Hi there! I'm 17 and this year I have taken a great interest in cooking. A few years ago my parents bought a bunch of Farberware Pro knives, and after some research as well as personal experience I realize they're junk. We don't take care of the knives either: we put them in the dishwasher, leave them laying around with food or water on them, and hardly ever sharpen them (and one of us decides to try to sharpen them, we use one of these guys and are unsuccessful). I feel like it's not worth it to maintain them considering Cook's Illustrated said in their review of our chef's knife, "forget slicing—we could only "bruise" onions."
My parents aren't in the financial position to buy knives and they don't really mind using the ones we have, so I've decided to start my own collection. Considering my lack of experience and the fact that I don't know exactly what I want in a knife, I don't want to pay much more than $50 for a chef's knife. Superior quality isn't a priority, I just want a decent knife I can care for and use to develop my cutting and sharpening skills.
The Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife looks like a great option but I don't really like the handle. I'm afraid I might come to rely on the grip and I don't like the way it looks. From the small amount of lurking I've done here, I also would prefer a forged knife which the Victorinox isn't. Alton Brown (the chef I see most as a role model) in his Gear For Your Kitchen book says that taper-ground edges, more commonly found on forged knives, are more difficult to sharpen but hold their edge longer than the hollow-ground edges more common on stamped knives. For this reason I lean heavily toward forged knives. I'd also like to have a bolster but I can be swayed. I should also add I am looking at mostly 8-inch models because the aforementioned Farberware chef's knife I have is eight inches and is almost too big more most of what I do.
After a little research I've so far come up with two options:
J.A. Henckels International Classic Chef's Knife: There seems to be a durability issue with the handle, but I think it's probably due to abuse. It says it's "stain-resistant carbon steel," and I was thinking stainless steel would be better for me (again I can be swayed). I think "stain-resistant carbon steel" might mean "high-carbon stainless steel" because amazon says in its review that it's stainless steel.
Tramontina Professional Series Cook's Knife: I've heard this is the best value on the market. This one is made of "high-carbon chrome molybdenum [stainless] steel" which seems better than carbon steel.
I'd love to hear some feed back about these knives, as well as some more options in the $50 range. I really like the look of the three-riveted handles with the neb at the end, but looks are secondary.
Now we talk about sharpening... My dad says the sharpener we have is decent but I don't buy it. To me the three options are electric knife sharpeners, taking them to a professional sharpener, and using a stone. I'll summarize my impressions of these options below:
Electric knife sharpener: This seems like an easy option but I've heard they remove more of the edge than is necessary. Is this true? If so does it matter? How much more is removed by these things than using a stone? Another issue is I'm not really prepared to drop $150+ on a nice electric sharpener.
Professional sharpening services: AB says this is the only way to go, but I've heard the same business about sharpening wheels removing more steel than you would with a stone. It also seems like a bit of a pain (especially for a youngster like me) to take my knives to a professional every six to twelve months. Over the course of five years I've probably pay more than $150 in sharpening fees so would it make more sense to get an electric sharpener?
Sharpening stones: People say it takes a lot of skill and patience to get a decent edge form a stone, but I'm eager to learn how to use a stone. It also seems to me that with a stone or series of stones you can get a knife a lot sharper than you could any other way. Plus it doesn't remove too much steel which means my knives would last longer. The only true con is that it takes a lot of time, which is something I am usually short on. How long does it usually take to restore a blade to extreme sharpness? Come to think of it, I don't know anything about sharpening stones at all. I don't know the differences between whetstones, oilstones, waterstones, and diamond plates. Which types of stones to people look to for culinary knife sharpening? Which brands to chefs buy? How many stones do you need? Do people tend to buy sets of stones?
If electric sharpeners and/or professional services are a viable option because they don't take too much off the blade, I might consider getting a fine stone to get my knives scary sharp after running them through the sharpener. Opinions?
Thanks so much for reading this. So you don't have to go back through my post and extract the stuff to respond to, I'll list my qualms and questions here:
- I'm looking for a decent chef's knife in the $30-$60 ballpark.
- I'd prefer a 8-inch taper-ground forged stainless steel knife with a bolster and classic three-riveted handle but I can be swayed on any one of those things. I know I'm being picky about the handle.
- I am looking into the pros and cons of electric sharpeners, professional sharpening services, and sharpening stones.
- I am clueless about sharpening stones and would like to learn at least the basics.
- I am open to suggestions for sharpening stones.
Thanks again for reading this and I hope you can provide some insight!
Edited by Malch - 7/27/10 at 10:05pm