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Old 05-19-2008, 09:56 AM   #1
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Knife Set

Ok, I am new to cutlery. What invoked me to come here was, I have a friend who is doing the whole cutco thing...he is trying to help pay for his college...I actually think I tried that route in college myself but a diff company. Anyways, I feel that the knife set is decent quality and certainly better than anything I had previously owned, but I feel that it is overpriced. So here I am, looking for something better and cheaper. My wife and I are looking for a good set with block..perhaps a medium set of 10-12 or so knives with steak knives. Now, the range we were looking at most to pay is 500-600(would stretch it, if the right deal was had), easy to maintain/sharpen, long lasting, ergonomically fit for smaller hands, and a nice appearence.

I was looking for some good suggestions. Mainly, my wife cooks a couple times a week and I cook occasionally. We are not as highly qualified as most people that I have read on this board so far (which I have only been reading about 20mins or so /shame on me). Let me know some opinions.

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Old 05-19-2008, 10:09 AM   #2
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First of all, WELCOME!

IMO, no one needs a knife set with 10-12 knives. Most professional chefs don't have that many. That's not a medium set, that's larger than most sets ever offer.

What I always recommend is not buying a set. Spend your money on quality rather than volume. Start with a good quality chef's knife or a santuko, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife. These three knives are the workhorses of the kitchen and will get just about anything you need done.

Then add pieces over time as you see fit.

As far as brands, go for quality. Shun, Wusthof, Global are good names. I'm sure people will chime in with others.

It is critically important to try knives before you buy them. It's like buying shoes, they need to fit propoerly. They must fit your hand and feel balanced and comfortable. It may be the case that you and your wife have different needs and then you might consider buying 2 different chef's knives
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:28 AM   #3
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I agree. You need a paring knife, a serated bread knife, a chef knife, and maybe a boning knife. If you are into butchering your own meat you may also want a cleaver and a simitar.

You can get good ones at a kitchen store from several well known companies: Calphalon, Wustoff, Henkels, etc. You can spend the $$$ or get their less $ household quality. You can go to a restaurant supply store (check local listings) and get professional food service knives. You'd be surprised that the pros don't use fancy knives, but quality basic steel kept razor sharp.

Get a diamond hone and a sharpener, learn to use it.

Forget Cutco and other thin steel machined edge unsharpenable knives.
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Old 05-19-2008, 02:39 PM   #4
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Try Gunter Willhelm Cutlery. I guarantee you won't find a better quality set of knives for 500 bucks anywhere.
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Old 05-19-2008, 04:50 PM   #5
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Welcome Chefmenot! I can't add anything to the advice above on type, or brands.

If you want to try different knives I'd suggest going to someplace like Marshall's , TJ Max, or Ross. You can sometimes find some great prices on good quality knives, cookware and other kitchen items.
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Old 05-19-2008, 08:02 PM   #6
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I recently was in the same situation as you. When it came time to upgrade, I went ala carte getting a Santoku and a paring knife first. Since then I've rounded out my set to about 6 knives total...10" Chef's knife, 9" bread knife", 6" utility, 6" boning, etc...I might pick up a few more, might not...there are a couple of other Chef's knives I'd like to try...Misono UX10 for one.
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:09 PM   #7
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Cutco, arrrggggghhhhh! Don't do it.

And don't buy a block set either. All you get is a bunch of low quality stainless steel overlaps. You don't need it.

So what *do* you need?

Chef's knife - here Stainless, easy care. Incredible edge. I strongly suspect (have my reasons) it's made of either Sandvik 13C26 or Udeholm AEB-L steel. This is what razor blades are made of.

Paring knife - here I think the best at any price.

Bread knife - here There is only one better in the entire world that I know of and it costs 2-3 times as much.

World's best peeler - here Bar none!

Some kind of boning knife. Use any medium length knife you already own.

A much better place to show them off than a blah boring wooden block - here
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:41 PM   #8
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I agree with Buzzard.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
First of all, WELCOME!

IMO, no one needs a knife set with 10-12 knives. Most professional chefs don't have that many. That's not a medium set, that's larger than most sets ever offer.
Arhggg! Me & Buzz would be the exceptions- we're got a bazillion knives! Okay, that said we're just knifenerds. Most sane people don't need nearly that many. I agree that you can do 95% of all the stuff you'd ever need to do with a good chef knife (8" or 10", as you prefer), a paring knife & a serrated bread knife. Beyond that there are a few other blades that you may find handy: a 5" - 6.5" santoku, 6" utility knife, bird's beak peeling knife, carving knife & 6" semi-flexible boning knife. Add that that however many steak knives you need to accomodate the entertaining you do and you're set.

I would have to agree that if you're starting from scratch and have a budget of $500-$600, a block isn't the best way to go. First off, most every block set throws in at least two completely worthless items: a "sharpening steel" and a set of kitchen shears. The latter has some usefullnes but that's an expensive way to buy one. Just pick up some shears open stock and save 75%. And don't waste your time with the coarse ribbed steels- they're murder on your knives and just chew up the edge. Save the money and buy a glass or ceramic hone; it will work much better and your knives will thank you.

You can always buy a block seperately for storage, but I'd probably go for a Mag-Blok instead. Much more attractive and useful.

As for knives, I think Buzzard gave you good advice. I use several Tojiros for work and they're great knives. If you ask around you'll find most of us knifegeeks will tell you Japanese knives are the way to go. They're sharper, lighter and sexier; plus, they hold an edge longer. I like the knives of Shun and Hattori, too.

Even so, German knives are still fine for home use. I like Messermeister better than the better known knives like Wusthof & Henckels.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:43 PM   #10
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If you're dead set on a block set, you could do worse than this Messermeister set. Add some steak knives and you're all set. I mention this only because I understand that for some people having a matched set is important. Me, I'd rather pick and choose the best knives out there regardless of who makes them. So my chef knife might be a Shun, my bread knife might be a Mac, etc.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:56 PM   #11
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Edit to my above post:

Read the two FAQs I reference in another thread. There is a huge amount of valuable information therein.

Chef's knives - they are to be used for vegetables and boneless meats only as the edge can chip if used against a hard surface, ie: hard squashes, watermelons, cutting board surfaces such as granite, glass, and even some poly boards.

Cutco - Believe me, stay away. They are nothing more than a pile of marketing bull. They are, where good to great cutlery is concerned, bottom of the barrel.

Bread knives - My MAC reference is indeed a good one, but if you learn how to keep a chef's knive really sharp, not needed. A non-serrated (very sharp) edge will slice bread with the best of them.

And I forgot that you mentioned steak knives. No times six or eight. Your guests will grind them into your glass or ceramic plates and ruin them in seconds. I shudder when I go to a high end restaurant like Flemings or Ruths Crist and get a serrated knife sharpened like a hammer. What a downer. These people should know better. My house guests get steak knives in sayas (Japanese wooden sheaths) that will push cut paper. The knives are inexpensive and easily resharpened when the guests are gone.

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Old 05-19-2008, 11:58 PM   #12
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Funny- a few weeks ago a customer complained to the server that his steak knife was too dull. So I sharpened it up for him! I had my Edgemaker Pros in my roll; made a few passes thru each grit and sent it back. The guy was pretty amazed at how much sharper it was. The server said, "Maybe you should do that to all of them." Um, no! We have a couple hundred of them!

I don't find it too hard to keep steak knives sharp at home. They don't used all that often; when I use one I cut on a cutting board or soft plastic microwave plate. If guests use them on the Corelle Ware it will dull them a bit, but hey- they're meant to be used! I'll just hone 'em up after company leaves.
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Old 05-20-2008, 12:42 PM   #13
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sniff sniff...I think my brain is smoking...trying to read the 2 "background on steel" posts. I'll re-read it again when the smoke settles. Didn't realize it was that complex. I definitely appreciate all the input of everyone as well as its a huge learning experience.

On the block sets, my main reason I was looking at those, appearance for one and easeness of having to pick which ones since most are there already, and lastly, access of knives.

I kinda like that mag blok thing, looks nice. Although, safety is a issue as well. I was thinking of a drawer set possibly, which can look good, and be safe and out of site from little ones hands.

For the knives themselves, block sets I have looked at that seem appealing: Gunter Wilhelm, Messermeister, Wusthof (my boss says he has a set of them and thinks highly of them). Single items, I am not totally opposed to buying single knives at a time and it would serve best to even do so.

I guess I kinda look at it this way as the best analogy I can think of relevant to me. Its like buying a PC...ther is Hp, Dell, Gateway, Toshiba...etc. OR You can build it yourself. Now, for example, if you want a good pc that will work fine ans decent qualty overall...go buy a Dell( one of the forementioned "sets")..BUT...if you want the highest end and best stuff (and usually not too far off price wise than a prebuilt) I buy individual components (ie sepaerate knives)to make a incredible complete set.

I think I just convinced myself haha. I think seperates is the way to go!

So, I kinda like the ones that Buzz was mentioning. Now I just need to find a place that I can "test drive" them to see how they feel and cut. which is the next question. Where to check out the better stuff? BBB and LNT I don't think have them, but I could easily be wrong.
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Old 05-20-2008, 01:09 PM   #14
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chefmenot - where are you located? If there isn't a shop nearby one of us might know someone in your area.

Large department stores like Macys carry the Shun line. You should check out the "classic" 3 1/2" paring knife.

Most of the high performance knives are not readily available except in the big cities.

For storage you also might want to look at the Wusthof Swinger. It hangs nicely under kitchen cabinets and the knives are out of the way when not in use. I use one in addition to a magnetic wall rack.
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Old 05-20-2008, 01:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by chefmenot View Post
...I kinda like that mag blok thing, looks nice. Although, safety is a issue as well. I was thinking of a drawer set possibly, which can look good, and be safe and out of site from little ones hands...

I don't know your set up but a mag strip on the wall behind the counter is farther away from little hands than a drawer that can be reached standing on the floor. Unless the kids climb onto the countertop, they would not be able to reach a mag strip. On the other hand, out of sight, out of mind...

Again, I don't know your situation, just trying to think logically.
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Old 05-20-2008, 01:16 PM   #16
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I guess I kinda look at it this way as the best analogy I can think of relevant to me. Its like buying a PC...ther is Hp, Dell, Gateway, Toshiba...etc.
Toshiba - what a coincidence. I'm typing on a Toshiba. More coincidence - I took delivery just two hours ago of a TV.... yup, Toshiba. I guess you need some Toshiba knives. Oops, there aren't any, yet, but most of the world's best knives have other Japanese names. Have some fun and look around here for awhile. Don't drool on your tie.
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Old 05-20-2008, 04:43 PM   #17
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I am liking those japan blades...they look really nice. I'll need to try them out and see how the ergo is.

where are you located? Dallas area


Don't drool on your tie. Too late. Those are some nice knives..me likey.


I don't know your set up but a mag strip on the wall behind the counter is farther away from little hands than a drawer that can be reached standing on the floor. Unless the kids climb onto the countertop, they would not be able to reach a mag strip. On the other hand, out of sight, out of mind...

Again, I don't know your situation, just trying to think logically.

I have a 10.5 mth old lil girl and she is like a little monkey...climbs on the couch, the bar stools, my entertainment center, basically..if its taller than her..she wants to be taller than it. With that in mind and a few mths more developed, anything in sight, will be in reach one way or another. Drawer block (I actually have a drawer that is dedicated for that reason..came with the house when we built it...its just a crappy plastic cutting board style though) with a child safety lock of some sort is prolly what I am thinking. I need that mag thing for my garage though...that would be nice to hang small equipment on. Safety is huge on my list, with knives that sharp.. I got enough to worry about with my wife cutting herself.---small story with that--one day we were cooking together and I was using the decent paring knife, so she decided to use the chef knife to do some paring....anyways, I saw her and I was like what are you doing..she was all like your using the paring knife....i offered it to her, but she was like, im ok....2 mins later...nice gash under her thumb fingernail. So now, when I find a paring knife, im getting 2 for that reason alone.

btw, I think this might also what you were asking in the "setup" I have backsplash tile around the kitchen, so hanging would require drilling into tile..id rather not drill or if I need to drill, that under the cabinet block might work ok...IF i cant find a decent drawer one.
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Old 05-20-2008, 09:19 PM   #18
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chefmenot, you're hooked. My very best advice, take your time and ask a lot of questions. The knives will be there and available next week, next month, next year. When you pull the plug, get one knife to prove to yourself that there really is a difference. My suggestion for the first knife is the inexpensive Tojiro 240mm DP Gyuto from korin. The difference in cutting ability due to the blade geometry and sharpening ability will blow you away.
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Old 05-21-2008, 10:11 AM   #19
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Ok, I think I may pull the trigger soon on the Tojiro-DP Gyutou 9.4" and Mac Bread Knife. I am still looking at a paring knife though. I do have another question/request. I was looking at the knives at my house and the most used one looks like not in quality, but as size and shape wise. (this was a link, but I can't post links yet....Masamoto VG-10 Petty was the link though) So I am thinking a petty knife is what it may be. Its kinda our do it all knife. Like I said though, its a cheap knife but its the most used. Lastly for request/question. Shears, I am contantly using my kitchen shears for things maybe not kitchen related so I need something durable (my wife gets mad at me for using her kitchen shears when say I cut a upc code off a box or something I consider "not that bad" for them). She thinks otherwise
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Old 05-21-2008, 12:06 PM   #20
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Ok, I think I may pull the trigger soon on the Tojiro-DP Gyutou 9.4" and Mac Bread Knife. I am still looking at a paring knife though. I do have another question/request. I was looking at the knives at my house and the most used one looks like not in quality, but as size and shape wise. (this was a link, but I can't post links yet....Masamoto VG-10 Petty was the link though) So I am thinking a petty knife is what it may be. Its kinda our do it all knife. Like I said though, its a cheap knife but its the most used. Lastly for request/question. Shears, I am contantly using my kitchen shears for things maybe not kitchen related so I need something durable (my wife gets mad at me for using her kitchen shears when say I cut a upc code off a box or something I consider "not that bad" for them). She thinks otherwise
I'm sure you'll be happy with both the Toji & the Mac. Here's the Masamoto petty link. My most used knives are Gyutos, but my wife mostly uses petty's.
There are lots of jobs that the Gyutos are too clutsy to handle and for those my "petty" is a Ray Rantanen 5 1/8" utility in L-6 carbon steel. I use that knife every other day or so. My wife almost never used her chef's knife, preferring an old 6" Chicago Cutlery utility and a 4 1/2" Forschner Fibrox skinning knife.

Shears:
Messermeister
Shun
Tojiro

All three are excellent, but I'd buy the Messermeister because of the price differencial. If you happen to purchase one of these I highly recommend you also get a Messermeister serrated peeler, inexpensive, but none better anywhere including the highly touted ceramics.
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