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Best quality inexpensive knives?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm 19, outta school and livin on my own. My income is sorta.. minimal at the moment, but i need a new set of knives. I was wonderin where the best value is at for good quality knives that i can buy at Sears or other similar establishments.


Thanks alot!

post #2 of 10



Might want to figure out what exactly it is that you want first...I likely wouldn't recommend buying a set unless you are sure that is what you want.  If you are just starting I would probably say the most you need is a chef's knife, paring/petty knife, and possibly a scalloped edge-bread knife.  Anything else is really just for fun--such as a nakiri, slicer/suji, boning knife, cleaver, etc:>) 


Don't know about Sears, but I would likely start looking in a restaurant supply store first.  The prices are better than 'home' retail and you can find blades that will take a sharpening.  Forschners seem to be the standard recommendation for cheap but decent.  I personally have a Forschner 6" boning knife (w/ a Fibrox handle) that is fine for its intended purpose--cost was ~$15.  I understand that most of their blades come recommended though I have seen BDL (a most trusted knife guru here) comment that he would not recommend their chef's knife, I have no personal experience with them.


Other thing you likely need to realize is that a knife is (temporarily) no good once it has lost it's original edge--meaning you must have a way to resharpen--this is truly as important as everyone here will tell you.  The up side to this is that a good edge put on at home can be much better than any edge that comes on the blade as purchased.  As you will notice on the boards here, you can spend a lot of money on knives, but if you don't have a sharpening plan, you are wasting whatever money you put into them.




Edited by chinacats - 3/11/12 at 10:25pm
post #3 of 10

I agree that Victorinox Forschner is a very good choice. I don't think there is anything wrong at all with their chef's knives. Some think that the Victorinox Rosewood are nicer, others like the Victorinox Fibrox line a little better. Here are two(2) sets that are nice, and not too painful on the pocket. All usable pieces, no junk. 


Victorinox Forschner Fibrox Deluxe Knife Roll Set   $130.95

4-inch Paring Knife, 5-inch Semi-Stiff Curved Boning Knife, 8-inch Bread Knife, 8-inch Carving Knife, 10-inch Chef's Knife, 10-inch Sharpening Steel, 8-pocket Cordura Knife Roll


Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Deluxe Knife Roll Set   $184.95

3.25-inch Paring Knife, 6-inch Flexible Curved Boning Knife, 8-inch Bread Knife, 10-inch Chef's Knife, 10-inch Ham Slicing Knife, 10-inch Wood Handle Sharpening Steel, 8-pocket Cordura Knife Roll

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks alot for the links to those sets, iceman. I've been working with nothing but a filet knife in my apartment, it's starting to get pretty annoying. I'll definitely looking into getting a few knives rather than a set, though, I feel like that will run me a little less and be all need at the moment. Thanks again!

post #5 of 10

Are they better than Chicago?

post #6 of 10

As in Chicago Cutlery?  CC was sold out to the Chinese give or take around 2000. Pre-2000 is good enough inexpensive stuff. Post-2000 not so much.  That is what I've been told by an inside rep friend of mine. I have both VF and CC. To me, they work just fine, and don't get swiped. YMMV of course. You've got to know how to sharpen, or have a really good service, or it doesn't matter what knives you use. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #7 of 10

Get chef knife and a parer first. Get a bread knife if you'll be cutting bread next. You won't need anything beyond that, more is just nice. In it's price range, nothing will beat Victorinox Forschner. I would get as long of a chef as you think you can wield effectively. 8-10 inch Forschner chefs will run 26-30 bucks on Amazon and eBay, parers can be found sub-$10. [url=]Chefs Knives to Go[/url] has a set of both for $43. If you have a local restaurant supply store, they will also probably have them. Other department stores will likely not have them. Regarding department stores: anything cheap (Chicago) will be garbage, and anything expensive (Henckels) there will be good, but probably low bang-for-your-buck.


You may also want to look around discount stores just in case. I have on occasion found factory second Henckels, Wusthofs, and Shuns at stores like TJ Maxx for good prices, just research the ones that you find well to make sure that you're really picking up a deal.


You will probably want to also pick up a steel. The Victorinox ones are cheap, but super aggressive for what a steels intended purpose is. Any of the similarly cheap ones from department stores will probably outright suck. Most people would probably recommend that you spend an extra ten spot for an Idahone ceramic 'steel'.


You will also want to start looking into methods of keeping your knives sharp, as a steel alone won't get them all the way sharp. Information can be found on this forum by searching around for sharpening methods and devices.


@Deke: Yes. Forschners greatly outperform Chicago. Though I have heard stories of vintage Chicago knives being much better.

post #8 of 10

Forschner chef's are better than just about anything at the price.  I don't care for the German profile, but to a large extent that is -- or at least can be -- a matter of taste.  We can talk about the things German does better than French and vice versa if you like.  The big problem with Forschner chef's is how much steeling they need to maintain the edge.  I don't dislike Forschner chef's, but do feel that the extra $30 - $70 for something with a more agile shape holds an edge with less frequent maintenance is money well spent.  On the other hand, I feel that Forschner is an excellent choice for almost every other type of knife, and a grrrrrrrrrrrreat choice for meat butchery knives.


The most important thing to understand about buying a decent knife is the importance of sharpness and sharpening.  If you're not going to keep your knives sharp, don't waste your money on anything expensive.  If real sharpness means a lot to you, don't waste your money on anything so cheap it won't take and hold a good edge.  If you don't already have a decent sharpening kit, it's something you should budget WITH the knife.


Most people -- including professional "chefs" -- don't know what real sharpness it is, much less how to achieve and maintain it.  If you don't know, ask.  It's probably a good idea to ask even if you think you do know.



post #9 of 10

BDL, whats 'real' sharpness?

post #10 of 10

As a practical matter, true sharpness means effortless cutting; there should be no sensation of resistance when cutting most foods.  For instance, a knife which "falls through" an onion, is really sharp.  Similarly, even very ripe tomatoes should not need a "starter" puncture to get the cut going and should slice cleanly using the weight of the knife, only.  That degree of sharpness is not necessarily extremely sharp, but it's at least truly, and usefully sharp. 


With some practice you can get at judging sharpness using "tests" like a thumb drag. 


Factory, aka "OOTB" edges can be, are as sharp as most peoples' knives ever get, but they aren't necessarily, truly sharp.  People just starting out usually reference the factory edge; but after developing some proficiency, comparisons become self-referential.


Any knife made from decent alloy and with decent face and edge grinds can be made truly sharp.  All it takes is skill, patience and decent tools.  Of those three things, skill and patience are the more important, while tools are more fun.


Assuming reasonably good geometry (the grinds), all you need to do is create a burr on both sides of the edge using a medium-coarse stone, chase it well (so it flops from side to side with one stroke on the stone), and deburr.  If you want a really sharp, fine edge; then repeat the process using a medium-fine stone. 


For a finer, more slippery edge, you need to polish.  While polish is very nice it doesn't make a knife sharper -- at least not the way I reckon sharpness. 


Sharp edges are fairly fine, true and narrow.  I don't consider edges which are too "toothy" (the opposite of fine) to be truly sharp because they act like saws more than knives, and as the teeth bend and break, which they do fairly easily, they become more toothy still.  In terms of width, a really sharp edge is no wider along its length than somewhere around 2/1000." 


While measured edge width (lots of luck finding someone who can do it for you) is "objective," there's also perceived sharpness.  Edges which are out of true, may be both fine and narrow, but will not act sharp; and that's where your steel or strop comes in.  Similarly, more acute angles and thinner blades will "act" sharper, than more obtuse geometry and thicker blades. 



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