What Knife Should I Buy Guidelines

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by mano, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. mano


    Likes Received:
    In the brief time I’ve been on Chef Talk Cooking Knives sub-forum there have been a lot of posts for “What knife should I buy?”  Other forums dedicated to knives and specifically kitchen knives (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/2058-Which-knife-should-you-buy  and http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/858558/) have specific questions to help others recommend the right knife for you.  Hopefully, this post will assist in the same fashion. 

    Keep in mind the recommendations may be from a diverse group, ranging from true experts to novices, who know what it’s like to be in your shoes.  A lot of people looking for their first high quality knife, especially Japanese knives, mistakenly believe there is one perfect knife for them.  The fact is, there probably isn’t.  There are lots of very good knives in your price range.  Even after exhaustive researching and getting the best recommendations possible, it’ll probably take regular use to determine if you made the right choice.  On rare occasions you know you hit the jackpot right off the bat, but there are also times when a knife that just feels wrong at first ends up being a life-long favorite. 

    More to the point, once you use a knife for any length of time, you’ll realize it’s the skill of the user and developing and maintaining a good sharp edge is what it’s all about.  Unless you’re willing to pay someone to do a good job of sharpening (there are a lot of crappy sharpeners) it’s worthwhile to buy a good stone or three to learn how to do it yourself. 

    Do your due diligence by reading other threads and googling common knife terms.

    Cut and paste the following questions and fill in your answers, whether you’re looking for knives for yourself or someone else.

    Please feel free to recommend other questions.

    1. What will the knives be used for (e.g., slicing, chefs, boning)  

    2.  Your level of proficiency (e.g. professional, accomplished home cook, can’t boil water)

    3.  What are you currently using and why do you want to add to them or replace them?

    4.   How do you grip the knife?

    5.  Wa (Japanese) or Yo (Western) handle preference?

    6.  Do you prefer stainless or carbon blade, or either one?

    7.  Budget range

    8.  Cutting motion

    9.  Cutting board material

    10.  Level of current sharpening ability and do you plan on sharpening yourself?

    11.  Anything else you want to tell us
  2. boar_d_laze


    Likes Received:
    Cook At Home
    It's a good first effort for guidelines but there are some issues.

    The most important is that it needs to be a sticky, or it will simply disappear. But unfortunately CT hasn't shown willingness to do stickies.

    Also, some of the categories seem to be carry-overs from the questions asked in other threads rather than well-thought out. By way of one example, asking whether the knife will be used for slicing or chopping is almost always redundant as the knife's purpose is almost always contained in the OP. For another, asking about knife and sharpening skills really requires a longer answer than requested. At any rate, I need more discussion from the OP to get a feel for the actual levels.

    As a specific example we've got a poster (DanD3n) here asking about nakiris, who's told quite a bit about himself by wrongly identifying his current knives and describing his current sharpening regimen ("rollers") and his idea that a "stick" is either the ideal method or closer to it. I don't think I could learn nearly as much about him if he'd given short answers to a list of questions. He's a guy who likes to advance an opinion as though it were thought out in order to get a reaction (a very good way of learning, btw); but you could easily mistake his "opinions" as well informed -- especially if they were given short form -- and just give him short form answers instead of the background knowledge he really needs.

    It may be peculiar to me, but as a rule I don't like to give specific recommendations at least until the OP has had the opportunity -- through dialogue -- to gain enough education and orientation to begin to understand what he or she wants for herself. My feeling is that this type of list often shortcuts the process for those who want to help, and we end up making recommendations because we mistakenly think a list of one size fits all answers tells us all we need to know about the OP.

    This all sounds more critical than it should. Certainly there are several things I'd like to hear about from anyone asking for knife advice, and feel your effort is a good start.

    Just some thoughts,
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    I Just Like Food
    If there's something you want stickied for knives, let me know. I'll weigh it out and decide. I'm not against stickies totally, but I admit I see them as limited value generally.

    I've seen similar ideas used on edcforums for people looking for a new daily carry bag. I can't say I like the way it starts threads out. Tends to sterilize the discussion and eliminates some untested personal preferences from getting listed that should be.

    For such a sticky, I think there are two, maybe three pertinent questions

    Budget, sharpening method/budget, cutting board.

    I mention the board because so many home cooks cut on glass, stone, synthetic cutouts from the sink blank in their new countertops etc. And those are all bad choices which should be corrected along with getting a better knife. They're fine for presentation purposes like a cheesboard or something.

    Perhaps a direction to explain what you're currently using and want to see improved as a result of the purchase.