In the brief time I’ve been on Chef Talk Cooking Knives sub-forum there have been a lot of posts for “What knife should I buy?” Other forums dedicated to knives and specifically kitchen knives (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/2058-Which-knife-should-you-buy and http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/858558/) have specific questions to help others recommend the right knife for you. Hopefully, this post will assist in the same fashion.
Keep in mind the recommendations may be from a diverse group, ranging from true experts to novices, who know what it’s like to be in your shoes. A lot of people looking for their first high quality knife, especially Japanese knives, mistakenly believe there is one perfect knife for them. The fact is, there probably isn’t. There are lots of very good knives in your price range. Even after exhaustive researching and getting the best recommendations possible, it’ll probably take regular use to determine if you made the right choice. On rare occasions you know you hit the jackpot right off the bat, but there are also times when a knife that just feels wrong at first ends up being a life-long favorite.
More to the point, once you use a knife for any length of time, you’ll realize it’s the skill of the user and developing and maintaining a good sharp edge is what it’s all about. Unless you’re willing to pay someone to do a good job of sharpening (there are a lot of crappy sharpeners) it’s worthwhile to buy a good stone or three to learn how to do it yourself.
Do your due diligence by reading other threads and googling common knife terms.
Cut and paste the following questions and fill in your answers, whether you’re looking for knives for yourself or someone else.
Please feel free to recommend other questions.
1. What will the knives be used for (e.g., slicing, chefs, boning)
2. Your level of proficiency (e.g. professional, accomplished home cook, can’t boil water)
3. What are you currently using and why do you want to add to them or replace them?
4. How do you grip the knife?
5. Wa (Japanese) or Yo (Western) handle preference?
6. Do you prefer stainless or carbon blade, or either one?
7. Budget range
8. Cutting motion
9. Cutting board material
10. Level of current sharpening ability and do you plan on sharpening yourself?
11. Anything else you want to tell us