout around. Pick them up used. Try cheaper knives to learn how you and knives will work together. And - most importantly - learn to sharpen them well. It's all waste if they don't have a good edge of the right kind.

So far as materials, begin with stainless steel. They will be plentiful and inexpensive and easy to sharpen. If you find a carbon steel knife cheap used, try it. Personally, I don't have a single knife that I bought new. Most are quite good makers, but all are from Goodwill and flea markets. When I find another, I get to decide if I want to replace an existing or toss it back to Goodwill or eBay. Just have fun, which, for me, means not having spent so much that I don't want to change.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:46 AM   #3
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That is great advice, GLC!
I also have purchased nearly all of my knives at thrift shops and yard sales.
Then knife I generally reach for is a Chinese chef's knife. (Yes, I am a big fan of Martin Yan.)
The wide blade is great for transferring stuff to either a bowl or the cooking vessel.
It also feels good in my hand and is easier for me to control than the standard chef's knife.
Just my two cents worth.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:26 AM   #4
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Go to a restaurant supply store or even amazon and look at Dexter Russel knives or Victorinox/Forschner. These are rock solid tough knives. These are what are used in restaurants and lots of butcher shops. In my opinion they are the best bang for your buck, and should last a long time. Also get a sharpener and keep them sharp.

Another good brand is Rada, I've owned these and they work quite well and are not expensive.

Nothing that I listed is "high end" but very serviceable knives that will last if taken care of.
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:26 PM   #5
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The short piece I tried to link to didn't link. It is here:
How to Select Quality Kitchen Knives: 13 Steps (with Pictures)
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:41 PM   #6
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WOW! That's great advice and more than I expected.

One last question before closing. What are your thoughts about the knives (and cookware) that the celebrities (like Paula Deen and Rachel Rey) have their own line of? Are they really worth it? Or are you just buying the name?

You guys are the greatest! Thank you so much for all your input.
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Old 08-24-2014, 01:50 PM   #7
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I have two go-to knives, and a few more that are handy enough to stay in my knife block. the two favorites in order of how often used are:

1. Chroma 401 10 inch French Chef's Knife. Got it for a Christmas present, lazer engaved with my name, the year is was given to me, and from my wife. It's well ballanced, and just works for me.

2. Carbon Steel slicer found rust in my basement. It had belonged, I suppose, to my Dad. My oldest son actually found it and asked if he could clean it up. He used my Dremmel Tool and removed the corrosion. I taught him how to oil it with mineral oil, and how to sharpen it. It holds its edge well, and is easy to sharpen. It has a flat, tapered blade from the spine to the belly, and slices like none other.

After those, I have three Chicago Cutlery knives that are now 40+ years old and still look like new. They do have the convex grind from the spine to the belly, and so are harder to force through things like hubbard squash, and rutabaga. The utility, and 4 inch paring sizes are great for boning hams, taking apart a chicken, etc. They are hard to sharpen if they get dull. But once sharpened, hold their edge well.

Lastly, we have several dollar to 50 cent paring knives, with a chisel bevel, and thin, stainless steel blades, with plastic handles. They get razor sharp fast, and are great for intricate work.

GLC said it really well. What is a great knife for me may not fit your hand comfortably, or may be too heavy. Or you might not like the feel of the handle. Look for quality steel, a flat blade, maybe with grantons, and enough curve in the belly to make slicing smooth and effortless. See if you can test drive it for a week. Use cheap knives to determine what knife styles work best for you. Then go purchase good knives in the same style.

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Old 08-28-2014, 12:14 AM   #8
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Victorinox will serve you well. The knives are used in many commercial kitchens, and are very good.

Be advised that many people recommend extremely expensive knives that, while great for a real chef who can tell the difference, are not noticably better for your typical home cook.
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Old 08-28-2014, 06:15 AM   #9
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Danbuter is correct. Victorinox is a great value. Actually, ATK has had them as the best value and overall winner on 3 testings of knives and you can get them on Amazon for less than $30. I would even more so, suggest that you invest in a VERY good sharpener. I have a Lansky kit that I have had for 30 years and it is wonderful. you will also need a good butchers steel. A dull knife is a useless and DANGEROUS knife.
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Old 08-28-2014, 07:13 AM   #10
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Knives are like shoes. You need to try them before you buy them.

They need to fit and be comfortable in your hand.

Very important.
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Old 08-28-2014, 08:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wenpeek View Post
WOW! That's great advice and more than I expected.

One last question before closing. What are your thoughts about the knives (and cookware) that the celebrities (like Paula Deen and Rachel Rey) have their own line of? Are they really worth it? Or are you just buying the name?

You guys are the greatest! Thank you so much for all your input.
Save your money. You are paying for the name. Some of the celebrities hook up with a well known knife or pot maker and have their name stamped on it. Some of their fans love what they have purchased, and some say they are the sorriest piece of crap. When I want to make a purchase for any item, I go to Amazon and read the reviews first. There will always be one or two that hate the product and give the item only one star. I figure those folks didn't follow directions. I am interested in the three and four star reviews. Why aren't they giving the item five stars. If there are too many three and four stars, more than the five stars, I will not buy that item.

The same goes for knives. I don't look for the most expensive knife, but the most functional and reasonably priced one. Chicago Cutlery has always had good reviews for their price. You really only need certain knives. A paring, chefs, bread, boning and utility knife. Since I never make a roast or cook a large piece of meat, I don't need a roast knife. My chefs knife will serve that purpose very well. I love my boning knife. I use it all the time for Frenching meat off the bone. I use it more than my chefs knife.

Go to a store that sells many different brands of knives. Hold them in your hand. If it doesn't feel comfortable to you, then that is not for you. Move on to another brand. Not all your knives have to match. Mine certainly don't. Just like my pots. I have no two pots from the same maker. Good luck.
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Old 08-28-2014, 08:31 AM   #12
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Knives are like shoes. You need to try them before you buy them.

They need to fit and be comfortable in your hand.

Very important.
I think I have seen you say this more than once.

I don't agree. My knives came mail order and I have never tried them. Love them They are comfortable and awesome. I do wish I had gone bigger on the chefs knife at times.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:36 AM   #13
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I think I have seen you say this more than once.

I don't agree. My knives came mail order and I have never tried them. Love them They are comfortable and awesome. I do wish I had gone bigger on the chefs knife at times.
You are lucky!

The fit and balance of knives are very important and can only be determined by actually holding it before buying.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:54 AM   #14
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You are lucky!

The fit and balance of knives are very important and can only be determined by actually holding it before buying.
I belileve that what youa sy is partly correct. My daughters have smaller hands than mine, and one prefers an 8 inch chef's knife, while the other, like me, prefers the 10 inch model. I learned early that getting the feel of a knife comes with time and use, just as learning the nuances of a good motorcycle do. You can learn to be comfortable with a tool, especially when you live in a town like mine, where the opportunity to try out differing knives for their fit just doesn't exist.

As humans, we adapt to our surroundings very well, and adapt to the tools available. Ideally, we can find the perfect knife. More often than not, we have a limited supply to choose from, and a smaller number to test-drive.

If a quality knife is selected, a person can make it work, even if it's not the perfect knife.

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Old 08-28-2014, 02:53 PM   #15
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I think I have seen you say this more than once.

I don't agree. My knives came mail order and I have never tried them. Love them They are comfortable and awesome. I do wish I had gone bigger on the chefs knife at times.
I agree with the try before you buy. The problem is availability. I live in Richmond. There are 5 or 6 brands available. Seldom can you actually use them. Just holding doesn't mean much.

I'd start with 2 knives. A chef's and a smaller parer or petty. Forschners would be good. After a while you will get a better idea what you want.
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Old 08-28-2014, 03:31 PM   #16
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WOW! That's great advice and more than I expected.

One last question before closing. What are your thoughts about the knives (and cookware) that the celebrities (like Paula Deen and Rachel Rey) have their own line of? Are they really worth it? Or are you just buying the name?

You guys are the greatest! Thank you so much for all your input.
I'd say no, celebrity endorsed knives aren't usually worth the premium. They are paid a royalty to have their name and likeness put on the packaging, and to use them on their shows. This pretty much goes for any celebrity branded kitchen stuff. I'm not saying that it is bad quality, but usually you can get stuff just as good for less money. The biggest reason that I'd say people buy the stuff, is that they really like the style of the products, the way they look. Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, and Bobby Flay all have very stylized kitchen equipment that some people really like.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:05 PM   #17
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I agree about most of the celebrity endorsed products.
Kayelle each have our own chef's knives. Hers is a Culinar because it fits her hand better. Mine is a Henkels.
I also have a Forschner boning knife and a Henkels 10 inch slicer. Needless to say, the chef's knife gets the biggest workout.
I also has a small utility knife that would barely cut butter until we took our knives to be professionally sharpened.
The biggest difference now is I can slice tomatoes with my chef's knife rather than the serrated one I had to use.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:42 PM   #18
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You are lucky!

The fit and balance of knives are very important and can only be determined by actually holding it before buying.
Not sure I would consider myself all that lucky. Spend good money on good tools. A well balanced knife is a well balanced knife. A sharp knife is a sharp knife.

I went the way I went (Hatorri) because it had a good reputation and the handle style was what I was looking for.

Was there a learning curve? Yes. I was not used to a knife without the heel bolster and I have paid for that a few time. I also went up in size, being used to an 8 inch knife I went to the 9.5 inch one.

The petty is actually a touch longer than I would have liked, but it is sharp and agile.

The boning knife is, being something of a specialty, the best of the breed. It has one job and it does it remarkably well. I wouldn't use it for most jobs but when I grab it excels.

A lesser knife maker that doesn't put out consistent good products and that doesn't get a good balance might be more of a try before you buy, but these have been wonderful to use.

I suspect if I ever sit in a Ferrari it will fit and feel right, though it might take a few minutes for me to adjust. I need to try a Ford heavily before buying one.
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Old 08-29-2014, 08:45 AM   #19
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Not sure I would consider myself all that lucky. Spend good money on good tools. A well balanced knife is a well balanced knife. A sharp knife is a sharp knife.
I think there's probably a difference between women and men in how they perceive the feel of a knife, along with other tools. DH gave me a nice German-made Henckels knife for Christmas and I love it - we went knife-shopping together to make sure it would be comfortable for me. Then, when I was in culinary school, I got a new knife kit with a longer heavier chef's knife. I don't feel like I can maneuver it as well, but DH reaches for that one more often.

They're both good-quality knives, but different ones work better for each of us.
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Old 08-29-2014, 05:43 PM   #20
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My best friend really likes Henckels so I helped build her set as birthday and Christmas gifts.

Mine are Wusthoff, I really like them, I didn't choose them, they were a generous gift from my sister.
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