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Le Creuset Knives

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi, I am new to the forum and had a question about knives.


For Christmas I am looking to buy both my husband and his Mom either a chef or Santoku knife.  With that being said I've done lots of research and thought I decided what to buy, but then I went to Le Creuset last night and saw some of their knives, unfortunately I am not finding much information/reviews on the quality of their knives.


Does anyone have any experience with these knives?  Are they comparable to other knives in the same price range (around $100-$150)?


Thanks in advance.



post #2 of 5

Their knives are made for them by Thiers-Issard, and are listed as a "high carbon stainless steel".  A look at an image of the knives indicates forged blade knives, with an extensive bolster at the heel of the blade.


I am not impressed.  While Thiers-Issard ("Four Star Elephant") is a well-established knife maker in Thiers, these knives have several problems.  First, the forged bolster at the heel of the blade is a big, massive thing - and will certainly make problems for future sharpening.  I can compare that bolster with one on an earlier (late 1970's) Four-Star Elephant Carbon-steel (non stainless) chef's knife, which I sharpened yesterday - and was very easy to work with.  The earlier bolster is finely tapered, and presented no problems when used on my stones.  Unfortunately, the new design will making sharpening the blade in the area next to the heel difficult, and the bolster will need to be reduced prior to the first sharpening.  Doable, but a royal pain.


The second thing to consider is the steel.  French stainless steel knives are not particularly distinguished in comparison to German stainless steel, and definitely are a step or several down from the steels used in better quality Japanese knives.  The French stainless steel will not be as hard as the better quality Japanese knives and will not reach as sharp an edge or hold it as long.


Bottom line - not very impressive.  You can do better with a good quality Japanese knife, for the same amount of money.


Since this is close to Christmas, you are going to need to make a decision fast.  I would forget about Le Creuset and concentrate fast on getting some quick advice, but you need to have answers to basic questions before you can get advice.


You list a budget of $100 to $150, and 1 or 2 possible recipients (your husband and his mom).  Are you looking for 2 knives (one for each)?  Is your total budget $100 to $150, or is that your budget per knife?  That can make a big difference in what you look at.  If your budget is for two knives for a total of $100 to $150, then you are looking at $50 to $75 per knife, and almost invariably, the least expensive quality knives run much closer to the $75 range, rather than the $50 range.


What types of food will the knife or knives be used to cut?  That can have a big difference in choosing the right knife design.


How do you intend to keep the knife or the knives sharp?


Hopefully, your answers can help others point you in the right direction.


Galley Swiller

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your response Galley.  I will forget about Le Creuset.


To answer your questions, I am looking for 2 knives, one for each, and want to spend $100-150 for each knife so $200-300 total.  The knives will be used for at home cooking, veggies & meat for the most part, but they (and I) love to cook and have crappy knives, ours is kitchenaid and it sucks horribly and hers might as well be a butter knife.


Regarding the sharpening, I haven't gotten that far, but I know my husband will treat the knife like a newborn baby, so I planned to get him a stone or something else for sharpening for his birthday which is a month after Christmas, with that being said the task of sharpening his Mom's knife will most likely become his job too.


My friend has 2 Shun knives and I really like the look and weight of them, but I've heard (read) some differing opinions on them, so that has me confused...


I know my husband would love the look of Damascus steel, but for his Mom it doesn't matter either way, I'm almost learning towards just getting her a decent Victorinox knife as I don't know if I trust her to not put it in the dishwasher "on accident" -__- hahaha.


Again, thank you.



post #4 of 5

Since these are going to be used for both veggies and meat, the style of knives you will need (not want) will be a chef's knife or the Japanese equivalent a gyuto.  Ignore getting or considering santoku's - they are just too short.  The minimum size should be 210 mm (8 inch) or (even preferably) longer.  In fact, if you can swing it, a 240 mm or 270 mm gyuto will work well, and with a pinch grip, will seem a useful length.  I have knives in all three lengths, and the 210 seems smallish to me, while the 270 is just a tad big.  Like Goldilocks, there seems to be a "just right" length - and that seems to me to be the 240 mm.


I must confess a bias against damascus - I think of them as a bit of decorative overkill, with adverse conditioning by the purchasers against use, since that use will invariably end up scratching the blade.  My preference is for a plain blade, with the understanding that it will be a TOOL - to be used and not necessarily coddled.  Too many correspondents end up treating their damascus blade knives as the "Queens of the Drawer" - to be oohed and aahed over, but never to be used seriously, for fear of damaging the blade.  However, to each their own.


Damascus blades are just one category of multi-layered blades.  Another is "san-mai", where the core layer of hardened steel (with the cutting edge) is sheathed between two layers of softer stainless steel.  The technology is the same as for damascus, but the visual effect is simpler and there is less hesitation about just reaching for the knife.


Also for consideration are single layer blades.  Some chefs with experience prefer them because of the "feel" in the hand gives (to those chefs) a tactile feedback on how the knife is cutting through the food.


One immediate purchase I would make - for a ceramic hone.  You can buy a 12 inch Idahone ceramic honing rod for $30.  You should really purchase two - one for your household (you and your husband's) and one for your husband's mother.  You can wait a little bit for a sharpening stone, but the hone should be available from day one - and each household will need its own.


That drops your available budget per knife down to $120 per knife.


Let's talk steel.  Your next decision is stainless vs carbon.  On the obvious side, stainless will not be IMMEDIATELY reactive.  You can use it out of the box.  And you don't have to work to get the blade surface passivated.  On the other hand, you can get a non-stainless carbon blade sharper and, with a proper hone, keep it sharper longer.


In the price range you're talking about, you won't see the newest and fanciest steel, such as the powdered metal steels.  However, there are some respectable knives using steels in your price range.  AUS-8, VG-10 and AEB-L are all used in quality stainless steel knives.


From Chef Knives To Go ("CKTG"), you can purchase a 240 mm Fujiwara FKM for $83.  It uses AUS-8 steel and has a hardness of roughly 58 hRc.  It's a popular first commercial chef's knife, and can easily be sharpened.  It's not as hard, and therefore not as capable of taking and holding a ultra-sharp edge as some of the other steels, but you can't have everything.


Fujiwara also makes a 240 mm carbon steel knife for $90, which has gotten good comments.  Will take and hold an edge well.  Downside are the issues of first-time passivation before initial use and of immediate cleaning and drying after use (and that doesn't mean in a couple of minutes - that means RIGHT THEN, before anything else is done).


The Tojiro DP 240 mm gyuto is available from CKTG for $100.  It's a VG-10 san mai knife and is a good compromise (for heat treatment and hardness) for VG-10.  Some reports suggest it's less prone to chipping than the Shun, and at 1/2 to 1/3 the price of Shun.  Some find the handle to be a bit boxy.


CKTG has a house brand of knives labelled as Richmond Knives.  The Artifex line of knives are a good compromise between quality and price, with the manufacture slanted towards simple manufacture and concentration of the value in the steel used in the knife.  I recently purchased a Richmond Artifex 240 mm extra-tall gyuto ($90) and am appreciating using it.


That's a quick run-through.  Hope that helps.


Galley Swiller

post #5 of 5
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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