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sharpening and caring for your kitchen knives

Best Chef Knives — Six Recommendations

Here are six recommendations that cover some of the best chef knives around, each produced by a different world-class knifemaker. This short list is designed not only to highlight quality knives, but to give you a sense of what’s out there (a lot!) and help you find the knife that’s right for you. (Please read my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife to get more backstory.)

6 Best Chef Knives collage

 

This is not a Top Ten List (or Top Six). And it’s not comprehensive. (You’ll notice there aren’t any traditional Japanese knifemakers on the list. Sorry, can’t explain why now.) But it should aid you in making some sense of the kitchen knife world and give you some ideas!

. . .a chef knife, depending on how hard you use it, could easily last 30 years or more.
The brands covered are: Henckels, Wusthof, Messermeister, Global, MAC, and Shun. The first three are centered in Germany, the last three in Japan. Most of these manufacturers produce a range of sizes/lengths as well as slightly different models of the same caliber. For example, although I’ve chosen Global’s santoku knife for this list, Global also makes a number of regular chef knives that are comparable quality. So, if one of the models on this list doesn’t exactly work for you, poke around some, you may find what you’re looking for.

Also—before you bemoan the prices, remember that your best chef knives, depending on how hard you use them and how well you take care of them, can easily last 30 years or more. I’m not exaggerating. Plus, they’re the single most important tool in your entire kitchen. (What would compete, your large sauté pan?) If you dollar-cost average the price of the most expensive knife on this list (say, the Shun 10-inch for $170), over 30 years it would cost you a whopping $5.66 per year! So try to see the BIG picture.

Henckels Professional S 8-Inch Chef Knife

BUY NOW @ Sur La Table: $150 / Amazon: $130

Henckels Professional S chef knife
Henckels is one of the largest knifemakers in the world and has been around since the 1700s. They produce at least 11 different lines of knives, so it’s especially important to be clear what model you’re buying. The Pro S line is one of their finest and is manufactured in Solingen, Germany where their core factories are located. They also have factories in Spain and, as a newer development, in Japan as well. It’s in Japan where they produce their latest creation, a model designed by Bob Kramer, the American bladesmith who has set the bar high for kitchen-knife quality.

The Professional S is fully forged from one hunk of steel—and with a bolster, a full-tang, and a three-rivet handle, it’s as classic as it gets. Although the handle’s been made to look and feel like wood, it’s not. Wood handles are no longer the norm and most manufacturers assume customers would rather have the longevity offered by a synthetic material.

This chef knife is one of the mainstays of my kitchen and I loooove the feel—nicely balanced with a little heft, but nothing that tires my hand out (for the record, I don’t spend hours prepping). I got it sharpened well over a year ago, and with regular honing its kept it’s edge. It comes in two sizes, an 8-inch and 10. (There’s also a 6-inch, but that’s too small for an all-purpose blade.)

(If you prefer to buy Wusthof—which I discuss below—they make a very similar model.)
Wusthof Classic Chef’s @ Amazon: $130 / Sur La Table (6″ with paring knife): $100

Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Inch Santoku

BUY NOW @ Sur La Table: $140 / Amazon: $100

Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-inch Santoku
Wusthof is the other of the “Big Two” German knifemakers and some pros swear by it over Henckels because they feel the quality is higher. Not sure if this perception is justified, but it’s probably aided by the fact Wusthof has been family-owned and run for almost 200 years. Interesting enough, both Wusthof and Henckels are manufactured in the same German town (along with dozens of other blademakers) which is one of the knife-making capitals of the world. (What’s another capital? Seki City, Japan.)

Although Wusthof makes a terrific classic chef knife very similar to Henckels, as a contrast, I recommend looking at this model because:

1) it has a curved handle that might feel better to some people’s hands

2) it’s a santoku, Japanese-style blade, which some might prefer. It gives you the width of a longer knife without the more cumbersome length. And it should be noticeably thinner and lighter than your traditional 8-inch chef knife.

Whether or not you like a bolster is up to you, it is no measure of quality. . .
Like the regular high-quality chef knives made by Wusthof, it’s fully forged and has a full tang. But, unlike them, it does not host a full bolster. Whether or not you like a bolster is up to you, it is no measure of quality, but will make the knife easier to sharpen. This santoku also sports the scalloped edge that is all the rage to, theoretically, keep food from sticking. Because this model is in the Japanese-style, but made by a German knifemaker, I would call it a hybrid of sorts. (Henckels makes santokus as well.)

If you like the santoku style, but don’t care about the curvy handle and would like to save some cash, check out the santoku Wusthof makes in the Classic line. The feel will vary slightly (because of the different handle), but the blade itself will be exactly the same. You’re paying extra for the handle.

If you want to learn more about all things Wusthofian, make sure to visit Wusthof Knives—a Buyer’s Guide.

Messermeister Meridian Elite 9-Inch Chef Knife

BUY NOW @ Amazon: $140 / 8-inch: $130

Messermeister Meridian Elite 9-inch Chef Knife
 
Messermeister knives, like the name sounds, are rooted in Germany—the Meridian Elite line being forged in the very same German town as the preceding knives from the Big Two. While Messermeister is not as big an operation as Henckels and Wusthof, they’re no less revered for their quality. Maybe even more so.

This knife makes this list for three reasons:

1) it’s highly recommended by Chad Ward in his book An Edge in the Kitchen as being uber-sharp. It comes from the factory with a highly polished edge that Ward claims is superior to any of the “big-name knife brands” and will hold it for a substantial amount of time.

2) it has a partial bolster which makes it easier to sharpen (and is a nod to Japanese knives)

3) it comes in a 9-inch size that’s a perfect compromise between an 8- and a 10-inch—but doesn’t cost any more than your average 8-inch. Neat, huh?

There’s only one caveat—the blade width (of the 9-inch) is too wide for your average knife rack. You’ll have to make special provisions. If that concerns you, or, if you don’t care about the extra length, then buy an 8-inch. (See the link above.)

Kitchen Knife Basics

KitchenKnifeGuru eBook—Kitchen Knife Basics

For all you eBook junkies who would rather snuggle up with with an iPad than click and scroll on a computer. Kitchen Knife Basics ($7.95) has got all the core material from the KitchenKnifeGuru website, but in an easy-to-read format that only an eBook can offer. You’ll learn about the most common edge styles for kitchen knives, what a hone (or steel) is and exactly how to use it, how to find and choose a quality sharpening service that’s not expensive—and much much more. You can even download a sample if you just want to get a taste!

Global 7-Inch Santoku (G-48)

BUY NOW @ Amazon super special: $88 / Sur La Table special: $123

Global 7-inch Santoku Knife G-48
Global revolutionized the kitchen-knife world in the 1980s by creating a series of high-performance knives that were on the cutting edge of fashion (forgive the pun), yet still affordable. Like traditional Japanese knives, they’re extremely light with a thin, razor-sharp edge. Yet in blade design, they generally owe more to Western tradition than Japanese. That’s why I call them Japanese hybrids in that they graft one tradition of knifemaking onto another. Most of Global’s knives are not forged, but made of a high-quality steel that has been tempered and heat treated to new levels of sophistication.

While the shape of the blade on the G-48 is similar to the Wusthof santoku, the balance and feel should be quite different. To say nothing of the styling. No major knife brand stands out as so stunningly modern. (Interesting detail: Global injects the perfect amount of sand into the hollow handle to make it balance correctly.) As mentioned before, if you prefer a more Western-styled chef’s blade, Global has plenty of those also. Try a G-2 or a G-61.

I own this santoku and am embarrassed to admit I treasure the edge so much that I can’t bear to do much chopping with it, but save it mainly for slicing. Which it does amazingly! (Crazy, I know.)

MAC  MTH-80 – Professional Series 8-Inch Chef Knife with Dimples

BUY NOW @ Amazon: $145

MAC MTH-80 – Professional Series 8 Chef’s Knife with Dimples

 
MAC knives seem to be one of the best kept secrets of the consumer kitchen knife market. Professionals seem to know all about them with famous chefs like Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter unabashedly endorsing them as the ultimate cutting machine. But ask your average home gourmet, and odds are they’ve never heard of them.

Japanese designed and manufactured, like Global, they’re a new breed of knife, a hybrid—that incorporates the harder and thinner Japanese steel with a Western-shaped blade. They’re not as stylish as Global, but probably even sharper. And (like Global) they’re also not forged, but highly machined.

As the Messermeister above, Chad Ward (in An Edge in the Kitchen) raves about the pure cutting fury of the MTH-80. So for those who worship sharp, this one’s for you!

The MTH-80 Professional is the workhorse of MACs various product lines and I’m guessing it’s the most popular because it offers the maximum sharpitude for your dollar. Plus, the welded-on bolster creates an unusual combination of super-thin blade with added weight that keeps it balanced in your hand more like a German-style knife. According to Gourmet Magazine, a MAC knife is “the difference between a minivan and race car.” Care to take one out for a spin?

(Note: Please be careful not to confuse the MTH-80 Professional with the TH-80 – Chef Series 8″ Chef’s Knife with Dimples, a lower-level model that goes for $40 or more less.)

Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef Knife (DM0706)

BUY NOW @ Sur La Table special: $100 / Amazon special: $100

Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
Shun, along with Global, is probably one of the most popular and well-known Japanese brands in the U.S. It’s no wonder—their flagship line, Shun Classic, is very attractive and very sharp. They’re manufactured in Seki City which, along with Solingen, is another knife-making capital.

Don’t let the beautiful wavy pattern on the blade fool you—it’s much more than a pretty face. Sandwiched between 32 layers of swirly-patterned softer steel (16 layers per side) lies a thin hard core that creates the edge. At Rockwell 61, it’s harder than half of the knives on this list. Which gives it the ability to hold a 16-degree edge for a very long time.

I have to admit when I first unpacked my new Shun 6-inch chef’s not so long ago, I was stunned at how light it was. For someone used to weightier German blades, the lightness felt almost chintzy. Silly me. Over the past year I’ve now come to fully appreciate the way the thin sharp blade can slice through denser foods with ease and less resistance than my thicker German knives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to abandon ship—but it’s great to have Shun as an option.

Another reason the Shun Classic is on this list is its distinctive Pakkawood handle. It’s similar to the nimble feel of a traditional Japanese knife, but different. The unique D-shaped contour might fit certain cook’s hands better than others. So, if a typical Western-style knife handle always feels too clunky, here’s another way to go.

 •     •     •

To briefly summarize:

If you like a knife with heft, then the Henckels or Messermeister will probably please you most. They’re forged German steel through and through and will feel the most solid.

If you want light and nimble, then the Global and Shun should be at the top of your list. The Wusthof and MAC could be back up.

If you have a smaller-sized hand and want your knife to fit snuggly in it, the Shun and Wusthof should be your fist picks. The handles on both are more streamlined and less bulky.

If you have a larger hand and don’t want it to feel squished on the cutting board, the Messermeister and the MAC should give you the most clearance. The handles are long and the width of the blades should keep your knuckles from banging the countertop. (Actually, the Global will work equally well in this regard, it’s pretty roomy.)

For pure beauty, the Global and Shun would be hard to beat. The Global is designed in high-tech modern, the Shun in classic contemporary. The Wusthof also, with it’s curved handle, has some extra swish. (And rest assured, there’s no sacrifice of looks for performance on any of these knives.)

If you love tradition, or know you want a knife with a classic look and feel that will never go out of style, the Henckels is your man. It is the closest to a vintage chef knife.

Finally, if you crave sharposity, if you’re aching to get your tired chef hands on one of the meanest slicing-and-dicing machines on the planet—go with the MAC. You will not be disappointed. (And, as a more elegant second, consider the Messermeister.)

Six up, six down! As you can see, there are a lot of wonderful knives out there. Hopefully this short list of best chef knives has given you a taste of the possibilities. Remember, stay with quality brands—there’s no free lunch—and stay with what feels and works best for you. It’s your body. It’s your kitchen. Have fun cooking! (And don’t forget to read my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife for more background.)

156 Comments
  1. Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity. Guess I will just bookmark this blog.

    • Thanks, Nasplastick! And don’t forget to sign up on my email list. It will guarantee you’ll get new blog entries. . .which I’m finally going to begin writing :)

  2. Any list that includes Global knives is the equivalent to listing Mcdonald’s big mac as the best hamburger, silly.

    • Thanks for chiming in Glenn! From my experience, I don’t think there’s anything particularly lowbrow about Global’s quality or sharpitude. My G-48 has been resharpened by a fantastic pro sharpening service, so that might make a difference—but I remember the factory edge as being pretty darn sharp as well. Certainly just as sharp as my Shun Classic chef’s.

      But it’s a big kitchen knife world out there and everybody’s welcome to their own opinion!

  3. Al Mar (thinner steel, but very affordable), Tojiro, Mac Pro (or Damascus), Shun, Masamoto or or Bu-Rei-Zen. These are real knives, but still not the best kitchen knives in the world.

  4. OK, I’ll bite. What, to you, are the “best kitchen knives” in the world? I’d love to hear :)

    • Personally, my favorite knife that I have owned is a 240mm Kohetsu HAP40 knive. It keeps its edge for a long time and when it gets dull I use a Global sharpening block to realign the bevels. :)

      • Thanks for sharing, Peter! I wasn’t familiar with Kohetsu, so I just looked it up. Sounds like the HAP40 steel that the Kohetsu is made of is an impressively hard steel that will hold its edge longer than most knives out there (HRC 65). It might be a little advanced for this crowd (and maybe for me, as well).

        My biggest concern is, considering how hard the steel is, how susceptible is it to cracking and chipping? Any problems with this? I assume you treat it extra, extra-special. Also, I’m curious. . .is your Global sharpening block a whetstone or a waterstone? Oh, and can you hone it with a ceramic steel?

        Best, KKG

  5. food should be on the chopping board ;)

  6. Very helpful review. Lots of people out there looking to buy professional knives now that TV chefs have made cooking “cool” again. I work professionally with a full set of Globals, and—to anyone who wants comparative value with quality—I’m a happy customer (who hates Big Macs).

    • ;) I just wanted to say how much I appreciate seeing a nice reply plus a great joke (I’m not a Big Mac fan myself). I’ve never understood why so many people like to leave rather rude comments when someone is just trying to offer a little advice.

      I’m searching for a great knife for my dad who spends much time cooking for me. We are on the move a lot because we are yet to find a group of doctors who are able to fix me. But I really want him to quit being frustrated by the crappy knives found in most furnished rentals. Can’t tell you how many times I awaken to the swish, swish, swish of knife sharpener upon a knife, which refuses to be sharpened, along with his grumbles of irritation.

      And of course, much thanks to you KitchenKnifeGuru for the awesome info!!!

      • Hi Jenn,

        I’m so glad KKG has been able to help you and your dad :) Please make sure to get him a ceramic hone as well and have him check out my Top Ten Tips on the KKG home page. This will help him keep his new knife sharp as long as possible. (BTW. . .what knife did you decide to buy him?)

        Get well and prosper. . .
        KKG

  7. Neal, thanks for chiming in! What makes you such a fan of Global knives? I’d be curious to hear more specifics–especially from a pro. Have you shopped around a lot and compared?

  8. CUTCO IS THE BEST KITCHEN CUTLERY IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    -LOOK IT UP PEOPLE

    • I’m sorry but Cutco is an absolute joke compared to many of the better lines of chef’s knives.

  9. Thanks for your passionate comment, Jack!

    There is a dedicated core of Cutco devotees out there, but many of them are Cutco sales reps, so they are not exactly impartial customers. (For those who aren’t aware, Cutco does not sell through stores, but relies on individuals to sell their products one-on-one.)

    I have a Cutco hand-me-down butcher’s knife from my Mom which I love to use for slicing up unwieldy slabs of meat like sides of salmon or flank steak. But for regular, day-to-day use, I don’t think a Cutco chef’s knife would hold up as well as the brands and models I’ve recommended in this article.

    Best, KKG

    • You ever used a Cutco Petite Chef or French Chef before?

  10. Can’t say that I have, Nick. Why do you ask?

  11. Thanks for your time effort and advise. I learnt a lot from your site. I have been looking to buy myself a nice knive or two and appreciate your experiences

  12. You’re most welcome. . .and thanks for letting me know, Brendon :)

    • Hey, thought I would let you know I bought a couple of global sai knives and am enjoying them.
      I also bought the water wheel knife sharpener, should I be using this or a ceramic steel?

      • Congratulations, Brendon! And thanks for turning me on to a whole new line of knives from Global. Global Sai looks like a serious addition to the kitchen knife world — I will have to investigate further :)

        RE sharpening and honing: I don’t trust or recommend the water wheel sharpener (I think you’re talking about the Minosharp). Why not? 1) Who knows what the grits of the ceramic rollers are? Chances are you will over-sharpen your knives instead of simply honing them. 2) What’s the angle of the wheels? It may match the 12.5 degrees of your new Sai Global knives and it may not. Even if it does, it’s fixed and can’t adjust much. As the edge wears, it helps to be able to slightly adjust the honing angle. 3) This kind of sharpener will tempt you to use it as a replacement for quality sharpening. But it can never compete with a quality professional sharpening service.

        I recommend using a ceramic steel, and then, depending on the wear and tear and your taste for sharpitude, sending them to a sharpening service every year or so.

  13. Since I teach cooking history as a hobby I love vintage knives — F. Dick, Dexter, Sabatier, Henckels, Cutco’s — but for my everyday needs I do keep evolving. My new favorite toys are Shun Edo, love the feather weight feel. But for a hunk of meat, I still go back to either Wusthof or Dexter, for bread, it’s vintage Cutco.

  14. Here’s a link to the Shun Edo — if anyone’s interested in checking it out! It does look like a well-designed knife with great ergonomics. And judging from the specs, I’m pretty sure it will more than match the sharpitude of the Shun Classic recommended above :)

  15. My Henckels 6-in handle broke and I am looking to replace it. I’m happy to have found this review. I found it helpful in making my decision.

    • Thanks, Cindy, for the feedback! If there’s anything else I can help you with, please feel free to contact me. (I’ve also got a FB page that’s a perfect place to discuss.) BTW – what will your replacement knife be?

  16. Hi Nate,

    Thanks for the extensive review. Nice animation for the images as well.
    It’s a good starting point to get your bearings when buying kitchen knives.

    rgds
    Jason

  17. I have a 10-inch Henckels chef’s knife, an 8-inch Wusthof chef’s knife, and an 8-inch Wusthof vegetable knife, which I REALLY LOVE and which was a gift. I never would have bought a knife just for vegetables for myself, but man does it make chopping onions and potatoes fast. Now looking for a great boning knife and a cleaver, since my dad (a retired cook) is going to start teaching me butchering skills! Can’t wait! I also would love a santoku of some sort.

  18. Sounds like you’re pretty well equipped, GoodFav!

    All of the manufacturers and lines covered in this article make high quality boning knives, so that shouldn’t be too hard to find. A cleaver is another matter though. That’s something I’ve been wanting to research for quite a while–for a follow-up on this article. Happy shopping:)

  19. I’ve been looking to buy myself a decent chef’s knife for a while, but I had no idea where to start! I’m so glad I found your site. I think I’ll either go for a Wusthof or Henckels. I’ve used a Henckels serrated knife before, and I find the shape and feel perfect.

    Thanks for making things so easy!! Definitely will be coming back to this website to read up on more things!

    • You’re welcome, Ange, and it sounds like you’re on the right track! The main thing is to buy from a reputable manufacturer and avoid their lower-tier knives. For an 8-inch chef, that will run you $100 and up. Secondly, remember — it’s much more important how well you maintain your knife than how blisteringly sharp it is out of the box. See my post: Best Chef Knife — Don’t Overrate the Factory Edge.

  20. So, I got a beautiful Shun chef’s knife for my wedding two and a half years ago, and now the blade is full of notches. I’m pretty religious about taking care of the knife (hand wash only, dry immediately, always stored in the block), but it seems that every time I cut up a chicken I get another notch in the blade.

    So, should I not be cutting up chickens with my knife? Is there something else I’m doing wrong?

    Thanks for the rundown on your top picks, btw.

  21. I guess one thing I was kind of missing in this otherwise awesome review is the durability parameter. It’s sort of present in the Shun section, where the hardness of the edge is addressed, but in the final recommendations section, that dimension is missing. I do appreciate the sharposity bit, as that’s important to me, but so is knowing what will be a more involved edge to maintain at a certain relative sharpness over other, possibly more durable yet relatively “duller” edges.

    Knife maintenance is a complex subject with a clear line in the sand: those who will do it (me), and those who will not/won’t do it properly (despite all instruction, like my family). This can be a deciding factor in home knife purchases. Can we get a follow up on that area?

    • Thanks for your interest, Kitchen_Dingus!

      I believe what you’re asking is — Which of the above six recommended knives would be easier, or harder, to maintain? Or, Which could put up with more abuse, which would be more finicky and delicate? Good question.

      My understanding is that, of the six recommended knives, the first three — which are all made of German steel — would be tougher, able to take more abuse, less likely to chip, and require less TLC. (That would be the Henckels, Wusthof, and Messermeister.)

      Explanation: The main factor determining the resilience of a knife, or its ability to withstand abuse, is the type of steel it is made of. Typically, German steel is tougher, not as hard and brittle as Japanese steel, and, thus, can handle a lot more stress. It is also usually heated-treated to a hardness in the range of 55 to 58 HRC — which does NOT allow it to hold an edge as long as Japanese steel, but DOES allow it to take more abuse. (Japanese steel is usually in the range of 60-63 HRC and up.)

      A secondary factor in determining a knife’s toughness would be the thinness of the blade and/or the fineness of the sharpened edge. Again, Japanese knives tend to be thinner than German knives, and thus not able to handle as much stress. And they tend to be sharpened to a sharper, and more delicate, edge. So, you need to be more careful with them. For example, you might not want to hack into a butternut squash with a Japanese blade or drop it on a hard, tile floor. On the other hand, the harder Japanese steel can be easier to sharpen than softer German steel.

      All six of the recommended knives could be honed with a ceramic hone which would bring back the edge again and again.

      For more discussion on this topic, please read my other articles: Knife Edges 101 and How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.

      Hope this helps,
      KKG

  22. That was some good information. Since I cannot afford the retail prices of
    your recommendations, I have used Craig’s List to find them cheaper.
    Three examples: F.Dick 1457-26 ($11), Henckels 30721-162 ($15), and
    Henckels 30723-162 ($10).

    • I can totally appreciate your desire to find a bargain, but I’m sorry to say that the two Henckels knives you mention are from the Twin Signature series which is one of Henckels’ less expensive, lesser-quality lines. They list new for $50 (30721-162) and $35 (30723-162) — not $100 or more like the knives on my list.

      Though these knives bear the Henckels name, they come from a very different knife universe than the Henckels Pro S that I recommend above. The most significant difference is that they are not forged, but “precision-stamped.” Thus, the steel they are made of will not hold as sharp an edge, or hold it as long, as the steel in Henckels’ Pro S and other higher-level knives which are all forged. And to make things even more complicated, Henckels makes another line of knives called the “International” that are manufactured in Spain. And, although they are forged, they don’t match the quality of Henckels’ other high-level knives either. Confusing, huh?

      Henckels manufacturers over a dozen different lines of knives (not including Miyabi which is separate entity under the Henckels umbrella). And they are only ONE knife-manufacturing company (though a major one). This is one of the main reasons I wrote the Best Knives article—to help consumers sort through the kitchen knife jungle out there and offer them some high-quality tips :)

      (As for the F. Dick knife you mention, I could not find that exact model anywhere. Are you sure you input it correctly?)

      Best, KKG

  23. I find Global brand a good knife because it is lightweight and better in ergonomics and absolutely freaking sharpest knife amongst. Other brand are hard to sharpen though they have good steel. For example Wusthof is a great knife, but poor at ergonomic and is heavy.

    • It all depends on what your needs are, what you like, and what you are used to, doesn’t it? For example, it took me a while to adjust to how light my Shun chef knife was. When I first took it out of the box and handled it, it felt flimsy from what I was used to. But now I’ve adapted and very much appreciate it.

      That said, I still enjoy the weight of a classic chef knife like the Wusthof Classic or the Henckels Pro S. But I am not a professional chopping veggies all day long. If I were, the weight might begin annoy me and tire me out more as compared to a Japanese knife. That’s why it’s so important to find the best knife for you—as I cover in my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  24. I have to say that I slightly disagree about your choice of the Wusthof Santoku knife. Typically, santokus aren’t nearly as versatile as conventional chef’s knives. While they are handy for some tasks, their limitations would preclude them from being on my best list.

    • You’re welcome to disagree, Matt! The thing is, it depends on who you are and what you cook, doesn’t it? For example: Many home cooks are intimidated by the length of a classic chef knife and feel more comfortable with the compact size of a santoku. Yes, the santoku will not dice up a large onion as fast or quarter a fat honeydew as easily as a 8- or 9-inch chef knife. Buuuut, the blade is just about as broad and it will handle smaller jobs with ease.

      I wanted to give my readers a variety of options—thus, the santoku.

      Best, KKG

  25. This is one of the most helpful summaries on cooking knives I have seen. I now feel well equipped to go and purchase! Thank you.

  26. Great article! Kitchen knives come in so many different styles and quality levels it can be super confusing to figure out what is the best one to buy. I like that Wusthof you mentioned above, I’d never seen that knife before. I may have to snag one!

  27. What about the spanish Arcos?

    • Thanks for your question, Warfrix! (Interesting name — what’s the origin?)

      My online research tells me that Acros knives are an inexpensive knockoff trying to pass themselves off as a high-quality. Why?

      – Price: Their most expensive 8-inch chef knife runs $72.24 Euros or $75.92. That’s close to half the price a high-quality knife that size would run if it were made by one of the name-brand manufacturers listed in the above article. My experience has shown time and time again — there is NO FREE LUNCH in the kitchen knife world. If a kitchen knife is priced much lower than other well-known quality brands. . .there’s a reason.

      – Nitrum steel: Arcos says the knives are forged from Nitrum steel which doesn’t really mean much — it’s just a cool sounding name Arcos has made up for the steel they use. And without a proper identification of the steel, you are taking a big risk. Plus, Arcos does not describe the tempering and hardening process for their steel. They spend more time describing their handles than the blade itself. Pretty silly. . .

      – Where are the knives made? They don’t say and I’m betting it’s China. China is not famous for it’s high-quality steel or knife making.

      For all these reasons and more, I would shy away Arcos knives. While the knives may come out of the box shiny and sharp, I’m betting the blades will not stay sharp, nor wear as well, as a high-quality Wusthof, Henckels, Global, etc. And I think your money would be better spent saving up for one of the brands/models mentioned in my article above :)

      Best, KKG

      • Hi,

        First of all, thank you very much for your blog. I am looking for new knives for my kitchen and it is helping me a lot. In the process of gathering information, I’ve found some interesting info about Arcos. Let me share it with you :)

        – Price: The prices of Arcos knives are lower than others, but also realize the labour cost in Spain is almost half of German costs.

        – Nitrum steel: I agree with you that this is a marketing-made name, but you can find a little bit more information about it at: http://blog.arcos.com/nitrum/ (It is in Spanish, but you can always use Google translate). It shows some information about ISO 8442 results and you can find here http://www.catra.org/pages/products/kniveslevel1/slt.htm that Arcos is one of just a few companies that own a machine that can conduct these tests (and the only company I’ve found with published results).

        – These knives are made in Albacete (Spain). Arcos was created in 1745. In fact, it is one of the oldest companies in Spain.

        – Zwilling International knives (Zwilling’s lower cost brand, the one with only one guy in the logo) are forged by Arcos.

        As an interesting fact, you can watch a documentary from a Spanish TV channel about how Arcos builds their knives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u63EqZwbb4. (You can activate subtitles in English.)

        I hope this information might be helpful and you can give a chance to this brand. (BTW, I don’t work at Arcos, but I am Spaniard :P )

        • Hi Javier,

          To begin with, let me tell you. . .I love Spain! My parents lived in Madrid in the late 70s and I still remember dining on chimpirones en su tinta (a Basque dish, I know), walking in El Retiro, and viewing Goya paintings at el Museo del Prado. But lets not let our nationalism, or cultural bias, get in the way of choosing a great kitchen knife :)

          I’m from the U.S. and notice there are NO American manufacturers on the above, Best Chef Knives, list either. For example, Cutco, probably the most famous U.S. brand, did not make it on. (There are a number of high-quality custom-made kitchen knives made in the U.S., but this article was more about accessible brands you can easily get a hold of.) So please don’t feel like I’m picking on Spain. Plus, realize, at the beginning of the article, I state very clearly the list does not claim to be exclusive or have the final say on quality kitchen knives.

          That said, thanks much for clarifying a few things. Good to know that Arcos are made in Spain (not China), and that they are manufactured by an old, established company. As far as Nitrum steel and Acros’ quantitative testing is concerned, I’m on the fence. I’d have to see the results of doing the very same tests on other high-quality name-brand knives before changing my opinion.

          Soooo, let me revise my official KKG opinion and say that SOME of the Arcos knife lines, like the Kyoto for example, may be high-quality. They may hold up well in the kitchen against a Wusthof Classic or a Shun Classic. It’s a possibility. That’s the best I can do at the moment. . . :)

          Thanks much,
          KKG

      • Hi there,

        Here in Israel, unfortunately, Arcos has succeeded in passing themselves off as a high quality among the amateurs. It is not much more quality than the Kenwood’s knives. Though, it is made in Spain.

        • Kenwood knives? Hmmm. . .I’ve never heard of them. In a quick search, I noticed that Kenwood does make a high-end food processor, an electric carving knife, and knives for the dining table. Were you joking around? :)

  28. Hi Nate!
    I’m not a chef or even an accomplished cook. I just wandered into the kitchen out of necessity. Now I’m learning a lot about ingredients and methods, and of course, about kitchen tools (knives especially) since I started cooking only about 2 years ago (I’m 58 BTW)…

    I’m in India, so getting hold of a really good knife is quite difficult. Will try Amazon, nevertheless. Your blog is awesome (sorry to use that silly cliche) and really well written! I truly enjoyed reading it.

    Warm Regards,
    Rajan

    • Rajan: India — cool!

      Thanks so much for chiming in — I really appreciate your stamp of approval! Writing informative-but-fun copy takes serious work, so it’s gratifying to hear it’s being appreciated.

      Enjoy your journey into the world of food and cooking — it’s a wonderful world and it’s never too late. If there’s anything more I can do to help you in your acquisition of a quality chef knife, please let me know. (My Facebook page would probably be the best avenue for further discussion.) And please please please purchase a ceramic hone along with your knife. It’s the only way you will avoid oversharpening it and make it’s sharpitude last and last.

      Best, KKG

  29. Thanks for the review. When I was a younger chef, I would use the German steel, as it was cheaper and more available at the time—also a lot easier to sharpen. I moved up to Globals 8 years ago and a few Shun knives. I liked these for they were thinner, sharper, and less tiring in your hand for the whole day. But recently one of my buddies bought me a Mac knife as a present and I am sold on them. Yes, they are incredibly sharp—especially from a whetstone and ceramic steel. . .amazing knives. But why can’t they look more sexy?. . .LOL

  30. I’ve owned three off this list. The Wustof 10″ Grand Prix was my friend and confidante for over 15 years. Good and solid piece, I shed a tear to retire this tool. However, it’s looking more like a French knife at this point. The 8″ Henckels was a good buy—I guess that’s why it was stolen from me. Light and balanced with a certain aura of familiarity. Finally, the Shun 10″ Premier—so light and very very sharp. Respect this edge, my friends, it will teach you a lesson if you’re not mindful of your phalanges.

    All good knives, but the Shun is a cut above…BA DUM PUM TISH.

  31. Love the site, but looking for a good place to get a good deal. I don’t like going to Wiliams-S, they always over price in my mind. Any good options to get a good deal on knives?

    • Hi C-Slims,

      You get what you pay for—and there is no free lunch for a quality knife! You should read my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife for more details.

      In general, you are going to need to pony up from $80 to $120 for a quality 8-inch chef knife (which is your core kitchen knife). It may seem steep, but if you treat it right (i.e. hone it regularly and not abuse it) it could last over 20 years.

      1) There is a lot of merchandise out there and many similar-sounding products are not equal in quality. That’s why I wrote the above article.

      2) If you regularly track the knives on the above list, you will find that a couple of times of year there are specials deals to be found.

      Below is a short list of links to some current deals on quality knives not covered in my Best Chef Knives article. . .

      Happy shopping!
      KKG

      Henckels Twin Four Star 8-Inch Chef Knife

      Global G-2 – 8-Inch, 20cm Chef Knife

      Miyabi Evolution 8-Inch Chef Knife

      Shun Classic Hollow-Edge Santoku, 7″

      Henckels Pro Traditional Chef Knife, 8″

      P.S. And then there is the Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef knife which is an incredible value. It is utilitarian in design, lacks the fit and finish of the other knives I recommend, and will not last as long, but the blade is excellent and can be maintained for quite a while. It’s very popular with professional chefs that need a well-performing knife, but do not want to have to worry about it too much.

  32. Hi KKG
    I’m looking to buy a chef’s knife or 2 for my son who has just started his professional cooking career. He has said he likes Victorinox knives, but I am not sure if he has tried others and also not sure about which to get (it’s a birthday present). Can you give me a recommendation?
    Thanks

    • Hi Judith,

      Here are my thoughts about shopping for your son:

      RE Best Chef Knives list and the professional kitchen
      Every one of the knifemakers in the above list produces knives that could work well in a pro kitchen. And if you read the comments, you will find plenty of professional chefs swearing by their favorite(s). But two things to take note of:
      1) You probably would not want to buy him a shorter, santoku-style knife for pro use. In the case of both Wusthof and Global, you would want to buy their longer chef-style knives which I mention in the article.
      2) The Japanese-made knives, because they are made of Japanese steel which is brittler and because they are thinner, will be not be as rugged as the three German-made knives. This especially holds true for the Shun and the Global.

      RE Victorinox
      Victorinox makes terrific knives that perform like blades that cost four or five times as much. They come from the factory sharp, they retain their edges incredibly well, and can be sharpened and honed to bring back the sharpness.

      Chefs love them because they perform so well, but are relatively cheap. Thus, they don’t have to worry about their knives getting lost, stolen, or damaged by someone else. (Most professional kitchens are wild and wooly places.) If something happens to a knife, they can replace it at a nominal cost.

      This said, you must realize that Victorinox are, by design, stripped down and extremely utilitarian. They are light, the blade is rather bendable, and the handle looks and feels like plastic. They feel more like a toys than other, more expensive and finely wrought, knives.

      If this is the route you think best to take, here’s a link to a 4-piece set that would serve him well:

      Victorinox 4-Piece Knife Set with Fibrox Handles

      Which brings me to my next comment. . .

      RE the core three
      Every serious cook basically needs three knives: a chef knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. (Next in line would probably be a skinny boning knife, but you get the idea.) I have a few articles on this that might be helpful for you to peruse — one that explains the concept in more detail and a couple that recommend different knife sets. (The prices and links might be out-of-date — sorry.) So, this is another thing to consider as you shop.

      http://kitchenknifeguru.com/how-many-kitchen-knives-do-you-really-need/

      http://kitchenknifeguru.com/three-kitchen-knife-sets-i-can-recommend/

      http://kitchenknifeguru.com/kitchen-cutlery-sets-for-tight-budgets/

      RE How about both?
      You might want to consider getting him one knife for work and one knife for home. For work, you could do the Victorinox, and for home. . .for home I would hands down recommend the Mac MTH-80. It’s a powerhouse designed for the professional and he will thank you for the rest of his life.

      As a matter of fact, if it were me, and he were my son beginning his career as a chef, the Mac MTH-80 is the knife I would give him! End of story.

      Hope this helps. The very best to you and your boy :)

      —KKG

  33. How are cutco knives when it comes to cutting, in comparison to these other high end brands.

    • Mike,
      Please scroll up and read my answer to Jack in the comments above. But, to quickly reiterate, my research suggests that a Cutco chef knife would not take as sharp an edge, would not keep it’s edge as long, and would not survive the wear and tear of sustained use and sharpening as well as the knives recommended in this article.

      BTW, why do you have “Cutco” in your email address?

      Best, KKG

  34. Actually, believe it or not, when you are paying that much for a chef knife, Cutco is probably your go to. They are actually very high quality and I’ve ran across a multitude of chefs that prefer them over any other knife. And they have a FOREVER guarantee. If it ever breaks, get it replaced for free. It’s very sharp and takes forever to dull. I have a friend who sells them and I absolutely love mine.

    • Thanks, Austin, for sharing your experience and your opinion.

      I think it’s wonderful that Cutco knives have a forever guarantee and that they also sharpen them for you for free. But, for what it’s worth, most of all the other major knife brands around the world, like Wusthof or Henckels, also have lifetime guarantees.

      I still heartily disagree with your assessment of Cutco as compared to the knives on the above list. But I guess someday we’ll have to have a slicing-chopping-dicing-carving contest to settle the question. Until then, I suppose the short answer is. . .to each their own :)

      Best, KKG

  35. Thank you so much for your reply. I am checking out the Mac MTH-80. I’m sure he will love it!
    Thanks again for your advice and time!

  36. It might be nice to say you can find these wonder knifes in your local kitchen store.

    • Hi Leslie,

      Four out of six of these brands you should be able to find in a large kitchen store like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table. But I doubt you’ll find even that many in your average “local kitchen store.” It’s just too expensive to stock them all. At least that’s been my experience. And I live in the NYC area which is a pretty large and sophisticated market :)

      Best, KKG

  37. I have a full set of Shun Classics. Love them. Now I’m moving more to the Shun blue steel line. They are awesome and very sharp. Only thing with them is they need more TLC as the cutting edge is blue carbon. But both Shun lines rock and, yes, I use them every day at work. Thanks.

    • Thanks for chiming in, Ronny! It’s nice to hear confirmation from a pro. I’ll have to take a look at the Shun Blue series. But sandwiching a super-hard, fine-grained carbon steel (the “blue” steel) between layers of stainless seems like a winning combo!
      —KKG

  38. Hi,

    First of all, I got to agree with näsplastik (has commented above) that your writing style is really very unique and interesting.

    I know that the above given list is not a final top 6 list, but just wanted to know your thoughts on the Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife. Do you think its a good one?

    -Ashaya

    • Hi Ashaya,
      Thanks for the compliment! Believe it or not, I have an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Funny, huh?

      RE Victorinox Fibrox
      Check out my response to Judith in the comment thread above (on May 27th) where I offer my two-cents worth on the Victorinox.

      Best, KKG

  39. Hi there — I launched my own brand of high-end Japanese chef knives in November 2013 and thought you guys might like to see them. They’re still not that well known and only made in small quantities.

    Personally, I think they’re the best knives in the world — but I would say that, wouldn’t I? Fortunately, some of the UK’s best chefs agree with me. Please have a look at the TOG Knives website and especially our “chef testimonials” section which is new.
    http://www.togknives.com/chef-testimonials

    Obviously, I’m a supplier, so I hope you don’t mind me chipping in. Thank you very much!

    Rob Beagley-Brown

    • Hi Robert,

      Thanks for exposing myself and the KKG clan to your new line of knives. They look promising and your list of testimonials definitely perk my interest!

      I would take issue with some info on your “Tech Specs” page though—where you say the Rockwell Hardness of 58-60 is “harder than most knives and typical of knives from Seki.” I think you mean to say that HRC 58-60 is harder than most German knives. I’m sure you’re aware the majority of Japanese knives, including knives from Seki, are hardened to HRC 60 and harder. For example, Shun hardens their knives from HRC 60 to 62. For that matter, Wusthof hardens their knives to HRC 58 which is on the bottom end of your hardening range and they make a lot of knives! I think it would be more accurate, and less problematic, to simply tell us the HRC and leave it at that :)

      I’m also not nuts about the claim on your “Products” page that says the ACUTO steel core gives “unbeaten edge retention.” Have you really tested this? Because I’m sure there are quite a few Japanese knives out there with HRCs of 60-62 that could beat it out. Perhaps it’s time to tone down the copywriter some :)

      At any rate, it looks like you’ve created a high-quality and beautifully-designed product. It would be fun to try them out sometime!

      Best, KKG

  40. I have been a professional chef for almost 20 years from every place to small restaurants to the Ritz Carlton to Norwegian Cruise Lines, and I tend to lean towards the Japanese makers over the European. Being the owner of at least 50 different knives, I can provide at least a small amount of insight on the subject. While I do own several from Shun (Classic, Edo, and Blue Steel), and they are excellent, I would recommend to those of you who might be in the market to splurge ($150 – $400) to look at the Misono UX10, Blazen Ryusen, Akifusa, Kasumi, Honesuke, and Moritaka lines.

    But the knives I would recommend to anyone looking to spend less than $100 for a workhorse line of knives that perform far above their price point is the Tojiro DP series made from VG10 steel. I absolutely love these knives and have seen them sharpened enough as to be able to split a human hair with no downward force applied. Obvious this involves aftermarket sharpening by an expert, but the factory edge is quite outstanding for the price.

    • Hey PJ, thanks for your comments! We much appreciate hearing what you have garnered from experience regarding kitchen knives. It’s a big beautiful Japanese-knife world isn’t it? The main reason I tend not to recommend higher-end Japanese knives on KKG is that it’s my sense the average home cook will not be able to maintain and care for them properly and end up chipping them, etc. The prices can also be a barrier.

      Not so for the Tojiro DP series though! Thanks much for the recommendation which is at the right price point and sounds like a wickedly sharp kitchen tool. Note to readers: the VG10 steel is the same steel that Shun uses for their Classic series.

      For those interested in shopping, here’s an Amazon link:

      I’d only mention one caveat regarding Tojiro: one Amazon buyer found their knife had a noticeable and annoying flaw in the blade which should have been caught in the factory by quality control. So, shoppers, please be prepared to check your knife over thoroughly before making it your own.

      Cook on, cook on. . .KKG.

      • Hi KKG,

        First off, thank you for the highly informative instructional pieces/buyer’s guides. I have to say that the depth of your interest and the level of background information/theory you provide fills me with far more confidence in your views than those of any other online resource I have accessed.

        I am buying my first, serious, chef knife and will likely make some mistakes caring for and using it. Therefore, I’ve decided to go with the Tojiro DP knife as a happy medium between the effective-but-utilitarian Victorinox and one of the six, more expensive, knives you recommend.

        Two questions: First, do you think this choice makes sense and, second, would this count as one of the hybrid-style Japanese knives I could hone as usual with a ceramic rod?

        Thanks again for the hard work!

        Nik

        • Great strategy, Nik, I approve! The Tojiro DP Gyuto (210mm) is an excellent entry-level Japanese blade. I assume you’ve read my observations and only caveat in the comment above yours. I’d much rather work with a Tojiro than a Victorinox (I have a hard time with the plastic handle). And the Tojiro should come from the factory super sharp and feel more like a “real” knife.

          RE honing: Yes, Tojiro is a hybrid and you can definitely use a ceramic hone on it. Because the HRC is 60, a standard steel hone might cause it damage.

          Have fun cooking!

          Best, KKG

  41. Hi KKG, thank you for the interesting and informative article. I’ve just started to work in a professional kitchen in Oxford, England, and was looking to invest in a few good, quality knives. Many of the chefs I work with recommend Victorinox as a brand of good quality, but very affordable (although Shun, Wusthof and F. Dick are popular among the flashier chefs). Any opinion on Victorinox?

    • Hi James,
      RE Victorinox Fibrox
      Check out my response to Judith in the comment thread above (on May 27th, 2015) where I offer my two-cents worth on knives for professionals and the Victorinox.
      Best, KKG

  42. It would be really nice to read an authentic review, or recommendation, that isn’t sponsored by Amazon.

    • Hi Kathy,

      While you certainly have the right to your own opinion, for the record:

      I don’t, and wouldn’t, recommend a single knife I wouldn’t want to own myself. As a matter of fact, I personally own four out of the six knives reviewed on this page and am looking forward to the time when I can afford to buy the other two. If that isn’t “authentic” enough, then I’m sorry I’ve failed you :)

      Best, KKG

  43. I have been through a lot of knives in my career, but the day I bought my Kai Shun Classic I instantly fell in love. It got dropped just after Christmas by another chef admiring her taking the tip off! It’s still as sharp as ever and I got the tip fixed.

    Since first reading this blog, I bought a set of Wushtof to back up the Shun. But being addicted to knives, I just bought some Hiromoto from Japan. My Kai Shun hasn’t been out of my case since—though she will be soon for a good sharpening!!

    For home use, stay cheap. I recommend Victorinox until your skills become better—then shop around and feel the knives.

    • Matthew,

      Thanks much for your tales from the trenches! It’s good to warn less experienced cooks that they cannot treat a Japanese knife with the same casualness as a German blade. That harder, but brittler, Japanese steel demands more TLC.

      So many great knives out there, no time to try them all. . . :)

      Happy cooking,
      KKG

  44. Hi KKG,
    I am a novice cook in pursuit of a set of quality knives. What is your general opinion about F.Dick kitchen knives (Premier Plus line)? I’ve read all your replies and you have mentioned F.Dick couple of times, but without further explanation.

    Thanks in advance. Best regards, Žarko!

    • Hi Zarko,

      F. Dick is, no doubt, one of the premier German knife makers. The original company was founded in 1778 and, like Wusthof, it is still family owned and operated. F. Dick knives are known and used by professionals, but in the U.S. their marketing is limited and most American home cooks are not aware of them.

      The Premier Plus line, their most well-known and longest running high-quality line for chefs, uses the same steel as Wusthof and prides itself on the same rigorous manufacturing and quality control. My sense is that the Premier Plus is comparable in quality and design to Wusthof’s Classic line and sells for around the same price. (Note: F. Dick’s standard chef is 8 1/2 inches—you get an extra 1/2 inch!)

      I have not held a Premier Plus chef knife in my hands, so I cannot vouch for it personally. But my impression is that the feel and fit and finish are top-notch and if you treat it well, it will last you for decades.

      Sorry I couldn’t include F. Dick knives on the above list. . .too many knives, not enough time. For those interested in shopping, here’s a link:

      Best, KKG

      • There is no need to apologize for anything. Here, where I come from (Eastern Europe), F. Dick is much more available than any other brand of quality knife (if any other is available at all) and this is the main reason I asked for your opinion. Your site is probably the most informative among dozens of others I have found and I really appreciate your opinion.

        P.S. I can not see link in your post.

        P.P.S. Keep doing an excellent job!

  45. Thanks, KKG. This is not only a site. It is a resource, classic and informative. And so very helpful and more. Thanks, KKG.

  46. These chef knives would be the best kitchen knives that I would like to be added to my modular kitchen accessories.

  47. Hi! Great article.

    I’m wondering if you can help me with choosing the right knife. I’m looking for a gift for my father who is quite picky. He wants something so that his hand doesn’t hit the cutting board, will allow him to slice things like veggies simply and could also work well as a general-purpose knife. What would you suggest? I’m looking at the Messermeister Meridian Elite 9-Inch Chef Knife but unsure if it’s the correct choice (and where to purchase in Canada!)

    Thanks :)

    • Also, should I go for the one with the divots in it the blade (Messermeister Meridian Elite 9-Inch Kullenschliff Chefs Knife) or the regular one?

      • Hi Angela,

        Buying a chef knife for a finicky cook is a very risky endeavor. It’s hard enough if they’re standing at a counter and testing a number of them out themselves. But to do it for someone, when they have not even had the chance to get a feel for the knife themselves, could end up pretty hit and miss. Your choice might work for them, it might not.

        That said, if what we’re talking about is pure knuckle clearance, the Messermeister should be decent and it’s a lovely knife. But so should the Henckels, MAC, and Global. Actually, the MAC and Global should give you the most knuckle clearance. And all of these could work well as an all-around kitchen knife. But please be aware that both the MAC and Global are Japanese steel and cannot withstand the rough handling that these other German knives can take.

        Also. . .the 9-inch Messermeister is slightly longer than your average home chef knife. It’s great for slicing through melons, and chopping up a large onion, but some cooks might find it too cumbersome.

        As far as the hollow edge (the divots) is concerned, it helps release food from the blade if you push or pull cut. Otherwise, it’s my understanding, it doesn’t have much impact on regular chopping and slicing. It’s no biggie, either way, and I wouldn’t pay extra for it. Also, depending how close to the edge the divots go, it might, eventually, limit the life of the knife. As the blade wears down through sharpening, the exposed divots will make the edge jagged and uneven. (This could take quite a while to happen, of course.)

        Sorry I can’t offer you more definitive answers. But, oh, here’s another idea. . .you could buy an extra-wide blade, which would by nature keep his knuckles higher off the board. Wusthof makes them, which I cover in my article on Wusthof knives, but here’s a link to Amazon:

        Hope this helps a little :)

        Best, KKG

  48. Hi again! Thanks so much for your response.

    I researched the Wusthof Classic 8” and read the article you linked, and I think that is the one I will be going with. They seem to be made to last! I found out this evening that my father had originally wanted a cleaver (?) knife, but upon reading up about them, realized he’d never use it! We don’t hunt and rarely cut large portions of bone-in meat, so it seems a waste.

    On another note, what would be your recommendation for a cover for the Classic? I looked at the Wusthof ones (they look like a sleeve and appear to be made of material similar to a wet suit), but they do not get good reviews when it comes to travel, and this knife would be going back and fourth our country home with my father quite frequently. Would this one work? Would I be best going with the 6-8” one, or the 8-10”?

    Thank you again for your wisdom! :)

    • Glad I could help out, Angela! But to clarify, you mean you’re going with the Wusthof Classic Wide chef knife, right? If so, then I think the 6-8″ size should work, but I couldn’t guarantee it. We’re getting into subtleties here that are hard to guesstimate.

      On another note, I’d like to mention that there two types of cleaver out there: 1) a meat cleaver and 2) a vegetable cleaver. A meat cleaver is the most standard, traditional type we think of and what your father researched. It’s very heavy and thick and is meant for hacking through animal parts. A vegetable cleaver is much lighter and thinner and not meant for bones, but for slicing and chopping vegetables. An example of this type would be Wusthof’s nakiri which I cover in that same Wusthof knives article I mentioned above under Japanese-Style Knives.

      Best, KKG

  49. Thanks for all your recommendations and advice. Your blog is great!

    I have a question about a different topic — electric knife sharpeners. We own an older Three Stage Chef’s Choice Diamond Hone sharpener, Model 100. And when we used it on our Henckels Four Star Twin knives it created a notch a few centimeters from the bolster. We use the sharpener according to the directions given and drag the knife towards us starting at the base and tip last. Do you think we are doing something wrong, or is there something defective with the sharpener? It is especially bad on shorter knives, like a 3″ paring knife.

    We just acquired some new Henckels and do not want to put notches in them again! Would appreciate any advice you can give us. Thanks!

    • Hi Sydney,

      What you’ve come across is a common problem with Chef’s Choice power sharpeners and why I have never recommended them. It is not a defect, but a design flaw that will affect every knife with a bolster. Another major reason I don’t like Chef’s Choice is that they tend to grind off too much metal. A few years ago, when I was trying to find a suitable solution for keeping my kitchen knives sharp, I actually bought a Chef’s Choice, tried it out, and returned it because I was so unsatisfied. However, if you are absolutely sold on this type of solution to keeping your knives sharp, I would recommend buying a Master Grade sharpener, rather than a Chef’s Choice. The sharpening wheels they use have more give and will not rub off as much metal.

      Buuuut, before you go any further, I would rather you read a slough of articles I’ve written about sharpening in general and about my favorite solution to sharpening — using a top-quality professional sharpening service combined with honing regularly (to maintain the edge). I have a Henckels Pro S chef knife I sent to one of my favorite sharpening services over three years ago and I bet it is still sharper than 90 percent of knives in home kitchens across the USA. Check out the video: The Power of Honing a Knife.

      Please do yourself a favor check out the articles I’ve written on the KKG website under the “Sharpeners” and “Hones/Steels” tabs. Here’s a sample: Why Use a Professional Knife Service? And here’s a blog on the subject: Kitchen Knife Sharpening: Five Reasons NOT to Sharpen Your Own.

      If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!

      Best, KKG

  50. Thanks so much for your advice! We will not be using the Chef’s Choice and will consider a professional sharpening service as suggested on your website. At least now we know we were not the problem and can avoid future mishaps.

    I will follow your advice on using the honing steel as well. We have a metal one that came with the Henckels set over 25 years ago. We did not think it made much difference in keeping the knives sharp, but will try a ceramic one like yours instead. Thanks again for your prompt response!

  51. Holy moly, this comment section has been going on forever in internet years.

    Anyway, years ago when my wife and I got married, one of our guests worked at a kitchen store and apparently got a hell of a discount on a set of five Shun classics, topped off with a Shun Ken Onion. I would have never bought knives that nice. I love those knives. They almost sound like plastic when they whack against something.

    It’s also nice that we live ten miles from the Kershaw factory and have them all sharpened for free…

    • Hi Tim,
      Yep, this web page has seen a lot of action!

      You’re one lucky boy to have started off your family life with a set of Shun knives. Sounds like you enjoy cooking and know how to treat fine tools with care. . .so, you deserve them! My Shun 6-inch chef knife has now officially become my wife’s go-to blade :)

      Best, KKG

  52. Hi KKG,

    After reading this post, you seem like the right guy to ask. I am looking into moving towards the professional chef world and want to buy myself some top quality knives. I started out using the Robert Welch range and they did well for the first 4 years but now their maintenance/sharpitude and grip is starting to get a little annoying. I take pride in caring for and honing my knives and after reading this wondered if you had any advice on what to go for?

    Thanks a lot.

    P.S. I’m on the fence when it comes to German vs. Japanese knives, not sure which to go for…

    • Hi Rich,

      I have never heard of Robert Welch knives. But from a quick perusal of their website, I’m pretty sure that most, if not all, the knives in the article above would offer a noticeable improvement in performance (i.e. taking and holding an edge).

      As you must be aware, there are a lot of quality knives out there and a lot of different tastes, and needs, in kitchen knives. For every brand of knife I’ve covered in the article above, there is a professional chef that swears by it. So, there is no single, right answer.

      1) That said, if pure sharpness is your god, your best bet would probably be the MAC:

      MAC Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch (MTH-80)

      MAC also makes a santoku and paring knife (and a whole lot of styles/models as well), but be careful to buy the Professional Series:

      MAC Professional Santoku Knife, 6 1/2-Inch (MSK65)

      MAC Professional Paring Knife, 3 1/4-Inch

      – As a general rule, Japanese knives are thinner and sharper than German knives. But they are more delicate — so you can’t be as rough with them.

      – Please don’t feel you have to commit to only brand/model of knife in your kitchen. I have many different brands and types (Japanese and German) and find it fun to mix it up.

      – To delve deeper into the Wusthof brand, be sure to check out my new page dedicated to them alone: Wusthof Knives — a Buyer’s Guide.

      2) Whatever knife you ending up buying, it may, or may not, come from the factory at it’s full sharpness potential. Have no fear. Whenever it reaches the time it definitely needs to be sharpened, send it out to Seattle Knife Sharpening. They are the finest sharpening service I know. And 99.9 percent of the time, they will easily improve on the factory edge.

      3) Also, please check out my articles on honing to make sure your doing it the right, or best, way. And make sure to use a ceramic hone. This will help with keeping those edges extra sharp.

      If you follow these steps, I guarantee you will have kitchen knives that are really sharp!

      For more help on this process of finding the best knife for you, you also should check out How to Buy a Great Chef Knife. And if you poke around the KKG site more, you will find other articles that will increase your knowledge and help you with keeping your knives sharp.

      Best, KKG

  53. Hi,
    Thanks for this awesome post. I’m looking to buy my wife a small set (2-5) of very good knives. She cuts all kinds of stuff in the kitchen, but I guess it comes down to vegetables (lots), chicken on and off the bone (also quite a bit), and red meat (generally off the bone).

    I was just going to get a “good chefs knife” until I saw that not all knives are meant to cut through everything. I generally like the German heavy knives, but I’m happy with a sleek Japanese one if that’s the way to go.

    Any recommendations? Would you go for mixing and matching?

    Zac

  54. Thanks so much for the insight, much appreciated. Great blog and really informative, was just the place I was looking for! I’m all the way in South Africa, so not sure where I could find my nearest sharpening service. But nothing a quick google can’t fix.

    There’s just one more thing I would like to clarify with regards to German vs. Japanese. Would you say, from what I understand, Japanese is more for dicing and delicate cutting tasks and German knives more for the rough chopping, filleting, and carving? (With the appropriate style of knife, of course.)

    • You’re welcome, Rich. Wow, South Africa. . .how cool is that?

      1) Please be sure to check out Finding a Professional Sharpening Service before giving anybody your knives.

      2) Both German and Japanese knives can pretty much do all the tasks you’ve described. (Although if you’re slicing up raw fish for sushi, you’d do best to use Japanese.) As a general rule, because of the steel and how it’s heat treated, Japanese knives can take a sharper edge and hold it longer. But you pay a price for this. The steel is also more brittle (and thinner) and can get seriously damaged more easily. With a German knife, if you hit a bone while filleting, it will simply flatten out the edge or, worse case, dent it slightly. With a Japanese knife, you could chip or crack it. Yes, really.

      So, deciding between German or Japanese has basically to do with two questions:
      1) How fricking sharp do you need, or want, your knives to be?
      2) How careful do you want to have to be with them?

      And, remember, if you like the idea of exploring, then there’s no good reason not to try one Japanese knife and see if you like it. You can mix it up :)

      Best, KKG

    • Hi Zac,

      What fun, knife-shopping for your wife! She will be so grateful.

      First, the types of knives you should buy. I would recommend definitely buying four knives:
      – 8-inch chef’s knife: for slicing and chopping and most everything else; you could even buy her a 9-incher, if you thought she would appreciate it and not be intimidated
      – 3 1/2 inch paring knife: for finer slicing and peeling
      – 5- to 6-inch boning knife (not fillet knife, which will be too thin and is more for fish): for slicing any meat on the bone and off; this could include turkey legs
      – 8- or 9-inch bread knife (serrated)

      If you already own a serrated bread knife you’re happy with, then it could only three knives. And if you wanted to splurge, you could add on a 6- to 7-inch santoku — which may, in the end, be her go-to blade. Home cooks often gravitate toward santokus because they’re not quite as long and cumbersome as a chef knives, but still have a wide blade.

      BUUUUUUUT. . .it’s tricky buying knives for others without their feedback. Please read my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife. And please read my recent reply above (to Rich from South Africa) about German vs. Japanese. If your wife has smaller, more delicate hands, she might really appreciate Shun or Global. They’re sharp and light. But she must be more CAREFUL with them than with a German knife.

      Here’s a KKG article about buying knife sets that might be helpful:
      Three Kitchen Knife Sets I Recommend

      And here’s link to Wusthof knife sets I recommend:
      Wusthof Knives — a Buyer’s Guide

      You should also buy a ceramic hone and encourage her to use it. Or learn to use one yourself!

      Good luck! And let me know what you come up with. If you want to bounce any more specific questions off me, feel free to return :)

      Best, KKG

      • Hi, Ok great, this is a great start.

        1. Is a boning knife for just cutting the meat or can it be used to cut through bones as well?

        2. Does a Santoku do the same job as a chefs knife, so it’s just preference, or are they different?

        3. We already have a great bread slicer. It’s a Cutco, and I know people on these websites are very against Cutco, for the bread it’s a really great knife.

        Thanks,

        Zac

        • Hey Zac,

          1) No, a boning knife is NOT for cutting through bone, but around bone. Powering through bone will destroy the edge. If you want to cut through bone, you should use a cleaver (pretty cumbersome and only for serious cooks) or a pair of kitchen shears (a simpler, more elegant, solution). If you look further up on this comment thread, you can find my recommendations for these items :)

          2) Yes, a santoku and a chef knife are both designed for the same thing—as all-around kitchen knives ideal for chopping and slicing up most vegetables and meats. Buuuut, they are different, and many cooks have a preference. Much of the time I use both pretty interchangeably. If you compare them visually though, you’ll notice that a chef knife has a pointy tip while most santokus do not. You’ll also notice that most santokus have a wider/broader blade. If your wife cooks regularly, she would probably appreciate having both. (Yes, I know more moula.) But, remember, a quality knife, if you treat it right (and this is crucial), can last 20 years or more.

          3) Cutco’s fine for a serrated bread knife. It’s the least important of the “core three” and the serrated edge will rarely, if ever, be sharpened.

          Glad I could be of service!

          Best of luck, KKG

          • Hi KKG,

            1. Thank you for your advice about shopping for my wife! We went to a store to try some out and while I much preferred the handles on the Shuns and the Wusthof Ikons (nice and big), she really liked the smaller handle on the Wusthof Classic and the size and feel of the 7″ Santoku – you were right (“home chefs like santokus”). So we’ll start our “professional” knife collection with that one for now!

            2. Cutting Boards: While I love the look and feel of end-grain boards, a big one is quite pricey, and we wanted a pretty large one. So I ended up with a Boos 24×18 maple edge grain board. Will that still last long and be good to the knife, or do I really need an end-grain board? Do you have recommended care instructions (oil, oil and wax, just wax, frequency, washing, soap)?

            3. Honing: I know you recommend ceramic honing, but doesn’t that sharpen the knife not just re-align the blade? Is it bad to use a BAD hone (like the one from my Cuisinart knife block—not fancy) on a good blade?

            Thanks, Zac

          • Zac,

            Sounds like quite a successful excursion!

            – No, you absolutely don’t need an end-grain board. I don’t use one; I use an edge-grain board. But it’s good to know that end-grain definitely is the BEST option.

            – For more on cutting board maintenance, read these posts.
            Cutting Board Cleanliness
            Cutting Board Oil. . .

            BTW, there’s a handy-dandy search field you can use to find topics on the KKG site at the bottom of every page, in the page footer. I use it all the time—for example I just used it to find the posts I’m referring to above.

            – Yes, a ceramic hone will not only realign, but clean/sharpen slightly. But if the ceramic is fine-grained, which is imperative, the sharpening is minimal and the cleaning a plus. You might be able to get away with your Cuisinart hone, it depends on how crude or smooth it is. But a ceramic hone will be worth the extra money because it will keep your edges sharper for a longer time (see My Favorite Honing Steels). There are plenty of ceramic hones to choose from and some that will hold up better than my recommended hones. But, whatever you buy, please make sure it’s got a fine grain designed primarily for honing, not sharpening.

            Best, KKG

  55. Cutco knives are the best knives in the world, hands down. They last forever and if they need to be fixed or replaced its free. I have had my set for 50+ yrs. Best investment I have ever made. Just got 4 new knives for free from them when I sent them in to get sharpened!

  56. I am trying to help my Dad decide what gift to get my Mom for Christmas. While I would love to have him get her a complete knife set, there is no way that is in the budget. What do you recommend that would be good for someone who is not quite as careful with knives as she should be, has arthritis, won’t spend the time for as much maintenance honing, and won’t break my Dad’s bank?

    I have a Wusthof Classic Ikon 6″ hollow-edge chef’s knife and 3 1/2″ paring knife that I use for house sitting and keep in my “mobile kitchen.” When I picked them out, I chose according to how the handle felt because I have MS. Dad will not want to spend as much as I did for each knife.

    Thank you for your assistance!

    • Hi Seeking,

      This is a tough assignment, but I’ll do my best. One thing’s for sure. . .you’ll definitely want to buy her German knives made of softer, but tougher, German steel.

      I have two good suggestions for you:

      1) Go to Kitchen Cutlery Sets for Tight Budgets and look at Packages #1 and #4 – 6.

      2) Go to Wusthof Knives. . ., at the end of the article where I discuss knife sets. I begin with 2-piece sets and one of the best for her might be the Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Asian Santoku and Paring Knife Set. She might prefer a smaller, nimbler santoku knife over a standard 8-inch chef knife.

      Ooooor. . .in a totally different direction, buy her a ceramic knife set like the one I mention in my article on Knife Edges 101. A set by Kyocera appears near the end of the article. Ceramic knives are very sharp and don’t need much upkeep. But you can’t drop them or be too rough with them because they are brittle and will crack and break.

      Remember, her new knives will NOT stay sharp for long if she chops on hard materials, etc. So try to educate her with the Top Ten Tips :)

      Best of luck and please feel free to check back if you need more info or tips!
      KKG

  57. I have heard all of these things but better with Gunter Wilhelm Lightning ProCut and Premier ProCut lines. How would you rate these knives?

    • Hi William,

      Sorry, but I’m not a fan of Gunter Wilhelm knives. Here’s some feedback about Gunter Wilhelm I gave to another reader a while back (I have cut and pasted it from one of the comments in my About Us page):

      I investigated Gunter Wilhelm myself a few years back and in revisiting their website noticed they’ve ramped up quite a bit and have further enriched their story. While the handle and ergonomics appear well thought out and GW might make very comfortable-feeling knives, my reservations still regard the quality of their blades and their ability to take, and hold, a fine edge. This is the core of a high-quality knife — not just how it looks or feels.

      Gunter Wilhelm (just a cool German name a Jersey guy decided to name his knife company after) has always been excellent at marketing and hype—but I’m not convinced they’ve put that same excellence to work in the actual manufacturing of their knives. Over the years, their manufacturing story keeps changing and I must admit I don’t totally trust them. For example, I had a heck of time on their website trying to find out two basic facts about their knife blades: 1) what hardness was the steel tempered to (known as HRC), or 2) at what angle were they sharpened. Never found either. And there’s something weird in the positive spin their marketing copy tries put on the fact their knives are “finished” in China? When did China become one of the knife making capitals of the world?

      I have not personally used a GW knife and I have read some positive reports. So, who knows, they may be quite respectable. Nonetheless, when it comes to sharpitude and edge retention, I think there are more dependable choices out there with better track records. I would recommend starting with something from the above Best Chef Knives list.

      • I asked because there is a new made-in-Germany line at Costco. I have to admit, I liked it. They say a Metropolitan report has beat Henckels and Wusthof knives for years. Something about a certification and another thing about hardness and. . .a bunch of things. I bought them, but then again it was Costco and the price was about right. I can’t complain. Do you know about the new line?

        • What I know about Gunter Wilhelm is that they are quite talented at marketing. They have some serious money and expertise driving their marketing machine. Out of curiosity, I watched two of their videos and was charmed and impressed. The quality, professionalism, and pure fun of the videos was quite compelling. BUUUUUUUUUUT. . .do NOT be fooled.

          Here’s a quote from Costco’s website regarding the GW Executive Chef series:

          “Made in China from high-carbon X50CrMoV German Steel.”

          You might ask: Well if it’s German steel why does it matter where it’s made?

          I would answer: Well, starting off with German steel is good. But it takes more than good steel to make a quality kitchen knife. It takes sophisticated heat-treating AND serious quality control as well. The knife manufacturers in Solingen, Germany and Seiki, Japan have been making knives for centuries. This is where Wusthof and the majority of Henckels knives are made. But Gunter Wilhelm’s knives are made in some nameless city in China. This matters to me and it should matter to the consumer. Hey, maybe China has quickly developed some expertise in knife-making. If so, good for them. But the odds are slim. And if this is true, why isn’t GW talking about it. GW doesn’t even do the most basic thing and tell you the hardness of their knives. Why? Probably because they can’t guarantee a hardness number because there’s not that much rigorous control in the factory.

          Listen. . .I’m not trying to be a spoil-sport, but I don’t appreciate companies that pretend to be one thing when they’re something else. That’s cheating. I have a Calphalon santoku that’s made in China that I love. I think it feels better than any knife in my kitchen. I got it sharpened by one of the best knife sharpeners I know of (Seattle Knife Sharpening), I hone it regularly, and it is pure pleasure to slice with. But I knew exactly what I was buying when I bought it.

          Enjoy your Gunter Wilhelm! But be clear about what you’ve got. And let us know how the edges hold up — I’d be really curious.

          Best, KKG

          • Ok. I think you have the ones online. Mine look different. I don’t know how to post a pic. I am here talking to the sales guy. 16 degree and 59.6 hardness. I don’t have a clue what that means but regardless he says that these are fully made in Solingen, in the Tyson Krupp (spelling?) factory (again, meaningless to me). It seems to do ok, I have only had them one day, but I enjoyed using them last night.

          • Sorry, but I still don’t trust the quality. (That’s nice that he had some facts and figures though.) Check out the 1-star reviews on Amazon (see below). You would never find a knife from Wusthof or Henckels doing what these customers describe:

            Gunter Wilhelm Cutlery 250 Executive Chef 12-Piece Professional Knife Set with Wooden Storage Block

            And please be careful splitting cloves of garlic. . . :)

            KKG

  58. Just trying to figure it out. Mine say Premier ProCut made in Germany. The ones in Amazon say Executives. Did I just get scammed?

    • I poked around the GW website and finally found some more info. There are two lines, the ProCut and the Executive Chef. The ProCut claims to be made in Germany and the Executive Chef does not. Supposedly, the Executive series is hardened to 57-58 HRC which is standard for Germany steel/knives, but they don’t say the HRC of the ProCut. Odd. And it looks like all knives are sharpened at a 20-22 degree angle which is not that sharp for nowadays. (Wusthof sharpens their blades at 14 degrees.) GW’s approach to marketing still seems rather fuzzy to me :)

      Bottom line. . .use them, but don’t push them too hard. You don’t want the blades to crack or break on you. See how the sharpitude holds up and check in with KKG at a later date and let us know.

      BTW. . .do you know how to hone? If not, buy a ceramic hone/steel and use it!

  59. Hi there. Very informative article as I am looking to buy my boyfriend a chef’s knife for Christmas. I recall him mentioning Japanese blades and see that you mention the MAC is a good choice. I just want to make sure I’m getting him something that will last him a while with minimal damage. He works at a gourmet pizza establishment that also offers other dishes so I want it to be multi-purpose. Do you recommend going for the MAC or do I go another route? Or should I get him that one and another that can take more of a beating? LOL hard decision for me to make since I don’t know much about the kitchen. Thanks in advance for the help.

    • Hi Maria,

      Here are some comments that I hope will help:

      1) If your boyfriend is a pro, then a Japanese blade is good way to go. And the MAC model mentioned in my article above, would be hard to beat and a terrific value. Yes, there are plenty of other flashier brands around, but MAC is still a high-performance bench mark.

      2) Getting a second, more rough-and-tumble blade, might be a good way to go and it’s something I’ve recommended before to other gift getters. Although it wouldn’t be unusual for him to use a MAC in the workplace. It would depend on what the kitchen he works in is like, his attitude about knives, etc, etc. Hard to guess from a distance.

      3) If he’s serious about food and preparing it—which it sounds like your boyfriend is—he really can’t have too many chef knives. If they are quality knives, they can be fun to use in rotation and it’s always great to have back-up.

      4) A good rough-and-tumble knife might be the Messermeister recommended in the above article. The German steel is tougher than Japanese, a 9-inch blade will give him more heft, and Messermeisters tend to come from the factory pretty darn sharp.

      5) If you wanted to go up a notch and maybe only get him one, gorgeous Japanese knife, please check out my recent post Quality Kitchen Knives on Sale. Either the Kramer Meiji or the Miyabi Birchwood would knock his socks off. Buuuut, either one of these knives, he would probably want to keep at home :)

      Happy shopping! If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!

      Best, KKG

  60. This has been a great resource. Any thoughts on the Bob Kramer Zwilling JA line of knives?

  61. I hone religiously. I will check in in about a month to talk about my everyday knife (Santoku)

  62. Have you tried out the Cangshan in the link I’ve included? 40+ reviews and they’re all 5 stars. The price is currently $30, so I’m wary.

    Cangshan X Series 59137 German Steel Forged Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch

    • Jono,

      No, I’ve never heard of the Cangshan chef knife and you have good reason to be wary. I don’t believe their claim that it’s made in Japan. And I don’t believe the authenticity of their “reviews.” Most of the reviews are short and very general — like friends just doing their duty. And they are ALL 5 stars!!

      As I say at the end of my article How to Buy a Great Chef Knife:

      “First, the Warning: There is NO FREE LUNCH. If you find a brand of knife that’s trumpeting it’s specialness, but is significantly cheaper than name-brand models of similar size and design, let the buyer beware. It’s not humanly possible. . . . You get what you pay for. And high-quality, high-performance steel never comes cheap.”

      If you want a very sharp, but authentic, Japanese knife for a great price, buy the Tojiro DP — which I discuss in these very comments on July 9th, 2015 (further up the page). The Tojiro is only $50 and it is a known quantity :)

      Best, KKG

  63. I’d have to say that your opinion on these knives is just what I needed. I’ve been studying in a culinary school for about 6 months now and I’d have to say that cutting veg all day with a Wushthof is tiring. I’ve been searching for a lighter knife and it seems the Shun Premier might be the right one for me. Although, I have to say, I’m kind of afraid of breaking it as it seems to need a bit more care than my current knife. I’ve also seen good comments about Miyabi, but I haven’t really seen a shop that has them here in Sydney. And I was wondering if you knew if Miyabi knives were as light as Shun? Or are there any other knives that are as good and light as Shun, but keep their sharpness longer and are more durable?

    • Hi Student,

      Glad to hear KKG has been helpful!

      1) Sounds like you definitely need a Japanese knife—thinner, lighter, with harder steel.

      2) Both the Shun Premier and the Miyabi could work for you, but they are a little dressy for a kitchen.

      3) If it were me, I would buy the MAC MTH-80—featured in the article above. Period. It’s wicked sharp, designed for chefs, and won’t break the bank. Or. . .if you needed to save money, you could do the Tojiro DP. The Tojiro would not be as nicely finished, but still do the job.

      4) There are lots and lots of other excellent Japanese knives out there, but trying out these two would get you started and give you a noticeable relief from the Wusthof.

      5) BTW. . .I assume that, along with sharpening, you’re honing regularly (ideally with a ceramic steel/hone).

      6) If you buy a Japanese knife, your best bet for sharpening (and touch-up) would be a waterstone. And if you still wanted to hone for maintenance (versus using your waterstone), please make sure to only use a ceramic hone. Otherwise, you risk damaging the edge of the blade which is much harder steel than your Wusthof.

      Best, KKG

  64. If money was out of the equation, what four knives would you have in your kitchen?

    • Hi Bruce,

      Sorry to be killjoy, but I’m not really up on super high-end knives. We’re talking knives costing $1,000 and up. I don’t have much time or inclination for fantasy—in my life or on my reading list. I’d probably have to spend a couple of days researching just to narrow it down :)

      But, for fun, off the top of my head, my first impulse would be to sign up for the lottery for a Bob Kramer custom or ready-made knife. It would be a thrill to own, and chop onions with, an original Kramer. Of course, it probably would be difficult to make myself use it knowing how much it was worth :)

      Oh, and then there’s Murray Carter. . .it would be cool to own a high-end Carter as well. And then there are all those Japanese high-end, handmade knives, and American custom makers as well and, and. . .

      How about you? Something tells me you have thought about this more than I have :)

      Best, KKG

  65. I should have asked the question differently, a little background. . .

    Been married 25 years and do all the cooking—breakfast, lunch, and dinner!!! She does all the cleaning. I have been using Cutco for the past 5 years, before that I’m ashamed to say, lol. I’m 61 and my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I was at a friend’s house and his chef was using a MAC MTH 80. After a long discussion about kitchen knives, I went home and started researching best chef knives and came to your blog. Very very informative, may I say. I was about to purchase the Shun Blue Kiritsuke and I see a brand name pop up, Bob Kramer stainless Damascus!

    With that said, which of these two knives would you prefer. Also, have been reading your blogs and see your comments on sharpening and honing. I grew up using a whetstone to sharpen my pocket knives, so know enough to get myself in trouble with one. What would be your thought on the care of each of the mentioned sets? Again, your blog has been a wonderful read for information !!!

    • Hi Bruce,
      Congratulations on being the cook of the house! You definitely deserve some decent knives. OK, down to business—the Shun Blue Kiritsuke versus the Bob Kramer Stainless Damascus (and at Sur La Table).

      (BTW, are you sure you mean the Kramer Stainless Damascus which costs over twice as much as the Shun Kiritsuke. Kramer makes another stainless knife called the Kramer Essential which is almost half the price of the Damascus.)

      1) If you haven’t already, please read my article, How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.

      2) I don’t think there ever is one, ultimate knife. Either of the two knives you mention would be a fantastic knife to work with in the kitchen. They will both come with a very sharp edge and be able to retain it.

      That said, here are some comparisons :
      – The Shun has a carbon steel core while the Kramer has a micro carbide steel core. Because of the amount of carbon in the Shun core, the steel on the cutting edge will 1) be more prone to rust and 2) develop a patina. Rust is no biggie, as long as you wipe the blade clean of water after you use it. The Kramer you won’t have to be as careful with regarding rust because the steel it’s made of is more resistant, very close to stainless.

      – They are both tempered to Japanese steel standards—the Shun to 61HRC and the Kramer to 63HRC. The Kramer is harder, so it should hold it’s edge longer. But they’re both pretty hard. I’m guessing that the Kramer might be tougher and less prone to chip. (That’s a problem with harder steels, but the micro carbide structure might help protect against this more.)

      – With the Kramer, you are paying extra for the gorgeous Damascus pattern. The Damascus pattern is mainly for looks and protection of the core steel. But it shouldn’t make it cut any better. As a matter of fact, one customer who bought the Kramer Damascus complained on the Sur La Table site that the pattern dragged the blade down and made it harder to slice through some things. That seems odd to me, so I’m not sure how much weight to put in that.

      – I haven’t held either of these knives, so I’m doing some educated guessing—but these knives will have different feels. I’m betting the Kramer is a bit heavier than the Shun and I’m pretty sure the base of the blade is broader. The broader blade will give you more knuckle clearance with the Kramer. So, if you have large hands, you might appreciate that. Kramer is famous for having hefty, comfortable handles, but the Shun looks like a pretty substantial handle as well.

      Conclusion:
      – You can’t go too wrong with either of these knives, but you’re paying a premium for the Damascus pattern with the Kramer. And spending $375 on a knife, opens up the playing field quite a bit.

      – Three other suggestions:
      1) the Kramer Meiji which has been on sale at Sur La Table. It’s the same blade construction as the regular Damascus (but they’re currently out of stock of the 8-inch chef). Perhaps this was the knife you were referring to in the first place.
      2) the Miyabi Birchwood: One of the most beautiful knives I know of and deadly sharp (currently on sale at Sur La Table).
      3) If looks aren’t that important to you, you might want to take another look at the MAC MTH 80. I’m not sure why you crossed it off in the first place.

      RE maintenance: Any of the above knives, you can, and should, hone regularly with a ceramic hone. When it comes time for sharpening, please read my article(s) on sharpening services under the “Sharpeners” tab on KKG.

      Best, KKG

  66. Hello Nate,

    I really appreciate this article, writing style, transparency etc. Thanks.

    I’m an enthusiastic home cook (not necessarily skilful!) and have been using Sabatier knives for about 20 years. They dull with relative ease and I use brute force and ignorance to will them back to performance. I want a set of quality knives for the kitchen which will replace the Sabatiers.

    I’m going to further explore the resources on your site to deal with the brute force and ignorance problem, but the question I have is about knife blocks as storage. Are there any sharpitude issues to consider when looking at the knife block? Is wood OK? Is magnetic the best? Is there any reason to restrict myself to the manufacturer’s block? The Sabatiers just go in a drawer and get bashed about pretty badly.

    Thanks, Andy

    • Hi Andy,

      Welcome to KKG and I’m glad you plan to take advantage of the whole enchilada! You will love having sharp knives all the time.

      RE Sabatier: First off, in case you’re curious, Sabatier is an odd brand—because no single company owns the brand name. Can you believe it? There are at least a couple of authentic, high-quality French knife makers that sell under that brand, but you must make sure which Sabatier you are buying from or you may not be getting high quality. I own a Sabatier 9-inch slicer I use for turkey, etc. that I bought years ago before at this KKG stuff. I got it sharpened a couple of years ago by my favorite professional sharpener, Seattle Knives, and the edge has held up very well so far. But it gets light usage, nothing like a chef knife. So who knows what kind of Sabatier I have. . .

      RE knife storage: I do NOT recommend the standard magnetic knife blocks where the metal of the magnet clicks up against the blade. The problem is two-fold: 1) It’s very hard to gently load, or unload, the knife without pressing the fine, sharpened cutting edge of your knife against the metal magnet, and thus slightly denting the cutting edge. Over and over, all day long. And, 2) storing the knife edge against the metal magnet can also cause denting. On the other hand, magnetic racks that cover the the magnet with wood, or some other softer, more forgiving surface, are fine and probably one of the best solutions to knife storage.

      The other two storage solutions I recommend would be the standard knife block and a wooden rack inside of a drawer (I use knife blocks). Yes, with a block you should take care not to jam the cutting edge against the side of the slot every time you store it or take it out. But, if you do what I do, and always use the spine of the knife as your guide, not the edge, then there should be no problem. And, no, you don’t need to restrict yourself to the knife manufacturer’s brand. But you should take care that the slots match your knives (in width and length)!

      Please DO NOT let your knives bang around in a drawer! You’re allowing the edges to get all dinged up and dulled. And please study up using the resources of this site BEFORE you buy—that way you’ll be ready to properly care for your new knives. You can start with the Top Ten Tips :)

      Best, KKG

      • I appreciate the reply. Thanks. I am aware of the somewhat unreliable provenance of the Sabatier brand. Mine’ve been ok though, despite my rough handling. But I know I can do a lot better.

        Thanks for the advice which I will certainly consider while making my decision re knife block.

        I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer
        I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer
        I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer
        I will not let my new knives bang around in a drawer

        Repeat another 94 times

        :-)

        Andy

  67. I have Chicago Cutlery knives. My Dad always said to use his sharpening
    stone with water. It’s very old and sort of dark gray. Am I doing the right
    thing? Or should I try out a new knife?

    Thank you for such detailed information.

    Linda

    • Hi Linda,

      I think you’re basically asking three questions which I will restate and then give you some feedback on:

      1) What’s the correct fluid to use when sharpening with a whetstone?

      – My understanding is that any kind of oil—either plant-based, or petroleum based—is a no-no. That includes mineral oil which I used to use when I tried sharpening my own knives way back when. It was a disaster and gummed up the stone and made unusable.

      – Water is OK.

      – But, my understanding is that Honing Oil is best. I found a product called Smith’s (Advanced Formula) Honing Oil which is specifically designed for sharpening stones and works perfectly. My plastic bottle of Smith’s, which I still own, doesn’t say what the product is composed of other than it’s “non-petroleum.” Here it is on Amazon (there are others as well):
      Smith’s HON1-4OZ Honing Solution, 4-Ounce

      2) What’s the best solution for sharpening your kitchen knives?
      Unless you really love the process of sharpening and have the time to do it well, I highly recommend sending your knives out to a high-quality professional service and then following up with regular honing on a ceramic hone. Here is a blog entry and three articles that should help explain why and give you some tips:
      Kitchen Knife Sharpening: Five Good Reasons NOT to Sharpen Your Own
      Why Use a Professional Knife Sharpening Service?
      Finding a Professional Sharpening Service

      Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services

      3) Are Chicago Cutlery knives adequate for the kitchen?
      Although Chicago Cutlery is a big name, I do not recommend them. (Although I do happen to own a CC hand-me-down boning knife that I use on ribs so I won’t bang up my good one.) Why? The main reason is that Chicago Cutlery knives are not made of a high-quality tempered steel and thus, will not stay sharp nearly as long as any of the knives in the above article. If you like to cook, please do yourself a favor and 1) buy yourself a knife of the caliber of the ones above, 2) treat it correctly (Top Ten Tips) and 3) hone it regularly with a ceramic hone. You will never regret it :)

      Best, KKG

  68. Dear KKG,

    Forgive me in advance for being long-winded, but you have a penchant to be thorough, so I am taking the liberty of being thorough with the background of my question to take advantage of your willingness to give thoughtful, thorough responses.

    I use my knives strictly as an amateur cook sharing kitchen duties with my wife, but enjoy good tools for whatever I undertake. We have a minimal, well worn (dare I say abused) set of Wusthof Classic knives with beautiful white handles. The set consists of a 6″ chef’s, 8″ bread knife and 8″ slicing knife (with matching fork). I find the knives to be extremely comfortable and well balanced. In addition, we have a revolving collection of cheapo utility knives. Although the cheapos are relegated to the drawer (heaven help them), the Wusthtofs are always parked in the wooden knife block acquired with the knives. Notwithstanding that caution, the knives have suffered grave indignities at the hands of housekeepers and, worst of all, a butcher of a knife sharpener my wife took them to. I have been longing for, but resisted purchasing new knives, not wanting to subject new, expensive knives to the same fate. That restraint has not kept me from looking, looking led me to this discussion and, near the very end, your exchange with Bruce and the mention of beautiful knives compelled me to jump in and seek your advice (and, I might mention, based on images available on Sur La Table, I thought the Kramer Meifi chef’s knife to be the more beautiful of the trio you reference in your response to Bruce).

    About 8 months ago, on vacation, my wife and I wandered into what was primarily a women’s accessory shop, and, while she looked around at very expensive clothing, jewelry and accessories, a case of kitchen knives caught my eye. The knives, designed by Sarah Wiener for Hugo Pott, were, to my taste, truly beautiful and, like my battered Wusthofs, very comfortable to hold. I hesitated buying any then because recoiling from the prospect of subjecting such beautiful and expensive tools to the abuse suffered by the Wusthofs – and because I knew nothing of their quality and value. I have since periodically resisted the prospect of purchasing new knives as evidenced by my having found myself reading through the entirely of this discussion.

    With that background, I would appreciate your thoughts on the aesthetics, quality, and value of Pott Sarah Wiener knives. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Matt

    • Hi, Matt,

      Whew! Excellent job at giving me background :)

      1) RE: Pott Sarah Wiener knives. I had never heard of them before so I did a little research. Here’s my take:

      Pros
      – They are beautifully designed and unusual. They would be fun to show off.
      – Great balance and feel. This is a personal thing, but the fact that you have handled them and like them is a big plus. (In my opinion, there’s always something special about an actual wooden handle where you can subtly feel the grain.)
      – They are made in Solingen, Germany one of the knife capitals of the world. C. Hugo Pott, the manufacturer, has been around for a century and has a name in cutlery. (Don’t know if you saw my recent post: Solingen, Germany—Wusthof Factory Tour.)
      – They are hand-forged and hand-honed. So, they’re not only made in a city famous for its knife-making prowess, but there are humans involved in many of the important steps. This is high-quality manufacturing and they should come out of the box pretty darn sharp. Which is nice, but not an absolute necessity if you have access to an expert professional sharpening service. Which you do (see Reviews of Professional Sharpening Services).

      Cons
      – My one big reservation is the hardness rating of the steel—which I had to hunt around a bit to find out, but finally found it here Fitzsu. According to Fitzsu these knives have a Rockwell rating of 56 which is rather low and it’s mystifying why.

      Softer steel can be tougher and will take more abuse, but needs to be sharpened more often. Harder steel will keep its edge longer, but because it’s more brittle, it can’t take as much abuse without cracking or chipping. Traditionally, German knives and steel have lower HRCs and Japanese have higher. For example: Wusthof and Henckels harden their steel to Rockwell 58 (and that is as low as I would like to go). Shun and Global harden their knives from 60 to 62 HRC. But these knives are 56 HRC. Odd and a rather big negative in my book. Somebody from Potts would have to explain to me why they chose this hardness for me to change my mind.

      2) At a price point of $300 for an 8-inch Pott Sarah Weiner chef knife, I would not be in a huge hurry to buy. There are quite a few handsome and well-performing knives out there to choose from at that price. For example: I’m curious why you didn’t find the Kramer Meiji or the Miyabi Birchwood serious options. (Perhaps it’s because you know you need knives that can take some abuse.) At any rate, there are other knives I could suggest as well. Let me know. I would also continue to get more educated about kitchen knives in general, it will help you in your decision. Suggested reading if you haven’t read already:
      How to Buy a Great Chef Knife
      Knife Edges 101

      3) Just as, or maybe even more, important than the exact knife you buy, is having a plan as to how you will keep it sharp. Please do yourself a big favor and come up with a plan. See my articles under the “Sharpeners” tab: Why Use a Professional Sharpening Service?, etc.

      4) Read the Top Ten Tips.

      5) Buy a ceramic hone and learn how to hone.

      Hope this helps. Please feel free to check back for more feedback!

      Best, KKG

  69. Well, I’m taking the plunge and getting the MAC MTH-80, along with their ceramic hone and their matched paring/utility knife. If I love them, I’ll take all the credit with my wife, and if I hate them, I’m blaming you. Fair deal? :-)

    Actually, I’m looking forward to trying them. I’ve always been a German knife guy myself (just a passionate amateur chef, definitely not professional), but since my old Wusthofs (purchased 18 years ago) have finally reached the point that the knife sharpening service told me they wouldn’t do it again the last time, it’s time to get new ones. My parents gave me the Henckels 7″ Santoku for Christmas a year ago and it is nice, but right now it’s the only knife in the kitchen worth using.

    Thanks for a well-written and very informational article; I’ve added your website to my Google+ Collection on food and to Evernote so I don’t forget it.

    • Thanks much, Charles!

      If you love to cook (which it sounds like you do), you will never regret buying your MAC knives. Funny enough, I don’t even own them (on my ever-burgeoning buy list), but I’m utterly confident in their reputation.

      Two things to be aware of:

      – They will be lighter than what you’re used to. Don’t let it throw you—the quality’s still there.

      – Please take extra care with how you treat them. Because the Japanese steel is harder and more brittle than the German steel you’re used to, they will not stand for as much abuse. If you need a reminder, read my Top Ten Tips.

      – Be careful with where you get them sharpened. For the same reasons as above. If you want to try someone new, check out Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services.

      And—as KKG declares—keep having fun in the kitchen!

      Best, KKG

  70. KKG,

    Great site! I feel like I’m calling sports radio. Long-time follower first time commenting! With that out of the way, do you have any experience with Yaxell knives? I have been trying to get some of their Super Gou knives, but I wonder if there is a significant difference between some of their other knives. I currently have a Global SAI Santoku that I LOVE and a cleaver which I love, too. I’m just getting started, so your site has been very helpful! If this were sports radio, I’d say I’ll hang on and listen. But since it’s not, I’ll wait for a response.

    Regards,
    VIA

    • Hi Victor,

      I had never heard of Yaxell knives. . .which doesn’t particularly surprise me because there are sooooo many great knives in the world. But I did some research and they appear to be the real deal — Japanese-made from Seki City, the home of Japanese blades for centuries.

      They are similar to Shun (and many other Japanese blades for that matter) with a hard steel core wrapped in layers of softer steel. But the handles are different and some might find them more comfortable. It also appears that there might be a higher degree of quality control than Shun. . .hard to be certain.

      As far as Yaxell’s different lines go, here’s a quick map from what I’ve found on Amazon, from most expensive to least (all 8-inch chef knives):

      Super Gou ($316): Top-of-the line. Micro carbide, SG2 steel in core is excellent. 80 layers per side. HRC (Rockwell hardness) 63.

      Gou ($207): Same core steel as Super Gou. But only 50 layers per side. HRC 61

      Ran ($160): Different core steel, VG10. Not as high-performance as SG2, but very respectable. 34 layers per side. HRC 61

      Tsuchimon ($120): Same core steel as Ran, VG10. Only two outside layers that are hammered around the core VG10. HRC 61.

      Dragon ($120): No layers, more like a German knife. One single billet of nitrogen-enriched American steel (CTS-BD1N), HRC 63. Will be thicker and heavier than all the others, like a Wusthof or Henckels.

      Conclusion: These are all high-quality knives that will take an excellent edge and keep it for a respectable amount of time. The Gou knives with their SG2 core (along with the Dragon) will probably keep their edges a touch longer than the Ran and Tsuchimon. But you need to be a little more careful with harder steel like HRC 63 — it can chip more easily and won’t take as much abuse. The Dragon, with it’s newly-engineered nitrogen steel, is interesting — I’d be very curious how it performs. Anyway. . .it all depends on what your specific needs and tastes are!

      If I were you, I would not get stuck on just one knife brand or one model — especially in the price-range you are looking at. There are numerous to choose from and they all will be beautifully made and super-sharp. Here’s one of my favorites that has been on sale for a while (made of the same core steel as the Super Gou):

      Miyabi Birchwood Chef Knife

      Please browse back up through the comments on this page, you might find some more tips. Best of luck! And feel free to ask more questions :)

      Best, KKG

  71. KKG,

    Thanks for the Miyabi recommendation! I have now managed to pick up two Yaxell Super Gou (Utility & Chef’s) knives and I must say, Wow! They look amazing, like they could be placed in a museum, and they cut just as good!

    I’m just getting started with knives but I have developed a Japanese fetish! I have small hands and there’s something about these Japanese and my small hands. I do believe I’m going to pick up some of the Miyabi knives next.

    How do you like the handles? I have been meaning to pick up some Victorinox (Rosewood handle) steak knives, but I’ve read many complaints about the wood smelling funny. Lastly, for these SG2 knives, what type of hone and grit would you recommend? Thanks again and keep up the fine work!

    VIA

    • You’re welcome, Victor! And thanks for the report on your new Super Gou knives. Yaxell is now permanently on my radar :)

      1) Just so you know, Miyabi makes a number of different lines (Evolution, Artisan, Kaisen, etc.). The line I recommended to you, the Birchwood line, is not only wicked sharp, but a work of art. I do not own them, but have handled them in the store and I think they feel fantastic. The Birchwood has not been overly finished, so you can still feel the texture of the grain. (And, for what it’s worth, my hands are on the smaller side as well.)

      2) If you’re shopping for steak knives, you might want to check out my article on Wusthof knives. I cover a number of different sets at different price points. If you’re into natural wood, you would love the Ikon (Blackwood) with handles made from African Blackwood. But they are pricey!

      3) I recommend using a ceramic hone on your Yaxell knives. Most ceramic hones will have a fine enough grit, but if you want to play it safe, use the hones I recommend. Or, if you have the time, you could take up the craft of sharpening/honing with a waterstone. (I don’t have time for a waterstone.) See these articles for more details:

      What’s Honing Steel?
      How to Hone a Knife

      Best, KKG

  72. Hi Nate,

    Being a executive chef for many years I have become a big fan of the Victorinox knives. This is probably due to the fact that they are the first knife they let you hold in culinary school. lol

    I’d be interested to hear you thoughts on this brand of knives? Have you used them? What do you think?

    I have found, for the price, nothing else can really beat them.

    Warm regards,
    Josh

    • Hi Josh,

      I’ve sampled Victorinox, but do not own them. I think they can be great for professional kitchens because they cut well and don’t cost much (you don’t have to worry about misplacing or someone making off with it).

      But they’re also made of inexpensive materials with a utilitarian design — and they look and feel like it. Thus, they’re not something I would want to see, feel, and use in my home kitchen day-to-day if I could avoid it. And I think the majority of my readers would have this point of view. That’s why I, generally, don’t recommend :)

      Best, KKG

  73. Yes you’re right they are great for commercial kitchens but for home use I also like to pull out my Shun’s ;-)

  74. I’m interested in buying a Japanese santoku/gyuto knife (165-180mm). I got REALLY confused looking for a good craftsman that uses good steel and sells for a reasonable price.
    The things I know:
    1) I am looking for a forged Japanese knife santoku/gyuto
    2) Blade length: 165-180mm
    3) Materials: Core – Aogami (#2, #1, or Super); Clad – soft iron (no stainless; no Damascus)
    4) Good and reliable craftsman
    5) Price: around $100

    Waiting for good news and great recommendations!

  75. Hi,

    My mam’s a chef and she uses Global knives. I’m looking to get a set of knives myself and am considering the Global Sai—as the shaft on the normal Global knives are a bit big and uncomfortable for me.

    So my question is: Does anyone have any experience or opinions on the Global Sai shafts?

    Emily

    • Hi Emily,

      I’m sorry to say, I don’t have any hands-on experience with the Global SAI knives. (I do own a regular Global santoku though which gets a lot of use.) globalSai_chef_7.5Global SAI 7.5 Chef Knife / Global SAI 3-Piece Set

      From photos of the SAI (see above), the handle (Is that what you mean by “shaft”?) looks distinctly different than the regular Global. It is more contoured and designed to fit into your hand in a more natural way. Thus, it should be easier to hold on to and more comfortable to grip. But the overall size of the handle might not be any different than the regular Global. It’s hard to sure about the feel of a knife long distance :)

      If you don’t have a store nearby that carries the SAI, I would recommend buying them from Amazon and then returning them if they don’t suit you. As long as you’re careful with the packaging, and try to discuss with the merchant ahead of time their return policy, you should be able to do this without a problem.

      Hope this helps a little. Can anyone else help Emily out?

      Best, KKG

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