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Old 09-04-2006, 06:01 PM   #1
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My search for right knives

Hey guys, new guy here, first post... anyway, I'm a 24-year-old dude who's serious about my cooking. Love to try cooking new things, love to cook a wide variety of food types, to grill, bake, and anything in between. Problem is, I'm still using the cheap (and man do I mean cheap) knives that were given to me at the beginning of college, and I'm finally getting really really tired of them. Also, I'm using some old cookware (pots, pans, etc) that's equally as cheap and inadequate. While I'll ask about the pots, pans, and the like in a different post, I wanted to ask some things about knives here.

So here's what I'm wanting to do. I will likely not keep any of my old knives, save for my steak knives, which actually *are* high-quality. I am looking to start out buying 3-4 good knives (any advice on types of knives is appreciated), right now I'm thinking an 8-10" chef's knife, a 4" paring knife, and a bread knife. I am also considering a fillet knife or something along those lines, as I live near the beach and make a lot of fishy kind of dishes. If any of you can think of a good knife I might be able to use considering I make a lot of fish dishes, let me know. Also, if you have any opinions on 6 vs 8 vs 10 inch chef's knives, I'd love to hear them. One last thing - price isn't a huge issue... I just want some quality knives that I can use for a long time to come.

Also - the biggest issue I've been having. I'm assuming that I'm not the only lefty here on these forums... I have been looking online through knives, and have had a heck of a time finding any left-handed knives. I've used a couple of left-handed knives, and for some reason they always seem to cut easier for me, and keep my hand from being forced into an unnatural position when I use them. I can find left-handed knives sporadically on amazon.com, ebay, and elsewhere, but nothing that I really want. I am interested in buying a knife that has some good bulk to it but is still well balanced, i.e. a good german knife like a Wusthof or J.A. Henckels, but have had no luck in finding left-handed knives by either of these brand names, at least online. So do they even make left-handed knives? If so, how can I get ahold of them? Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

Finally, if you guys have any additional pointers or tips in shopping for knives, I'd love to hear them. Remember that I'm buying some individual knives to begin building a good solid collection of nice knives. I already know to only wash them by hand, to try them before I buy them, and that a chef's knife and paring knife, followed by a bread knife, are probably the most important to have, but I could use any other general advice you can give.

Thanks in advance for your help, and I look forward to hearing anything you might have to say for me.

- Rossodio

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Old 09-04-2006, 06:14 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Rossodio!!

Okay, I am not an expert on preparing fish, so probably it is better to wait and see some professional advice from some more experienced folks on that.

However, I am also a hardcore southpaw, but unlike scissors and certain gadgets (can opener comes to mind right now, among others...) I have never had any problem with using regular knives with my left hand. I didn't even know such thing as "left-handers knives" existed! Exactly what kind of difficulty do you have using regular "right-hander's" knives?
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Old 09-04-2006, 06:25 PM   #3
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First off, welcome to the site.

It sounds like, for the most part, you already know the important things to look for in buying knives. The most important thing is to try out the knives and make sure they feel good in your hand.

As for a left handed knife, brands such as Wustoff and Henckles (as far as I know) are not left or right handed. They are the same no matter which hand you use. There are some brands that are left or right handed because of the way the blade is sharpened, but these two brands are not sharpened that way.

6, 8, or 10 inch will depend on what feels right to you. I have a 10 inch Wustoff Grand Prix chefs knife and that is my favorite knife in my collection. I like that it is 10 inches. I also have a 7 inch Santoku and will use that when my 10 inch is overkill. Someday I hope to get a ceramic chefs knife. That one will be an 8 inch. If I had to pick just one size though I would probably go for the 10 inch again. It is all personal preference though.

Do a search on this site using the search feature at the top and you are sure to find TONS of posts discussing how to buy knives.
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Old 09-04-2006, 06:35 PM   #4
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I'm afraid I don't understand the left-handed knife issue. In my experience, good kitchen knives are symmetrical and therefore are equally good for both lefties and righties. It's the cheap knives that have odd handles and are sharpened on only one side of the blade that I would think might cause problems.

In any case, I'm a big fan of Wusthof Classic kitchen knives, having used the same several knives daily since about 1968. I have both an 8-inch and 6-inch "classic" chef's knife, an 9-inch carving/slicing knife, a 5.5-inch boning knife, a 4.75-inch paring knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife. I also have a Wusthof steel. No bread knife -- I use the Ginsu knives I get free at the home show for bread.

One consideration is whether to get the classic triangle-shaped chef's knife or the more square Asian chef's knife -- I'd suggest that you try both and go with the one that feels best to you.

You might want to consider a set as it's often much cheaper than buying individual knives. Here's a site with pretty good prices:
http://www.bestknives.com/wusthof.html

Oh, BTW, I also have a Hattori Damascus Gyuto 270mm Kitchen Knife (http://www.youwantit2.com/HATTORI.html). Although I think Hattori makes some of the best production knives (i.e., as opposed to custom) in the world, I don't use it too often because of what GB refers to as "overkill" -- the cutting edge of the blade is 10.5 inches, and it's razor sharp -- great for huge quantities of veggies, but so large as to be unwieldy for most tasks. Size does matter, and beyond bragging rights, too big is just as bad as too small.
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Old 09-04-2006, 06:48 PM   #5
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My Aunt is left-handed. She says there's a real difference when you get the right knife! Try these places:

http://www.chefsresource.com/kershaw...ft-handed.html

http://www.left-handed.com/acatalog/...ed-knives.html

http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk...ef_knives.html
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Old 09-04-2006, 06:50 PM   #6
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Yeah, perhaps the fact that I'm more used to cheaper knives and have tried a couple of more expensive left-handed knives is what's making the difference -- I really don't know...

But are you guys telling me that the nicer knives I'll be looking at have their edges built like a v
- not like \| -- with one edge flat and the other one angled? I thought that's where the lefty-righty difference came into play.

I also thought of another question about knives -- I have seen some knives with oval "pockets" near the edge -- a hollow edge -- like the santoku knife in this picture: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...toku_knife.jpg ... I take it those knives are good for making ultra-thin slices, but do you think it would be a good investment to get one of these knives in addition to a "normal" chef's knife, and perhaps just hang on to a cheap bread knife for now? Just a thought.

Thanks again for you help :)

- Rossodio
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossodio
But are you guys telling me that the nicer knives I'll be looking at have their edges built like a v
- not like \| -- with one edge flat and the other one angled? I thought that's where the lefty-righty difference came into play.
That's exactly right. Or left. Handles are symmetrical, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossodio
I have seen some knives with oval "pockets" near the edge -- a hollow edge -- like the santoku knife in this picture: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...toku_knife.jpg
I don't think those "pockets," which I believe are supposed to reduce friction when cutting through something thick, do anything other than make the knife look fancy. They're like those things on boars that don't serve much purpose.
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:04 PM   #8
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I am left-handed. I do not notice any real issues.

I will keep it simple... got Bed Bath Beyond, or similar store and try the Hinkle 4 Star set. It will come with a wood block for storage. It will have two sizes of chef's knives, a paring knife, a bread knife, a sharpening iron and one they call the "favorite" knife.

Try it in your hand. I like the balance and feel of mine. There are similar quality sets at similar prices- see what is best for you.

Buy the set. Then buy a good system for sharpening them.

Then go to the sporting goods house and buy one or two good fillet knifes in two different sizes. There are several good brands to choose from.

Keep all the knives sharp, keep them out of the sink, clean them when you use them not the next day and this set up will serve you forever.
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FryBoy
It's the cheap knives that have odd handles and are sharpened on only one side of the blade that I would think might cause problems.
Actually this is not always the case. Some ultra expensive knives (think $3,000 sashimi knives) are sharpened as a left or right handed knife. Price of the knife really is not an indication as to if a knife belongs to a particular hand.

Rossodio, those pockets you are referring to are called cullens. They are designed to reduce drag and make slicing easier. My Santoku has those cullens, but it really doesn't make much sense to have it on that kind of knife. I think they would probably be beneficial on a large slicer used to cut roasts and turkeys and things like that. I would not look specifically for a knife with cullens, but if the knife I liked had them then that would be fine.
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Old 09-04-2006, 08:30 PM   #10
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The traditional Japanese knives are sharpened on one side. Their swords are the same way. A lot of the Japanese knife makers now offer "western style" knives which are sharpened on both sides. Don't bad mouth the single-sided blades, take a lot at your razor, next time you shave.
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