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What will an expensive knife give me, that a cheap one won't?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


Currently I own a trio of cheap Japanese knives, specifically a Tojiro DP Gyuto, a Tojiro F-699 Nakiri and a Sakai Genkichi Funayuki.  From what I've read they're all made from first class steel (VG10, Shirogami #2 and Aogami #2 respectively) and even with my no doubt mediocre sharpening technique they get frighteningly sharp and perform extremely well - I think.  The thing is, I've never had the opportunity to try an expensive knife since the only Japanese knives to be found in local shops are the all-steel Globals (which I absolutely detest the look of) and no-one I know uses anything other than your run of the mill German-made chef knives.


While all my current knives are cheap (~$40) that's not because I'm adverse to spending more, but simply because I am adverse to spending "serious" money without knowing what it'll give me over and above what I already own.  The many articles I've read pretty much all stress that the steel quality is the most important and my cheapo blades already have that covered.


So what *more* do I get if I decide to spend, say, $150-250 on a knife?  Is it only a matter of fancy Damascus patterning, a hammered finish, exotic wood in the handles and bragging rights derived from the brand name and price (which I've no use for, since I know of no-one who might care), or are there tangible benefits to be had in terms of practicality and/or performance too?


Please enlighten me!


PS - I'm very much an amateur home cook, so please bear that firmly in mind.

post #2 of 7
There are many tangible benefits of buying a more expensive knife, it just depends on what the buyer wants.
Fit and finish, knuckle clearance, HRC, type of metal, construction of blade, blacksmith/company, angle of grind, ect.
All play into what the buyer deems a good knife for them. Even though the Damascus forged or hammered finish do look amazing, it also serves a purpose in performance via release. The demples in the blade release air pockets and help product release when using.
I learned a lot just by thoroughly shopping on Lots of helpful videos and thorough and honest product descriptions.
At the end of the day, do a little more R&D, figure out what YOU want in a knife and make a decision. Don't be scared to spend a little more money if it is something you think you might love!
post #3 of 7
Also, I forgot to mention that learning about the knives was fun! I developed a whole new appreciation for them.
post #4 of 7

 I have been using knives from most of the big manufactures of chefs knives for over 35+years, from stamped blade Forschners. Forged high carbon, and stainless steel German, French knives, also white steel Japanese knives. In my experience higher end knives, have a lot to due with balance, the feel of the knife in ones hand, while cutting, ease of achieving, and maintaining an extremely sharp edge longer. than a lesser priced knife... but really you answered your own question by stating modestly how sharp you can get your VG10 knives! I work with cooks on a regular basis that do not now how to sharpen their knives properly. The knives you have are just fine, but that response is coming from a chef with over 60 knives, and I always seem to find an excuse to buy another Like a cheese knife I bought the other day!!! I needed a knife for soft cheese. there is something to be said for having the right tool for the job at hand. a closing note treat yourself to a high-end paring knife, as a way to test the waters before going all out on top of the line chef knife. if its a Zen thing stay with what you got! 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for that further reassurance.  Having been off work for some time due to an operation I've been cooking rather more than usual lately and I really am quite happy with the performance of my small handful of cheap blades.  Yesterday I gave them all a round on the whetstone, possibly being more thorough than usual due to my activity here, and I'm sure they've never been sharper.  I wear a beard and so generally never shave, but I tested the funayuki afterwards by doing a little clean-up work on my neck, where it did a sterling job.


As it happens I do need a paring knife, as well as a 5-6" petty, so I'll take your advice there fairly soon.  They won't be "high-end" knives, at least not as far as price is concerned, but I'll certainly make sure the steel is good and that they're a decent make.

post #6 of 7 some fairly cost efficient paring and petty knives on that page. Of course Tojiro and Fujiwara are to be considered as well in that range.
Stainless preferred if your intended usage includes some fruit work.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestion.  I've had a look at JKI's selection several time, as well as (too) many other shops and there's no shortage of contenders for a place in my next shopping cart.  However, in all likelihood I'll end up getting my next two knives from Blueway Japan.  That's where I bought my current ones and apart from the excellent service I've received and the very fast shipping, the cost of shipping is a fraction of that generally charged by regular shops.


The ones I have specifically set my beady eye on is a 90mm Tojiro DP VG10 parer and a 135mm Ichimonji Kichikuni petty in Aogami #2.  Not quite as cheap as chips, but still miles from "high-end" territory.  For a parer I want something stainless since, as you mention, it'll be used for fruit, but otherwise I prefer to stay with carbon steel.  Not for any practical reason, as my Tojiro DP gyuto has served me very well indeed, but simply because carbon steel appeals more to my sense of aesthetics, or "zen" if you will.  I actually like the fact that it requires a bit of looking after and can't just be left in the sink or wherever and still perform perfectly the next day.  For that reason I'll probably swap out the gyuto as well, but it'll take a little time before I can sufficiently justify that to myself.


Do feel free to chime in on my choices in case I have overlooked some drawback or other in my amateurishness.

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