Complete knife "set" recommendations

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Joined Dec 11, 2017
Hi everyone. I've just discovered this site and I've read several forums and discussions about specific knives. I'm looking for some guidance from those wiser than I. Here's my situation: I'm looking to buy some really good quality knives for home use. I don't have hedge fund money, but I'm not hugely price sensitive for this purchase either. I currently have whatever cheap knife and block set my wife and I got as broke newly weds almost 13 years ago. They're junk. At this point I'm ready to replace them with something high quality. I'm willing to invest some money in some knives that will last a lifetime (or more). I've been researching this purchase for days and I'm in "analysis paralysis" mode.

There's just too much information out there. I know the best way to choose would be to got try all these knives out, but that isn't possible to the best of my knowledge. I understand the basics....German vs. Japanese, softer steel vs. harder steel, different angles and different blade thicknesses, etc. I started out looking into German knives like the Wusthofs Ikons and then I detoured down the path of Japanese knives like Shun. I'm just overwhelmed with the information out there and I'm a bit of a skeptic, so I'm having a hard time telling the legit reviews from the marketing efforts. For example, Dalstrong seemed like a great option until I kept digging...now I'm less convinced.

Since I know that different knives are better for different applications, it seems that it would be best to piece a "set" together. For example, maybe I should have a Wusthof for splitting chicken breasts and butternut squash and a Japanese knife for slicing other produce. Please give me your list of the types of knives that should be included (chef's knife, bread knife, paring knife, steak knives, etc.) in an active home kitchen. Also, please recommend specific knives to fill each need. Characteristics I'm looking for include high quality, durability, and aesthetics. For example, I think wood handles are more attractive than the black plastic/resin handles and the Damascus style and hammered blades are beautiful. Of course, looks are secondary to quality, but many of the knives I've seen are as much pieces of art as they are tools. Did I mention I'm very overwhelmed?

I know I'm asking for a lot of information and recommendations. Thank you in advance for you time and consideration.
 
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Joined Jan 25, 2013
a set looks good on display but usually only 2 or 3 knives are used more than once a month. what knives are used the most? do you sharpen? who makes the knife and the steel used is nice to know to impress guests but is fluff. for me blade geometry and comfort/ease of use are the most important.
 
510
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Joined May 29, 2013
Where in the world are you? Cutlery availability is really dependent upon individual national markets.

Can you describe what type of foods you cook?

What's the most people you will be likely be cooking a meal for in the course of a year?

What's your budget?

If you don't already have them, you will probably also need sharpening gear and a good quality cutting board. Are you prepared to buy those also?

Galley Swiller
 
4
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Joined Dec 11, 2017
a set looks good on display but usually only 2 or 3 knives are used more than once a month. what knives are used the most? do you sharpen? who makes the knife and the steel used is nice to know to impress guests but is fluff. for me blade geometry and comfort/ease of use are the most important.

Hi Scott. Thanks for the reply. When I say that I'm looking to "piece a set together" I don't mean that I intend to buy a ready made set (although if that really is the best approach I'm not necessarily opposed). What I actually have in mind is to ditch the cheap ready made set that I currently have and replace it with a collection of high quality knives that will accomplish everything I need. I'm just looking for suggestions. To put it another way, if you had zero knives in your kitchen right now and you were going to buy every knife you need, brand and price being no factor, what would you buy? It could be five different knives from five different makers. I could be a ten knives from a combination of 2-3 makers. Totally your call. Kind of like putting together your dream team of knives. That said, I'm not trying to turn into a knife collector either, so I don't think I would want 30 different knives either. I do sharpen, and rather enjoy it in fact.

So, what's your ideal "set" of knives?
 
4
0
Joined Dec 11, 2017
Where in the world are you? Cutlery availability is really dependent upon individual national markets.

Can you describe what type of foods you cook?

What's the most people you will be likely be cooking a meal for in the course of a year?

What's your budget?

If you don't already have them, you will probably also need sharpening gear and a good quality cutting board. Are you prepared to buy those also?

Galley Swiller
Galley Swiller, I'm in the Memphis, TN (United States) area. However, I've been shopping exclusively online at this point.

We cook at home nearly every meal and we cook almost entirely from scratch using whole ingredients. I enjoy a good steak like a rib eye. I also like to butterfly a flank steam and stuff it with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and spinach before roasting it or marinate the flank steak and grill it to make carne asada. We prep a lot of veggies like bell peppers, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, etc. We also chop up a lot of spinach, fresh basil, cilantro, etc. I also need to be able to slice up a fresh loaf of bread, so presumably a quality bread knife will need to be in the mix.

Usually, my wife and I are cooking for just the two of us. Occasionally, we'll have a total of 4-8 people to feed (including us).

As for the budget....well I don't know. I'm not exactly budget conscious. I'm not trying to buy a status symbol or impress anyone either. If I can get a really beautiful and enjoyable "set" of knives that will do everything I need very well and last many decades with proper use and care for around $500 that would be awesome. If it takes more, so be it. I'm more concerned with value than price, but I think once I start getting up over the $1,000 mark I question if the investment is really "worth" it.

I do have some sharpening equipment and I do have an assortment of cutting boards, but I'm prepared to buy whatever is needed. I use this (https://lansky.com/index.php/products/dlx-5-stone-system/) for sharpening now, but I'd be willing to buy some quality wet stones or whatever you recommend. I rather enjoy sharpening just about anything whether that's a knife, an axe, or my chainsaw. Also, now that you mention it, maybe this is a good time to replace and upgrade my cutting boards as well if necessary.

So, what's your dream team of knives (and accessories)?
 
510
81
Joined May 29, 2013
What I would recommend would be the following:

Chef's Knife: Mac HB-85. https://www.chefknivestogo.com/macchse8gy.html It's a no-frills Japanese gyuto. On line, the discount price is about $70. It uses Mac's (proprietary "Original" steel and is mostly sold to professionals. It's 8-3/8ths inches long. If you want a larger and longer knife, then a Mac BK-100 would be my recommendation (about $110 on discount, 10 inch - 255mm - length). https://www.chefknivestogo.com/macchse10chk.html

Utility Knife: Mac HB-70. This would be the knife for smaller jobs (especially if you choose the larger BK-100 above, or if both you and your wife are prepping in the kitchen at the same time). About $60 on discount. Multiple sellers on eBay at the discount rate.

Beater Knife: Old Hickory 75-8 slicing knife, 8 inch length carbon steel. Under $12 from Amazon. Mac knives are like almost all other Japanese high quality stainless steel knives - they have very hard steel, which makes for wonderful edge taking and retention. Unfortunately, that comes at a price - if the edge encounters frozen materials or bone, it can cause pieces of the edge to break off, a phenomena known as "chipping". To avoid that, a "Beater" blade can be used around bone. Old Hickory knives are made with 1095 steel. You can put a good edge on them.
Paring Knife: Victorinox 3-1/2 inch fibrox handled spear point. Just a few dollars. They will get worn down fast enough in sharpening, so you may not want to invest a lot.
Bread Knife: Victorinox, at least 10 inches long, fibrox handled stamped steel. The serrated edges are difficult to sharpen, so most chefs replace them when they start feeling dull. I prefer Victorinox for their steel ("X50CrMoV15", aka "4116" steel), which is better than most other inexpensive serrated edge bread knives. There are a number of sellers on eBay for around $30.

Magnetic Blade Holder: Buy it as cheap as you can. Harbor Freight Tools has an 18 inch long bar for just under $5.

Cutting Board: The BoardSmith 2" x 12" x 18" Maple. Splurge here. Just over $120. http://www.theboardsmith.com/product/maple-2-x-12-x-18/

Mineral Oil for Treating the Cutting Board: I get mine from a local grocery store at $4 for a pint. Look in the pharmaceutical area for mineral oil. It's exactly the same thing that on line is sold for $10+ for 8 ounces. Then slather it on in multiple applications until the board won't accept any more oil.

Sharpening Stones: Chef Knives To Go offers a 3-stone kit with magnifier and deburring felt for $170. These will handle almost everything you need to do. https://www.chefknivestogo.com/3pcstoneset.html

Angle Guides: For freehand sharpening, this is one idea I kick myself for not thinking about earlier. Just $11. https://www.chefknivestogo.com/anguforshst.html

Honing Rod: Idahone Fine Grit Ceramic Rod, 12 inch length. $32. https://www.chefknivestogo.com/sharpeningrod.html Also known as a "sharpening steel", it's used to align the edge of your blades. One caution: don't whack the edge against the rod. Instead, quietly lay the edge at an appropriate angle against the rod and gently let the edge slide along the rod.

That's my take of the most effective "Bang for the Buck". Just over $500.

Galley Swiller
 
2,865
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
GS's recommendations are good, but for stones I'd go a shapton pro 320 and iminishi 1k-6k combination stone, for $100 it's more bang I feel and less buck, also from CKTG. You really don't need the loop or felt.

If you don't mind spending more on your main knife I'd recommend the Gonbei Hammered. It is out of stock right now, Christmas after all, but Jon can tell you when they'll be in again. Definitely worth the money, they have a 210 but this one is a bit larger than the MAC.
https://www.japaneseknifeimports.co...ducts/gonbei-240mm-hammered-damascus-wa-gyuto.
 

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