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Help choosing a decent budget cooking knife

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am looking to purchase a decent knife or knife set for my dad. He an amateur (enthusiast) home cook. I would either like to get 1 quality multi-purpose knife or a small set (slicing/chopping/carving...) I really have no idea where to look, he dosent have any quality knifes so I think he will be happy with anything. Just hoping to find something that will hold up over time.

 

My budget is around 60-200 dollars, depending on what it takes to get a good value. Im not looking for the best of the best, more like best for the dollar.

 

Any suggestions?

post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 

I should add,

 

- Something that is fairly easy to sharpen is a plus

- I think he would be fine with something that has to stay out of the dishwasher

- Decent corrosion resistance would be good

post #3 of 22

I'm sure BDL will be around soon to ask a few questions, but from what you've said, my suggestion would be the Forschner Rosewood chef's knife. A 10" will set you back about $50, will be able to do anything that he may need to do, and while I've never personally used one, everything I have read says it is one of the best value knives. As far as a set, a home cook will really only need a good chef's knife, a paring knife and a bread knife. There's not much you can't do with one of those three. A slicer can make a good addition if you (or in this case your father) like to carve hams, turkeys, roasts, etc. You should be able to put together a decent set of knives for well under $100. Hope this helps.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

Ya, that is exactly what I was looking to hear.

 

This looks like it might be a good start

http://www.knifecenter.com/kc_new/store_detail.html?s=VN46892

 

how are the fibrox handles?

post #5 of 22

Personally, I like fibrox handles. I have another knife with a similar handle, and like the way it feels. Others think it feels cheap. It's just personal preference I suppose.

 

That set looks like a good start.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #6 of 22

My choice would br the MAC MTH-80, part of the Professional Series at http://www.macknife.com/professional.html

 

But then I'm "biased", I've used MACs for over then years and am definitely very satisfied.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #7 of 22

R H Forschners are decent knives at a great price.  As the low end of acceptable cutlery they're probably not a great choice for a gift.  Also, the Rosewood series which are identical other than the handle, are much nicer than the Fibrox. 

 

It's hard to advise you without knowing if and how well your dad sharpens.  I'd hate to have you spend a lot of money on something that will end up dull in a few months and stay that way forever.  When you get into better knives, you no only lose value by not keeping them sharp but also sharpening to them a fair degree of polish. 

 

Generally, the knife world isn't divided into knives which are easy and difficult to sharpen. Rather, some won't take an edge well and some will.  Yes, some alloys are easier to sharpen than others -- but most are pretty much the same.  And I promise to let you know about anything that's difficult or even has a bad reputation.

 

If sharpening isn't somethng that's part of his life yet, maybe better to give some sort of spiffy sharpening kit like an Edge Pro Apex, or a top of the line Chef's Choice machine; plus, perhaps a really good "steel" (at least those are inexpensive).

 

If he does sharpen well, has the tools to do it, and you're going to buy a knife it may help you to consider that there are so many choices, there's no one best knife in the world -- not even one best knife for any one person.  The art to buying a knife involves using your brain to limit the choices to the very good, then choosing by appearance, emotionally and/or randomly. 

 

Price is one of the rational distinctions.  There are a lot of really wonderful, 10" knives at around $150.   Also, if he knows how to freehand sharpen on bench stone, that price range gives you just enough room to buy a decent combination waterstone and still come close to budget.

 

If you're comfortable in that price range, let's explore it a bit.

 

One of the great divisions in the world of kitchen knives is between German and French/Japanese type knives.  Some very good "German" knives are made outside Germany, including in the U.S.   The French make some very interesting carbon (i.e., non-stainless) knives, but by and large the best of the type are made in Japan. 

 

Assuming we're (rationally) limiting your choices to stainless, I prefer Japanese made knives over German, because they are lighter, get much sharper, hold their edges much better, and (the chef's knives) are made with a "French profile" which is not only more agile, but itself favors sharpness over power and doesn't require rocking the handle as high or low. 

 

For most good cutters, sharpness is by far the most important consideration.  "Profile," usually next.  "Balance," especially takes a back seat.  "Heft" is something which is (again, for most good cutters) actually a negative.  Part of being a good cutter is having a good grip; good grip's tend to be very adaptable; consequently handle size and shape tend to be less important. 

 

But each of those carries an "on the other hand." Many cooks with great knife skills value one or more of those characteristics very highly, and/or include some others it didn't even seem worth it to me to mention.  There are some other "on the other hands," to think about as well.  One of which we've already touched on.  A Japanese knife might require sharpening equipment he doesn't have.

 

Although at the end of the day one or the other might turn out to be a good choice, I urge you to stay away from Shun and Global. 

 

The chef's knife I end up recommending most often is the 9-1/2" MAC Pro.  It's a Japanese knife.  It has very good edge characteristics, can be made very sharp (probably sharper than Dad will ever get it), sharpens easily, and maintains easily.  It has a very good -- but not great -- profile.  It has a great handle, perhaps the most universally liked handle of any knife ever made.  Fit and finish are usually very good -- not always the case -- and if there's a problem, support is truly excellent.  It also has a great guarantee, which is not very common in Japanese knives.  It is extremely stiff as Japanese knives go.  When you combine it's handle, profile, and stiffness it's probably the most Western "feeling" of any Japanese knife. 

 

That's a lot to absorb. 

 

Please get back to us with any thoughts you have about all this and with any information which may help us narrow all this down.  For instance, Dad may really love the German type knives so it's a waste of time and words blathering on about Japanese knives.

 

Hope the helps,

BDL

 

PS. In the interests of full disclosure, nearly all of my own knives are old or antique French carbons made by one Sabatier or another, and a knife of their type might be very nice for your father -- if he can live with carbon's neediness.  My newest "go to" is a Japanese handled, semi-stainless "laser," which is almost certainly the wrong kind of knife for Dad.


Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/1/10 at 8:44am
post #8 of 22

Sharpening-

 

I have only seen him use cheapo ceramic or carbide insert hand sharpeners, which IMO do a horrible job, looks like they really reek havoc on the blade. I was planning getting him something to maintain the blades too. This is what I use on my knives (hunting, sport)  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FKM41S/ref=oss_product Its easy to  use, and I can get a hair splitting edge on even the cheapest steel. I was planning on purchasing the same kit for him.

 

I would consider on of these sharpeners if they do a good job. Do all kitchen knives have the same blade angle?

http://www.amazon.com/Chefs-Choice-Multi-Edge-Diamond-Sharpener/dp/B00004S1BC

http://www.amazon.com/Choice-Pronto-Santoku-Manual-Sharpener/dp/B002JIMVS0/ref=pd_sim_k_1

 

Any sharpener much over 50 dollars would probably be over budget, but I am open to suggestions.

 

 

 

 

 

German vs. Japanese...

 

He would probably rather see USA or Germany written on the blade, but I dont think it matters much. If a Japanese blade is the best fit for him, that will be fine.

 

 

 

post #9 of 22

Handyman, some years ago I bought these Fujiwara stainless knives from http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/FKMSeries.html#WIDTH: 400px; HEIGHT: 236px 

Since then I purchased a lot of other -and also known to be better- Japanese knives from the same seller (5 days deliverytime from Japan to Belgium! I guess I payed 7$ deliverycost).

But, while having a lot to compare, the Fujiwara knives are absolutely fantastic for their price. They are light and therefor very agile. Learning to sharpen on a japanese wetstone is a must IMO for all Japanese knives, there's nothing to it, only takes a while to get it. I was 58 when I learned for the first time and I could make a very scary edge soon. Look for a King combistone 1k/8k or similar, and your dad is set for life and beyond. My everyday goto knife is the Fujiwara 210mm chef(gyuto), IMO the right lenght for a homecook.

 

Also look at this (1st picture) 210mm "Gekko" in VG10 on the specialty page of japanesechefsknife. Fabulous knife also, best quality/price ratio ever!!! Note; I bought my "Gekko" lookalike here; http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-meat-knife-gyuto-210mm-hammered-damascus-/360238432707?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53dfe241c3

 

tsushime5.jpgfujiwaraFKM.jpg

post #10 of 22

The hump here is sharpening.  I'm really wondering whether it's worthwhile to invest in higher-end Japanese knives for Dad if he's not going to trouble to maintain them. 

 

Little jig and tool kits like your DMT, Lansky and Gatco can be made to work for kitchen knives, but they're tedious, inexact and a big PITA all around.  The knives are just too big for the gag to work properly.  On the other hand, big jig and tools like those made by Edge Pro work quite well.  But they're expensive.  A suitable kit for their cheapest model, the Apex, is priced close to $200.

 

The single stage pull-through sharpeners are both too coarse and too slow (hard trick).  Even MAC's "roll sharp" sharpener shares the same flaws and I wouldn't recommend it for a MAC Pro, although it's fine for a MAC Superior or MAC chef. 

 

I like the Chef's Choice machines quite a lot for people who can't or won't learn to sharpen, because they do an adequate job and are so convenient they get used.  With the exception of one model the angles are set -- and as you pointed out, Asian knives have a different edge angle than Euros -- so again, we're up against the budget restrictions. 

 

You can get a pretty nice combi-stone for $60ish -- but that (a) requires knowing or learning how to sharpen; and (b) it's not coarse enough to do repairs and re-profiling, so it's not exactly a stone for all seasons. 

 

After that you get into sharpening gizmos that are either very destructive to the knive, like an Accu-Sharp for instance; or, are so slow they're practically useless on long, hard-alloy knives like for example a Spyderco Sharpmaker.

 

Most mid priced Japanese knives have so-so fit and finish.  Chris's Fujiwara are and Tojiro DP are high performers but they're not exactly Wusthofs when it comes to getting everything right.  The question is whether you want to go there for a gift. 

 

But the good knives, like MAC Pro, Masamoto VG will use so much of your budget there's no room for sharpening equipment. 

 

There are some "high value" brands like Kagayaki (sold only through JCK) and Togiharu (sold only through Korin) but all of them have narrow handles -- some shorter than others.  Whether or not that's an issue for Dad, quien sabe?  If he uses a pinch grip it probably isn't, but if he doesn't it probably is.  Probably. 

 

I'm kind of leaning towards recommending a good German type knife like a Messermeister or something.  While you give up a lot in the way of edge characteristics you gain so much.  Even sharpening becomes less expensive, and a little eaiser.

 

Another possibility is to buy something that allows him to send the knife back to the factory every now and then for sharpening, like a Shun or a Warther.  I'm sooooooo not a Shun fan, but for him it might be just the thing.

 

Warthers would be an interesting and eccentric (in a fun way) choice.  They're very good knives, are a great deal considering they're entirely hand-made semi-customs, and might be right up his alley.  Take a look.

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

I think a good starting point for him will be a cheaper knife along with a chef's choice sharpener.

 

He actually uses one of the crappy accusharp tools on his knives, so I think any decent knife will be a huge upgrade for him.

 

Any other input on the Forschner Rosewood knifes?

And what chefs choice sharpener, if any, would work good with them?

post #12 of 22

the best two knives he will ever need are the chicago cutlery santoku and the MIU France bread knife

they are both under 20 bucks each and they are razor sharp and can be sharpened with a steel or a sharpener.

i'm a professional chef and i use both these knives everyday and hate my expensive knives.

if he needs a great boning knife get a yaxell ran.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Cutlery-6-75-inch-Cayenne-Santoku/dp/B001ISK7KQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1288929583&sr=1-4

 

http://www.amazon.com/MIU-France-8-Inch-Stainless-94024/dp/B000Y921SG/ref=sr_1_8?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1288929771&sr=1-8

post #13 of 22


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whitebean88 View Post

the best two knives he will ever need are the chicago cutlery santoku and the MIU France bread knife

they are both under 20 bucks each and they are razor sharp and can be sharpened with a steel or a sharpener.

i'm a professional chef and i use both these knives everyday and hate my expensive knives.

if he needs a great boning knife get a yaxell ran.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Cutlery-6-75-inch-Cayenne-Santoku/dp/B001ISK7KQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1288929583&sr=1-4

 

http://www.amazon.com/MIU-France-8-Inch-Stainless-94024/dp/B000Y921SG/ref=sr_1_8?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1288929771&sr=1-8

Interesting...
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #14 of 22

Handy,

 

I like the Chef's Choice knife sharpeners with model numbers ending in "20" or "30."  Those have a soft "stropping" wheel as their final stage.  It functions in pretty much the same way a "fine" steel would, truing your knife and restoring your edge rather than grinding a new one.  That's a very good thing, because it invites frequent use.

 

The top of the line is the model 1520 -- which is designed to handle both Asian (15*) and Euro (20*) angles.  It's bascially just the a 320 and the equivalent Asian version stuck together.  Your Dad doesn't need it, don't bother with it.

 

Personally, I think the model 130 is worth the extra $10 or $20 as compared to the 120, for it's "steeling" second stage. The Model 120 has a slightly more conventional second stage, is about 50% more than the 320, and worth it -- in my opinion.  Whether you want to go over $100 on a shapener is another question.  It simply may not be worth it to you.  

 

Forschner has a few Rosewood chef's knives.  A serrated knife is not as useful as a fine edge, especially if you have hte means to sharpen it.  For Dad you're probably choosing between an 8" and a 10" chef's.  I much prefer a 10" knife as do most skilled cutters, but it's a matter of taste. 

 

Cutlery and More has a wide selection of both Forschner Rosewood and Chef's Choice (including the 320), good prices and good service.  The best service is from Chef Knives To Go.  They stock both Rosewood chef's knives (the only Forschner Rosewood they sell) and the CC models 130 and 120. 

 

A couple of last things: 

1.  Chef's Choice electrics are incredibly easy and convenient.  But they are not male-intuition friendly.  If you use the coarse stage too often, press too hard, or pull the knife through too often or too slowly you can damage your knife.  RTFM; and

2, Using a 10" knife is a lot more productive than an 8", and it's easy too if you know how to hold it.  8" or 10" grip makes a big difference.  At the risk of sounding smug, I strongly recommend that you get Dad to read this grip tutorial

 

Hope this helps,

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/11/10 at 6:42pm
post #15 of 22

I have been looking around, and sharpening is still the biggest issue. If I were to purchase Forschner Knives, are the manual chef's choice sharpeners worth considering?

post #16 of 22

For what it's worth, I picked up a Forschner Rosewood chef at a restaurant supply sale last week. I really like the profile, the handle is comfortable, and while it's not as sharp as higher end knives, it hasn't given me any problems. It was well worth the $25 I paid for it.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
Reply
"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hummel View Post

I have been looking around, and sharpening is still the biggest issue. If I were to purchase Forschner Knives, are the manual chef's choice sharpeners worth considering?



No.

 

BDL

post #18 of 22

Ok, now im leaning towards either a Mac chef/superior and a rollsharp. Or a Forschner and a Chef's Choice 130.

post #19 of 22

Good choices.

 

MAC Chef/Superior are interesting knives.  They're very light and agile, have great handles.  But they're also very thin and flexible -- something some people find disconcerting and which others don't mind.  They can take and use a much finer edge than you can put on them with a MAC Rollsharp, but the Rollsharp will keep them sharp -- which is pretty good for a pull through since some of them are worthless while others can wreck your knives. 

 

The thing you have to understand about manual pull-throughs -- even double slot pull-throughs -- is that if they're "fast" enough to sharpen a really dull blade or do light repair with less than a hundered strokes, they're very coarse; while if they're fine enough not to leave a very toothy edge, they're very slow.  You can look at the MAC Rollsharp as sort of splitting the diff and representing the best/worst of both worlds.

 

The Fiskars rollsharp is another story.  It's fast, very cheap, and very coarse. 

 

The Chef's Choice 130 is their top of the line home sharpener for "European" angle knives.  CCs are probably the best choice for someone who won't (for whatever reasons) freehand or use an Edge Pro.  In terms of the actual edge quality, they're a distant third, but because they're so convenient they get used frequently enough that long term edge quality is actually pretty good. 

 

I don't know if there's much left to say about Forschners which haven't already been said.  Their lighter, thinner and more flexible than their high-end European counterparts, but they're heavier, thicker and stiffer than the MACs.  They won't take as good edge, nor will they hold it as well as a MAC; and in addition will need more steeling.  

 

You might also want to think about combining a MAC with a Chef's Choice "Asian Angle" sharpener like the 316S.  The "S" stands for strop.  What's nice about that is that you can substitute a couple of passes on the stropping slot for using a steel.  Not only very convenient, but just as the "stone" side saves learning how to freehand on bench stones, the strop side saves learning to use a steel properly.  Steeling is something most people actually do quite badly.   

 

BDL

post #20 of 22

Since you narrowed the universe down to a couple of choices and reasonably knowledge about them it either didn't seem like a good idea to expand that universe or I didn't think about it.

 

However, in the Thanksgiving spirit of more is more, I should mention a couple of other entry level blades that are in the MAC Chef's'/Superior price range, and those are the Fujiwara FKM and the Tojiro DP.  If you're interested I'll dish some detail.

 

Also, the entry-level Japanese knives, MAC, FKM and DP, are  better than the Forschers unless durability, price and sharpening on oilstones are your primary concerns.  That is, the Japanese made knives take and hold an edge better and are signifcantly more agile.  Again, we can talk more if you're interested.

 

Let me know,

BDL

post #21 of 22

Ya, I still have not purchased anything, so i am open to other ideas.

 

I think a really good set-up would be the the 316S and one of these

 

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/mac-superior/starter-knife-set-p110130

 

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/mac-superior/starter-asian-knife-set-p110136

 

 

 

post #22 of 22

Good choices!  The chef's knife combo better matches my skill set than the santokus.  If you're buying them for work in a pro kitchen or particularly want to develop "pro" type knife skills, than go with the chef's.  The preference is partly efficiency, partly utility, and partly peer pressure.  But a lot of people like santokus, and there's no good reason they or you shouldn't. 

 

Afterall, the main thing is sharpness, and you've set your level pretty high with the combination of the MACs and CC.

 

Without knowing more about how you use a knife now and how you want to use one in the future, I can't really advise you on which set would be better for you.  They're both very good.   

 

BDL

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