Best Knife Set Buyer’s Guide

Finding the Best Kitchen Knives

You don’t need to be a professional chef to enjoy the benefits of owning the best kitchen knives. Even a person who only cooks meals on the weekend needs a set of kitchen cutlery that can make short work of any cutting task it is asked to do.

Prior to starting your search, it’s important that you assess the types of cooking you will do most, then use that assessment to determine the blade types that will best help you do that type of cooking. A person who cooks a lot of vegetables won’t see much use out of a cleaver, while a person who cooks a lot of meats will see it as an indispensable tool. For this reason, the best kitchen knives for one person aren’t necessarily going to be the best for someone else.

A lot of the things we’re going to discuss are going to come down to personal preference. It’s up to you to decide what you prefer. There is no magical blade that’s going to be able to handle every task you ask of it with ease. However, if you get the right set, it can feel magical in the kitchen, making cutting chores more fun than they are work.

One warning–when you make the switch from your old, dull knives, be very careful the first few times you use them. Unless you’re cooking a recipe that calls for fingertips, you need to go slow until you get used to the speed at which they will slice through food items. What used to require significant force is going to be a heck of a lot easier, and applying the same amount of force you’re used to applying in order to get your old blades to cut will often result in injury. Especially if you’re one of those people who use their fingers or thumbs to stop the blade.

Having said that, once you get used to your new set, you’ll actually be safer. Slicing right through foods instead of fighting your way through requires significantly less force and the best kitchen knives are less prone to slippage. They are also less prone to breakage as long as you follow the advice set forth in this guide and buy the right set for you. Using the proper cutlery in the proper situation goes a long way towards ensuring you and your set lasts as long as possible.

Upkeep

While I could easily bury this section at the end of the guide like most sites do, I decided to put it front and center. The reason why I did this is because even the best kitchen knives won’t last very long if they aren’t properly cared for. That’s the main reason you see a few complaints about discolored or dull blades on sites like Amazon that allow reviews. If you see that the majority of reviewers have given positive reviews and there are a few complaints about discoloration, take those complaints with a grain of salt. There isn’t a metal blade on the planet that won’t discolor or start to rust if left wet and dirty for long enough.

If you aren’t willing to take proper care of your cutlery, it’s probably best that you stick to the cheaper sets. A good set may be able to endure marginally more abuse, but the return on your investment will be minimal. Abuse them, and you’ll find your high-end set is every bit as dull and unusable as your old knives were. If you want something you can throw in a dishwasher then dump in a drawer, you’re not going to get the most out of a high-end set.

On the other hand, if you do take good care of them, a good set will last a long time. In fact, your knife set may outlive you and be something you can proudly pass on to your children. Here are the things you need to do to ensure a long life for your knives:

1. Keep them clean and dry. Wash them, dry them and return them to the block immediately after every use. Don’t leave them sitting in the kitchen sink where they are sure to get wet and bang up against other objects that can damage the edged. One common misconception amongst consumers is that stainless steel is bulletproof. Strangely enough, stainless steel isn’t truly stainless and one sure way to ruin your knives is to leave them wet and dirty. More than one unknowing consumer has woke up in the morning to find discoloration on the knives they thought were stainless.

2. Store them separately. Buy them as a set that comes with a nice block or buy a block of your own. If a block just isn’t your style, you can buy a magnetic strip and hang them somewhere they’ll be easy for you to reach, but out of the reach of children. Throwing them haphazardly into a box or a drawer will damage the edges.

3. While some of the best kitchen knives are advertised as being dishwasher-safe, it’s a bad idea to actually wash them in the dishwasher. The combination of heat and detergents is not a conducive environment for the sharp edges you want to maintain. Couple that with the potential of being banged around like they’re in a mosh pit and you have a place where many a good set of knives have died a slow death. Even if you have a special tray meant for cutlery, you’re still better off hand-washing your blades and handles and immediately returning them to the block.

4. Use them for what they are intended for. Do not use the tip to poke holes in plastic or metal, don’t use them as a screwdriver and don’t use them to pry up lids that are stuck. These are just a few of the misuses I’ve seen personally, but should be enough for you to get the picture. Your knives should be used to cut foods, and that’s it. Don’t use them to cut things they weren’t made to cut.

5. Keep them sharp and steel them regularly. Some blades only need to be sharpened once every few uses, while others require that you sharpen them after every use. In order to get maximum life from your blades, don’t wait until they are noticeably dull. Following the manufacturer’s sharpening recommendations will ensure you get the maximum life out of each blade. You should also regularly steel your blade with a butcher’s steel.

6. Only cut on the cutting board. Wood and soft plastic cutting boards are the easiest on cutting edges, since there is some give as the blade slides across the surface. If you can run your knife over the surface and cut a small groove into the board, you’re using a material that is soft enough. Glass, marble and other hard surfaces should be avoided at all costs, as they will damage the blade each time it comes in contact with the surface.

Set a Budget and Buy the Best Kitchen Knives You Can Afford

There are a couple divergent trains of thought when it comes to buying knives. One is to buy the biggest set you can possibly afford, since you’ll get a wide variety of blade configurations. The benefit of going with this train of thought is that you’ll have every piece you’ll ever need in the kitchen, should the need ever arise. The downside is that you’ll have every piece you’ll ever need in the kitchen, should the need arise. Let me explain…

Buying the biggest set you can afford will get you a large number of specialty blades, ensuring you’ll almost never go without the right knife for the job. This is great as long as you have an unlimited budget and can afford to buy the biggest set of the best kitchen knives you can find. You’ll have every piece you’ll ever need, and the quality of each piece isn’t compromised.

Where people tend to get in trouble is in the fact that most of us don’t have an unlimited budget. We set a budget somewhere between $50 and $300 and then try to find the biggest set we can that falls within that price range. This forces us to choose quantity over quality, because we tend to value getting more knives over getting better ones.

The smaller your budget is the better off you’ll be if you adhere to the second train of thought, which says to buy the best set you can afford, even if you have to buy only a couple pieces to get you started. You’ll be better served by buying a starter set or a paring knife and chef’s knife from a high-end manufacturer than you will be if you buy an entire set of throwaway blades. Buy a couple pieces and a block and add to it as the need arises.

Blade Composition

Unless you have a good reason for needing a specialty blade, there is really only one material you should choose for your knife blades. That material, of course, is steel. Knife blades have been made of steel for thousands of years, and whoever originally thought it up got it right. There is no better alternative to steel when it comes to durability, cost-efficiency and stain-resistance. In fact, the only two alternatives that have gained any ground on steel are titanium and ceramic, and both have traits that make them a less than ideal material to make knives from.

Let’s start with titanium. It’s a great material to use in areas where you need an item that is extremely resistant to corrosion, and that’s about it. It doesn’t hold an edge well and is too soft for daily use in the kitchen. Unless you’re cooking up batches of chemicals in laboratory, you don’t need the corrosion-resistance of titanium.

Ceramic knives are extremely sharp, but aren’t able to withstand much abuse, a trait that keeps them from being more than a novelty in the kitchen. We’ve all seen the commercials showing someone sawing on a piece of metal with a ceramic blade, then cutting through veggies or fruits with ease. What the commercial fails to show is what happens if you drop the blade on its cutting edge. Ceramic is an extremely hard material and is prone to chipping and cracking if dropped. The only time I’d be comfortable recommending ceramic blades would be for the rare person who’s palate is so refined they can taste the metal on foods that are cut with regular knives.

When it comes to the variations of steel, stainless steel is good. High-carbon stainless is better. Regular stainless steel is softer than high-carbon stainless, which means that high-carbon stainless has better edge retention and can be sharpened to a finer edge  before rolling becomes a concern. Chromium and Nickel are added to steel to make it stainless, and steel with larger amounts of Chromium will be more resistant to stains. The downside is that added Chromium affects the steels ability to take and hold an edge.

I mentioned that stainless steel isn’t truly stainless by any stretch of the imagination in a previous section, but this is something I think bears repeating. Leaving acidic foods on your blade or leaving it wet for any extended period of time will cause the so-called “stainless” metal to stain, pit and even start to rust. “Stainless” steel is more resistant to stains but it’s as close to being truly stainless as Britney Spears is to being truly sane.

There are high-carbon steel blades on the market that are not stainless. While these knives are durable and can hold an edge, what they can’t hold up against is rust. If proper care isn’t taken to clean them and dry them immediately after use, they will start to rust and are prone to rapid deterioration once rust starts to set it. High-carbon steel will outperform most other knives on the market, but you have to be willing to wipe it down after each and every use. This means that even if you plan on setting it down for a few minutes, the blade should be cleaned and dried.

For this reason, most people have turned to high-carbon stainless steel. You get the stain-resistance of stainless steel along with the most of the strength and durability of high-carbon steel. You sacrifice a little on both sides, but the sacrifice is small and is an acceptable compromise in order to get a strong blade that is stainless to boot. Other alloys are sometimes added to the steel to further increase strength or stain-resistance. This is one of the reasons why you generally get what you pay for when it comes to kitchen cutlery, as some of the better blends of steel and other alloys will cost you a pretty penny.

While there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of proprietary blends of steel, there are a few you should be aware of because they are commonly used. First and foremost, if you see “surgical” or “stainless surgical” used to describe it, chances are it’s sub-par and should be avoided at all costs. Remember that surgeons typically throw away their cutting tools after each use, so this is the same metal used for throw-away tools. This means you may be getting a blade that can be sharpened to an extreme edge, but chance are it isn’t going to last. Japanese blends usually start with two to three letters followed by a number. Popular Japanese steels include SG-2, SRS-15 and VG-10. All three of these blends are used to create great knives.

Western vs. Japanese

 

Not too long ago, there was only one game in town. If you wanted to buy the best kitchen knives, you had to buy from one of a handful of Western manufacturers. There were only a few choices, and they were all heavy, forged blades that did a good job in the kitchen but were nothing fancy to look at. Fast forward a few years, and the Japanese manufacturers arrived on the scene to much fanfare. Their cutlery was everything the Western knives weren’t; they were lightweight, thin and razor-sharp–and they had the looks to match. They took the industry by storm and they are still gaining ground on the Western knives.

Aside from the weight and the more modern looks, there are a number of other differences between the two styles of knifemaking. So much so, in fact, that one could write an entire book about it. I’ll save you the boring details and just give you the information you need to know. Consider this the Reader’s Digest style condensed version of the facts…

Hardness

The first and foremost difference is that the Japanese knives are typically harder than their Western counterparts. The average steel in a Japanese blade is over 60 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale (HRC), while U.S. and European steel measures in much lower on the scale, averaging out somewhere around 55HRC. You can find Western cutlery that measures higher on the scale, we’re just talking averages here. Blades that are lower in hardness are easier to sharpen and less prone to chipping and breakage, but the trade-off is that the softer edges dull faster and are more prone to rolling and denting.

No knives should be tossed into the kitchen sink or dropped, but it’s a fact that blades made from the harder Japanese steel is more prone to breakage if this happens. As long as you’re careful, you’ll get better edge retention and you can sharpen the harder steel to a finer edge. Cutlery made from the harder steel will last longer, since less material has to be removed to keep it sharp. To me, this trade-off makes buying the harder steel the better option. I personally prefer the blades that are around 60-61 on the Rockwell scale, as anything higher than that tends to be too brittle.

Weight

Another key difference between the two schools of knifemaking is in regards to weight. Western knives tend to be heavier. Whether or not you like the feel of a heavier blade comes down to personal preference. Some people like the way a heavier blade feels in their hand, while other prefer a light one. The only time I can truly see it boiling down to more than personal preference is when cutting through heavy meats and bone. A heavier cleaver will provide more downward force than a light one, cutting through gristle and bone with ease.

If you tire easily during long days in the kitchen, the lighter Japanese steel may be of benifit. There is less strain placed on your arms and shoulders when you use an extremely sharp Japanese blade, so switching over may provide some relief.

Cutting Edge

One area that is rarely discussed is the fact that there is a big difference between Western and Japanese knives when it comes to the angles the cutting edge is ground to. The harder Japanese steel is ground to a finer angle, with edges averaging between 10° and 15°. When you consider the fact that the Western knives are typically ground to somewhere around 20° per side, it’s obvious which blades are sharper right out the box. You can sharpen the Western blades down to about 15°, but that’s the smallest angle you can safely grind them to, and is the point at which you’re risking rolling the edges of the softer steel.

Don’t Believe the Hype

Stamped Vs. Forged

There is a huge contingent of people that will argue ’til the cows come home that the only good knife is one that is forged. My argument is that, while it’s true that most cheap sets of kitchen cutlery are stamped, some of the best kitchen knives are also stamped. I think a lot of the confusion in regards to the forged vs. stamped debate boils down to the fact that most people don’t really understand the difference between the two.

Forged knives are made via a manufacturing process through which a steel blank is pounded into the shape of the blade, then honed to the desired sharpness. People tend to equate this with the methods used by knife-makers in the old days, when blades were heated, pounded into shape, then reheated and pounded again and again until the desired size and shape is attained. While there are still a select few companies that forge cutlery by hand, most of it is now done by machine, and the entire forging process is done by one or two machines that heat the metal and deliver a blow or two to it to shape it. Not exactly what you envisioned, eh?

Stamping, on the other hand, is a manufacturing method through which blades are made by punching the shape of the blade from a roll of steel that is running down a manufacturing line. The reason this method is used to make cheaper knives is that it is cost efficient and fast, as multiple blades can be cut at once from a single sheet of steel. What fans of forged knives fail to realize is that very good knives can be stamped too; it’s all a matter of the steel being used. Some of the best kitchen knives from Japanese manufacturers are stamped, making the argument that stamping is better than forging somewhat of a null point.

The biggest difference between forging and stamping is weight. Forged blades tend to be heavier. Stamped blades can be cut from a thinner sheet of steel and are therefore lighter in weight. Which one is better is a matter of choice. The only thing I recommend is that you steer clear of the cheaper stamped blades. This isn’t because they are stamped; it’s because they are stamped from a lower grade of steel. The cheaper forged knives are generally of better quality than the stamped ones. When you get into the more expensive stuff, it’s a matter of taste.

The Tang

While the title of this section sounds like the title of a dirty movie from the 80’s, the tang is actually an important part of the knife. It is the piece of metal that extends from the blade into the handle. Generally, full tang construction is considered to be better than partial tang, but there are some very high-end Japanese knives that use partial-tang construction to good effect. The benefit of partial tang is that the tang is usually hidden so you don’t have as many open spaces where food residue can get stuck.

With full-tang cutlery, the handle is generally 2 symmetrical pieces, with one piece attached to each side of the tang. Rivets are shot through the handle and tang to hold all three pieces together. At least three rivets should be used to ensure a tight fit. Any less than that and there will likely be gaps where food and debris can get stuck.

Partial tang blades are attached to the handle using epoxy or some sort of polymer resin. There is quite a bit of discussion online regarding whether or not the glues that are used are as strong as using rivets, but the truth of the matter is that some of the best kitchen knives have partial tang blades and I’ve never heard any complaints about the quality of the handles. When it comes to the cheap stuff, I’d definitely look for full-tang construction, but when you get into the high-end sets this becomes much less of a concern.

If I were forced to pick one over the other, I’d choose full-tang construction just because of the added strength and durability, but I wouldn’t let that stop me from buying a high-end set of knives just because it had a partial tang. This is another aspect of knife-buying that comes down to personal preference. It’s up to you to decide whether you want the strength and rigidity of full-tang construction or the more sanitary and lightweight partial tang.

Buy a Set and Save

 

When it comes to buying the best kitchen knives, it’s a fact that you’ll save money by buying a set as opposed to buying individual pieces. Getting a set usually gives you a significant discount in comparison to how much the same pieces would cost if bought individually. You also get a nice block to store them in and sometimes get a sharpening steel and other utensils.

One thing to keep in mind when buying a set is that many of the larger sets have a bunch of filler blades that you’ll probably never use. Instead of buying a large set full of filler knives, instead opt for a smaller set that you can add to with the money saved. Figure out what blade types would work best for you and add those to the set. You can also mix and  match using this method as there is some benefit to buying a good set of Japanese knives that are light and then adding a couple heavier Western blades to the set to complement it.

Many of the high-end knife-makers offer small starter sets that feature their most popular knives. These starter sets usually come with two to three of their most popular blade types. If you can’t afford a bigger set, this is the way to go. You’ll get much more mileage out of 3 great knives in the kitchen than you will from an entire set of junk. Buy a nice looking block to store them in them add to the set as needed.

Serrated vs. Straight Blade Knives

When it comes to comparing serrated vs straight blade knives, it’s important to know the difference between the two. It doesn’t help that manufacturers don’t always give accurate information in regards to quality and sharpness. Choosing a bad knife set could be a costly mistake, so it’s important you know exactly what you’re getting. Even the cheaper sets will set you back a pretty penny, so picking a set that doesn’t meet your needs or isn’t going to last could end up costing you a lot of money in the long run.

There are two basic blade types with a lot of minor variations between manufacturers within these two types. Serrated knives have edges with teeth and are rough to the touch. A serrated blade can be either a scallop edge or it can have multiple pointy teeth running along the edge. Straight blade knives have a blade with one continuous edge that runs the entire length of the blade.

Serrated knives are common in the cheaper knife sets, because they don’t require a forged blade for them to hold their edge. Many manufacturers of these knives claim that they never need to be sharpened. It would be more accurate for them to indicate they can’t be sharpened…at least not at home. If your serrated knives go dull–and they will eventually–they will either have to be returned to the manufacturer to be sharpened or replaced. This isn’t the case with straight edge knives, as you can sharpen them as needed.

Serrated knives tend to stay sharper for longer, but they don’t give as clean of a cut as straight blades do. Serrated knives, especially the cheaper ones, tend to tear through food inasmuch as cutting it. They work well to cut bread, which is the reason why you’ll often see high-end straight blade sets with a serrated bread knife. It’s also common to see straight-edge sets with serrated steak knives. One thing’s for certain, when it comes to cutting foods where you need clean, precise cuts, it is best to go with a straight blade.

While serrated knives are typically found in the cheaper sets of knives, there are a couple of high-end serrated sets that are every bit as good as the straight-edge sets in the same price range. One of these brands is CUTCO, which is a name most consumers are familiar with. A CUTCO knife set will cost you a pretty penny, but when it comes to quality, they’re top-notch. They are also backed by one of the better warranties in the industry, and CUTCO will sharpen any CUTCO brand knife you send back to them. If any of your knives break because of a defect in workmanship, it will be replaced at no charge, and if you break one using it in a manner it wasn’t made for, CUTCO will replace it for half price.

Because of this warranty and the free sharpening for life, CUTCO is the only brand of serrated knives I can recommend. The cheaper brands are usually made of cheap stamped steel and just aren’t built to last. If you want serrated knives, it’s best to spend the cash and go CUTCO. If you can’t afford CUTCO, buy a straight blade kitchen knife set instead. When you look at serrated vs straight blade knives, it’s clear that straight blade knives are the way to go unless you can afford a CUTCO set. At the prices CUTCO charges, there aren’t too many of us that can.

If you want to do more research, go to the kitchen knife set section

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy the Best Kitchen Knife Set You Can Afford

There are a number of reasons you should buy the best kitchen knife set you can afford as opposed to buying an inexpensive one. A good set will set you back anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars, depending on just how good of a set you want to buy. This is an investment that could last a lifetime, so you ideally want to buy the most expensive set you can afford.

5 good reasons why you need to buy a good set

1. When you buy a set, you get a big discount. The savings for buying your cutlery as a set can be significant, and you end up paying half to two-thirds of what the set would cost if you purchased all of the pieces individually. If there are a couple blade types you want that aren’t part of the set you bought, you can buy these pieces with the money you save.

2. You get a nice block to store your knives in. You do not want to throw your knives in a drawer or box, as that will damage the blades and cause them to wear a lot faster than if they were properly stores. Kitchen cutlery needs to be kept away from other metal utensils, and the only thing the edge of the blade should come in contact with is the food and the cutting board you’re using. Carelessly throwing your knife set in a drawer is a surefire way to cut down on the useful life of your set.

3. A good kitchen knife set usually comes with a sharpener. Not only do you usually get a sharpener, you get one that is tailored to your set. The different materials that knife blades are made of need to be sharpened in specific ways, and sharpening a blade in the wrong manner can do permanent damage to the edge. By buying a set that has a honing steel, you ensure you’re getting one that is tailor-made for the blade material of your set. If you do not get a sharpener with your set, make sure you read up on the manufacturer’s recommended sharpening method.  You sometimes get other kitchen utensils as well. Some sets come with scissors or kitchen shears. These shears are usually good quality and are ideal for cutting through tough meats. They are capable of cutting through almost anything, which is probably the reason I keep finding them in my kid’s craft sets.

4. When you buy the best kitchen knife set you can afford, you get a higher quality of steel than you do with the cheaper knives. Instead of getting a set that will discolor easily and can’t hold an edge, you get a set of knives that might outlive you. High-carbon stainless steel is less prone to breakage and more likely to stay sharp.

5. You get steak knives. While these knives usually aren’t as good as the other pieces in the set, they are functional and are a must for a family that eats a lot of meats. One thing to keep an eye out for is serrated edges on the steak knives. If the rest of the set has straight-edge blades and the steak set has serrated blades, chances are the serrated blades are made of a lower-quality stamped metal. This is particularly a problem in the cheaper sub-$100 dollar sets. Once you get into the more expensive kitchen knife sets, you generally get decent steak knives as well.

Prior to going shopping, do a little research so you can be sure you’re getting the best kitchen knife set. If you’re ready to buy now, click on the link below to go directly to Amazon.com to start pricing knife sets:

Quality Cutlery Defined

When looking for your next knife set, it’s imperative that you seek out quality cutlery. A high-quality knife is a precision cutting instrument, making quick work of even the most arduous cutting task in the kitchen. On the other hand, using a cheap set of knives can make even simple tasks nigh on impossible. Instead of cleanly slicing through the food items you’re trying to cut, a cheap blade is dull and will rip and tear its way through the food. This will result in damaged edges and uneven cuts, which is OK when you’re cooking for your family, but can be embarrassing when you have guests over.

When it comes to buying quality cutlery, you have to be willing to put up a little extra cash than you normally would. You can opt to get a decent set for between $100 to $200, or you can go all out and spend anywhere from $200 to thousands of dollars on a high-end set. The more money you decided to spend, the better quality you’re going to get, and quality is what you want in the kitchen.

Why Buy Quality Cutlery When You Can Spend Hundreds Less On a Cheaper Set?

The number one reason is safety. Cheap, dull knives are hard to cut with, forcing you to exert much more force with every cut. The more force you apply, the more likely the blade is to slip out of control, and we’ve all seen what a moment of inattention can do in the kitchen. Chopping, mincing, slicing and cutting will be a breeze with a good knife set. Cheaper knives are also more prone to breakage, which can lead to catastrophic injuries.

The other reason to spend the extra money on a good set is one most people don’t take into consideration. You are going to save money in the long run by spending a little extra money now. That’s right, spending more money now will save you money in the future. Cheaper knives are made of cheaper metal that is more likely to break or bend. It is also more likely to discolor and rust. Spending money on a more expensive set that could potentially last a lifetime if cared for properly will save you from having to replace multiple cheap sets over the course of your life.

Check the Handle First

 

Handles can be made from a variety of materials, with the most common materials being wood or plastic. The cheaper knives with plastic handles tend to crack or chip easily, and it’s not uncommon for the handle to fall apart before the knife does. There are sets of quality cutlery with polyresin handles, you just have to make sure you’re not getting the cheap plastic that is prone to breakage.

Just above the handle on most knives is the bolster. You want a good bolster (see image above), as it helps to balance the blade against the handle. Even more important is the fact that it will protect you from cutting your fingers if your hand slips down the handle. Anyone who’s tried to cut slippery items like chicken knows how important a good bolster is, as it has likely saved you more than once from cutting yourself. Surprisingly, there are knives out there that don’t have bolsters, and if you see them, steer clear of them at all costs.

Knives with wooden handles were the most popular choice for many years, but have recently fallen to the wayside in favor of stainless steel or polyresin handles. If you decide to go with the classic look of a wood-handled set of knives, you’re going to want to pay attention to the number of rivets in the handle. Quality cutlery will have at least 3 rivets holding the handle together. This will ensure the knife stays together, and that there are no gaps for food to work its way in between.

Blade Composition

While blades used to be strictly made of steel, there are a number of new types of metal and even ceramics that blades are currently being made of. We’ll get into steel in a moment, but first let’s explore the other materials blades can be made of. Titanium has seen some use the last few years, but it’s a trend that should soon be forgotten. Titanium is not a good material to make knives from, as it isn’t cost efficient or durable. Ceramic blades have also gained popularity the last few years because it can be honed to an extremely sharp edge. There’s a corner of the market that appreciates ceramic, but most home chef’s would be better served with a regular steel knife set.

Steel has been the metal of choice when it comes to blades for thousands of years, and for good reason. It is durable, resists rust and is able to be honed into a sharp edge. There are a number of types of steel that is used to make kitchen knives. High-carbon steel is stronger and more durable, while stainless steel is resistant to rust and discoloration, High-carbon stainless steel gives you the best of both worlds, as it is stain-resistant and able to stand up to the rigors of daily use.

One item most people don’t take into consideration when looking to buy quality cutlery is the Rockwell Hardness Rating (HRC). This is a rating of the hardness of the steel, determined by forcing a diamond tipped probe into the metal. You ideally want a rating between 45 and 55. Steel with too low of a rating will dent and bend too easily, while a rating over 60 will get you steel that can shatter if too much force is applied to it. Stainless steel will usually be softer than high-carbon steel. Harder steel will be more difficult to sharpen, but should be able to be sharpened to a finer point.

Putting It All Together

Finding quality cutlery isn’t a problem, it’s deciding which brand of quality knives to buy that’s difficult. Luckily, there are a number of sites on the Internet where you can find unbiased reviews of the knives you’re interested in. Go to the best knife set section of this site or click on one of the manufacturers in the sidebar for more information. Alternatively, you can click on the banner below to go straight to Amazon to read what customers are saying about the various brands of knives available.

What You Need To Know About Kitchen Knives

Ask anyone who spends a lot of time cooking and they’ll tell you that kitchen knives are one of the most important tools in the kitchen. They are a tool that is used on a daily basis, and it’s important that you have a good set. While most people know a little bit about these important tools, they usually don’t know everything they need to prior to shopping around for a new set. The information contained in this article will properly prepare you to navigate the sometimes confusing world of kitchen knives.

Components

No two knives are the same, but there are some components that every knife has in common. I’m not going to insult you by explaining what the blade and the handle are, as I’m sure you already know these two critical components. What a lot of people don’t know is the individual components of the blade and handle and how they affect usability and durability.

Let’s start with the blade, since it has less components. Most blades consist of two parts, the tang and the blade itself. The blade is the part of the knife you can see, and it usually has one dull side (called the spline) and one sharp side. Most good cutlery will have a bolster between the handle and the blade. The bolster is a thick section that helps with balancing and protects your fingers if your hand slips down towards the cutting edge.

The tang is the section of the blade that extends into the handle. The better sets usually have a “full tang,” meaning the tang extends to the end of the handle. This ensure the blade is optimally balanced to the handle and is preferred over a tang that only extends partially into the handle of the knife. The rivets in the handle are usually attached to the tang. You ideally want three rivets holding things together, as this will ensure a tight fit and will reduce the chance of gaps that food can get stuck in.

Handles can be made of a variety of materials. Wood was the material of choice for many years, but has fallen out of favor recently. Stainless steel and polyresin are the materials that are currently being used. Steer clear of the cheaper sets with plastic handles as they tend to chip and break easily. Because of this you’ll often see articles and reviews telling people to steer clear of all plastics. While this is good advice if you plan on spending less than $100 on a set, it simply isn’t good advice when you get into the more expensive sets. The more expensive sets that use proprietary blends of polymers are usually much better, and they don’t have the same problems as the cheaper ones. The handles on these kitchen knives are usually lighter and more ergonomic, so if your hand tire easily, you may want to consider a set with a polyresin handle.

Stamped, Forged or Sintered

There are three ways a kitchen knife can be made: stamping, forging or sintering. There are quality sets made using all three methods, but stamped knives are generally thought of to be inferior in quality since most of the cheaper sets are made by stamping.

Stamped cutlery is cut from a roll of metal, similar to how cookies are cut from dough using a cookie cutter. The roll of steel is slowly run down an assembly line, and the shape of the blade and tang is cut from the roll. It is then ground down to the exact shape and the handle is attached to the tang. Stamped knives don’t have bolsters, and they often don’t have a full tang. The smaller tang is often attached to the handle using epoxy instead of rivets, making it less durable and more prone to failure than a handle with rivets.

Forged kitchen knives are made by heating up a steel blank, then hammering it into shape in a manner similar to how swords were made in medieval times. It’s all done by machines now, but the method through which it is pounded out is similar in concept. Forged products usually feature a thick bolster and are heavier than those that are stamped from a roll of metal.

Sintering is a manufacturing process through which the blade and tang–and sometimes the bolster–are all fused together. This is usually done as a cost-saving measure, but is used by at least one high-end company to create a blade and knife combination that is truly unique in look and feel. Ultimately, quality kitchen cutlery can be made using all three methods, and it comes down to personal preference as to which type of kitchen knives you want to buy.

Learn About the Various Sets of Kitchen Knives

Finding a good kitchen knife set isn’t a problem, it’s deciding which brand of kitchen knives to buy that’s tough. Go to the best knife set section of this site or click on one of the manufacturers in the sidebar for more information. Alternatively, you can click on the banner below to go straight to Amazon to find out what customers are saying about the various brands of knives available.

Types of Kitchen Knives

When it comes time to buy a new set of kitchen cutlery, it helps to know a little bit about the types of kitchen knives there are on the market. That way, you can ensure you get the right types for the kinds of cooking you plan to do. While it would be easier to buy each blade type that you need individually, you get a big discount when you buy a set. The best option is to find a set that has most of the pieces you need, then add to it by buying the items you still need separately. Unless you need a lot of specialty pieces, chances are you will save money this way.

Mincing and Dicing

Calphalon_SantokuThe terms mincing and dicing refer to a cutting action in which food is slid underneath the rear part of the blade as it is lifted. It is cut as the blade is quickly rocked back and forth while the food is slid underneath. We’ve all seen the professional chef’s on TV make quick work of onions, carrots and any number of fruits and vegetables using this method. They make it look simple, and with a little practice, you can get every bit as good at it as they are. You need a razor sharp chef’s knife to get the job done, as the cutting is done by pushing the edge of the blade through the food as opposed to slicing it. A dull edge will crush and mangle delicate foods.

Striking

anolon cleaverA good example of a striker is a meat cleaver. It is used to chop apart tough objects like meat that is still attached to gristle and bone. It is used to cut items that require a good amount of force to separate. Cleavers must be kept sharp to be effective even though they aren’t used for precise cuts. If you find yourself crushing the food you’re trying to cut instead of chopping through it, you probably need to sharpen your cleaver. Cleavers aren’t included in most sets and have to be purchased separately

Slicing

Shun_Slicing_KnifeSlicing is done with a back and forth motion, and is the method most people think of when they picture someone cutting something. Common slicers include filet and boning knives, which can be used to remove meat from the bones of fish and poultry. Another common slicer has a long, serrated blade and is used for slicing bread. Serrated edged work much better than straight edges for slicing bread because they grab hold of it and keep the blade in place.

Deciding What You Need

The types of kitchen knives you need depends entirely upon the types of cooking you plan to do. If you cook lots of meats and poultry, you will need boners, slicers and a cleaver at the bare minimum. If you primarily cook and cut veggies and fruits, you’ll be better off with a variety of slicers and peelers. The best set for you is the one that will work best in your kitchen, and no two kitchens are alike.

After you take a moment to think about the types of blades you’re going to need, you need to think about how much you want to spend. You need to buy the best set you can reasonable afford, as knives are one of those items where you get what you pay for. Spending a little extra will net you a better set and might just save you money in the long run. The better sets tend to last longer, so you won’t have to replace them as often. Now that you know a little about the types of kitchen knives, it’s time to go shopping. Go to the kitchen knife set section of this site or click on one of the manufacturers in the side bar for more information.

Don’t Buy Too Large of a Knife Block Set

When shopping for knives, people tend to go for the biggest knife block set they can find. They decide on a manufacturer and then go for the biggest and best set money can buy. While it’s always a good idea to spend a little money and get a good quality set, spending the extra money to buy the biggest set you can doesn’t always add up.

If you’re rich and can afford the biggest and best sets of knives money can buy, read no further. Buy the biggest set you can solely because you never know when you might need one of the rarely used specialty knives in the set. They’re nice to have, and that huge set is going to look great sitting on the granite island in your giant kitchen.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and you’re shopping on a budget, you may want to reconsider looking for the biggest set you can afford and instead concentrate on buying a smaller set of the best knives you can afford. Getting good cutlery should take precedence over buying the most knives you can while staying within your budget. A few good blades will take you a lot farther than buying a set filled to the brim with cheap knives you’ll rarely use.

Another issue with buying a set with the most pieces you can find is that you end up getting a lot of filler pieces. You’ll get kitchen shears, which are a useful item, but can be purchased individually at a low price point. Another way manufacturers bulk up their sets is buying adding a lot of steak knives. Even in the higher-end sets, the steak knives are usually made of an inferior stamped blade and are a cheap way to make a smaller set look much larger than it actually is. Don’t fall for the sets that make themselves look bigger by adding 4 more steak knives

There are only a few essential knives that you should look for in a set. Luckily, even the smallest knife block set usually has at least these knives. A paring knife is essential for paring and peeling fruits and vegetables. It is a precision blade that is used in situations where precise cuts are necessary. A chef’s knife is a must as well. They are used for slicing and chopping, and are the most used blade in the kitchen. You’d have a tough time cooking any meal without one of these. Depending on the types of food you prepare, you may also want a carving knife or a bread knife, but that’s up to your personal preference.

Figure out the types of knives you want, then look for a good set that has just the blade-types you need.  You’ll save a lot of money, and you’ll probably be able to afford a much better knife block set. Use the money you’ve saved to buy some specialty blades that you’ll actually use like a good Santoku knife.

Prior to going shopping, do a little research so you can be sure you’re getting the best knife set. If you’re ready to buy now, click on the link below to go directly to Amazon.com to start pricing knife sets.

Kitchen Knife Sets – What You Need to Know

Are you tired of trying to saw your way through items in the kitchen with battered and beat-up pieces of steel that you’ve had for longer than you can remember? Do you have trouble sharpening your knives or keeping them sharp after honing the blades? Does the thought of a long day in the kitchen make you want to curl up into a ball and cry? If so, then chances are you’re using a cheap set of cutlery. Either that or you spent way too much for a worthless set, another common occurrence when people don’t research kitchen knife sets prior to starting the hunt.

Things to Consider Before buying Kitchen Knife Set

Kitchen knife sets are no joke. Well, yours may be, but that’s going to change soon isn’t it? Using the knowledge you gain from reading this article will keep you from making the same mistakes scores of people make daily when shopping for kitchen utensils. I’m not going to tell you what sets are worth your while since I already do that in other sections of this site. What I am going to tell you is how to narrow down what’s good and what isn’t, based on a few basic qualities.

Cost

There are few, if any excellent sets of knives for less than $100. Most sets in this price range are going to be made of stamped metal, and they aren’t made to last more than a few years. If you get a decade out of one of these sets, you’re either really lucky, or you’re using really dull knives that should have been replaced years ago. It isn’t until you get into the $100 to $200 dollar range that you start to see some decent sets, and even then it’s hit or miss. Get up into the $300+ range and you’ll start to get into the high-end cutlery that will make cutting tasks seem less like chores and more like fun. That’s not to say that you won’t be happy with the less expensive kitchen knife sets, it’s just likely that you’ll be more happy with one of the higher-end ones.

Stamped Vs. Forged

While there are hundreds of variations as to the exact methods through which blades are made, we’re going to focus on the big picture and solely look at stamped vs. forged blades. A stamped piece of steel is one that is cut from a large roll, usually as the roll goes down an assembly line. Stamping allows the manufacturer to cut blades out of thinner pieces of steel, making knives made from this type of manufacturing process lighter and generally less durable than those that are stamped. This isn’t always the case, and there are some high-end manufacturers who have very good blades that are stamped.

Forged knives, on the other hand, are made from a single piece of steel that is repeatedly heated, formed and cooled. For this reason, they are generally heavier and more durable than those that are stamped. They are also perceptibly heavier, so if your hands tire easily, you may want to consider hunting down one of the few good kitchen knife sets that is made of stamped metal.

Full Tang Vs. Partial Tang

The tang, not to be confused with the powdered drink we were all forced to choke down as children, is the piece of metal that extends from the blade into the handle. A full-tang is one where the tag extends all the way to the end of the handle, while a partial tang stops before it reaches the end. With full-tang construction, the handle is attached to the tang with 3 rivets, which ensures the tang is not going to easily break free of the handle. Partial tang blade are usually glued to the handles, and they are more likely to come detached from the handles.

Blade Materials

There are few things other than steel that blades can be made of so we’ll explore them first. Ceramic can be honed to an extremely sharp edge but is not able to withstand being dropped. Titanium has also seen some use as of late. This super-strong metal is resistant to breakage super-strong. It’s also expensive, so you’d be better off buying a comparable set of steel knives. Stay away from kitchen knife sets that have a titanium coating, as you’ll lose the titanium after a few sharpenings.

Now for the big dog…Steel. Most knives sold today are made of some sort of steel. Carbon steel is harder than regular steel, which is too soft to make good knives from. Stainless steel has nickel and other alloys added to it to prevent staining of the blades. It won’t make them bulletproof, but will make them more resistant to staining than other types of steel. High-carbon stainless gives you the best of both worlds, and is the material of choice for most high-end manufacturers. You often see them touting proprietary blends of steel with number codes attached to them like VG-1 or 404A.

Hardness

The most important thing to note when researching kitchen knife sets is the Rockwell hardness scale rating. This rating is abbreviated as Rc and can usually be found on the box the set comes in. If not, it’s usually available at the manufacturer’s website. Most knives fall between 50 and 60, with the steel at the lower end of the scale being softer and prone to rolling and the steel at the upper end of the scale being harder and more prone to shattering.

Prior to going shopping, do a little research so you can be sure you’re getting the best knife set. If you’re ready to buy now, click on the link below to go directly to Amazon.com to start pricing knife sets:

Best Budget Kitchen Knives – Under 100$

We here at Best Knife Set understand that times are tough right now for a lot of people. We’ve seen sales on the larger, more expensive cutlery drop off dramatically this holiday season. For this reason, we’ve decided to write an article on the best budget knives available this year. Every single knife set on this list clocks in at under a hundred dollars and a couple are less than 50 bucks.

Being as this is the first time we’ve reviewed the lower-end stuff, we thought we’d find a lot of junk that wasn’t worth its weight in steel…and we did. A lot of the sets we looked at were so poorly built we wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. Our hunt didn’t go unrewarded, we were also pleasantly surprised to find a few diamonds in the rough. Let’s take a look at what we found:

Victorinox 7-Piece Knife Block Set

victorinox 7-piece set

The Victorinox 7-piece knife block set comes with everything you need in a starter set of knives. You get  a 3-1/2-inch paring knife, a 4-1/2-inch tomato and bagel knife, 5-inch miniature chef’s knife, 8-inch full-size chef’s knife, a good sharpening steel, kitchen scissors, and an attractive hardwood block. All this for just under 60 bucks.

The blades are of good quality. They are made of high-carbon stainless steel that has been ice tempered so it will hold an edge. The handles aren’t bad either. The Fibrox material feels good in your hand and the knives aren’t too heavy, like some of the less-expensive sets tend to be. Victorinox is so confident in the quality of these knives, they’re offering a lifetime warranty on them. This is one of the best budget kitchen knives deals we found. Click on the link below for more information:

Victorinox 7-Piece Knife Block Set

Victorinox Fibrox 3-Piece Knife Set

victorinox fibrox knives

This is the set for those who are on a budget, but don’t want to skimp on quality. The Victorinox Fibrox 3-piece Chef’s knife set offers up three great knives for right around 60 dollars. You get a 4-inch paring knife, an 8-inch slicing blade, and 10-inch chef’s knife, all stamped from cold-rolled stainless steel. This set also features the Victorinox lifetime warranty.

The reason Victorinox is able to offer this set of high-quality knives for so cheap is that they don’t offer a storage block, kitchen shears or a sharpening stone with this set. It does come in an attractive box that makes this a good set to give as a gift. Click on the link below to get the best price on this set:

Victorinox Fibrox 3-Piece Knife Set

Ginsu Chikara 12-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Set with Block

Ginsu Chikara 12-Piece Knife Set with Block

Rounding out the list is a set of knives that is perfect for those looking for a larger set. This set comes with a 3.5-inch paring, 5-inch serrated utility, 7-inch Santoku, 8-inch chef, kitchen shears and a sharpening rod. You also get four steak knives, a must for a family that eats a lot of meat. Ginsu knives feature high-carbon Japanese stainless steel and are world-renowned for their razor-sharp blades and ability to hold an edge.

These knives are forged instead of stamped and are the only set on this list that is dishwasher-safe. Click here to purchase this set for less than $100:

Ginsu Chikara 12-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Set with Block

Prior to going shopping, do a little research so you can be sure you’re getting the best kitchen knife set.

Best Bread Knife

The best bread knife is one that’s inexpensive and will last a long time without dulling. Bread knives typically feature serrated edges and can’t be sharpened without sending them back into the manufacturer. You can go one of two ways when it comes to this type of cutlery. You can either buy a good bread knife and send it back to the manufacturer when it needs to be sharpened or you can buy inexpensive knives and simply throw them out when they begin to dull.

Here’s what I recommend. I advocate buying the best bread knife you can afford and using that day in and day out. The good knives will last a long time in between sharpening and you’ll really appreciate how easy cutting bread becomes when you own a high-end knife. Use this knife until it starts to dull, then send it in for sharpening. The turn-around time is typically a week or two, but can be up to a month. You can either opt to tough it out for a month and use something else to cut bread or you can purchase an inexpensive bread knife to use in the meantime. I recommend the latter because it can be very frustrating trying to cut bread with a normal blade.

You don’t have to invest a small fortune. The best bread knife will cost you less than a decent chef’s knife from one of the top-tier cutlery companies. You can get a good one for less than 50 bucks. If you opt to buy a cheap knife to use while your good blade is away for sharpening, you can find a cheap one for around 10 dollars at your local Walmart or Target. Just be warned, this knife won’t be nowhere near the quality of the one you’re used to using.

We’ll discuss the cheaper options in a moment, but if you want to go all out and get the number one best bread knife on the market today, the Shun Ken Onion Multi-Purpose 9-Inch Bread Knife is the best bread knife money can buy. It’s the knife that’s pictured at the top of this article. If you didn’t already click the link, click it and check it out. It’s a great knife.

It has an innovative handle that works wonders for making even cuts in even the toughest breads. This level of beauty and craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap. It’s currently priced at around $220.

If the Shun Ken Onion knife isn’t in your price range, don’t worry. Next up is an option that clocks in at around a quarter of the price. You can get an Anolon Advanced Cutlery Slice and Carve Set from Anolon that features an 8-inch bread knife and a carving knife for just over $40:

anolon bread knife

This is a good choice if you’re on a budget and still want a good bread knife. Don’t worry about quality. Anolon makes some of the better mid to low priced knives on the market. This is the best bread knife you can buy for less than $100.