Beginner Home Cook Knife Recommendations

10
10
Joined Jan 24, 2012
Hello all! First time poster, and I want to say this forum is excellent and has a wealth of information so thank you very much!

I am just getting interested in cooking and was thinking that I might need a new knife. Can someone recommend a single knife that is a good "all-round" tool, but will not break the bank? Because I'm just learning how to really cook I don't need top of the line, but I also don't want a piece of junk. I would also appreciate a link to a resource on basic knife care / sharpening.

Sorry for the ignorance, but thank you for the help!  
 
2,838
644
Joined Jan 4, 2011


... Before anyone gets all out of shape ... I'm joking here. 
 
Last edited:
564
17
Joined Dec 3, 2010
Hi big

There are a host of good choices and have to say none I know of are AC powered :)

Seriously though tell us a little about what knives you have used and what you like and dislike about them, and maybe a little more about what your looking for or at least what you want to cut with it.

That should make it easier to get you in the right direction.

Also check out the link in my signature below as it may answer some questions while you wait on replies.

Also welcome to the site.
 
10
10
Joined Jan 24, 2012
Thanks for the welcome Lenny!

My experience is extremely limited, and I've started exploring cooking as a hobby. I basically chop veggies and do some light "breaking down" of meat (mostly chicken/fish). I guess what I'm looking for is a nice 8" chef's knife (I think!), but I don't feel I need something top of line, as the quality will probably be lost on me. Anything better than a Wal-Mart knife should do the trick!

Also, thanks for the link! Any and all information helps!
 
172
14
Joined Jan 16, 2012
Can you give an indication as to what "breaking the bank" would entail? A max budget in mind? It'll help those in the know here.
 
343
19
Joined May 31, 2011
"Anything better than a Wal-Mart knife" leaves a lot of room.  I know a dude who makes knives (he's really a sharpener), where you can get a 10", wide chef's knife for 12 bucks that's probably better than most anything you'd likely buy at Wal-Mart.  But then, what's "better" to you?

Sharpening is key.  A crappy dull knife is on par with a stupidly expensive dull knife.  And if your plan is to get somebody at a local Farmer's Market with a truck and belt grinder to sharpen your knives, then... chances are it's a really good plan if you want to spend $12 on a knife.  If you want to spend $200 on a knife, you (in all likelihood) need a better sharpening plan.

- steel: kind of steel will go a ways to determining edge-taking and edge-holding properties.  So this involves how sharp a knife will get, but also how easy it is to sharpen.  If you're sharpening knives yourself, both of those things matter.  (Geometry and heat treatment of the steel, matter here, too).

- profile: you may have no preference, but this is another factor when deciding.  What's the shape of the knife? Does it suit your "action" (how much belly do you want, how much 'flat'?). How tall?

- Geometry, but I'll leave that for the "steel" section

- Weight

-Handle type

- Fit and finish

- visual appeal

I think most of this doesn't matter to you, since anything better than what you find at Wal-Mart is going to be ok.  What DOES matter a lot is your ability to sharpen, or willingness to learn to sharpen, or plan to get and keep a knife sharp.  If you have that piece clarified, then you can clarify how important edge-retention is to you, too.

I'm spouting at random, here.  There are more organized posts throughout this forum in helping someone "new" to the thought process.  But the only next step I can think of is to throw out some names of the less expensive knives that more or less well-liked.  And then that would take all kinds of caveats.

OK, I'll start.  Forschner Fibrox (or Rosewood handle) chef's knives are good bang for the buck.  Only consensus is that the profile sort of sucks on the chef's knives.  And edge retention isn't great, but that's going to be par for the course if you want to spend not much, and it might not matter.  Dexter-Russell, anything on clearance at C&M (with "NSF" on the side) will be really inexpensive, too.

If we want to talk about steps up, Fujiwara FKM, Tojiro, Mac Pro, Yoshihiro (we're moving along a price continuum pretty precipitously at this point).... when you start talking about $200 your options open up tremendously.  Except it doesn't make sense to do that unless you want to spend MORE on sharpening.  Or  have someone really competent to do it for you.

I'm stuck on your "Wal-Mart" baseline.  Even though I don't really know what's available at Wal-Mart.  Before I ever posted here, I browsed through the history of posts a bit, and ran into what is still perhaps my favorite (maybe 2nd favorite -- not sure) quote about cutlery (courtesy BDL): "A knife is just a handle and a sharpening problem".
 
Last edited:
10
10
Joined Jan 24, 2012
Wag, thanks for the detailed reply. After reading it, I'm starting to realize a new knife may not be the best path. I think I will find somewhere to get my current knives sharpened. I'll try to get it done sometime this week, and let you helpful people know how it turns out!

Thanks again for the advice.
 
343
19
Joined May 31, 2011
$75.00 (plus shipping of $7.00) gets you a 210mm Fujiwara FKM gyuto from japanesechefsknife.com.

You still need a sharpening plan -- and to budget some money for it.
 
8,550
211
Joined Feb 13, 2008
The knife part is easy. 

Get an R. H. Forschner Fibrox or Rosewood (same knife, different handle).  They'll not only fit within your budget, they'll leave room to spare.  R. H. Forschners are among the very few, relatively low priced knives which are worth sharpening.  A lot of stores sells them online, but if you want a recommendation I'll happily supply. 

FWIW my last Forschner, a 10" Cimeter which I got about a year ago and reviewed here, came from Mad Cow Cutlery who has their store front on Amazon.  Don't let the moderate number of stars fools you... Forschners may not be the best knives in the world, but they're major value.  You can't do better for the money.

An alternative to a Forschner, and still within your budget, is a Fujiwara FKM.  I think the Fujiwara is a better knife in almost every respect, but it's not as durable and probably would be more difficult to keep sharp (depending on how you decide to sharpen and how much you're willing to spend). 

You're going to have to make some decisions about how you're going to sharpen and maintain you knife; and there's going to be some sticker shock involved as well as accepting a new paradigm about sharpness.  Warm up your credit card and let's talk.

Once you've figured that out and developed some basic knife and sharpening skills, if you want to upgrade to something more agile and with better edge qualities than a Forschner you'll have a good jumping off place to make informed decisions. 

BDL
 
Last edited:
343
19
Joined May 31, 2011
I think your plan to get your current knives sharpened is good.  Then you decide more slowly if you're happy or if you want to spend on upgrades.  And you can surf around the "usual suspects" - Japanese Knife Imports, Cutlery & More, CKTG, Japanese Chefs Knife... all of which is overwhelming if you're in a hurry.

Edit -- I just saw BDL's post, too, and indeed, the second part of "low prices knives that are worth sharpening" is a real consideration.  One reason, perhaps, to buy now.  Get some sharpening in order on something worth sharpening, then maybe you're happy and maybe you want to consider upgrades.
 
Last edited:
8,550
211
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Note:  If you're going to buy a Fujiwara FKM, I suggest buying from Chef Knives to Go instead of JCK.  JCK is an excellent retailer, but if anything goes wrong you have to send the knife back to Japan via San Diego, and their San Diego office can be pretty tight a$$ed in terms of deciding whether a problem is user error or was caused by the maker or shipper.  CKtG is located in the US and is significantly more consumer oriented when it comes to assigning blame.

BDL

Disclosue:  CKtG and I are discussing a commercial relationship in which I'd be doing some writing for them.
 
343
19
Joined May 31, 2011
Timing matters too -- i.e., the 8" knife is closest to 210mm if buying Japanese.  CKTG may still not have any in stock if you were to do that soon.  If it's in stock when you're ready to pull the trigger, by all means.  Save on postage, too.

On the other hand, I like the Forschner suggestion more for current purposes -- cheaper, and something "worth sharpening".
 
200
19
Joined Oct 5, 2011
What knives do you have currently? If you don't know the make post a picture.

There are some low end steels that are so bad at taking an edge they should be replaced. Others are worth spending $5.00 a piece to have sharpened.

I had a lady bring me a dull, malformed from bad sharpening, and rusty knife that she wanted to know if it was worth doing. It was an old carbon steel 4 star elephant Sabatier which is some top notch but old steel.

$10 later she had a knife that was reconditioned and as good as you could buy without getting into $$$$$$.

You don't want to spend money and downgrade or go sideways in your steel quality.

Jim
 
Last edited:

phatch

Moderator
Staff member
9,651
1,126
Joined Mar 29, 2002
The Forschners are a good buy as has been mentioned. Learning with a 10" will be beneficial to your efficiency in the long term. But certainly, an 8" is still a good knife.

If you have an Ikea by you, you can get a good knife steel in an odd visual design that works surprisingly well, their SLITBAR Damascus 8" chef knife is a good blade (mediocre handle, odd looks overall) for $50.00.

The Forschners are a lesser steel in comparison, but also thinner steel stock which can offer its own performance advantages.

With the overall budget you've mentioned, putting half into the Forschner and half into a stone or two and a steel might be the best balance $, value and use.
 
1
10
Joined Jan 25, 2012
So check this guys. This have been a wealth of info for beginners. I thought it was a sticky before I clicked on it. Anyway here goes:

 I am an amateur chef that "above average" cooking skills. I am unafraid of any recipe and I know (I think) most basic cooking techniques. My knife skills are sub par and something I need to improve. I know how I should hold my hands when I am cutting vegetables but that's about it. I am finally starting to improve this because now I have a house where my cooking utencils will not be abused! Silverware in my non-stick pans? GET OUT!

 This means I am starting fresh with 0 cookware or knives. I've used some nice quality Henkel knives and Cutco knives as well. The Henkels felt nice in my hands and so did the Cutco. The Cutco, however, just felt clumsy. The way the knife felt on the cutting board was all wrong. I always thought it was just because I didn't have proper technique/practice. The Henkels felt much better though[font=tahoma, verdana, geneva, lucida, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]  they still had the same type of "I have no clue what I'm doing" feel. [/font]

 I know from above my sharpening skills need to be as good as the knives I'm buying. I need to buy cookware too, so I'm thinking $300 is the budget for the knives. [font=tahoma, verdana, geneva, lucida, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]I like the price point on the [/font]R. H. Forschner knives and was thinking of getting a set but if I can go with some nicer knives I don't see the problem in investing the extra cash. Does the previous advice in this thread still hold true or would a different brand be good for a set? Is a set even any good for me or should I just start with a Chef/bread/pearing combo that's really nice? 
 
Last edited:
10
10
Joined Jan 24, 2012
It's funny sometimes when you ask what you think to be a simple question.... all of the sudden im getting the feeling im in over my head! I really do appreciate all the help. I honestly think at this point my money is better invested in something like a knife care class!

Cheers!
 
Last edited:
204
19
Joined Sep 12, 2011
Here's one of several options, big green: 
Basically it's a set of stones and a jig to set the bevel for you.  There's some sticker shock with the Apex kit -- around $300!  But (a) it's dead easy (b) after 5 years or so you'll come out ahead as opposed to paying for each sharpening (c)  it's quick enough, despite the ponderous pace of the video, and the knives never have to leave your kitchen.

Plus as you become geekier you can adjust your bevels, try different levels of polishing, and bore your friends to tears talking about your new hobby.
 
564
17
Joined Dec 3, 2010
It's funny sometimes when you ask what you think to be a simple question.... all of the sudden im getting the feeling im in over my head! I really do appreciate all the help. I honestly think at this point my money is better invested in something like a knife care class!
Cheers!

Don't let the somewhat helpless or absolute "noob" feeling deter you as it really is a part of the process. ;)

Not everyone is ready for the commitment of expensive knives and even more expensive sharpening stones etc, but there are all kinds of options from $30 range knives to a full on assortment of Japanese Knives and whetstones that can run into the thousands but all there is certainly plenty of room for 90% or more of first time begginers to find a comfortable place to be.

So do not let any of this overwhelm you and just be honest with your answers and you will find the sweet spot for you on all of this as you have some great members here who will definitely help you figure it all out.

Don't worry we got your back :)
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top Bottom