I'll try to give input on some of these...in the meantime, can you list a budget for these knives? It would help other contributors get a feeling for where to start making suggestions or giving input.
- Like I said - amortized over thirty years the budget becomes less critical. If someone can recommend a knife maker or model that meets my criteria, I would like to know what it is regardless of budget.
Originally Posted by chidofu
Hi, I have been reading posts here for weeks on knives and am realizing that I may never be able to figure out which knife to get without some guidance.
I like the handles and profile of my Henckel knives but not so much the steel. So I would like to purchase new knives that look as much like them as possible with better steel. I am particularly interested in knives that have carbon steel edges with stainless cladding to make then a bit lower maintenance. So with that background here is what I am looking for:
How are you currently sharpening your Henckels? What do you dislike? Edge retention, edge taking? Please be more specific.
- I don't particularly like edge taking or edge retention. I sharpen with water stones. I am a woodworker and sharpen lots of tools with water stones. I also don't like that the bolster on the Henckel runs all the way down to the blade. I would prefer what I have seen referred as a half-bolster so that I can sharpen the full blade more cleanly.
Handle - western. A handle that is roughly the size of the handle on the Henckel knives would be perfect. I would not want anything smaller.
How are you currently gripping your knife?
- I grip the handle, not the blade.
Handle material - I like natural wood handles. I am a woodworker and like woods like rosewood, etc. However, I would also be fine with other non-natural materials if that is what is available on the knife that otherwise meets the criteria below.
Bolster - must have. In particular I want a knife with a metal bolster that is either a single piece with the blade or welded so that it is attached to the blade. I do not want any gap between the bolster and the blade for food water etc. to get into.
Blade thickness - not too thin. I don't know if it is good technique or not but sometimes I push down on the back of the blade and I don't want it to be too thin. The thickness of the Henckel blade is fine. If slightly thinner that is OK. But I do not want a laser or anything really thin.
When in your food prep are you having to push down on the blade? Would any of the instances in which this happens be resolved by having an incredibly sharp and thin knife?
- Sometimes when cutting frozen bread. Sometimes when forcing my way through a joint in a chicken. Other situations that I can't think of right now. Not things I would necessarily feel safe doing with an incredibly shape and thin knife.
Blade hardness - harder than Henckel but not so hard that it will chip or be really brittle.
So that you are aware, if you have been looking at Japanese knives, especially the higher end carbon steels, I would venture to say that most of them will tend towards microchipping vs rolling out of true as you might be used to with your Henckels as a function of their wear pattern.
Blade steel - carbon steel or something that holds an edge like carbon steel. The aogami super blue and the one with the number like 51200 seem like good candidates.
I don't know if I've seen a stainless clad 52100 core steel yet. Are your current maintenance and sharpening habits sufficient to take advantage of the strengths of good carbon steels? Also, there are good stainless steels that have edge holding properties like the high hardness carbon steels. Search up knives made with R2 or HAP40 or SRS15 and see if those pique your interest.
- There is a set of Kramer damascus that are clad 52100. To answer the first question, I think so. I am open to non-carbon steels that will hold an edge like a carbon steel if there are no carbon steel options that match or if the non-carbon steels are really as good as carbon steel. I have seen references to R2. That is used in at least one model of Shun correct? People talked about Shuns chipping in some of the stuff I read. It's really hard to make a decision on this type of thing with all of the conflicting information. That is what lead me to just ask.
Blade cladding - stainless. I am not looking for anything fancy like damascus but would not rule a knife out if it had it. I am also not looking for the rustic japanese finish but between rustic and damascus would prefer rustic. Normal polished steel is fine though.
The rustic looking knives that are stainless clad tend to be in the slight minority, is my impression.
Blade height - the height of the Henckel is good. I do not want it too narrow. It seems like the gyutos are narrower so if it has to be narrower then the highest possible would be best. This is most relevant to the chef's knives obviously.
Haven't felt that gyutos are narrower. Many 240mm gyutos run between high 40s to low 50s mm, pretty much two inches tall. 270mm are likely to be slightly taller than that, to make the blade feel proportional along a longer length.
- They seem narrower at the base than my Henckel when I see the video reviews. But if I am wrong then anything with at least the depth of my Henckel will be fine.
Blade lengths/styles - I want to purchase a paring knife, small/petty knife, santoku or small chef's knife in the 6-7" range, 8" chef's knife, 10" chef's knife, 9" slicer, 9" bread knife (if available) as well as other knives. I am looking for basically the same construction for all of the knives. So a model that is available in a variety of styles would be preferable.
There is a fair bit of redundancy in this collection. Do you have clearly formed ideas of when you would pick between a 6-7 inch chefs or santoku vs a 8 inch chefs vs a 10 inch chefs? It might help to try and spend some time really nailing down the knives you use the most right now.
Unfortunately right now I'm stuck on trying to think about stainless clad carbon steel core knives that don't run on the thin side. I just got one that might be my thinnest knife yet and I'm loving it. I would assert that for most home cooks who would spend some time and effort polishing up their knife skills, maintenance habits, and sharpening, thinner knives are a strength.
- I like redundancy. We have multiple people in the kitchen and sometimes someone else has the knife I want so I like to have other close options. In any event, those are the knives I would like. If they aren't all available, that is fine. But if they are, that is better. If there are only thin knives available in knives that meet the other criteria, then perhaps you could direct me to the least thin of the good ones?
For additional background, I looked at the Kramer knives. They have more belly than I would like and the handles have problems where the scales seems to have shrunk, leaving the metal parts protruding out. So those are out for me.
I am very picky about fit and finish and I want these to be really, really nice.
With your statements on what you want the handle to feel like, the preference against thin knives, and prioritization on matching and very good fit and finish, you might be more happy sticking with getting something similar to Henckels, or rebuying a new set of them.
I imagine with some of the terms and steels you threw out that you've been looking at Japanese made knives, but your other requirements limit you by basically making it sound like you just want Henckels in a better steel. You'll be looking at Shuns, in that case.
- I don't want to rebuy a new set of Henckels. My current set is still in nice shape. Shuns might be an option. But I have read a lot of bad things about chipping etc. Is there a Shun line that meets my criteria and has really good steel?
I had my Henckel knives for almost 30 years and I think these knives should last me for the next 30. So price is not an issue.
You listed out a theoretically set of 7 or so knives. I could think of stainless clad carbon core steel knives that would set you back $1500 bucks if not more for 7 knives. Are you sure you don't have a max budget?
- I am sure from the prices I have seen on some of these Japanese knives that someone could come up with a budget buster but in general no. If you are willing to, let's just say for purposes of the first cut that money is no object and I would like to know who makes the best knife out there that meets my criteria. Then if you say it is a $1500 per knife, it is possible I would ask if there is anything comparable for $500 per knife. Obviously it would be great if you told me that the best knife that met my criteria was $200 per knife (I am talking average as I understand that certain knives are more expensive than others among the knives I want to purchase). Thanks again!
Thanks in advance for any advice/guidance that you can provide!