kitchen knives


if I'm going to spend the $$$ on good kitchen knives, what should I get???

Sep 18, 06 4:41 pm

Wustof - we got a badass set for a wedding gift. Although, I'd recommend that you save yourself some cash and only buy a couple - the 8" chef's knife and a paring knife get used everday, while most of the others in the set do not.

Sep 18, 06 5:07 pm  · 

I own a wusthof classic chef's knife (8") and a MAC 6.5" santoku. The latter does all of my veg work and the former does anything heavy-duty (ie, chopping chocolate). I really like both knives. The German knives are tempered to a lower temp than the Asian knives, so the German knives need to be sharpened more often, but will last longer than the Asian knives, which keep their edge longer, but are more brittle.

Sep 18, 06 5:10 pm  · 

we have the Henckels Professional S Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Knife Set with Block and are very happy with them. they cost a good penny, but we cook every day andd rarely eat out.

Sep 18, 06 5:23 pm  · 

I also have some Wusthof Classics- the 6-1/2" Santoku is my favorite knife ever.

Sep 18, 06 5:36 pm  · 
liberty bell

We also have the Henckels Professional S set, but with kitchen scissors (which I LOVE and use a lot for all the ridiculous packaging so much food comes in). I also bought a Wusthof 18cm serrated offset handle for vegetables - it is nice to have the offset, but the Henckels handles are heavier therefore the overall balance of the knife suits me better. Not as much of an issue with the offset handle, of course.

Also a set of 8 Henckels steak knives for the table - and they are lovely to use.

If you are making the investment in good knives, do also make the investment in learning how to keep them sharp! Good knives should be razor sharp and are significantly safer to use this way - nothing more dangerous than having to hack away/apply a lot of pressure because of a dull blade. Just like exactos in school, you are better off keeping them super-sharp.

Sep 18, 06 6:18 pm  · 
vado retro

as long as you knives can do this then u r cool

Sep 18, 06 6:30 pm  · 

lb, we also have the 8 henckels steak knives too. love them.

Sep 18, 06 6:43 pm  · 

solingen (germany) steel is a good sign in imported knives.
full tang with good rivets are my preferred design. weight and balance are very important.
of course cerrated tricked out knives that never need sharpening and stuff are for not so good cooks or hand me down poor talents. they work but no good on meat, fish, smooth slice.. i also don't like the food fibers stick on them and always suspicious of microscopically collecting bacteria. but it is just my unfavorite view.
i'd get a 5-7 piece set with 8" chefs being the center of attention.
if you don't work with meat or carry knives, don't buy a boning knife. if you eat bread, buy a bread knife. bread knives are also good for slicing tomatoes and some other certain things. it is like having 1 cerrated knife in the set.
even if you buy 1 chef's knife also get sharpening steel. never use those slide thru bullshit sharpeners, they will eat your knife alive.
umm, i hate those knive blocks. i don't know. something about their seemingly perfected shape, they never fit anywhere and always take away from your pure (!) design ideas featuring the goddam knives only on an angle, sometimes with ogee router work edges. i never had magnet or steel bar knive hangers but like to hear what other chefs here had to say about that. never put your knives' edge in geopardy with other hard surfaces except sharpening steel of course. if you are good you can also sharpen your knife with another knife moving in a certain way alternating the edges but you might cut yourself trying to do it. don't try to chop things like the cooking shows. most accidents happen atound onion. chopping like mr. chen is not an indicator of your cooking skills and you really don't save a lot of time in your residential kitchen. sometimes it is done to impress, but it doesn't really worth the risk. it is better to conqer her heart by a delicious meal with ingridients artfully chopped, diced, sliced and cooked right rather than risking your fingy.

so, is this for downstairs?

Sep 18, 06 6:59 pm  · 


i was just thinking the same

Sep 18, 06 7:03 pm  · 

Can't go wrong with Wustof, Henckels, Mundial (a Henckel like knife made in Brazil – good value as well), Mac's (lightweight and they stay sharp a long time), and Sabatier.

Stay away from F. Dick, Chicago Cutlery & Kitchen Aid knives!

And as LB sated, invest in keeping them sharp!!!

Sep 18, 06 7:11 pm  · 

Wustof vs Henckels??? are they basically the same knife?

Sep 18, 06 7:30 pm  · 

Wustof vs Henckels???

Yes, very similar; both good in quality, German made. I think it comes down to personal preference. I think the Wustof's have a better grip, but they don't stay sharp for very long. My personal preference is the Mac – still a great quality knife and they are priced reasonably, they are lightweight, have a good grip and they stay sharp.

Sep 18, 06 7:40 pm  · 

I think we decided that Olfa was superior to all bladed instruments.

Sep 18, 06 8:57 pm  · 
A Center for Ants?

Henckles S-Series. i the size of the tang works well with my large unwieldy hands. got weight... learn to use them properly.

global knives are good too, and so are wusthof.

Sep 18, 06 10:36 pm  · 
A Center for Ants?

if you don't want to spend a bundle all you really need is an 8" chefs, a serrated knife of some sort, and maybe a paring knife. you can do 99% of your cutting needs with those... filleting a fish might be a little tougher.

Sep 18, 06 10:38 pm  · 

i have a large tang....

I dont even know what that means

Sep 18, 06 10:49 pm  · 

it is the handle part of the steel blade that goes between the bones.

Sep 18, 06 11:01 pm  · 

I personally like Wustof better than Henckels but either will do. If it's beyond your budget, Forschner by Victorinox makes pretty good knives as well as knives from Zabars in NYC or Global . I think that you should also invest in a very good sharpener. I've used the Spyderco 204 Tri-Angle sharpmaker for years for all my knives.
Here's a link to a good article on Knife Sharpening and Maintenance -

Sep 19, 06 5:13 am  · 

Have you tried ceramic knives? I can't vouch for their longevity (or re-sharpenability), but they are very sharp. I got one as a gift last year, and it's been my favorite, even with a full set of Henckels at my disposal. They're very easy to clean, also. But you must be very careful not to nick the edge. Kyocera makes them.

Sep 19, 06 5:31 am  · 

i use henckels and as everyone else has said, the 8" chef's knife is indispensable... i use mine for almost everything...

also, orhan, i have one of the magnetic steel bar hangers for my knifes... i hate taking up counter space with a knife block... i have one small wall in my kitchen covered in stainless hanging bars, racks, and the knife bar, all from ikea... i really like them as they are convenient and easy to grab while cooking... however, it can be difficult to get the knives to hang at a precise angle... it took a while for me to get my wife to put the knives back at just the right angle and spacing after she does the dishes (i do all of the cooking)...

Sep 19, 06 9:23 am  · 

i have cheap serrated knives I bought at target 10 for $10 i think. i just replace them when they get too dull. expensive knives are go dull just as fast and i have no desire to sharpen knives.

Sep 19, 06 9:27 am  · 

bloody hell, i used to be a sous-chef for a fancy hotel and couldn't afford anything but mid-road henckels. had to borrow chef's knives (oh so sweet they were), and am flabergasted that architects are dropping a grand on fancy steel. something is so wrong here....? i guess antonio was right when he said architecture and cooking are linked at some deep level.

Sep 19, 06 10:17 am  · 

i feel obliged to chime in to this oh-so-interesting debate.

i was a chef for ten years or so before turning to design, and i can say that i have never seen a more mediocre response to the question of what knives to get!

no offense, but since when did architects become so stodgy and predictable?!?

seriously though, henckels and wusthoff are fine choices, maybe even good ones. but great? no way.

if you want to be cool, and i know you all do, buy japanese.

i'm talking suisun, global, mac, maybe even a brieto.

definitely get masamoto if you really want bling.

the main reasons that most chefs today use japanese knives are the following...

1. sharpness. solingen steel is the extremely durable material that powers all of germany's knives. from f.dick to wusthoff, henckels to whatever, they're all solingen. it's a bittersweet saga, the solingen knife. it'll last you forever sure, but that's because you'll never use it because once it's lost its edge, unless you're pretty savvy, you'll never get it sharp again. it'll sit in the drawer for years. the inox knives from japan are softer sure, and maybe they'll only last 15-20 years, but you'll use them! a quick slash or twon on a sharpening rod, and wham!, they're sharp as, well, a knife.

2. lightweight. all solingen knives are heavy. that's part of why they rarely bend, crack or chip. but if you're a pro, and spend eight hours a day with a knife in your hand, you want it to weigh the same as a gallon of milk? thank you, but no. japanese knives tend to be delicate, slim and designed for finesse. i still have the wusthoff 10" chef's knife i got when i started my culinary career, but now it's been relegated to breaking lobsters and coconuts, a task for which it's perfectly tailored.

3. ease of use. you can do anything with just a few well chosen knives. a santoku will slice, dice, chop and mince without any problem. a deba will do the same once you get used to it. pick one, add a yanagi or takobiki slicer, a peeler (swiss, preferably kuhn) and a good fish spatula, and you can do any bit of knife work you need to, big or small.

and jump, who said anything about dropping a grand?

mac knives are one of my favortite because of their relative low cost. they're comfortable and ergonomic to use, and while they may not last forever, they make a great entry level tool.

check all of them out at

for those of you in or near nyc, korin is THE place to buy knives.

but don't say i didn't warn you. at the high end, these knives are beautiful works of art. sculptural, jewel-inlays, bone handles, the works. some of the finer sushi knives go for a grand a piece!

stick with a mac or a global. you can't beat them for the price.

and lastly, half of my portfolio for grad school was culinary related, and they loved it. though i deferred indefinitely...and from what i've heard, the culinary program at syracuse used to be within the school of architecture. hah!

Sep 20, 06 2:37 am  · 

isn't it true, though, that when you use a sharpening steel, you're only aligning the metal in the same direction, whereas in order to actually sharpen the blade, you need to use a sharpening stone?

Sep 20, 06 8:38 am  · 

Global's just look great. They cut too.

Sep 20, 06 8:58 am  · 

mightylittle , misunderstood cost...

japanese knives are indeed very lovely. i can't afford them, but have wandered the shops here in tokyo and drooled over the handmade lovelies. someday, if i ever make any money as architect (it could happen)...

Sep 20, 06 9:35 am  · 

I find the absolute best knives to be Kyocera Ceramic. I hardly have to sharpen them, and they never fail me. I bought mine at They have some great deals and offer free shipping too. I love....

Aug 22, 07 11:28 am  · 

My vote is for global. I have 3, and they are awesome. Other architects come over and covet them...

Aug 22, 07 8:00 pm  · 

ml- great advice from a pro. I'm thinking about Forschner Fibrox chef's knifes as recommended by Cooks Illustrated- $30 can't be beat. The japanese style blades have a definite appeal...

Aug 22, 07 10:39 pm  · 

Thank you, tk. I was about to ask for suggestions on the lower price tier. I can't afford to spend a lot of money (grad student, remember), but I'm tired of absolutely mutilating tomatoes.

Aug 22, 07 11:12 pm  · 

I can't believe no one mentioned Cutco?? Great knife and its one of the few American made products.

Aug 24, 07 10:10 pm  · 

the forschners are a good bet too.

when i was in culinary school, the knife kit that was provided had both wusthof and forschner fibrox. as mentioned earlier, the wusthof has been relegated to coconut duty, but i still have my old flexible fish fillet knife, and a butcher knife, both forschner.

i will add this too - MAC knives are really not that expensive, just slightly higher then those forschners, but they're great.

i currently have two MACs within reach.

here's one of my all time favorite pairing knives:

it's worth mentioning again that you really DO NOT NEED A WHOLE SET. one 8" deba or santoku or western style chef's knife, one pairing knife, and maybe a fillet knife and you are good to go.

by the time i was leaving cooking to the cooks...i was literally down to such a minimalist knife roll. three-four knives, one slotted fish spatula, a peeler and my heat-resistant rubber spatula and i was ready for anything.

all that being's the BEST pairing knife money can buy:

seriously...eight bucks a pop. i have two. one red, one blue!

Aug 24, 07 11:19 pm  · 
Aug 25, 07 1:13 am  · 

Those paring knives look awesome--my mom always bought french paring knives, for some unknown reason, and german/japanese for everything else. I have no idea why, I know nothing about knives or cooking.

Treekiller, I bought the Forschner chef's knife for my sis as a christmas present precisely because of that cook's illustrated article--and she LOVES it! And she's really picky about her knives. She's only had it a couple years now though so I can't tell you how well it holds up over time. But she says the edge is great and it's easy to use.

Sep 30, 07 3:22 pm  · 
won and done williams

my fiancee and i just registered for wusthof at william sonoma and saw yesterday that someone bought us the 8" chef's knife. we're very excited. we also had to register at a local store that only carried shun. don't know this knife as well other than when i tried it, it seemed incredibly sharp; so sharp, i'm almost scared to use it. i've been using el cheapo henckels for many years that have gotten so dull instead of cutting a tomato it basically just squashes it.

Sep 30, 07 4:23 pm  · 

m- I've been in a quandary about buying myself a forschner knife or the latest alan berger book for my birthday... knife or book, book or knife???? cooking or my head?

Sep 30, 07 5:16 pm  · 

thanks mighty - I was actually putting a list together and a proper kitchen knife was top on the list. So I'm going to look for a mac knife when I go shopping next - yippee~

Sep 30, 07 5:41 pm  · 
Katze can't go wrong with a mac!

Hey, are there any espresso aficionados out there? I am in the market – thinking about the Breville models. Anyone have a model they absolutely love?

Sep 30, 07 9:07 pm  · 
liberty bell

mightylittle, I was so intrigued by your answer - and frustrated by not being able to get my Henckels as sharp as the garage sale Gerber knives I grew up with - that I emailed my dad the metallurgist to ask his opinion:

Henckel knives are indeed made from Solingen steel, which is a very fine grade of hardenable stainless steel perfected a long time ago by German craftsmen. They do have exceptional hardness with an ultra-fine tempered martensite structure that remains very tough. However, the carbides in your steel are quite a bit harder, so they are still capable of sharpening the knives. The problem is that the carbides in the steel remove the particles more slowly from a really hard edge than they do from a softer one. That requires a harder pressure to achieve the equivalent degree of metal removal in the same number of sharpening strokes. The most important thing with sharpening Henckel knives (or any of the other very hard-edged knives like the old Gerbers) is to hold the blade at about a 15-degree angle to the steel, use firm pressure, constant speed strokes, and alternate sides pushing always into the sharp edge, not dragging away from the sharp edge. Fifteen to twenty strokes are all that are needed if the dull knife already has a 15-degree angle. If the edge is blunted or rounded from abusive use, dishwasher corrosion (never wash good quality metal knives in a dishwasher), or bad previous attempts at sharpening, you will need to use a fine grit stone to restore the 15 degree angle and then use the steel to replace it. The softer knives sharpen easier, but then lose their edge faster. Knife sharpening is an acquired skill.


Dad always sharpens my knives when he comes to visit, which sadly hasn't happened in awhile. He reminded me that after he sharpens his own Henckels (or the old wood-handled Gerbers that I love), he can shave the hair off his arm. So I just need to practice more on getting mine sharp myself. Or buy my dad a plane ticket.

Oct 1, 07 11:15 am  · 

thanks for the input folks. we too are in the market for some new knives. the place my wife and i registered only carries Henckels so choices are limited. we are also cooking at home more and more lately. it's helpful to know which knives are essential and which are rarely used.

Oct 1, 07 11:57 am  · 
won and done williams

henckel makes good knives if you shell out the big bucks. my hopelessly dull henckels cost about $20 from target. i've never even really bothered to give them a sharpening.

Oct 1, 07 12:12 pm  · 

LB - great comment, and in my estimation, here's the important tidbit from your dad:

If the edge is blunted or rounded from abusive use, dishwasher corrosion (never wash good quality metal knives in a dishwasher), or bad previous attempts at sharpening, you will need to use a fine grit stone to restore the 15 degree angle and then use the steel to replace it.

unless you're either A:An Eagle Scout or B:A Pro Cook, you will likely not have any idea exactly HOW to go about replacing the 15º angle on your knife using a stone, thereby relegating your otherwise high-quality knives to a life of busting coconuts.

knife sharpening is indeed an art, and nothing less. if it were easy or not art, why would there always be that one renegade cowboy off-the-grid-living longhaired throwback to the sixties guy at every farmers market sharpening peoples knives and scissors while they wait?!?

that being said, i am fortunately both A and B, so i have been forced to spend hours and hours learning and practicing the fine art of honing and sharpening. i also was fortunate enough to have received a great lesson from the old sensei at Korin knives in NYC on how to do it correctly on my japanese knives...which is a whole other conversation.

for the record - henckels/wusthoff and f.dick all make great quality stuff, i have just found that for myself, and anecdotally for many others, that lighter weight knives like globals, MAC's, and even the softer forschners are a better buy for most needs.

i would rather have sharp knives with a shorter lifespan than dull knives that last forever!!

Oct 1, 07 2:26 pm  · 

I have a set of Cutco steak knives. Not a fan of serrated blades, but my guests have always been able to tear through cow with those things.

For a good chefs knife, Japanese is the only way to go. German blades are so 20th century.

Oct 1, 07 3:06 pm  · 

And Japanese blades are very 16th century unless you get ceramic.

Oct 1, 07 3:34 pm  · 

not the INOX ones...they're about as au courant as you can get...

Oct 1, 07 3:39 pm  · 

Just got this beauty from Korin a few weeks ago. If I only had to keep one kitchen knife this would be it. Although I still have my Chris Reeve classic sebenza for every day carry.

I also love using Ken Onion's (Shun) chef knife though.

Oct 1, 07 6:18 pm  · 
liberty bell

mightylittle, congrats on the Eagle Scout! I've always been impressed with that achievement - it's a lot to commit to as a young kid.

So re: sharpening the Japanese knives, is it still at 15d., or is that angle different?

I'm intrigued enough to try a Japanese knife this holiday season, I know that much. And simultaneously learn to sharpen my Germans better.

Oct 1, 07 6:50 pm  · 

here's a great piece on the eGullet forums about sharpening...way more technical and verbose than even i can be in my most verbose moods:

Read it here.

lb - if you stick with the cheaper end of the the japanese spectrum (mac, global, shun, etc.) the finer (d'oh!) points (double d'oh!!) of sharpening aren't quite as important.

if you learn to use a sharpening rod or steel fairly comfortably, you'll be fine to go a good long while without needing to break out the stones. there's a pic on the link i posted, about halfway down, where the guy's got his steel with the point on the table on a towel...this is a safe and easy method to use!

the sharpening angle on japanese knives depends on what type of knife it is...a single-beveled yanagi with a convex blade sharpens very differently than a double-beveled deba. many knives of this variety come with a brief but valuable guide...if you can read japanese!

btw - i love remonio's nenox up above...another great maker of western-style japanese knives.

Oct 1, 07 7:43 pm  · 

liberty bell,
Japanese Knives - 15d
Have you ever used this to sharpen knives?

Very low learning curve. You can use either a 15 or 20 degree angle and fine for single sided bevel Japanese knives as well as serrated edges.

Oct 1, 07 7:47 pm  · 

i've always been partial to these:

but i'll have to check out the spyderco set-up...looks cool.

Oct 1, 07 7:54 pm  · 

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