New member looking for a new set of knives...

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by gahau, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. gahau

    gahau

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    Hey guys!

    Looking to get into the culinari arts!

    First order of business, set of knives. So so many choices and I have no idea what I am doing... =(

    Could any one recomend me a profesional/great quality set of knives? Anywhere from 700-800 for 5/6 pieces?

    I have experienced the "Cutco Sales Pitch"... Please do not recomend those, I hope I am not on the wrong forum =)

    THANKS!
     
  2. smoothjimmy

    smoothjimmy

    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Before the very knowledgable members of this forum chime in, they'll want a bit more information about your preferences. Do you like a light, thin knife or something heavier? Do you prefer a Western style handle or a traditional Japanese style handle? Are you willing to put up with maintaining a carbon knife or is stainless steel more suitable for you? Do you like to rock chop or push cut? How do you plan to keep the knives sharp? What will you be using the knives for - that is, what will you be cutting?

    I recently built up a set of 5 knives with sharpening equipment for myself, amd ended up with a 10" French chefs knife, 10.5" Japanese bread knife, 210mm Japanese gyuto/chefs, 150mm petty/utility, and an 80mm paring knife, as well as a ceramic hone and a couple of combination stones. I can see myself wanting a slicing knife and possibly a nakiri in the future but for now I feel as though I have the essentials covered. For what it's worth, I spent about $800 for my set including stones and hone. Most would tend to agree in most cases you'll get a more useful set if you select individual knives rather than a block which will come within knives you'll never use.
     
  3. knifesavers

    knifesavers

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Other
    No worries about that here. :)

    What do you use now and what are you familiar with. You cannot go wrong with some quality entry blades.

    Victorinox/Forschner are great bang for the buck but not the greatest steel available. The rabbit hole of knife geekery is very deep.

    Sweeping generalization is that you want a decent German steel knife for heavy duty tasks and while they will suffice for most things but thinner harder Japanese steels will rock on veggies, except hard squash, and all boneless tasks.

    You need a sharpening scheme since whatever you get it will dull over time.

    7-800 bucks can get you some great German and some good Japanese along with a basic sharpening setup.

    Avoid entire sets and get individual blades that suit your cooking. 

    What do you normally use and cook.

    You need a large chef 8-10", a small paring 2.5"-4", a petty or utility knife 5-6", probably a bread knife, don't spend a fortune on that one, and a honing rod. After those you add what suits your needs.

    Of course you need blade storage and sharpening items as well. Got any currently?

    Jim
     
  4. gahau

    gahau

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    First off thanks guys for the help!

    A little bit about me… My fiancée and I are getting ready to get our own place; we never had any real / “professional” knives, as of late we got really serious about cooking!

    We got the “Le grand Larousse gastronomique” and started to get a little crazy every night! One thing we did note though, cooking without great tools isn’t as fun! We wanted to get a great set knives saw a few set here and there at stores like William Samona and I got to say… Selection isn’t that great; the knives look poorly made and feel cheap… No wonder people buy Cutco when the rep cut a penny in ½!

    To give Cutco some credit… I almost bought a set from them, the things that held me back is the Rep… Lord I could read “COMISSION” on his forehead! And after talking to some friends they told me to look around, I could find better quality knives for either the same price or less. The qualities of their knives aren’t too bad but the steel doesn’t look that great…

    What am I looking for? Don’t know what I would like best… so we will stay away from the specialty knives for know, I would like knives of excellent built quality and amazing steel, don’t know if that will make them heavy and bulky… Same goes for the handle… But as I come from an Asian family and most of our knives are Asian/Japanese I think I will opt for those. From what I have read, carbon knives do require a lot more maintenance (unless I have been misinformed) I think I will stay with stainless.

    What will I use them for? I am looking to either buy or build a set for pretty much anything, that’s why I will stay away from specialty knives for now, another reason for building or buying a set is the fact that they will match, I know it sounds silly but I like my stuff neat =)

    Maintenance… I have NO IDEA how much time and effort it will take or even how to maintain them… I will do my homework and get advice from you guys, but like everything I own, I cherish my tools!

    Bottom line is what brand should I be looking at to start building my own set or what starter set should I get to do 80% of any given cooking book? Again I am planning on keeping those knives for as long as I can! That’s why I wanted to spend money upfront and look for the knives I can get/afford.

    They do have to look somewhat astatically pleasant and I will also need a block to keep them!

    Thanks in advance guys!
     
  5. davezatyowa

    davezatyowa

    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Great wisdom there...  Here are a few more suggestions: 

    Spend most of your budget on 1) a good 8" - 10.5" chefs knife or Japanese-style gyuto  and 2) sharpening equipment.  You'll want some other knives, but you'll use a large chefs-style knife for 80-90% of all the cutting you do, so make it a good one.  Even great knives don't stay sharp forever, so you'll need to deal with that... a good basic sharpening setup will cost about $100, and can easily cost more, depending on how far you go with it.

    If I were spending your budget (700-800), I'd probably allocate $200-300 for a good gyuto, $150 or so for sharpening stuff, no more than $50 each for paring and serrated bread knife, perhaps $100 for petty/utility.  For heavier-duty tasks you could back up a gyuto (if that's what you choose)  by buying something like a 8-10" Victorinox Fibrox (Forschner) chefs knife ($35).  That could still leave you with some money for some other options if you decide they're needed.  
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  6. gahau

    gahau

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    Agreed!

    What brand should I look into?

    I came across a few Japenese names... They are a little to complex for me to recall but I have seen some MAC knives and Global, I don't want to limit myself on those brands.

    I would like to get exposed to more manufacturers, so I will ahve more to chose from.

    But essentially I was going to end up with:

    - 4/5 knives

    - Sharpening tools

    - A block to store them.
     
  7. davezatyowa

    davezatyowa

    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    At home cook
    The consensus around here is that for the same money you can do better than Global.  Mac is pretty highly regarded, in particular the Pro line, as being good workable knives... not spectacular, but quite good.  They're used in a lot of pro kitchens.

    Some brands I happen to like... on the higher end of your budget: Konosuke HH stainless or HD semi-stainless lines from chefknivestogo.com (availability can be an issue) , and Gesshin Ginga from http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/.  On the somewhat lower-cost end I've liked the Fujiwara FKM brand and the Richmond Artifex line.  Other lower-mid cost brands that have a decent rep are Masamoto VG, Tojiro DP, and Gesshin Uraku, but I have no experience with those particular lines.  Note that the Masamoto VG, Fujiwara FKM, and Richmond Artifex's are western-handle-only.  

    NOTE: the two higher-end lines I'm suggesting make 'laser' gyutos... thin blades that cut very well.  But lasers don't suit everyone and they may not be the best choice for all beginners.  If you're leery of lasers, something like the Mac or Richmond lines might be better for you.

    There are certainly other good brands worth considering that others can recommend...  but the ones above are quite good and worth looking at.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  8. knifesavers

    knifesavers

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Other
    Cutlery and More has many items in their clearance section to piece together something. As said buying individual pieces is the best option but nothing will be a perfect match.

    Dave's right with

    "If I were spending your budget (700-800), I'd probably allocate $200-300 for a good gyuto, $150 or so for sharpening stuff, no more than $50 each for paring and serrated bread knife, perhaps $100 for petty/utility.  For heavier-duty tasks you could back up a gyuto (if that's what you choose)  by buying something like a 8-10" Victorinox Fibrox (Forschner) chefs knife ($35).  That could still leave you with some money for some other options if you decide they're needed. "

    However if you want a one stop meets your needs and budget thing and I was spending your money I would get this Messermeister set for $449.

    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/messermeister-meridian-elite/elite-knife-block-set-p115180

    Still would leave you money for sharpening gear. The 3 rivet black handles are simplistic but would not clash much with a black 3 rivet Japanese knife you may add later.

    If your apartment has space get a magnetic strip for the wall to hang additional items like cleavers. Great Chinese cleavers can be had for low $.

    Um you do have a good cutting board right? A bad surface will mess up any blade.

    FWIW I have a 22 slot block loaded with items from 9 makers

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  9. davezatyowa

    davezatyowa

    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Even if you're a serious home cook you will probably only use the knives for several hours a week tops.  In my experience even the German knives with their softer steel will hold a decent edge for several weeks, provided you regularly make brief use of a good steel to keep the edges honed.  With Japanese knives and their harder steels, the situation is a bit murkier, steeling-wise.  Medium or coarser steels are suspected of doing more harm than good on harder-steeled blades.   On the Japanese gyutos I only use a smooth polished steel or a fine ceramic "steel" (an Idahone... recommended)... and I use it *very* lightly with those knives.  With proper cutting technique and such light touch-up maintenance I can go for many weeks without a more serious sharpening.  When this approach starts to bring diminishing returns sharpness-wise, I'll break out the waterstones.  Even then, because the knives have not been allowed to seriously degrade or get too dull, it doesn't take long to re-sharpen.  

    That at least, has been my experience.  But I'm not a super-sharpness freak.  So far I've been content to simply maintain a good working edge... typically factory sharp or a bit better.  I'm a several-hour-per-week home cook... not a pro on the line who may exceed my weekly knife usage every day.  Maintenance is still critical... but not too burdensome.

    There are many videos about (YouTube and vendor sites) re. knife maintenance and sharpening.  You may want to have some old used knives or cheaper knives to learn sharpening on, if you don't already know how to do it.  There are also many posts on this board from members who are much more expert re. sharpening.  But it's not too hard to get decent results... go for it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  10. harlock0083

    harlock0083

    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    23
    Exp:
    At home cook
     
  11. davezatyowa

    davezatyowa

    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Gahau, I'm kind of curious about this myself... Williams-Sonoma stores generally carry decent quality (if overly pricey) knives.  Offhand I can't think of anything they stock that is poorly made or cheap.  The last time I went to W-S I believe I saw Wusthof, Shun, and Global knives...  all of those brands would typically rank ahead of Cutco in quality.  

    Are there one or two brands you've found (other than Cutco, which is far too expensive for what you actually get) that haven't seemed poorly made or cheap to you?  I ask, because good Japanese knives in particular, being more lightly built than say a forged Wusthof, may initially feel cheaper or of lower-quality... even when they're not.  

    You could end up ordering a very good Japanese knife online (e.g. Konosuke) that because it is fairly lightweight, doesn't match what you expected to find in a quality knife... e.g. a lot of folks expect a certain 'heft' to a good knife.  These differing 'quality' distinctions between German and Japanese knives  are something to be aware of.  Good quality German knives lean toward hefty, sturdy, milder steel, thicker blades, with superb fit and finish.  Good Japanese knives tend toward lightness (except perhaps Shun), nimbleness, harder steels, thinner blades, with somewhat less attention to fit and finish (this varies by brand).  In general the typical Japanese blade will out-slice the typical German blade, but the typical German knife will feel more rugged and substantial.
     
  12. gahau

    gahau

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    Ok...

    This is my opinion on knives I have seen at WS:

    - Wusthof grand prix, blade was decent, but the overall tinny little details like fit and finish wasn't upholding my expectations...

    - Shun, Looks prettier that still wasn't quite it, I am just being nit picky. =)

    - Laguiole, they carry the lowest possible end of that manufacturer.

    Now that I think of it they are probably fine knives, but when I held them they didn't scream quality at me for that amount of money. Don't get me wrong I am willing to spend the money but it has to be of outstanding quality.

    With that being said... is 600-800 enough to get a excellent quality set?

    Additionally, I don't know how to explaint or even describe what I mean by quality, but I will know it when I hold it.

    Things that matters to me in order of importance:

    - The Steel, good edge retention, all knives need to be sharpened but I wouldn't want to buy one that requires sharpening every week! maybe once a month or every other months.

    Keep in mind that I will be using the knife maybe 1hr or so a day if so...

    - The Form, good balance, I don't know how to explain this but a balance knife IMHO should feel right in my hand, to a point it would be an extension of my arm and hand.

    I am sure that the weight of the knife as nothing to do with the balance of it, if it was design properly and manufactured correctly a balanced knife is a balanced knife! 

    - The Pretty, I would it the knife to have a great finish, Damascus? Sure why no but it's not a must, as long as the steel of the knife looks good paired with a pretty functional handle with proper fitting we will be good! 

    - The Set, does the manufacturer make other knives? Like I mentioned before I would like this set to look good, I like nice and neat stuff, same with my tools! I am by no mean a pro nor will I depend on them to make a living... I just want people (myself included) to think I am a pro =) Silly right? But this is part of enjoying cooking! working with nice tools, it might not make my food taste better BUT I will get the satisfaction of cooking with them!

    At the end of the day this is what I am looking for. a "set" of knives that meets the previous req, with a price tag of 600-800 containing at least the following item:

    - Chef/Guyto

    - Something similar in size for the greens stuff

    - Smaller utility knife

    - Small pairing knife

    - A block

    - Good sharpening tool

    I think Global and MAC Pro has such sets... Should I go with them or shop for something better? again, I have a budget up to 800ish to play with and do not mind to spend the money up front!

    If I find something that I will feel in love with but 600 only get me the block and 2 or 3 knives so be it! I will save money to get the remaining knives later!

    Again I am totally new at this and I have no clue on what I am talking about... But this is what I am looking for.

    Help =)
     
  13. gahau

    gahau

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    Ok...

    This is my opinion on knives I have seen at WS:

    - Wusthof grand prix, blade was decent, but the overall tinny little details like fit and finish wasn't upholding my expectations...

    - Shun, Looks prettier that still wasn't quite it, I am just being nit picky. =)

    - Laguiole, they carry the lowest possible end of that manufacturer.

    Now that I think of it they are probably fine knives, but when I held them they didn't scream quality at me for that amount of money. Don't get me wrong I am willing to spend the money but it has to be of outstanding quality.

    With that being said... is 600-800 enough to get a excellent quality set?

    Additionally, I don't know how to explaint or even describe what I mean by quality, but I will know it when I hold it.

    Things that matters to me in order of importance:

    - The Steel, good edge retention, all knives need to be sharpened but I wouldn't want to buy one that requires sharpening every week! maybe once a month or every other months.

    Keep in mind that I will be using the knife maybe 1hr or so a day if so...

    - The Form, good balance, I don't know how to explain this but a balance knife IMHO should feel right in my hand, to a point it would be an extension of my arm and hand.

    I am sure that the weight of the knife as nothing to do with the balance of it, if it was design properly and manufactured correctly a balanced knife is a balanced knife! 

    - The Pretty, I would it the knife to have a great finish, Damascus? Sure why no but it's not a must, as long as the steel of the knife looks good paired with a pretty functional handle with proper fitting we will be good! 

    - The Set, does the manufacturer make other knives? Like I mentioned before I would like this set to look good, I like nice and neat stuff, same with my tools! I am by no mean a pro nor will I depend on them to make a living... I just want people (myself included) to think I am a pro =) Silly right? But this is part of enjoying cooking! working with nice tools, it might not make my food taste better BUT I will get the satisfaction of cooking with them!

    At the end of the day this is what I am looking for. a "set" of knives that meets the previous req, with a price tag of 600-800 containing at least the following item:

    - Chef/Guyto

    - Something similar in size for the greens stuff

    - Smaller utility knife

    - Small pairing knife

    - A block

    - Good sharpening tool

    I think Global and MAC Pro has such sets... Should I go with them or shop for something better? again, I have a budget up to 800ish to play with and do not mind to spend the money up front!

    If I find something that I will feel in love with but 600 only get me the block and 2 or 3 knives so be it! I will save money to get the remaining knives later!

    Again I am totally new at this and I have no clue on what I am talking about... But this is what I am looking for.

    Help =)
     
  14. davezatyowa

    davezatyowa

    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Is 600-800 enough to get an excellent quality set?  In theory, yes.  It's certainly enough money.  But in practice, the manufacturer determines what goes into a packaged set of knives, not the purchaser... so it can be hard (or impossible) to get the exact mix of knives you want in a pre-packaged set.  To do that you'll either need to buy a minimal set, then add selected knives to it, or just buy individual knives from the start.  Knives in the larger pre-packaged sets have another problem; often the quality of one or two knives will be just what you hoped for, but the other knives, even if they're the right style or type of knife, may still lack a particular quality you'd hoped for in that specific knife type.  

    Putting together your own excellent quality set, piecemeal, may not be possible if you insist on having knives that match appearance-wise.  Different-looking knives may have qualities you desire.  For example, I happen to like wa-handled Japanese gyutos as my larger chefs-type knife.  Such knives have certain cutting/performance qualities that I really enjoy.  On the other hand, I also happen to like several of the Wusthof Classic knives as my smaller knives (paring, utility, slicer/carver); I like the extra little bit of Wusthof heft in these smaller knives, and they perform quite well for my needs in that size knife.  They're all in the same knife block; they don't  match appearance-wise, they are not perfectly neat,  but I like them because they closely match my requirements performance-wise.

    Beyond that it's hard to make specific suggestions.  All we can do is tell you about good quality knives that we like, but from what you've written I'm not at all sure that it would be something that you would like.  Personal taste plays a big role in all of this...
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    A bare bones, do everything set should consist of:
    • 10" Chef's;
    • 10" (at least) slicer;
    • 10" (about) bread; and
    • 6" petty (for boning, paring, bar-knife, and other utility purposes). 
    Depending on whether or not you get a light chef's knife:
    • You may want something which serves as a heavy duty knife for tasks which are too rough for the chef's -- cutting thick skinned squash, peeling pineapple, portioning water melon, portioning spare ribs, etc.; and
    • You may also want a paring knife or something else small and very cheap for cutting string, opening plastic packages, etc. 
    In addition to the knife kit, you also need:
    • A sharpening kit of a quality consistent with your knives.  Plan on spending somewhere north of $100, depending; and
    • A good quality, adequately sized, wood cutting board. 
    The chef's knife and slicer should be as good as you can afford.  The cost of an entry-level high-end knife is around $100, with prices going up to a little more than $350 before intangible qualities like prestige and appearance completely overtake practical quality. 

    If your knife use is like most home cooks, you can put off purchasing a high quality slicer until your skills improve to the point where you feel its lack.  No hurry.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Wusties sold at WS.  They're excellent examples of the type. Wusthof is a high quality German brand, which is fairly representative of other high quality German knives.  They're very good if you like heavy knives and are willing to give up sharpness and agility in exchange for a relatively high degree of functionality even when dull.  In short, you can lean hard on a Wusthof without fear of hurting it, but on the other hand you HAVE to lean hard on a Wusthof.  The "Grand Prix" line is very typical of other "classic" Germans. They aren't my type of knife, but that doesn't mean they aren't great for a lot of people. 

    Global is a knife whose time has passed.  While they possess some of the virtues of modern Japanese knives, the alloy form which they're made -- Cromova 18 -- is very soft.  A Global edge won't collapse quite as fast as say a Wusthof, but compared to other, modern knives, they suffer.

    Shun have a lot of good things going for them, but also a lot of bad.  We can get into it more deeply if you're seriously interested.  If not I'd just as soon not tell the same ol' same ol' story again.  I don't recommend them.

    You also mentioned MAC.  The MAC Pro line is very good and probably well suited for you, but they aren't cheap.  If you can allow yourself to buy a set of non-matching knives, the MAC Pro chef's knife would probably be a very good choice.  FWIW, you could probably stay within your budget on three MAC Pros, a Mac Superior bread, a Victorinox Cimiter for big meat and other heavy duty stuff, and a cheap parer -- which would be a very nice kit indeed -- but that wouldn't allow for sharpening gear or a board. 

    When all is said and done, you're probably looking at chef knives of the price/quality range of Fujiwara FKM and Richmond Artifex.  But... 

    BUT...

    Let's keep the horse before the cart, and the boson before the quark.  Before we get too deeply into particular knives it would be nice to know something about your expectations regarding "Fit and Finish," whether you need a lot of after-market factory and/or retailer support, and how much time, effort and expense you're willing to invest in sharpening.

    At the end of the day I expect you'll be best served by buying knives from different companies.  Julia Child once observed that a bunch of non-matching handles in a home kitchen's knife block gave her a sense of hope about the coming meal. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  16. alamoelle

    alamoelle

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    14
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    The best knife is a sharp knife. Don't stick with the "set" collect all kinds. With that kind of money I could fill a knife roll... Don't settle. Be smart.
    And remember. When you cut yourself... You. Cut. Your. Self.
     
  17. harlock0083

    harlock0083

    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    23
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I saw Uncle Sam pointing right at me when I read that!


    Am I the only one that thought this? Sorry, I don't mean to derail this thread. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  18. betowess

    betowess

    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    I'm going to assume you want stainless knives, unless you want the requisite drying and eventual patina a carbon knife gets (that said, carbon steel knives do generally take an edge easier).

    There is a nice French knife you might consider called the K-Sabatier available on Amazon. I have their carbon set of 4,6, 8, and 10 inch chef knives. But they make a stainless version which I imagine are pretty sweet. Not so heavy as a German, not nearly as light as a nice Japanese gyuto. They feel really good in the hand, and look nice in a traditional way with the POM handles. That said, I also love my swedish steel stainless 8" Wa handled gyuto named Gesshin Ginga from Japanese Knife Imports. But here is a link to the K-Sabatiers. Beware, there are knock offs with the Sabatier name which isn't trademarked due to a variety of Sabatiers out of France etc, but this is the real Sabatier factory that this particular amazon shop sells. Just more options to clog your thought process, LOL... Good luck!

     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
  19. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    As a result of their alloy(s) and hardening, the stainless Sabs -- specifically including K-Sabatiers -- neither take an edge or hold it like the carbon Sabatiers.  Even though I like their weight and agility (as compared to their forged German counterparts), I can't and don't recommend stainless Sabatiers. On top of that, K-Sabatier quality control and F&F is indifferent. 

    The non-stainless (aka "carbon" Sabatiers are an entirely different story.  If you're willing to put up with carbon's neediness they're great knives at a very good price.  As it happens, I have quite a few. 

    You'd give up some agility but get a better knife with a Forschner by Victorinox (SWI) Rosewood or Fribrox for less than $40. 

    You'd do MUCH better with a Richmond Artifex (US), Fujiwara FKM (JAP) or Tojiro DP (JAP) for less than a $100. 

    It's a good value, even at its price, but a stainless, western-handled, 8" Gesshin Ginga will set you back $240. 

    If you're looking for a coherent set of recommendations, YOU have to start narrowing the field by getting specific about how much you're willing to spend, what you're willing to do to keep your knives sharp, and so on.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  20. harlock0083

    harlock0083

    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    23
    Exp:
    At home cook
    BDL, out of curiosity do the stainless Sabs use the same steel as the German brands?