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Looking for good chef knives but cheap

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

I am a novice at home cook and my roommates had all the good chef knives now that I am out on my own I am curious about what would be good chef knives for cheap. Here are some things I've looked at. I'd like to spend no more than $40 on either a few or just one please let me know what you think of the following and any other suggestions. My main concern is how long would they last with daily use. Thanks!

 

1. Chicago Cutlery

 

2. Guy Fieri Triple Riveted Chef Set (groupon)

 

3. Mercer professional 3 piece chef set (groupon)

 

4. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature Hollow Edge Santoku Knife

 

 

Thanks everyone!!

post #2 of 26
With your limited budget, look for a Victorinox/Forschner chef's knife. Avoid hollow edge, kullens, granton edge and how they might get called. They reduce life span considerably.
If you could stretch your budget to some $80 you may get a very decent Japanese chef's knife by Fujiwara with japanesechefsknife.com
You will need at least one sharpening stone, probably in the JIS1000 range.
post #3 of 26
I second the reccomendation above for the Victorinox. I just checked out the knives you mentioned on groupon, I wouldnt go for either. Get one good chefs knife rather then a three pack, no matter how awesome guy fieri makes it look. Check out amazon for a Mercer Renaissance 8" chefs knife. Its pretty decent given the price of $45, otherwise go with the Victoinox.

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post #4 of 26

@nelsonel2012 I've tagged a few knives (see the top right hand side of this page) for you to look at, Erin, you don't need to spend alot of money on a decent knife

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

hello!

 

thanks for the help! I am a little new still to the website? where am I look for the tags? thanks!!

post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelsonel2012 View Post
 

hello!

 

thanks for the help! I am a little new still to the website? where am I look for the tags? thanks!!

 

Note the knives near the right hand margin of this page.  But look into getting the Victorinox line; they'll do you well.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #7 of 26

I was at Costco today and they had a bunch of Tramontina Proline Santoku knives, I was really shocked to see that

Are these worth my hard earned money?

post #8 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by kaneohegirlinaz View Post
 

I was at Costco today and they had a bunch of Tramontina Proline Santoku knives, I was really shocked to see that

Are these worth my hard earned money?

 I believe these are much like knives you can get in restaurant supply and various discount stores for $2-7ea.  Amazon has a pair for 13.

 

Rick


Edited by Rick Alan - 6/23/14 at 4:42pm
post #9 of 26

Rick, I'm not a knife enthusiast some of you all here, is this a great,good, fair or horrible knife?

$2-7 US dollars per sounds like a Dollar Store Special to me and those are not found in my knife drawer, although I do have to admit that I do own a "Dollar Tree Store" knife and plastic/foldable mat for cutting up fruits,veg and roasted chickens and such while on Road Trips, so that we can have a healthful meal in hotels rooms from time to time.

post #10 of 26

Listen to me for a moment folks.  We have plenty of posts identifying low-end knife choices, and everything else.  There's also a lot of stuff on stones and sharpening.  But when it comes to the latter, no where do we have definitive answers as to what is the lowest cost "real" sharpening setup (as opposed to a hacksaw-your-blade type pull-thru).  And as we well know, "All dull knives are created equal."

 

In a couple posts now I've proposed that possibly the least expensive "decent" setup might be the Winco silicon carbide combination stone, paired with a Kyocera fine/course ceramic steel for edge truing and refinement.  Both can be had on amazon for about $25 shipped.

 

Now I personally have never tried the Winco but I've heard several professionals giving them uncontested  thumbs up, and I suppose the Kyocera is passable also.  I know I have a Norton SC that is significantly more refined than my JIS1000 waterstone and cuts as fast as you really need.

 

Anyone have further thoughts on this?

 

Rick


Edited by Rick Alan - 6/23/14 at 5:10pm
post #11 of 26

Kgirl, professionals actually use knives in that price range, but not the typical ones you find in Dollar stores, those do tend to be terrible.  You can find <$10 knives of reasonable steel and relatively thin edges, and the Tramolines probably fall in there (don't know for sure as I've never had one), nothing great but they can get a line cook and maybe even a prep cook through a shift.  CutleryandMore and a few other online places carry an NSF knife for that money and they are very popular cheap knives.

 

If you ask me though I think you deserve at least an FKM, really, go treat yourself, if in fact the knife you're looking for is actually for yourself.

 

Rick

post #12 of 26

I give a big thumbs up to the Victorinox Forschner.  It's a good enough steel, and it's already pretty thin, making it a great cutter.   I've had mine for 4 years but I just got into serious sharpening this year.  I thinned it behind the edge and put on a secondary bevel.  I'll tell you that my VF with my sharpening cuts better than any of my friends much more expensive knives.  Edge retention is a different question.  I strop it every once in a while, if that fails, then finishing stone.  I do a real sharpening starting at 1000 grit maybe twice a year.  I store, use, and maintain my knives correctly though.  I bought my mom the same knife and I sharpen it for her much more often.  Completely lost cause there.

 

This is the knife I leave out on my magnet, and I don't mind if other people use it.  I still find myself reaching for it on quick jobs because of ease of use/cleaning over my better knives.  It's not the super best knife ever, but for the money it is very very good.

 

Also for $50, Ikea has a pretty decent VG10 8" knife called the Slitbar. 

post #13 of 26

I really have issues with those thick, clogged plastic handles (on both, the Tramontinas and the Victorinox).

And i agree with Rick: K-Girl, you deserve a really good knife, not a 5 bucks soft steel cheapo blade. I'm not saying convert yourself to the religion of the Edge Worshipers, but... just a good Japanese 240 mm gyuto could be so good to your cooking.

About the Winco stones, no idea. The silicon carbide stones i can get in this part of the world are simple horrible.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #14 of 26
Yah the victorinox handle annoys me when I go back from a wa handle. Also it makes it difficult to sharpen the heel.

For $50 ikea has an 8" vg10 slibar. Kinda short for me. Amazon has tojiro dp 240mm at $70 right now.
post #15 of 26
post #16 of 26

I have the VG10 Slitbar. Surprisingly good knife for the money, but it is short. That tojihiro on Amazon is tempting. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

I have the VG10 Slitbar. Surprisingly good knife for the money, but it is short. That tojihiro on Amazon is tempting. 


I tried to buy that knife a few weeks ago. Both of the knives I took out of their packaging and inspected were overground, with the blade not touching the board in the middle. And don't even get me started on what a hassle it was trying to buy it. apparently some of them got stolen, now IKEA protects them like the crown jewels. Took me three quarttes of an hour to actually be able tolook at two samples. I should have told them to go f*ck themselves ...

post #18 of 26
Can recomend the tojiro shirogami gyuto :-)
post #19 of 26

Everything OP has been looking at so far looks like stainless.

post #20 of 26

Sorry ! No such thing as a good cheap knife anymore.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #21 of 26
Tojiro shirogami if carbon is ok or else the tojiro dp.
post #22 of 26

@nelsonel2012

 

From one novice cook on a tight budget to another:

 

I bought a set of used Calphalon knives on craigslist for $30.  They were dull and wrapped in newspaper.  I spent several hours sharpening them on one of those pull-thru wusthof sharpeners that I bought for $15.  Now I have a great set of knives!

 

My favorite knife is a 7-inch Santoku by Farberware that I bought from Walmart for $12.  When it got dull, I used the same pull thru sharpener.  Shows you how much I knew about knives!!  Now the knife no longer has the Asian edge, but its sharp!!

 

Look on Amazon for used knives.  Sometimes you get some really good deals.  I bought a Calphalon chef's knife for $12 - less than half the price of a new one.  When it came, it was still brand new in packaging!  Dont know how anyone ever used it without unwrapping it.  Nice weight.  Feels good in the hand.  Sharp.

 

I just bought a colorful Farberware chef's knife and santoku knife.  Havent used them yet.


Edited by AZFoodie - 7/2/14 at 5:53pm
post #23 of 26

Tojiro DP Gyuto 240mm, they have one left on Amazon new for $70 with free shipping.

post #24 of 26

Of the ones in the original post, I'd go with the Mercers. They bear an uncanny resemblance to a famous german company's grand prix II and classic line, but because made in Asia are quite a bit cheaper. They are a good solid brand, and an excellent value. I got my set in school, and still use my mercers all the time, even though I've got dozens of very expensive Japanese and German knives. The only problem is that a ton of line cooks have these, and it's easy to get yours stolen or traded by accident. I recommend these all the time, and have bought them for family.

The victorinox is a good buy. It's an America's test kitchen favorite, and can be found as "house" knives in many restaurants.. But if you like Victorinox, you should try the new Wusthof Professional. MUCH better ergonomics, and better gripiness in the handle material. Over time, you'll be seeing the victorinox slowly being replaced in many kitchens by the wusthof pro.
Dexter Icut pro's are very good and cheap.

I've seen several people mention Tojiro. I think the Tojiro DP line is one of the best values for the dollar, anywhere!!!! HIGHLY recommended.

I would tend to avoid the guy firri knives. I generally don't like knives that are more about TV celebrity than about working.  And you won't have to worry about them getting stolen in a working kitchen. I guarantee you no chef or line cook will steal it.
The Chicago cultlery knives are no longer the awesome knives from 30 years ago. They licensed out their name and these are now Target/Walmart quality. I still have a few 30 year old Chicago cutlery knives that I pull out occasionally, but would not use one of their new ones (except to test them).

Henkels twin is good, bear in mind there are several models within that line (such as pro s or 4 star) At that price I doubt you're getting one of those. you're probably getting a twin gourmet or a twin signature. If you're getting a twin gourmet or a twin signature, I'd prefer any of the knives, I'd mentioned before, over those two.
Of course,  you know to avoid the henkels "international" knives.

post #25 of 26

Food service establishments have different considerations than you do when it comes to procuring equipment.  They will buy "house knives" based on things like NSF certification, product support, pricing, and if there is a relationship between the purchasing agent and distributor.  

 

Let's say that the local food service distributor has a flashy outside salesman.  He comes around once a week with a honing rod in his briefcase and swipes their knives on it, and throws in a couple of free stones.  All while giving them the knives at below MSRP when they buy 6 or 10 at a time.  He could even give it to them at cost because he's selling them all their meat.  And if they have any problem what-so-ever, he'll simply give them a replacement.

 

As a homeowner, you simply don't need an NSF certified anything.  You are going to pay MSRP, unless there is a sale or coupon.  Nobody is going to pay you a follow up visit, give you a free sharpening, and see how things are going over a cup of coffee.  If a rivet pops out, the handles fall off, the tip breaks off, or your girlfriend left it in the oven for an hour while broiling a piece of meat: tough.  Nobody cares.  You try sending it back to the manufacturer, and try getting an exchange, without an advocate.  You'll soon learn that "lifetime warranty" means "lifetime of the product".  Once it breaks, the warranty does not exist.  

The owner of the restaurant could care less about heft, weight, feel, and balance.  But you should.  Every knife, no matter how expensive or cheap, feels different in everyone's hand.  What works for me, may not work for you.  Find a knife which fits your hand.  

 

Think about your lifestyle and the amount of maintenance the knife needs.  Are you ready to care for something that cost more than you make in a day?  Back when Ming Tsai had a TV show and he was pimping those Kyocera knives, they were almost $200.  For some, that was half a week's wages.  My ex-girlfriend had to have one.  It was great knife.  But she just couldn't be bothered with caring for it properly.  I ended up with a very expensive broken knife.  If a lot of effort is needed in owning and maintaining, are you willing to do the work?  Is it high carbon and will rust if you don't oil it?  

 

Look at the build quality.  Is it full tang?  How many rivets?  How big are the rivets?  What is the Rockwell hardness of the blade?  How well will the blade hold an edge?

 

There are certainly a lot of options under $100.  You can go from as low as $20 for Cold Steel, or even a $12.99 ceramic 6" from Harbor Freight.  But the one that I like is Buck Knives  931, 8" Chef's Knife.  

 

http://www.buckknives.com/product/chef-s-knife/0931FAM01/

 

 

post #26 of 26

Fifty 150, I noticed that this thread was resurrected by you after an 11 month hiatus.  The OP has almost certainly gone on to other things (the User Profile shows the last time on line as being 6/19/2014), and hopefully, you will also look at the date of the postings in the future as well.  

 

Since you did restart this thread, at least a few comments may be in order:

 

Much of what you say is good generic information.  However, some of your information can just be irrelevant.

 

Concerning the handle of a knife, the number and size of the rivets and the presence of a full tang are unrelated to the quality of the blade or its performance.  Consider the case of Japanese knives with wa handles.

 

You mention maintenance.  Good.  However, that really should be about sharpening (and I agree with Rick Alan's comments in Post #10 above about the need for sharpening).

 

Carbon steel maintenance is not about oiling the blade.  It should be about developing a proper protective patina (blue/black - NEVER red/orange) and cleaning immediately after use and keeping the blade clean and dry when not in use.

 

FWIW, my off-the shelf recommendation for a cheap, serviceable knife is a used Mac Original 9 inch blade (now numbered as the "CK-90"), as long as it's not too destroyed.  I ended up buying one on eBay in excellent condition for under $30 a few weeks back.  Handle may be a bit chunky for a racket grip, a pinch grip needs getting used to (but that's what a wood rasp can do wonders with just a bit of time and elbow grease), there's no definite point at the tip - but, hey, it's great steel, thinner than almost anything else around (excepting a Kiwi knife), sharpens well and is worth every penny under $30 if in good condition!  It's probably the knife which introduced American and European chefs in the 1960's to how much better a Japanese knife could be compared to the European stainless forged battle axes of the time.

 

Don't take my criticisms too personally.  I've done my share of bummers as well.  And feel free to toss in your 2/100th of a $ as well.

 

 

Galley Swiller

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