Need help selecting first knife set

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by Thollski, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. Thollski

    Thollski

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    I have recently discovered I love cooking. I cook nearly everyday for my girlfriend and child. But my problem is that I currently have a missmatched set of cheap cooking knifes with loose handles and bend tips. I'm looking for a good starter set that will last a long time. Price point would be $200-$300 depending on number of knives in set. Maybe up to $400 if it's a really good deal. Any input is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Aaron Pankonin

    Aaron Pankonin

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    I just joined the forum and found lots of great information reading the posts here. I'm in the process of upgrading a set of Henckels knives. As I read problems I had with my knives over years of use were highlighted.

    I elected to pick individual knives I wanted instead of being forced into a set. I wanted elected to switch over to a Japanese style knife set after receiving one as a gift. Carbon knives are very sharp, but higher maintenance. There is a lot of info on Japanese knives and I'm not qualified to speak on those. I'm in the process of writing reviews of the knives I selected as I use them.

    I've read good reviews of Forschner Fibrox knives. Well within your budget. You can always start with a single knife style that you like best and then decide to add more.
     
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  3. foody518

    foody518

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    Welcome Thollski
    It will help to know some of your preferences - handle style, carbon vs stainless, thin vs more robust, desired knife profile/shape, method of maintaining these knives, location, etc.
     
  4. scott livesey

    scott livesey

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    if you are like me, 95% of the time I use only 2 knives, a 4" paring/utility and an 8" chef knife. find a store where you can touch the knves. mail order is great but buying knives from pictures on your computer screen could be disappointing. I don't what country you are in, check your local laws and see what you are allowed to buy online.
     
  5. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    I would first concentrate on sharpening as your first priority before worrying about getting a set.

    Any knife purchase which does not deal with personal user sharpening will simply end up as a waste of money and a great frustration. You will simply end up in a loop of buying some sort of cutlery and then having it grow dull on you.

    For tutorials on sharpening, I would suggest watching Jon Broida's videos on how to sharpen (https://www.youtube.com/user/JKnifeImports) and reading Chad Ward's primer on sharpening (https://forums.egullet.org/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/).

    If if you still don't want to sharpen, then just buy the cheapest available commercial serrated edge bread knife, use it until you can't stand the dullness and buy a new one. Why serrated? They will last a bit of time, are relatively cheap, and somewhat available if you shop commercial restaurant supply stores. The real downsides are that it will rip up the surface of the food you are cutting and it won't work very well against bone or anything else that's hard.

    Most of the above questions about where you are and what types of foods you want to cook are what we need to know to make an intelligent reply to you. Also keep in mind that for this thread to best work, it should be a back-and-forth dialogue, and not just a one-time post on your part.

    Galley Swiller
     
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  6. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    Hmmm - my reply above left me a bit unsatisfied. So, I'll add the following.

    It's not just about the knives - it's about putting together a system and developing skills. Sharpening is only the first part of it. You will also need a good cutting surface and you will need to think about how you hold your knives. Developing the thought reflexes to clean your blade right after use is also part of the process.

    Like Scott Livesey in Post #4 above, having only a few knives is very likely to be just as effective as buying a large set. And the advantage of buying just a few knives is that you can pick and choose the qualities of each knife. Sets are chosen for you. They can have a lot of individual blades, and have just a little bit of value put into the production for each knife. Having a collection you buy yourself, you can concentrate in getting decent knives that will perform well for you.

    The generic advice for western cooking is that the minimum cutlery collection is one chef's knife (20cm or 8 inch minimum length) for the bulk of your major cutting, one paring knife for your fine or delicate cutting and a serrated bread knife for anything with a hard or tough crust and a soft interior (breads, tomatoes, etc.). Add a decent cutting board (ideally end grain hard wood, 30cm x 45cm or 12 inches x 18 inches) and some sharpening gear (a 1000-grit water stone for a minimum), and then you're really in business.

    GS
     
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  7. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    I've written an article on another site that may help you get started building a functional set. It's not an advertisement for anything, but an attempt to provide basic information. When you've had a chance to look, feel free to ask questions.
     
  8. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    Chris's advice is spot-on. The one thing I would also emphasize at this point is to learn how to pinch grip (thumb and fore finger on each side of the blade surface, forward of the handle. Index, ring and pinkie fingers loosely wrapped around the forward end of the handle). Very simple and, not only does it give you a lot more control, but you end up not having to undertake the dreaded DEATH GRIP OF HANDLE DOOM - instead you can relax the hand. There's also a version of the pinch grip for asian style cleavers, with thumb on the blade surface and both fore finger and index finger on the other side of the blade (ring and pinkie fingers still loosely wrapped around the forward end of the handle.

    What I have found for myself is that using a pinch grip has significantly reduced the need to judge how the handle feels when gripping it.

    GS
     
  9. scott livesey

    scott livesey

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    some other things to think about. how big are your hands and do they work ok? i wear an x-large glove and have arthritis, so the handle shape and size that works for me, may not work for you. I also prefer the lightest weight possible, my 8" chef is 3oz, my paring knives less than 2oz.
    If you don't want to commit to sharpening and proper care, wash as soon as cutting is done and double dry, (never in dishwasher) get a Ginzu or Dollar General knife and replace when dull.
     
  10. loomchick

    loomchick

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    I have some thoughts . . .
    • Don't buy a "set" . . . typically you will end up with knives you don't want or use (Do you really need a filet knife?). . . or inferior knives (e.g., short bread knives are the most common shortcomings in knife sets)
    • Since you're just starting to consider upgrading to better knives, don't buy one without holding and using it.
    • Purchase knives that feel good to you. This means how it fits your hand, does it feel balanced, etc.
    • Start by buying two really good knives . . . an 8" chef's knife and a good paring knife. These two knives will do just about everything you need. Then, based on your experience and preference, add knives later on. My go-to knife is a 6" chef's knife, but I had fairly small hands. I still call upon my 8" chef's knife on a regular basis.
    • Don't buy a knife because of the hype. I have a 7" santoku that was the rage at one time, but I think it's pretty worthless. I'm also still scratching my head about the 8" Victorinox chef's knife they rated #1. I don't like how it feels in my hand and I don't think it works all that well, but I know others like it.
    • Learn how to properly hold and use a knife. Check in your area and see if there are any classes on knife skills. Sur La Table has classes on knife skills (https://www.surlatable.com/). That way someone can observe your technique and give you feedback . . . especially when it comes to sharpening. It's very easy to ruin a good knife. Craftsy also has a free hour-long on-line class on knife skills. I think it's definitely worth checking out . . . besides, it's free! https://www.craftsy.com/cooking/classes/complete-knife-skills/35338
    • Only cut on a proper surface . . . preferably an wooden end-cut cutting board. The plastic and glass cutting boards may look pretty, but they're horrible.
    • Don't use your knife to scrap off anything from a cutting board
    • Commit yourself to proper care and maintenance of your knives. A really good knife with a dull blade doesn't do much for you. Definitely get a honing steel! And, use it on a regular basis.
    • Keep your knives clean . . . don't let food sit around on them. Some food are really bad for blades . . . especially mayonnaise
    • Always hand wash and dry your knives . . . never put them in the dishwasher!
    • Properly store your knives . . . don't let them bang around loose in a drawer. I have a small block on my countertop for the knives I use the most often. Followed by a small knife organizer in a drawer. The rest of my knives have blade guards on them.
    Good luck. Using really good knives that are sharp and well-cared for makes a big difference.
     
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