Need help to decide which Victorinox Forschner knives to buy.

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by iansd, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. iansd

    iansd

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    I am just a home cook with increasing interest in cooking better meals at home.  I've only been cooking regularly for about a year don't have any training, etc., but I've watched several instructional videos on the web and I think I have what I would refer to as very basic knife skills.  I know how to hone, but not how to sharpen.  I've been reading the board all morning and I know you guys frown upon knife sets, but I can't help it, that's what I want.  This will be in a contemporary home, so while obviously function of the knives is most important, decor is as well.  My present set is a forged set of JA Henkels that I got from Costco as a housewarming present (not the same as, but comparable to the set they have on their website now for ~$200).  I feel I'm outgrowing these knives and desire something better.  Also my girlfriend's knives are horrendous (Walmart Special) and I want to pass these down to her because I do cook at her place on a regular basis and this way I can kill two birds with one stone and upgrade at both kitchens.

    Based on my budget, my desire for a set (including steak knives) and from what I've read on this forum this morning I've narrowed it down to Victorinox Forschner knives, but I can't decide between the Rosewood: http://tinyurl.com/3q6kjob  or the Forged: http://tinyurl.com/3pz6xts.  I like the look of the Forged set since it's similar to what I have now and I don't really care for the wood handles in general, plus it has more knives (often my girlfriend and I cook together), but with both sight unseen I'm not sure if it's worth 2.5x the price of the Rosewood.

    Are there big quality differences between stamped & forged knives?  Obviously I'm used to the heft of a forged knife already, so I'm not sure how I'll adjust to a lighter stamped knife (though I'm intrigued because what I've read here, the better your knife skills the lighter/sharper the knife you want).  Does anyone have experience with both of these knives?  Thoughts, suggestions?  I am in San Diego, CA, so please suggest any retailers that I might be able to see both sets in person if you know of any in the area.  For all I know the Rosewood looks beautiful in person.  Thanks for your time!
     
  2. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    I hate to tell you to spend more money... but if you can buy or borrow or steal or "browse" a copy of Chad Ward's book, 'An Edge in the Kitchen', I'd suggest it.  One of the things he covers is  how the treatment of steel has improved to the point that there isn't really an advantage to forged vs. stamped.  This was not always the case, and some of the old-advice (must be full-tang, must be forged....) is just vestigial.

    That said, there may be a big difference in quality between a given forged knife and stamped knife.  I know nothing of the Victorinox forged knives.  But where people really pimp the Victoriniox knives is on price point, and the stamped knives are the "bang for buck" recommendation you'll find over and over.  I like them a lot, actually, and as much as my Wusthof classic (more pricey, forged) knife.

    Your links, above are pretty clear that the price difference is enormous.  Again, without having handled the Victorinox forged, off the top of my head I wouldn't consider spending that much on those knives.  Also, not knowing your Henckels set, you might find the Victorinox to be a lateral move, too.  (?)  The differences between forged German knives is ... well, less than you might think.  I'm not saying non-existent.

    Were I to buy German forged knives -- which I won't, so don't take my opinion too seriously -- I'd look at Fante's Pro.  This based on price point and the all-look-the-same theory, and the all-behave-the-same theory.

    Or else I'd buy the Messermeister Meridian Elites, because of the half-bolster (which makes sharpening easier) and the steeper angles.  In fact I have their 9" chef's, and it's easily my favorite of the German knives I've used (Henckels Pro-S, Wusthof Classic).  But you might be running into real scratch if you buy a block set.
     
  3. Iceman

    Iceman

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    OK. Not to step on what Wagstaff said, but to give a different tilt, I'll say YES and NO to what you are looking at. YES to V-F, NO to those sets. You can do very much better by piecing out the knives, and have to pay only for what you need. V-F knives, in my opinion, are just what you should buy. 

    Here's a very nice, usable 3-piece set: 

    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/victorinox-forschner-rosewood/starter-knife-set-p1716

    Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Starter Knife Set            $90

    [​IMG]

    Set Contains:

    4.75-inch Utility Knife

    8-inch Chef's Knife

    10-inch Narrow Slicing Knife

    If you've just gotta get a full set, OK, look at these before you drop more money than you need.

    [​IMG]

    Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Deluxe Knife Block Set (7-piece)     it's only $188

    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/victorinox-forschner-rosewood/deluxe-knife-block-set-p1715

    The same set you are asking about, only cheaper:

    Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Elite Knife Block Set (11-piece)     it's only $270

    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/victorinox-forschner-rosewood/elite-knife-block-set-p1164

    Now I'm just a chef, not a knife geek. I don't think you at all need to spend $700. 
     
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  4. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Gee IceMan, did you miss the desire for "steak knives" that matched?/img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
     
  5. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    I kinda ignored the marching steak-knives thing myself... though I think it's manageable with any of the suggested (or suggested-for-consideration) knives.

    I'm out, since this is a foreign set of overarching considerations.  If I were a homeowner I might begin to undersand... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    It all depends what you're looking for, of course... but... but...

    The R. H. Forschner Rosewood and Fibrox series are actually better performers than the Victorinox Froged or Victorinox Forged Pro... price notwithstanding.  Because they're thinner (which is a consequence of stamping vs. forging) which makes them easier to sharpen and slower to act dull.  Another is they're lighter, and lighter is the modern trend for a good reason.

    Just waving knives around the store, nearly everyone will prefer some "heft."  However, when you work with a knife for more than a couple of minutes, the virtues of lightness make themselves clearly known.   

    "Fit and Finish" (F&F) on all four series is excellent.  Handles are excellent on all four as well. 

    As I said, the Fibrox and Rosewood series have better edge taking and holding properties than either forged series.  You'll need to figure out how you're going to sharpen and which steel you'll want to use (sharpening and steeling are two different things)

    I would never recommend an 8" chefs (or cook's) knife unless the person requesting the recommendation made her/his preference clear.  10" is more useful for a lot of reasons; and learning to use the extra couple of inches is a matter of learning a proper grip -- which is something you'll want to do anyway.  By the way, it has nothing to do with height, weight or hand size.  It's all grip. 

    You may well get a ration of (uhm) wisdom from your girlfriend on why she wants a shorter knife.  My advice is not to argue. 

    What I call "the basic set," has four knives.  With those four, you have the right knife to do just about any kitchen task well.  They're a chef's knife, a slicer, a long paring knife (sometimes called a petty), and a bread knife.  The easiest lengths to recommend are 10" for both the chef's and the slicer, 5" for the petty, and 10" - 10.5" for the bread.  Forschner makes an excellent 10.25" bread knife, so there's no need to venture outside the "set" to get a great knife.   Also, their 4-3/4" "utility" knife does all sorts of things very well. 

    Other than the bread knife, I don't recommend serrated edges.  They cut better when they're dull than an equally dull fine edged knife, but they can't ever make a really clean smooth cut as they're more saw than knife.  A sharp, fine-edged knife will do a better job on nearly everything -- including tomatoes.  If you like serrated knives, don't let me scare you off.  One of the nice things about Forschners is that they're cheap enough and have enough different profiles, that you can have just about anything you want.

    I also don't recommend a "boning knife."  They're rather difficult to sharpen, and don't really do anything a 5" or 7" utility knife won't do as well.

    And of course, you can buy a Forschner steak knife set a la carte.

    In short... R. H. Forschner Rosewood and Fibrox are highly recommended. 

    Once you have a better handle on what you'd like to buy, let's talk sharpening okay?  If sharp isn't everything, whatever's in second place is way the heck behind.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
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  7. Iceman

    Iceman

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    YES, I missed the "steak knives" part. But it was in the "small print" section, so I will default to "Sorry". Anyway, I did say that the 11-piece set was OK. On top of that, I pointed out where it was cheaper at Cutlery and More. Save $5 on the price and get free shipping too. I think I'm doing OK in this thread still. LOL @ Me though. It's AG my friends.
     
  8. iansd

    iansd

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    Thanks guys.  I was worried about the lateral move in forged knives like Wagstaff suggested and I definitely don’t want to unnecessarily spend money if I don’t have to (except the set part, haha).  Knowing myself, I have a bit of an addictive personality disorder and when I get into something, I really get into it and constantly suffer from upgrade-itis.

    Also this is a bit of a happy coincidence,  I just found out this morning I am getting a nice little raise at work, so I don’t feel bad about spending a little bit more if warranted.  So having said that, if I go with the VF Rosewood, I have a feeling I’ll be back here a year later looking for new knives.  So now I’m thinking I might as well bite the bullet and get the “end game” knives that are going to last me years and years.

    Also I am warming up to the idea of starting with the essential kit like BDL suggested and then just adding on as need/skill dictates.  From what I’ve read here, it sounds like MAC Pro is one of the best?  I don’t break down any poultry, filet my own fish, etc. (yet at least!) so I definitely don’t need boning knives, etc.

    As far as sharpening, it’s definitely a bit of a concern.  There is a business here in San Diego that does strictly knife sharpening for the general public and knife programs with local restaurants and they have very excellent reviews.  They charge $3 for knives under 9” and $4 for over 9”.  My gut tells me that for the amount of time/effort and cost it would take me to get to a comparable level of skill, it is probably more economical for me to have this shop do it.

    Sorry to totally change gears on you guys!  Is this a good starter set? http://www.cutleryandmore.com/mac-professional/knife-block-set-p110217   Where is the best place to buy them?  Are there any online retailers that give a package discount?

    Thanks again for everyone’s help.
     
  9. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Check out the MAC Knives website before you buy...
     
     
  10. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    +1.  Glad you're going this direction -- these knives will not become obsolete any time soon.  Unless you have a good reason, don't get a Chef's that 8" or smaller.  9" or 10" will make you happier in the long run; and in the fairly short run, even.

    BDL has posted various recommendations re: sharpening.  I think if you're at all interested in learning to free-hand on a stones, you can get a rollsharp for the Mac knives meantime, till you learn to sharpen.  Unless I'm wrong, you won't be thrilled with the $3 and $4 sharpener guy.  (I've got one of those, too, who is supremely well-regarded.  I like him for taking off the finger-guards on forged knives... but beyond that, he leaves an overly toothy,  not entirely careful edge).
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I'm a big fan of MAC Pros, but the particular profiles and length are not well chosen.   Admittedly that's not a universal truth.  They may or may not be right for you.

    Let's talk.

    BDL
     
  12. freaksho

    freaksho

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    Doing some knife research/shopping and came upon this forum. Reviving this old thread because I am looking into the Victorinox Forged Pro line. I was a little shocked to read your opinion that this line doesn't hold an edge as well as their stamped lines - is that really true? I believe that the edge quality of forged over stamped has drastically reduced in recent years but the above assertion seems hard to believe. Don't get me wrong - I'm open to the idea. It'd be great if I can spend 50% less and get better steel.

    My wife and I are home cooks only, and as a hobby woodworker I have a great appreciation & respect for a fantastic edge and good steel. I know how to sharpen (I use diamond whetstones) and want to be sure my hard work will last a long time (I've gotton my wfe to stop puting all edge tools in the dishwasher :) ). I assumed the Forged Pro line is their best steel and I was planning to slowly upgrade from our cheap mix-match knives to these, a few knives at a time. I like that they are lower cost then comparable Heckels and Wursthof lines, and also like their weight & look (again, we're not pro chefs). But if i really will have to sharpen these more often than something cheaper then I will cetainly rethink my decision.

    I was thinking of starting with a knife or two for my wife's X-mas presents this year (7" Santoku at least) so any speedy advice would be appreciated. (so happy to have stumbled on this forum!)
     
     
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    All of the Forschner lines I know about including Fibrox, Rosewood, Forged and Pro Forged use the same steel:  50XCrMoV15.

    Sharpness is usually not an absolute term or concept (although it could be if we bothered to agree on some definition which allowed for absolutes).  The Rosewood/Fibrox blades are thinner at and right behind the edge then the forced, and seem sharper at any given degree of wear.  They don't actually wear any slower as far as I know.

    Notice, I'm not saying one knife is better than the other, I'm talking about things like perceived sharpness -- and on those bases, trying to predict which you'll like more.  If your tastes or circumstances are different than the OP we might end up talking about other knife qualities.  If, for instance, you're looking for the best chef's knife in the same price range as a Forschner Pro Forged and are able to sharpen fairly well, I'd most likely steer you away from Forschner and towards a Japanese knife.

    There's no "best knife," and it's unlikely that there's even any "best knife for you.  It's all very contingent.  The best I can do is listen to you; orient you in the knife universe; help you break off a piece of it filled with nothing but appropriate choices; and encourage you while you throw darts.

    Oh yes.  That, and help you realize the role sharpening plays.  But as a woodworker, you won't need much convincing there.

    BDL
     
  14. freaksho

    freaksho

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    BDL, you're a treasure trove of information. i think the picture is finally becoming clear to me.

    extrememly useful to know that they're all the same steel. i couldn't find that on the website. so then it seems the decision mostly comes feel/weight and F&F (assuming i stick with Vic/Forschner, which i'm most likely to do).

    i do see what you mean about blade thickness and the perception of better edge retension with a narrower blade. probably why our current chef's knife seems to hold it's edge so well - it's a Cutco (gasp!) which has a blade that's ground thinner half way down, if you know what i mean(it's also made of this odd gritty metal that looks sorta sparkly at the edge, so it's actually more toothy than sharp). anyway what i'm saying is i get where your coming from recommending the Fibrox & Rosewood lines overall.

    BUT, like you said everyone's preferences are different. i got to handle a few of the Pro line knives this week and i must say they were quite beautiful and i really liked the balance and heft. very comfortable to me. we only do a big meal that requires serious prep about once a week on average i'd say. otherwise it's sorta more quicker meals (we have a 1.5 year old daughter and both of us work). not that anyone cares about our family life but i'm saying were not super serious cooks, and knives might be almost as much decor as they are tools. and since i plan to slowly acquire them a couple at a time, the price difference won't be as big a deal (again, we're still not talking Henckels/Wursthof prices). plus the first couple are gonna be Xmas gifts so it's actually important to me that the Pro line has that visual wow factor.

    so i guess to start i'm gonna place an order for Pro Forged 7" Granton Edge Santoku as a gift for my wife. it's the style knife she wants most and i'm sure it'll be a big hit. and $70 really isn't all that bad.

    and i know you recommend the Japanese instead of the German chef's knife. not sure if everyone prefers these lately due to quality of steel or design, but i'm used to German style and actually do have a small preference that they all match, so i'll probably go that way despite the strong opinions against. only question will be whether to get the 8" or 10" but that's a debate i won't bother you with. :)

    thanks again. your info and advice was very helpful.
     
  15. derrick young

    derrick young

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    I have recently picked up a Victoriknox 10" chef's knife at a local restaurant supply shop.  I have a couple of other Chef's knives that are older but a combination of BDL's recommendation and the fact that this supply company had them on sale for stupid low prices made me buy 1.

    I was using an 8" Henkle that is about 20 years old and another German designed 8" for the past 20 years.  The step to 10" was a little uncomfortable the first few uses but soon became second nature.  The factory edge on the knife was excellent in my limited experience.  I could not believe how easy things were to cut and dice.  Discovered that I was previously not dicing my Garlic and herbs but probably mashing/crushing them with a thin round edge.

    So for less than what a department store 8" chef knife costs I managed to get a decent 10" that I am happy with.  so check for commercial suppliers that carry what your looking for, I know what I paid for mine was cheaper than anything I could find online at the time.

    Quick question for BDL, seeing this is a stamped Victoriknox what would you recommend for a steel for it?  What about sharpening?  i know we have talked about hand sharpening in the past but I have having issues maintaining even angle on the whole blade and consistent on both sides.  So wonder if there is a recommendation till i get the consistency down.

    Cheers

    Derrick
     
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    The Idahone fine ceramic is an excellent and nicely priced steel, and is the best all 'round rod for most people.  CKtG sells it as the "1200" I think.  The wood handles are worth the extra couple of bucks. 

    Forschner steels are pretty nice too.  They make a few "fine" and/or polished -- they're all probably good for you.  If part of your reason for steeling is to keep the knife away from the stones as long as possible, go with fine instead of polished. 

    Get something longer than your longer knife, if possible.  12" is good.

    FWIW, I use a two steel set.  One is a "microgroove" Hand American borosilicate (glass), and the other is an old Henckels which started as a fine, but has worn down over the decades into something closer to ultra-fine.  I use the glass rod when the knives are still fairly fresh off the stones and the Henckels after they've already got some scuff.  I'm not recommending this, just letting you know about some of the alternatives.  I also use my steels to "chase the burr" when sharpening.

    You're not required to like or use bench stones; and no onus attaches if you don't.  Honest.  There are a few gags of different sorts which will hold the angle for you. 

    If you talk to "knife guys" outside of this forum, you'll probably hear about the Spyderco Sharpmaker, but in my opinion it's tedious and not well suited to longer kitchen knives.  Idahone and Lasky both make ceramic sticks that are better in some ways and worse in others -- but the method itself is too slow and even though angle holding is a little more intuitive, it still depends on a good eye and a steady wrist.  In other words, not much better than the bench stones you're fleeing.

    I like the Chef's Choice electrics for people who can't or won't use bench stones or a really good (but expensive) gag like an Edge Pro.  They're extremely convenient and easy to use, the edge geometry is very sturdy, and they really aren't that expensive.  Some machines are better than others, or at least some are better choices for given individuals.  The real knock on them is that the stones load up, and/or wear out fairly quickly and they need replacement.  Some knife guys claim they eat knives, but that's simply not true unless you misuse them.

    I like the Mino Sharp three stage pull through quite a bit as well; maybe more than a Chef's Choice and definitely more than any other manual pull through.  Expensive for a pull through (around $80), but effective and it will leave you with a reasonable, not too coarse, finish.  They're set at 15* which is more acute than Forschner's factory angle 20*.  That means using the coarsest stones and "resetting" the Forschners which will take a lot of pulls and a fair bit of tedium.  I've got my Forschners at 15* and feel that it's sturdy enough for every day use, but my opinion doesn't come on tablets of stone.  Your chef's will need more steeling at 15* than 20*, but Forschner being Forschner it needs a hulluva lot of steeling anyway. 

    That's a nice segue back to the Chef's Choice electrics -- I think you might be as well off with one of the "Asian Angle" as with one of their more conventional (for them anyway) "Trizor" machines.  Trizor edges are more durable, but 15* carries some extra perceived sharpness.    

    If you've got questions about particular sharpening tools, kits, or methods run them by and I'll answer if I can.

    BDL
     
  17. freaksho

    freaksho

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    ok, last thing:

    just for comparison purposes, does anyone know what steel is used for the Heckels International Classic line? i have three 4" paring knives from this line. they are the only forged knives i have and i'm very familiar with their performance and how they sharpen. they're not terrible at all, but i would hope that the Vic Pro Forged will be an somewhat significant improvement.
     
  18. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Henckels' doesn't use regular alloys, theirs are "proprietary."  However, they're so much like stock alloys you can talk about whatever's closest and you know what to expect.  Most of the Internationals are 420J2, but I believe the Classics might be 440A.  In any case, lousy steel compared to X50CrMoV15.

    BDL 
     
  19. freaksho

    freaksho

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    ok, good. thanks.

    i gotta say the the whole Japanese chef knife recommendation has had me chasing my tail all weekend. i was thinking that maybe instead of the 10" Vic Pro Forged maybe i should consider something like the Tojiro DP Gyuto 240mm, just to see what this harder VG-10 steel is all about. reading about this led me to realize that this steel is most likely harder than the cheap honing steel i have (i don't even know the maker), and also possibly harder than the one that i'll eventually get from the Vic Pro line (i can't find the Pro line sharpening steel hardness published anywhere). i'm used to doing a quick 4 stroke touch-up before each use but i'm guessing that can only be done with ceramic or diamond hone rods on the 60+ hard steels like VG-10; otherwise you'd be cutting the rod, right?? or is the whole sharpening steel thing just not down with these harder knives? anyway this need for a separate rod and/or a whole change in approach makes me wonder whether the step up to the VG-10 would even be worth it for us. i know my wife will simply not use the knife if it requires special care. (actually i think i just answered my own question :) )

    side observation:

    i am a rock guitar player and have spent years obsessing about and discussing music gear via online forums and such. often the the seriously passionate hobbiests end up with gear that surpasses the quality (and cost) of the vast majority of pro musicians' gear. spending the last week delving into the cutlery world, i can't help wondering whether the same thing doesn't happen with knives. just a thought.
     
  20. freaksho

    freaksho

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    ok i just came upon BDL's "Steeling Away" article (and the whole Cook Food Good blog). lots of amazing stuff, very impressive. my overall reaction: i'm in WAY over my head and it's time to get out of the pool. we're not pros, probably not even 'enthusiasts' - just average cooks who love food. the cheap 440A knives have quite frankly worked fine for us when i sharpen them. i'd just like to make my hard work last longer so i think the German knives with X50CrMoV15 steel will be all the upgrade we'd ever need. the extra hardness and advantage of even something like VG-10 would likely be lost on us. and the need for extra/special care is not very appealing or practical. in short: Uncle. lol

    but the input i'd still like is whether the honing steel in the Vic Pro line will help or hurt this steel when used gently & properly. their descripton says nothing of the grades 'fine' (good) or 'medium' (bad) that you speak of, BDL (here is a link  to it, if that helps). would a different rod be better? i intend to have just one, and it will be used in conjunction with my diamond whetstone set. if it helps you to know, my stone set is by DMT and is comprised of the following grits: 325 mesh, 600 mesh, and 1200 mesh. so i imagine i'm not getting anything like the polished smooth edge you're trying to protect with smooth rods, but i also don't want to wear away a tragic amount of metal when using the Vic rod before every use (in addition to a full sharpening say 3 times per year).
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011