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Looking for a high quality knife

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm hoping you can give me some advice on purchasing a new 8 or 9 inch chef knife for my Sister for her birthday.

Ideally I'd like something pretty high quality that sharpens easily. My dad has a 30 year old Henckel french knife that sharpens extremely easily to an incredibly sharp edge, but dulls somewhat quickly--which is totally fine since it's so easy to sharpen. I'd love to find something like this for my sister.

I was thinking of a Henckel or Wustof (ETA: just read more posts and am now wondering about a Sabatier???), but they each have a bunch of different lines and I'm not sure what the difference is between the lines--which ones are easiest to sharpen and cut well, etc.

Many of the new knives (on websites) advertise "stain resistant" metal, which worries me. My dad's knife is very "old" looking (the metal isn't shiny at all, and it has stains all over it), and I'm concerned that the new knives will have sacrificed some of the "ease of sharpening" for the "stay pretty." I'd rather have a knife that works really well and I can sharpen easily than one that looks nice, but I can't get it to take an edge.

Also, do you all have advice on a sharpener to buy for them? We are just home cooks, so don't have big sharpening skills and would prefer something functional but easy (not too technical)

Thanks a bunch, I really appreciate the help.
Carlyle
post #2 of 21
First off alot of knives dont fit right into peoples hands, so maybe try and take her to a store and try what fits best. As far as knives go you have the Japanese knves(shun, global, mac) which are very sharp(think razor blade) but will dull quickly if you do alot of knife work. Then there are German(wusthof, henkels, f dick) which are sharp and stay pretty sharp. Both sell around the same price, and are good, most old school people like German because of tradition and such. Me personaly i have wusthof knives, and love them. As for sharpeners most electric will screw up the bevel on the knife and realy screw up the knife. I would just get a dimond steel and use that every day before use, just make sure you steel corectly. And when the knive does become dull i would either send them away to a sharpener or find a local one.
post #3 of 21
From all you describe what you're looking for is a knife with a carbon steel blade, rather than stainless.

Stainless holds an edge for a long time, once it's sharpened. But it's not simple to do. As Adam points out, however, you should be concerned with honing and steeling, not actually sharpening. That job can be left to professionals.

And do not buy a knife that the user hasn't tried. 99% of good knife work consists of having the right tool that is comfortable in your hand. Blade size, thickness, amount of rocker, handle design, handle material, weight of the knife and other factors all contribute to feel, and the best knife in the world is useless if it doesn't fit right.

So take her to the store and let her play, using knives the way she would at home. The shop will provide a cutting board for that purpose.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 21
Is your sister willing to wash and dry a carbon steel knife like your father's? Carbon takes a bit extra work but is most often worth it.

Department store stainless steel blades ( Henckel, Wustoff, etc) are made for people who are going to abuse the knives - not clean them, put them in a dishwasher, whatever. The SS they use is usually a version of 440A steel which is highly stainless but can only get so so sharp and will not hold an edge long. Excellent stainless is available but it comes at a price.

How much do you want to spend?

There are excellent carbon steel blades available which get much sharper than stainless and hold their edges very well. These too come at various price levels and the difference between 1095 carbon (which is a very good steel) and Hitachi Aogami Super Steel (which is fantastic) is enormous.

Bottom line, name a price for a 10" chef's knife and we'll help point you toward products that meet your budget.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
THanks for the help! I was thinking something under $100-$130 (for probably an 8" knife)...are there Wustof knives that hold an edge longer for this price or under (on their website the "Classic Ikon" line says "Easy to sharpen"--is that a load of hooey?)? When it does need sharpening, how long does it take/how hard is it?

I think I'm leaning towards the carbon steel knife, since I know that they won't abuse it (they'll keep it dry, not put in dishwasher, etc) and it should be easier to sharpen. But if it's possible to get a nice stainless steel (?"High carbon steel?") that wouldn't be too hard to sharpen I might go that way since they wouldn't have to sharpen it as often. What do you think?

(And what kind of sharpener or honing/steeling tool would you recommend for each option?)

THanks a bunch.
C
post #6 of 21
Talking about Aogami Super steel... Hiromoto make some excellent knives from the AS steel.
www .japanesechefsknife.com/TenmiJyurakuSeries.html#WIDTH:%20451px;%20HEIGHT:% 20187px

Beautiful carbon steel clad between stainless steel, how sensible is that.
Full-tang, riveted wooden handle and no clumsy Euro bolster... sweet!
Gyuto's edge curve is slightly shallower than French cook's knife but a little adjustment to cutting style and that razor edge just shines.

If you're not going for the carbon steel knives that turn black slicing lemons, at least go for the ones cladded with stainless steel like Hiromoto or Tojiro (who make some excellent value knives), if not at least simple but sweet European stamped high carbon stainless knives, eventhough my favourite knife is a forged half-tang stainless steel knife with a plastic handle and irritating bolster.

Hard carbon blades will hold that fine edge better than the usual soft Euro stainless-steel, stainless is 'good' because they're soft and easy to hone back which is probably perceived as sharper as carbon steel takes longer to hone back if not honed regularly. And for carbon steel can be perceived as easy to sharpen as they resist too much metal consumption to fine tune that edge better.


As for sharpening and honing, I prefer waterstones a nice fine and hard one for polishing the edge and a coarse one for cutting a proper edge on new knives like boning knives.
As for honing I love my 12" F Dick Dickoron Combi (Orange 'marbled' handle, square rod with sapphire cut and and polished faces). Two brilliant steels in one.
post #7 of 21
GOTO korin dot com and look at the Tojiros.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #8 of 21
First off, yes the knife should fit the person's hand. Second, if you want a good knife, get a Forschner. You can spend more, if you really want a "sharp" looking knife :lol::lol: the Professionally Forged series adds some class to the knife. Forschner uses high carbon stainless, cleans up easily, never rusts, looks good all the time. As far as a knife that is easy to sharpen, you're looking for a knife with a "hollow edge". These knives are incredibly easy to sharpen and dull quickly because the edge flattens easier. cutleryandmore.com has a great selection of Forschner knives at good prices. For sharpening your knife use a high grit (600 or more) steel. DON'T use a diamond steel every time you sharpen your knife. Diamond steels remove material and overuse causes unnecessary wear and will eventually make it so the knife will no longer hold and edge. When steeling the knife hold it (the knife) against the steel at a 15-20 degree angle (about an 1/8th of an inch). Move the knife from your wrist 3/4 down the steel using the same amount of pressure all the way. Repeat for the other side of the edge using the same amount of pressure. Do this 5 or 6 times. This will keep your knife sharp. When your knife does need to be sharpened, use a whet stone. Even if it's motorized, or take it to a professional who will use a whet stone. DO NOT GRIND YOUR KNIFE! Grinding your knife ruins it instantly, the excessive heat from grinding tempers the metal ruining it. The same goes for dishwashers, don't put your knives in them, wash them by hand.

I am a Journeyman Butcher, I make my living with my knife.
post #9 of 21
Sorry Butcher but I have a few comments about your post. Don't take it personally.

First of all - Forschners. They're made by the Swiss Army Knife folks and are quite nice. However, the steel is the same general stuff as is also used in Wusthoffs, J.A. Henckles, and a hundred other manufacturers. It is, or is a version of, 440A steel of which the main quality is that it is stuffed with chromium and that makes them highly stainless. The reason these knives are of 440A is that the makers know that the average consumer is going to leave them dirty, toss them in a drawer with a bunch of other steel to scrape and dull the blades, toss in the dishwasher, whatever. 440A is soft, takes no more than a "good" edge, and dulls prematurely. I have three Forschner Victorinox forged blades from Solingen, you know, the good ones, forged, the best they have to offer. They have been in storage for the last two years because they can't hold a candle to the rest of my knives.

Secondly, you said, "For sharpening your knife use a high grit (600 or more) steel." I have never seen a 600 grit steel. Perhaps you can enlighten me. STEELS ---- There are only two types you should ever use. 1) Glass smooth - Rockwell hardness 64 or so. These are used BEFORE each use of the knife to realign the edge. 2) Ceramic - to EXTREMELY LIGHTLY hone as a final sharpening step if you do not have access to a strop (a huge topic on its own). Those steels that come with knife sets, you know, the ones with the grooves, toss them in your recycling bin. They are nothing more than a file and hack the edges to shreads. Nobody I know, including several people who sharpen knives for a living, would ever touch one of those things. They will do one thing I admit. They take a dull knife and make it less dull with a very ragged edge. Ugh. My knives cut like a razor, not like a chainsaw.

Third: Grinding. I'm floored. All knives you buy are ground at the factory. You must be talking about cheap grinding wheels from hardware stores that run at 3600 RPM or thereabouts. Knife manufacturers' grinding wheels are about three feet in diameter, run at a couple hundred RPM at the most, and are continously washed in water for cooling. For you and me, there are paper wheels available which do run on 3600 RPM machines, one side to sharpen, the other to polish (strop). Done properly, no damage to the steels's heat treating. I've done hundreds.

There is so much misinformation out there. It's mind boggling. I guess it's all about marketing......

The best knives, by far, do not come from Solingen, Germany, Thiers, France, or Scheffield, England. They come from Japan and from U.S. custom makers. You don't have to get a second mortgage, but you do have to pay.

Once a chef or home cook uses a REAL kitchen knife, they never look back.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #10 of 21
That's right all the steal is basically the same. So why spend so much more money? Except you obviously have no idea how to maintain a knife with that kind of edge they put on it. I'm not going to go into detail about the different edges here, it's pointless. I'm sorry Buzzard had a bad experience with his Forschner knives.

The bottom line is this, I use my knife more in one day than any chef does in a month. Having a good knife for me means the difference between having shoulder replacement surgery when I'm 50 or not. At the end of the day, I can steel my knife one more time properly, and still shave the hair off my arm with it. You can't ask for much better than that.

I'm not saying Forschner is the end all be all of knives, but Forschner makes good knives. That's why they've been around for over 100 years.
post #11 of 21
on another note.

I believe its all about the feel. I jsut treated myself to a new knife. I was looking at the globals and I was jsut looking around at henkels and wustoffs and stuff. What turned me off about the henkles and the wustoff was that the bulster goes all the way down. I like for the whole blade to be a blade. I like to use the back tip of the knife alot for different things.

So it was down between a global which I hear all the rave about and a calphalon. It came down to feel and I fel in love with the calphalon.



I ended up buy the set off of ebay.

basic thing about metals. If its a soft metal it will shapen easy but dull fast. If its a harder metal it will be harder to sharpen but the edge will last longer.

A FURI knife sharpener is good for home use. I bought that shark thing and its sharpens really fast and keeps a nice edge
post #12 of 21
Mr. Butcher - did you even read what I wrote?

All steals may be basically the same but that does not apply to "steels". There are tremendous differences, and it's intentional depending on the purpose of the blade. Why spend so much more money? Chevys are nice cars, but quite a few people buy Ferraris. Yes, they cost big bucks, but there are plenty of enthusiasts willing to fork it over. You may not agree, but these people are getting what they are paying for. Ask them.

I know a ton about edges, and you're going to find that out. Stick around. Oh, I didn't have a bad experience with my Forschners nor did I say I did. What I said is that there are better knives to be had. Simple. And as to your 100 year "logic", I have three knives from the Moritaka Hamono, Inc. Japanese custom house. They've been in continuous business within the same family (presently 28th generation) since 1293. Yup, you read that right. That's over 700 years so I guess my Moritakas are seven times better than your Forschners..... :roll:

There is a guy who has spent his entire life learning about what makes knives sharp. For forty years he has worked with various sharpening techniques, sharpened for others and has seen whether it worked or not. A large part of his studies took place in packing houses, full of butchers, just like you. Mr. Butcher, you probably aren't going to like what he found out, ie. knives are sharpened with stones, and the edges are kept in alignment with glass smooth steels. That's it in a nutshell. His name is John Juranitch and you can read all about it in his book The Razor Edge Book Of Sharpening. I'll give you one thing (sort of), he likes SS better than carbon blades. This, however, comes with an asterisk. He sharpened at 20 to 25 degrees per side. 440A steel edges tend to literally crumble when sharpened much more acutely than 15 degrees. In my world, some of my online buds are sharpening at 4 per side, but that's another topic, and it doesn't include 440A.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #13 of 21

steel

I meant steel, as in the material used to create the knife. Also Carlyle said he or she did not want to buy a Ferrari, he or she said they wanted to spend under $100 if possible. Look you may have time to sit there and pick apart everything I say, but I have a life. I'm just trying to help Carlyle out.:roll: Oh, and I don't recommend Fibrox handles, I don't like the way they feel, and they get slippery.
post #14 of 21
BigBadButcher - when you make statements like "Except you obviously have no idea how to maintain a knife with that kind of edge they put on it." the door is open. So don't do that. Okay?

Now I do have to agree with you re: Fibrox handles. I have two older Forschner fibrox skinning knives that I bought from a packing house. My son and I use in deer season. I do like the abuse the SS steel can take working in the snow, but the handles feel clunky.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #15 of 21
Now about Fibrox/plastic handles...

I find an improvement in grip when I get some sandpaper and sand smooth the textured surface of the plastic. Easier to clean as well.

But I still prefer riveted wooden handles, there's something that feels so right about them.
post #16 of 21

Sabatier, by far

Sabatier, by far, beat out the other models I've tried. I've never seen this scale of knives like this offered at this price point. I've outfitted my entire restaurant and home kitchens with Sabatier cuttleries.

-Phil Moyers
Phil Moyers
Expert Chef
The Arches Restaurant
Los Angeles, California
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Phil Moyers
Expert Chef
The Arches Restaurant
Los Angeles, California
Reply
post #17 of 21

Basic chef knife

Carlyle,
Most chefs will recommend German knives (Henkes, Wusthoff), because they make traditional french style chef knife, which is used in Western culinary schools. You won't go wrong with one of those, just make sure you get the high end forged model. It looks like this is what your dad has.

However, if you want truly exceptional knife, most Japanese steel knives are far superior in terms of sharpness and edge retention. Just go to your local mall and compare sharpness of a Shun knife and any German knife, you'll see the difference. And Shun will stay sharp longer. This is not a theory or personal opinion, it's been proven by many reviews and physical properties of VG10 steel used to make many Japanese knives.

And getting a carbon steel knife would probably NOT be a good choice for most home cooks. Carbon steel is generally better for sharpness, but it will rust without proper care. You have to wipe it constantly if you cut tomatoes, onions and other acidic food, can not leave it wet for long time. The best choice is high carbon stainless steel.

Sabatier is no longer the brand that can be trusted with quality. They have a wide range of products both great and downright terrible. I was given a set as a gift and the only usable part of it was the storage wooden block.

BTW, if you want some light reading about knives, sign up for knifeforums.com and look through the kitchen section.
post #18 of 21
"light reading"????? I'm on that forum every day. knifeforums dot com GOTO "in the kitchen". The forum is composed of chefs, knife makers, and home cooks, and professional sharpeners. There is an incredible amount of knowledge to be found there. Ask a question, no matter how stupid you might think it is, and you will get your answer in a heartbeat. Nearly all of us know a lot about keeping a knife wickedly sharp. If you hang out there for awhile you'll learn a lot, and this, from people who actually know what they're talking about. Not much guessing at knifeforums, mostly just facts. By the way, one of the things you'l learn is that you CAN'T get your Germans wickedly sharp and/or keep them that way. The edge won't last a dozen cuts.

I own exactly 2 stainless kitchen knives, a bread knife and a 30 year old Chicago Cutlery meat cleaver that I seldom use. What I do use is carbon steel, various Japanese, three 40-50 year old Thiers-Issard Sabatiers, and 2 US customs made out of L6. L6 is a carbon steel used in band saws in the Pacific NW. It's main quality is that it can take a pounding without bending or chipping - fantastic boning knives.

You know, besides a bread knife and maybe a paring knife, the only thing you'll ever really need is about an 8" chef's knife. That knife will get 90% of the use. Why not treat yourself and get something you'll look forward to using?

Look around here:

moritakahamono dot com for an excellent and reasonable custom shop

japanesechefsknife dot com


Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #19 of 21
Buzz, I guess it is hard to relay an understatement in an online post.
P.S. Glad to see your Moritaka Chukabocho issue resolved.
post #20 of 21
Point taken.

It's ironic that you have to go to a knife site to get the real information on kitchen knives as the information about cooks' knives on cooking and chef forums is so incredibly limited. It should be a specialty.

I know, Aleck, as you do, that any chef or home cook who ever gets the chance to use a Carter Nakiribocho will NEVER look back.

Buzz - shoulders hunched :confused:
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #21 of 21
Just get her a Misono UX10 and sharpen it once per year.
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