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Knife Set recommendation

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hello - glad I found this forum.

I was about to buy a shun classic 9-piece set and after reading posts on this forum am looking for a little more bang for my buck.


Most of the threads I've read here are about someone looking for a single type of knife and the japanese chef knife sites appear to be more geared towards a single or double knife set.  


Any recommendations for a knife and block set in the $800 range? Should I piece meal build my own?

Thank you

post #2 of 15
Before we get onto referring knives, how do you plan on sharpening them ?

Do you already sharpen, do you plan to learn, or do you have someone in mind to sharpen for you ?

$800 is a lot of money if you don't have a plan to keep them sharp.

The majority will recommend to buy knives individually.

What knives are you replacing ?
What style of knives are you familiar and comfortable with ?

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.

I would like to learn how to sharpen but if need be would send them out to be sharpened when needed.  


I really don't have a good knife or set of knives this would be replacing so there isn't a specific type of handle or blade that we favor.


Is there a good brand / steel type that would be recommended for home use?  Something that I can build into a set?



post #4 of 15
The problem is that there are so many options, and personal preference can make a huge difference.
You may hate what I like and vis versa.

The safe recommendation is to buy a good cheapish knife, tojiro DP or equivalent, and a combo stone, king 1000/6000 or equivalent, and have at it.

Once you've played with those for a while you'll have abetter chance of telling us what you like and dislike, thereby getting more meaningful recommendations.

I'm not trying to fob you off, but there is a massive amount of options out there.

Having said that, if something takes your fancy, then asking for feedback on a specific knife may be another way forward.

But until you've tried something yourself it will be as hard for you to appreciate our comments as it is for us to give any meaningful advice.
post #5 of 15
Have a chef's knife ("gyuto") and a 150mm petty. Get them with or Broida's and ask for an initial stone sharpening.
post #6 of 15

Hi denisl.  Welcome to ChefTalk!


As kevpenbanc said above, the majority will (probably) recommend you spend piece by piece, rather than as a set.  Certainly, I am going to do that here.


Kev was right about starting off asking about sharpening.  As one former participant here, Boar D. Laze, put it, "If you don’t know how to sharpen,  don’t want to learn, and won’t or can’t invest in one of the choices which don’t require much learning – my suggestion is to stick with very cheap knives.  Anything expensive is just a waste of money."


For this to work best, we will need to work together in a dialogue.  You'll ask questions and we'll reply - We'll ask questions and you'll reply.  That way, we can get to a mutual understanding of what will work best for you.


First, think about this as a three-part issue.  Only one part involves knife purchase.  A second part involves a good cutting board and a third part involves tools and techniques for sharpening your knives.


Next, let's start off by knowing what may be available to you.  We get questions (and we have participants) from around the world.  However, knife availability is largely dependent upon what country the Original Poster (the "OP") lives in.  It's little or no use to you, the OP, if someone on the thread recommends a knife which you have no way of obtaining, because you live in a country which that particular product cannot be imported into.  Sooooo:  


What country are you in?


What type of foods do you normally cook?


What's generally the largest number of people you occasionally cook for (say, a particular meal in the course of a year)?


 What's the largest knife you currently use (in terms of blade length)?


Will you be the only person in the kitchen, or will you be sharing it with someone else?


Again, I'm going to harp on what Kev emphasized: sharpening.  Keeping in mind that no knife in use escapes dulling, how do you intend to maintain the sharpness of your knives' edges?


To get you off to an idea of what's involved in sharpening, read Chad Ward here:


And here are videos by Jon Broida:


Hope that gives you some food for thought (and I hope we hear back from you)


Galley Swiller

post #7 of 15



30 minutes ago, I started with only Kev's reply in the thread.


Now, a lot more has happened.


But, I'm okay with that.



post #8 of 15

Well, some knives are very thin, can get very sharp and are fragile, relatively speaking.  Some knives are tougher and still cut pretty well.  You can pick one or the other or have representations of both, stainless, semi-stainless or carbon.


Most folks will have a 210 or 240 gyuto as their primary knife.  You can ad a slicer/sujihiki to that, along with something like a 6" utility/petty, maybe a smaller version as a parer also, and perhaps some sort of filet knife and/or boning knife.  Maybe even a bread knife, or who knows, perhaps even a specialty knife like an Usuba might be especially handy to you.


You indicate that you really don't know what would be best for you, so you really need to describe in adequate detail what your typical prep is like.


As far as sharpening goes, there is free hand with bench stones or using some kind of jig.  All sharpening jigs currently on the market have some drawbacks, would consider the Wicked Edge as the lesser of many evils for a beginner.  Don't consider a power sharpener like a chefs choice if you are going to invest in decent knives.





post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the detailed responses.

I think I'll take kevpenbanc's advise and go with tojiro dp and a king 1000/6000 to get a feel for what I like.  It seems that for under $100 it's a good investment towards my ultimate purchase and a great way to practice sharpening.


I see that Korin is in NYC.  

I work in NYC and plan on stopping by their store sometime this week or next.  They're actually only a few blocks away.


I share the kitchen with my wife and we cook all types of food. We live in New Jersey.

Typical chicken/fish/beef/lamb type dishes.  Sometimes we'll order fresh sushi grade fish and mangle the salmon or tuna because we have terrible knives to slice it.


We typically cook for 2 but have dinner parties with 10-15 people.  A day or two of prep. Especially with the holiday's coming up.


I expect I'll end up with a gyuto and petty in the near future.  

Maybe when i go to Korin's store I'll end up going home with something. 


Thank you for the links on sharpening I'll review them.


When it comes to personal preference, is it all about the handle of the knife? Or both handle and blade?

I do like the look of a Japanese damascus steel blade knife.  Is there a recommended damascus steel brand?



post #10 of 15

Check out these:


Gyuto around $100 with the 15% holiday sale.  Also Korin does initial sharpening for free.

Edited by MillionsKnives - 12/1/15 at 7:32am
post #11 of 15

I feel the blade profile and geometry are far more important than the handle.


Many professionals are very particular about handles because they put in so many hours on them.  A home cook doesn't need to be so concerned.  Even if you have very big or small hands, though some may argue that.  Well admittedly I'm not the best person to advise here as I have a very relaxed grip and good dexterity so adapt very well.  The only handles I just dislike are the typical NSF knife handles, they just bulge too much in the front and force my hand farther forward than I care for it to be.





post #12 of 15

denisl, please be advised that I did not find Korin carrying the Tojiro brand. However, Amazon does carry the Tojiro DP in various lengths, including the 210 mm, the 240 mm and the 270 mm.


What I find in terms of importance are:  1) the shape of the blade (I prefer an edge profile with little "belly"; i.e., a not-so-curved profile with a low tip); 2) the length of the blade (for a gyuto, a 240 mm); 3) a generally conventional handle which is easy to pinch grip; 4) non-decorated steel (i.e., no Damascus); and 5) a steel which is easy to sharpen.


As noted, I prefer a handle which is easy to pinch grip.  I usually have found that, with the exception of ergonomic handles, most western-style or traditional-Japanese-style handles are irrelevant as to feel with a pinch grip.  Ergo handles are just uncomfortable and difficult to use with a pinch grip.


I tend to seek out knives which are tools, not showpieces.  However, if you want Damascus, that's up to you.  Just be aware that once scratched up, it becomes a Royal PITA to restore.  You need to polish out the scratches, then apply etching fluid to restore the Damascus effect.  Not for the faint of heart.


I myself don't recommend VG-10 steel (Damascus or otherwise).  It can be difficult to sharpen, in that you need to use multiple sharpening grits and carefully abrade off each bead after raising that bead.  If the bead is just snapped off, then it has a tendency to knock off the edge, and then you have to begin the process all over again. 


Length is critical.  If you are going to be doing a big cooking session, then I would strongly recommend a blade length of 240 mm or 270 mm.  210 mm is a bit too short for production work, while 300 mm is unwieldly, while the additional length can put unwanted leverage on the tip of the blade.


For a workhorse, you might also want to consider a MAC BK-100.  This is MAC's web page on it:  It's a knife mostly marketed to line cooks, but will be big enough (at 255 mm) to do production work.  The steel in the blade is the same as the Professional series MAC gyuto's, and is the same stiffness as the MAC Professional gyutos (at least to my personal comparison).


I do understand that, at $135, it is more than your initial budget of $100, but you can find it on eBay discounted down to $110.  You can also check out the MAC retailers as listed here:


You can also consider an Idahone 12 inch fine ceramic hone.  They run about $30 or so.


Hope that helps.



Galley Swiller

post #13 of 15

Bought a promo block set of Wusthof Grand Prix II's after divorce left me knife-less (wife number first was a chef, and as such, she got custody of the knives... divorce can be so cruel). Re-ground most of the blades to a sharper dbl. bevel, added a 5" serrated, half dozen various parers & utility, steak knives, smaller chef, and two Santoku's later when I married wife number last. I wasn't buying so much as I was collecting. In hind sight, I actually do use most of them, but the chef, utility, boner, slicer, and scalloped slicer probably do 95% for me. The latter as a replacement for the bread knife, which I never use, and we bake fresh breads daily. The scalloped serrations never tear, whereas the reverse serrated teeth of the bread knife have never done anything but for me. I also bought a 5-1/2" & 7" Oneida Santoku's w/ triple riveted wooden handles for wife number last and the kids to abuse and practice steeling with. Being used to using chef's knife for most prep, the Santoku's are more to da wife's liking, and I have very little use for them. Although I must admit to grabbing the cheapo Oneida's for chopping veg if they're not being used (the smaller ones just feel right). I have big hands and the big chef feels as right to me as the Wusthof Santoku feels wrong, so ditto what others have said, the selecting begins with what feels right to you.


Bought my avid home cook S-I-L a set of Grand Prix's for her 50th birthday a few years back 'cuz she was always commenting on how much she enjoyed using mine when visiting. While at her place for dinner one night about a year later, I couldn't help but notice that she was literally sawing through a rested loin that looked as if it must have been made of dried cow hide. She then admitted that she didn't really care for the knives 'cuz they didn't stay sharp? She also admitted to not ever having learned to use the steel... or bothered sharpening them (at which point I was tempted to grab them all up and take them back, which I did anyway just to re-sharpen for her, even though she doesn't deserve them), so again, as others have said. Figure out how you intend to sharpen them. I'm a wood worker among other things, and have an extensive collection of tools and equipment for shaping, sharpening, polishing, and stropping all sorts of cutting tools, but that's unusual. I will say that for most folks, the fact that they never learn to properly maintain quality knives, or have no desire to do so, deservedly relegates them to the blister packed Oneida stuff on the WalMart peg hook. The moneythey save can go toward bandaids and sutures.. 

post #14 of 15

@cooknfool  if you can sharpen chisels and keep them from rusting, you can use carbon steel knives.  Get yourself a nice carbon steel knife and don't let ANYONE else use it.  Just hide it away.  Keep it secret, keep it safe, your precious

post #15 of 15
Check out Korin and see what they have and what you like.
I believe that MTC Kitchen are also in NY, it'll probably be worth visiting them too.
Generally with handles the japanese handles aee lighter than western, mainly a preference thing.
If you like damascus, then go for it, you may find a hammered damascus knife thats not too expensive.
I have a thing for damascus and a few of my knives have seen heavy use and abuse, a few minor scratches here and there. Depends how fussy you are about it as to how upset you may get about it. Most of my damascus knives still look fine smile.gif
MTC have the Takamura Hana which is a very fine knife, and looks good too - I'm not recommending it as a first knife, but something you can think of later smile.gif
Have a look at the stores, get something cheap to start with and go from there.
Have fun.
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