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inexpensive chefs knives ?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
well , i'm looking to buy a set of knives as a christmas present for myself this year . i dont have a lot of money to spend on them , but i would like to get something decent . i have always used whatever was on hand at home , and at work we use "next day gourmet" cheapy knives that seem to need sharpening hourly . i am hoping to stay in the $100 -$125 range . any recomendations would be greatly appreciated .
post #2 of 27
How many knives is a set to you? I picked up a slicer and a chef in Germany (Wustoff), and add on as I go. I don't care if they match and I only use a couple all the time. My favorite is a Santoku. I'm only happy with the high carbon. I recieved a JB Prince catalog yesterday that had some decent priced MAC knives with a full tang.
"My kitchen years are written on my hands."
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"My kitchen years are written on my hands."
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post #3 of 27
In the realm of knives, the old adage, "You get what you pay for" holds pretty much true. To get a full set of knives for $100 you would definately have to get second rate knives. Instead, I would do what most young cooks do. Since you already have knives I would just get 1 or 2 at a time until you have replaced them all. For just over $125 dollars you could buy a high end 8 inch chef's knife, a high end paring knife and a Dexter Russell boning knife (one of the only lower end knives that I truly endorse). This is a good start to get you going. As time goes on and money becomes available you can then replace your serrated "bread" knife, a long slicer, and a couple of utility knives (they are like long paring knives).
post #4 of 27
I would be hard-pressed to suggest a SET of knives for any reason, expecially on a tight budget. Is a set necessary? Can you buy one decent knife and build your collection as you go? I would suggest taking a look at the Kershaw/Shun line if you want to go the 'one knife at a time' route. Besides, sets are too much of a headache... you may like the Chef's knife that comes in the set, but may hate the filet and boning knives, etc.

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #5 of 27
I agree with what everyone has said about sets: DON'T :rolleyes:

What are the knives you work with the most? Those are all you really need. Probably a chef, parer, and maybe boning knife. Beyond that, a slicer is nice, but only if you use it a lot.

For inexpensive but good knives, I like the Sanelli line; very comfortable to my hand. I've gotten some at Broadway Panhandler but they are probably available elsewhere. My favorite online source is Knife Merchant, but I wouldn't buy something I've never held in my hand.
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #6 of 27
Hi,
I would keep an eye out on Amazon and ebay. Just before I paid full price for my Global knives locally, Amazon had the 3 piece set with the shinkansen sharpener for $129.

If you're not in a hurry, it might be a decent way to get some high quality knives without compromising.

VM
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
thank you for all the replies . i think i will go with most every ones suggestions and just get the ones i use . i really only use 3 for most occasions so i'll just look to get them for now . being as i've only been cooking professionaly for less than a year and a half , i dont have a lot of experience with quality cutlery . i've been working in a small place and unfortunately under the ownership of an extreme tightwad . at home as i said i use what ever i have on hand . since i have been working full time as a cook , i have become much more proficeint with a knife than i was before . i just think that i could do a lot better if i had some tools that were worth using .

ok , so what are some of the better names that i should look for . i want to get a chefs knife , a paring knife and a boning knife . if need be i guess i could do without the boning knife for now , but would like to get one . i have about 125 to spend give or take a few bucks . also where should i go to find them . i dont have a credit card so i cant buy online . besides i think i would like to be able to hold something before i actually buy it . thanks in advance again for the help everyone .
post #8 of 27
wise to pick just the ones you'll use.Best bang for buck (to me) is victorinox/forschner.Very sharp(and easy to resharpen) and very inexpensive.Not sure where to buy in your area,but check your yellow pages for butcher supply stores.I've found them to have excellent pricing. edited to add:those three knives(together) with the fibrox handles should be way under your budget.
post #9 of 27
In addition to the excellent advice you've received here, you might want to look at some extended exploration of this subject on the eGullet site where many ChefTalkers also participate and/or lurk. You might do a search on both sites as this subject has probably come up several times.

The most recent include:

EGullet Culinary Institute segment on Basic Knife Skills:
http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?showtopic=25958

& http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?...f=108&t=25957&


An additional discussion occurs at:
http://egullet.com/?pg=ARTICLE-chadknife

& http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?showtopic=33677
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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post #10 of 27
Markface has probably made his purchase already, but I'll throw in my two cents for anyone who checks out this thread in the future.

The sharpest edge that you can get for the money is an old-fashioned carbon steel knife (less than half the price of high-carbon stainless). Each time you pull it out of the knife rack, you drag it across a steel a few times, and you've got about the sharpest edge you can get.

Yes, they get ugly. So what? Yes, they require a little more care than high-carbon stainless, but not so much. Basically, you just have to dry them right away. There are certain foods that they will stain, but not many. So, keep one stainless around for these applications. (Also, if you keep a thin layer of oil on the knife, you eliminate this problem. I rarely wash my carbon steel knives with soap, just very hot water, so they always have a protective film on them.)

As for balance and handle comfort, let me suggest that unless you are a professional cook handling the knife several hours every day, these considerations are far, far less important than a razor sharp blade. The feel of the knife just won't matter very much.

A relative who trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris once told me that a chef there told her that the cheapest piece of tin makes the best knife.

The biggest problem with carbon steel knives can be finding them. You'll probably find them only in a professional restaurant supply house, such as several on the Bowery in New York.
post #11 of 27
While that has traditionally been true, it is less true today, and I'd wager that it's out and out false now.

For reference on the following discussion, refer to Steel Guide

Consider that the carbon content of a high carbon stainless steel knife is right around 1%, on average. 440A is a common stainless steel for kitchen cutlery. Really cheap stuff is probably 420.

The good "carbon" steels also hang out around 1%, but very rarely higher. 01, 1095 being very popular in hand crafted knives and tough stuff. It's not what you see in the cheap carbon kitchen knives. Just as with stainless, lower carbon knives are the dominant steel. Both for cost and maintenance reasons.

Carbon is what turns iron into steel. The more carbon,, the better the steel can be. Not automatically is, however.

The critical piece in the comparison you're making is in the heat treatment of the steel. Stainless was harder to heat treat. And fabrication methods didn't create as good of a crystalline matrix in stainless steels. Those flaws are exposed in the heat treat.

But with the economics of stainless compared to carbon, there has been great progress in the heat treatment of stainless steel. Additionally, steel can now be fabricated from fine powders and vaccuum "forged" creating very consistent crystalline structures.

Only at the very lowest end of the scale with knives no one on this board would consider for kitchen use would I consider your statement to be true in todays' kitchen knives.

And a big factor in the test is the user's ability to sharpen.

On that list, I own knives in various steels. From the staining steels, i have D2 and M2. From the stainless, I have 440C, ATS-34, 154CM, AUS 6, AUS 8, 12C27 and S30V.

The S30V is the best of the bunch and the most expensive. I'm not impressed with the D2. Very hard to sharpen and not particularly good at holding the edge. The M2 is also hard to sharpen but will hold the edge longer than ATS34 and lesser steels. I use it for very hard use only when I absolutely need the edge and can't stop to touch up the edge. S30V in stainless can keep up with it with much easier resharpening and costs only somewhat more than the M2.

The other hassle with carbon steel in the kitchen is the staining of the food. Forget about the knife. Cut artichokes iwth a carbon blade and watch them discolor.

Chop a bunch of potatoes and look for the black streaks from your blade.

Carbon isn't worth it in the kitchen.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #12 of 27
I use a chef's knife for most stuff. About 10 years ago, I got a job as a prep cook at a place that would provide a resourse for buying a knife if you didn't already have one. I bought a Forshner (sorry about the spelling if it's wrong) for $15. I still have it. It's lighter than I like to use for a lot of applications - I like a heavy knife - but I can't complain. Forshner used to be wood handled, though. You have to make sure it gets cleaned well where the wood meets the blade.

But if had to spend less than $100 and I could only have one knife, that's what I would get.

RF
"'If I watch out for rocks
With my eyes straight ahead,
I'll keep out of trouble
Forever,' I said."
Dr. Seuss, "I Had Trouble in getting to Solla Sollew"
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"'If I watch out for rocks
With my eyes straight ahead,
I'll keep out of trouble
Forever,' I said."
Dr. Seuss, "I Had Trouble in getting to Solla Sollew"
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post #13 of 27
Phil,

I am new to this site, and its nice to meet you, but I respectfully disagree. Let's talk about discoloration. Artichokes discolor no matter what you cut them with, which is why you need ro rub a little lemon juice on the cut surfaces. And I promise that a well- maintained (i.e., not scoured) carbon steel knife won't discolor food very often. And, as I said, if you use carbon steel you should keep a stainless or two around for the rare instances when stainless has an advantage.

As for the edge, no doubt that carbon does not HOLD an edge as well, but it TAKES an edge better with a few strokes on a steel. And remember, I'm talking home cooking, not restaurant use (although its interesting that just about the only place that you can find carbon steel in the U.S. is in a restaurant supply store). If a home cook runs the blade over a steel when he or she firsts takes out the knife for each meal, how many times do you think he or she will really need to re-sharpen the knife?

I guess the other factor is how you feel about your tools. A carbon steel knife connects me to my mother, my grandmother, and even my great-grandmother (who I never met, but whose ten-inch carbon steel knife resides in my mother's knife rack) and to generations of skilled cooks. I feel the same way about an iron skillet. It connects me to a tradition.

32
post #14 of 27
Tradition is nice, sure. I cook in cast iron a lot because it cooks well and I use it outdoors too. I'm a Scoutmaster and that traditional method of cooking works very well there.

In the 70s when I did most of my growing up, we had two carbon steel kitchen knives. An 8-10 inch chef's knife and a parer. They were by far the sharpest in the drawer then. Even though they needed less sharpening, they need more maintenance in my opinion.

If you do make a commitment to carbon, I recommend mineral oil for your blade. It's food safe and will keep your blade safe when in not in use..

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #15 of 27
fwiw, I ordered a couple of sabatier au carbone chefs knifes from Amazon afew weeks ago. They were out of stock and am waiting for shipment. Both 8 and 10" chefs were 49.95 with no freight. Worth a look.
As someone who uses knifes for a living I've never had a carbon knife but have used them-and am looking forward to them vs the wustof, heinkels, messermiester etc... stainless that inhabit my toolbox. It seems with stainless i can't hold an edge for more than a couple of days-week with hitting the norton again or send them out for factory sharpening.

hth, danny
post #16 of 27
I recall reading somewhere (grey memory gap) that the newer Sabatier carbon steel knives are not as good as the old ones. Anyone know if that is true?
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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post #17 of 27
i think China was supplying their lower end knifes but haven't heard of a change in the French made ones. I'll let ya know when i get mine :).

danny
post #18 of 27
You got a deal, dano. The prices for those knives on amazon today are considerably higher. Better make sure they make good on your order.

Anway, I need to replace my 8" and now you've made me covet one of these. When you get them, please let us know how you like them.

32
post #19 of 27
if your have $125 to spend on knives, your best bet is to spend $100 on your Chef's Knife and $25 on your boning knife and paring knife.
post #20 of 27
yeah, i got a couple of "good" chefs knives that have been following me around for a while ;) just gettin tired of them-and the edge. Might have to get a carbon steel boner though...
And still waiting for the dang things.
danny
post #21 of 27

Suggestions

I will agree with several people, Sanelli(great handles and a big variety of blade profiles) and Forschner (inexpensive but quailty) if you are not obsessive about forged knives. If you are a big fan of the more traditional ( Wusthof, Sabatier) forged knives, I have a slightly offbeat suggestion, Mundial. Brazilian made of German steel, they are less expensive than "second tier" Spanish made Henckels and in my opinion(just an opinion) better. The best "cheap" chefs knives I ever bought were very surprising- a 6 piece set of forged ("Professional Series" ;) ) Tramontina knives for 70 bucks, also made in Brazil with German steel they don't hold an edge as well as the better German and French brands but they took a nice edge easily and had good weight and balance. Unfortunately Tramontina also makes some of the most profoundly inferior knives you will find under a brand name so you have to be careful.

P.S. One other suggestion, if you are not a traditional European knife only kind of person I will also suggest the Kershaw "Wasabi" line for a great $20-$30 asian santoku. Wasabi Santoku
post #22 of 27

inexpensive knife set?

in the discussion of inexpensive knives, why doesn't anyone ever mention the most widely sold/used knife brand in the regular restaurant kitchen ...
dexter/russell sani-safes with the white plastic handles?

all over san francisco, anyway, i ALWAYS find a few of these hanging around being used by lower line prep chefs. i own 12 of these knives and they have served me well for over twenty years. they have lots of shapes and sizes and are NSF approved for commercial kitchen use and can be sharpened well enough for just about anyone's use.

a local restaurant supply shop has an occasional 50% off sale on sani-safes
and you can pick up a six knife set (of your choosing) for under $100.
post #23 of 27

inexpensive chef's knives

If you are a big fan of the more traditional ( Wusthof, Sabatier) forged knives, I have a slightly offbeat suggestion, Mundial. Brazilian made of German steel, they are less expensive than "second tier" Spanish made Henckels and in my opinion(just an opinion) better. The best "cheap" chefs knives I ever bought were very surprising- a 6 piece set of forged ("Professional Series" ;) ) Tramontina knives for 70 bucks, also made in Brazil with German steel they don't hold an edge as well as the better German and French brands but they took a nice edge easily and had good weight and balance. Unfortunately Tramontina also makes some of the most profoundly inferior knives you will find under a brand name so you have to be careful.

===== how about another brazilian made knife ... the boker "arbolito" line
of stamped knives? made from german steel with full three rivet handles,
they have the traditional german feel but at a lighter weight. also ... can
you believe the 10" chef's knife is only around $20.00?? you can get the
4" paring, 6" chef's, 8" chef's, 8" bread, and 10" chef's knives for under
$100.00!!
post #24 of 27
The good "carbon" steels also hang out around 1%, but very rarely higher. 01, 1095 being very popular in hand crafted knives and tough stuff. It's not what you see in the cheap carbon kitchen knives.
===== except maybe "old hickory" knives for under $15.00 each??

Only at the very lowest end of the scale with knives no one on this board would consider for kitchen use would I consider your statement to be true in todays' kitchen knives.

And a big factor in the test is the user's ability to sharpen.

On that list, I own knives in various steels. From the staining steels, i have D2 and M2. From the stainless, I have 440C, ATS-34, 154CM, AUS 6, AUS 8, 12C27 and S30V.

The other hassle with carbon steel in the kitchen is the staining of the food. Forget about the knife. Cut artichokes iwth a carbon blade and watch them discolor.

Chop a bunch of potatoes and look for the black streaks from your blade.

Carbon isn't worth it in the kitchen.

===== just wondering, phil ... what kind of steels are being used by
the inexpensive japanese makers?? i heard of 1K daido (?) used by kai
for their wasabi line of knives and several other lines, and what about
V-10 and sus410 and others?? between kiya, masamoto, hiramoto,
and various other knifemakers, a lot of these steels are being used and they seem to be very excellent knives!!

Phil
post #25 of 27
Q: does 1 global chef knife +1 global veg. knife = 1 global santoku knife?
post #26 of 27
I have a rather large knife collection. What I really use is my 10inch Shun Chefs, 6 inch Shun prep and my generic Santouko.
post #27 of 27
I agree about the Brazilian knives. They ARE fantastic value for price. I used to use Montana knives - they are professional quality. However for my kitchen I bought Victorinox will only replace them with the same ones.
They are everything good knives need to be and yet cost like some cheap immitations.
I have 9" chefs, 21cm Bread, 16cm filleter, 10cm rabbit/boning, and all small peelers/sliicers - They are so cheap.
You will fit your budget and get real professional quality knives.
Some more info is here :

http://www.cookware-uk.co.uk/BrowseC...-Knives&cid=16

The cons I wrote are for the professional chefs who work all day with their knives. For a home kitchen this is not inportant.

And do not buy a set .

Cheers! :)
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