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upgrade knives for home cooking

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

 

For the past few weeks I have been trying to read and digest as much info as possible on this site. Now I feel I am somewhat prepared to get some advice on my upcoming purchases. 

 

I am a father of 4 who does most of the cooking… and when I say most, I mean my wife doesn't cook much at all. Mostly I cook for our family or social gatherings.  I feel like I have pretty decent skills for someone who is untrained, and am looking to upgrade my tools. 

 

About 8 years ago I was given a set of Henkels International knives (made in spain) from costco. They were about $180. They have for many years served me well, although I have known for a long time that these are a low grade set... but they beat the heck out of the farberware crap that I used prior to that. Now those were junk and not even work the space they took up on the counter.

 

I have kept them somewhere between sort of sharp and semi dull mostly because I was under the impression that the honing stick or the accusharp was all that were needed.  Not something I am proud about, but I am planning on changing that for the next set. 

 

My go to knife has been the santoku. I have liked it because it allowed a sense of a do everything knife. This is something that I am rethinking all together... the need for the santoku. I know it doesn't have a lot of fans here. I can say that I will miss is the height throughout it - which lets me use the knife to scoop up a large amount of things I have been cutting or use the front  of the knife as a fulcrum to chop. 

 

My primary cutting boards are those plastic ones you can get anywhere. Not sure if these are the best choice. Storage has been the included knife block. 

 

Well, in reading through this forum, I am realizing that I want to change a lot about not only what tools I own, but how I use them, sharpening and maybe even the surface I cut on and storage. 

 

So here is what I see as my constraints, needs, idiosyncracies, whatever:

 

1. It is very possible that the knives will sit in the sink or go through the dishwasher. Even if I baby these new knives, there is no way I can control what other members of our family or anyone who may come to the house else does. I need something that will be a little forgiving of this.  I am not keen on getting rust on really expensive new knives.

 

EDIT: I am going to keep some less expensive knives for everyone else and horde my new ones. No dishwasher.... no sink.... no other users.

 

 

2. Sharpening - while I really like the idea of the chef choice to do the work for me, I am prepared to use a gag knife system (like the edge pro). I don't want to spend hours and hours every other week…. but am willing to compromise on this and meet somewhere into a reasonable sharping schedule (an hour or so monthly?) to maintain the knives. 

 

3. Brand & Retailer - In many ways, I don't know which I want - german or japanese blades. I went over to Williams-Sonoma the other day just to get an idea of the feel of each. Boy was that a wasted trip. I suppose this was partially due to the Christmas chaos, but they let me hold the knives but didn't have anything to try cutting. They recommend coming back after things slowed down. Feel helped make some minor decision, but I suppose the thing I learned most is it may be easiest to just buy a bunch of different knives and test some brands at my house. 

 

I have a bunch of gift cards to Amazon and they have a very liberal return policy. So I was going to test a few brands out. This will probably prevent me from trying out some brands like MAC or other japanese knives since they are only sold from 3rd party and can't be returned as easily. 

 

That leaves only some of the usual suspects (shun, wusthof, zwilling heckles. etc). Most of my research has been online and it is difficult to get anything more the visual experience…. which seems circumstantial at best. I realize that these brands aren't the first choice here, but then again it is all about perspective. I am coming from pretty low end knives that are badged to look more sudo-pro due to the assumption of the buyer that they are the same Henkels that sell for a lot more. As such, while I am not thrilled with what I have, I am not going to rule *real* Henkels out…. as what I have is probably far from what higher end ones are like. 

 

I have a fair amount of over researched biases that maybe I need to come to terms with. I like the feel of the Shun edo. The way the handle seems to be cut out for your fingers to pinch grip. Maybe, this is since I don't use them for hours and hours all day, but it felt comfortable in my hand. I am also intrigued by the Miyabi Morimoto as they seem to be an interesting balance of east and west in a knife... and less expensive. I am sure that they are many others I should consider. On the other hand, I picked up a global and knew that very moment that I didn't like the way it felt. 

 

4. What I plan to buy: I am thinking that I want to start with a few good knives, then add on to fill a need. While on the one hand I like the idea of them all matching, I am not opposed to mix and matching. 

• Chef knife - this would be my primary knife. Debating an 8, 9 or 10 inch

• 5 inch utility knife

• bread knife - we are italian and eat a fair amount of bread. This is also important to my wife as she likes to bake. 

• cleaver? - I typically buy whole chicken and cut them up. I want something that can make short work of the carcass without out putting a beating on my other knives. I typically don't de-bone. 

• paring knife - probably something less expensive as I don't use it frequently. 

 

5. Budget - with the exception of the inexpensive paring knife, my budget is to average about $800 for all of them. 

 

6. Bonus Round: what should I look for in a cutting board? And what about storing them - block, magnet, other? Currently I have a block that came with the set…. but that will probably go when I get rid of the other knives. 

 

Let me offer a huge thanks in advance for any help, direction, insight…. or even just a smack to the back of the head. I know I have given a huge amount of info here to work with, but I think that this helps define what I want to get…. or think I want, but should be looking else where.


Edited by dgtlman - 12/24/12 at 10:15am
post #2 of 5

If your knives are going to go through the dishwasher now and then, there are only a limited number of appropriate choices.  So we might as well start and leave it with that.  If you can't exercise more control over your kitchen your best choice is Forschner Fibrox.  It doesn't make sense to spend more because the high-velocity detergent particles in dishwashers eat knives. 

 

Let's hold off on discussing sharpening until you have a better idea of what knives you'll end up buying.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if you decide that you can exercise enough control to keep them out of the dishwasher. 

 

Go 10" on the chef's knife if your block is big enough. 

 

14" x 18" is a small but usable size, bigger is much better. 

 

Get a good, wood board.  Bamboo is not wood, and neither is "composition."  While end-grain is generally preferable to edge grain (aka long grain), a good edge grain board is better than a bad end grain board. 

 

Everything else being equal, good boards cost more than similar bad boards.  Unfortunately price is not a guaranty.  The problem with cheap boards is that they tend to warp and crack more quickly than well-made boards; although a lot depends on how you care for your board and the luck of the draw as well. 

 

BDL

post #3 of 5

4. What I plan to buy: I am thinking that I want to start with a few good knives, then add on to fill a need. While on the one hand I like the idea of them all matching, I am not opposed to mix and matching. 

• Chef knife - this would be my primary knife. Debating an 8, 9 or 10 inch


You want most of your budget here, 10 inches. You need to keep them out of the dishwasher and get them washed. If your kids are old enough to be cutting with your chefs knife, they should be old enough to grasp that they need to wipe them down after use and put them back. Same goes for your wife.

 

• 5 inch utility knife

 

I'd just get a Victorinox serrated tomato knife personally, especially if you're right handed.

 

• bread knife - we are italian and eat a fair amount of bread. This is also important to my wife as she likes to bake.

 

Mac sb 105, Tojiro, Forschner. Depends on how much you want to spend. The Mac and Tojiro are supposed to be equals, whereas the Forschner is only like 25$ and a beat behind.

 

• cleaver? - I typically buy whole chicken and cut them up. I want something that can make short work of the carcass without out putting a beating on my other knives. I typically don't de-bone.

 

You shouldn't really need a cleaver to break down chickens. Perhaps an Old Hickory/Victorinox butchers knife, or just keep around your current chefs knife for beating down on the chickens.

 

• paring knife - probably something less expensive as I don't use it frequently. 

 

No real need for a 5 inch utility and a paring knife.

post #4 of 5

Is it possible to keep the old set for the family to put through the dishwasher and use as they please? Keep your new set in a knife roll and make it clear to your family that they don't get used by anyone but you???

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

If your knives are going to go through the dishwasher now and then, there are only a limited number of appropriate choices.  So we might as well start and leave it with that.  If you can't exercise more control over your kitchen your best choice is Forschner Fibrox.  It doesn't make sense to spend more because the high-velocity detergent particles in dishwashers eat knives. 

 

Let's hold off on discussing sharpening until you have a better idea of what knives you'll end up buying.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if you decide that you can exercise enough control to keep them out of the dishwasher.

 

Between your comment and Vic's idea about keeping some other knives for everyone else to use, I have ammened my original post to reflect this change. These will not go into the dishwasher or sink. RDM is right - if they don't want to clean up right after using the good knife, then use the cheap one. So now that this is removed, we can move forward with discussion.

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