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Old 10-26-2005, 09:04 PM   #1
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Qualities of a good knife

im trying to look for the best of the best knife i need help

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Old 10-27-2005, 07:39 AM   #2
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These are the qualities I look for in a good knife. It must hold an edge well. It must be well balanced. It must be well constructed. Most importantly, it must feel good in my hand.

As far as holding an edge well, this is not something you will be able to tell just from looking at the knife when you are shopping. This is where your research and talking to people comes into play. The brands that are well know to be of good quality you can assume hold an edge well. These are brands like Wustoff, Shun, Henckles, Global, etc.

As far as it being well balanced and feeling good when you use it, those go hand in hand. Decide how much you want to spend and then go to a store when you can look at knives in that price range and try them out. Hold the knife and use it as if you were really using it in your kitchen. Knives are sort of like shoes. If they do not feel good when you use3 them then you will not use them. Make absolutely sure they feel right to you. What feels right to one person will feel wrong to someone else.
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Old 10-27-2005, 08:25 AM   #3
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I agree with GB. A knife must have a high-carbon, no-stain alloy, solidly constructed, well-balanced, etc.
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:11 PM   #4
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Also look at how rugged the knife is. There are knives that have excellent sharpness that don't require any edge maintanance for years. These are ceramic. They are lightweight, but extremely fragile. And they are very pricey. Japanese steel holds and edge very well, and are generally lighter in weight than are their German cousins. Brands such as Shun, Global, and Croma are examples of these knives. They each have their own strenths. For controlability, and a center-aligned drop-point Chef's knife, I like the Croma line, designed by German Engineer - F.A. Porsce. The Global sport an equally good steel, with a straight grind edge, like Croma, and have more curving handles that are hollow and weighted with sand to create a very well ballanced knive. The Shun use an aloy of steel that is folded to resemble true damascus steel. They are hard and sharp.

For blade quality, all of these knives excell.

German and French steel are known to be quality products. The most famous of these, Wusthoff Trident, and Henckles make both very high quality forged steel blades and the cheaper stamped steel blades. The forged steel product holds and edge better and requires less maintainance. They are ballanced well and are fitted with ergonomic handles with full tine construction and three rivets to secure the tine to the handle material.

Then, there is a company called Bokker that sells a full line of knives that are of very good quality and have everything from Sintered Titanium/Steel alloy blades to full Damascuss steel blades that cost in excess of $300.00 apiece. They also carry both white and black ceramic blades, and a cheaper ceramic/metalic aloy blade that is supposed to give equal performance, but that are more rugged than the pur ceramic blade.

But like was stated by the two august posters before me, it's not so much about how much a blade costs, or it's stylishness, but how well it fits your hand, how ballanced it is, and how it performs for you. I know people who swear by German steel. It is great stuff. But for some people, the weight can be cumbersome for large cutting chores. The Japanese steel is lighter in weight, and is equally stain-free and sharp, but may not give the heft for someone trying to chop through an acorn squash.

I own a Croma 10" chef's knife and love it. My sone has a Santoku style blade from the same company. He too loves it. But then again, I have a high-carbon butcher's knife, made in the U.S.A. that performs very well. It keeps it's edge forever and is strong enough to pry apart frozen pork chops. And the cost, dirt cheap when it was purchaced, and inherited by me when my Grandfather passed from this world. But it needs to be cleaned and oiled imediately after each use to prevent rust.

Tips about what to look for:
Avoid a hollow-ground edge. Over time, due to the expontential thickening of the blade, it becomes significantly harder to sharpen over time, and tends to split hard veggies and fruits, or pry them apart, rather than slicing through them. In other words, it's harder to shove that knife through a watermellon!

A straight grind slices more cleanly. The bottom curve of the knife is called its belly. Less belly is better for chopping, while more belly is better for slicing. If you like to move your hand straight up and down, like a piston, then a santoku style knife, with its extreme drop-point (almost a sheepsfoot blade design) is better for you. If on the other hand you like to use a forward motion combined with rocking the blade up and down, then a chef's knife is better. Also, the chef's knife design is more versatile. You can chop, slice, and detail with it.

There is no "best knife". There is a "best" knife for you. But the only way to find it is to try out a few if you can, then make your decision. It's like purchasing a motor cycle. Do you want a dirt-bike or a cruiser, or a sport touring machine. Or maybe you want the monster frame built around a 426 Hemi, the bike that will outrun anything with wheels on the planet, but doesnt' corner worth spit. It's all in what you want to do with the thing.

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Old 11-21-2005, 09:22 AM   #5
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I guess I could have been a little more precise in what I was trying to say.

Goodweed has several excellent points.

Personally, I prefer German steel, but I've also found that the steel used in anything made by Dexter-Russel (American-made) is of a similar quality. Most of my knives for home use are made by Chicago Cutlery, which, unless I'm mistaken, is a subsidiary of Dexter-Russel.

Dexter-Russel makes literally hundreds of different knives for commercial use, mostly by just making a handful of blades, then altering the handle material, and in some specialty knives, the orientation of the blade to the handle, for one-use, ergonomic knives. Those knives are generally used by meat-packers.

My work knife set is not a matched set. Originally, it was a matched set, as I had to purchase a set of knives made by the Frederick Dick Corp. (a.k.a. F. Dick). These are German made, and are stamped, not forged. Over the years, I added different knives, and replaced some with other brands, so my work set is a mix of F. Dick, a Wustaff, and a lot of Dexter-Russel. I prefer stamped vs. forged knives, as I feel the forged knives are a little to heavy for me.

While I do have a lot of knives, for someone just starting out, I honestly feel all you really need, at the minimum, is a general-purpose knife, either a Chef's knife or a Santoku, and a paring knife. I also use a serrated bread knife with a slightly curved, scimitar-like blade, for many other uses besides bread, like lettuce, tomatoes, peeling fruit, slicing cucumbers, etc. Every day, at work, my Chef's knife, paring knife, and serrated are the three I pull out of my tool kit when I set my station up. Sometimes, I'll pull out my boning knife, meat slicer, or oyster knife when I need something special.
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:51 PM   #6
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agree with GB. I bought my santoku knife online and I have to returned and exchanges them 4times until I got the right one in my hand. it took time and don't buy kinfe online unless you are sure what you want. my advise, go to the store and try them out is the best way!
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