Cutco Knife Set

A CUTCO Knife Set is arguably the best knife set money can buy. They are one of the few premium brands of cutlery made in the United States, and they come with a lifetime performance guarantee. If at any time you are not happy with your CUTCO knives, they will either repair or replace your set. If you damage them through misuse, they will replace the set for half the normal price. In addition to this guarantee, they will sharpen your knives for a minimal handling fee any time you send them in.

Every single CUTCO knife set is made of high-carbon steel that is stain resistant. They have an attractive polished mirror finish that is resistant to rust and corrosion. The mirror finish is easy to clean and the knife is able to be washed in the dishwasher. The handle is made of a thermo-resin material and is held on by three rivets set into a tang that extends the full length of the handle.

The Double-D cutting edge is exclusive to CUTCO knives. The innovative blade features recessed cutting edges with protected by points similar to those found on serrated knives. The points are in place to keep the blade sharp, and boy do they work. A CUTCO knife set can withstand a lot of abuse and still retain its cutting ability. Don’t confuse the points on a CUTCO knife with those on a serrated knife. Serrated knives tear and rip through food instead of actually cutting. The Double-D recessed blade makes a clean cut on par with what you get from other high-end cutlery. They are world-renowned for their sharpness and smooth, clean cutting ability.

The downside to the Double-D cutting edge is you can’t sharpen it yourself. CUTCO knives last a long time before they need to be sharpened, but once they start to dull, they have to be sent in to the manufacturer for sharpening.

A CUTCO set may be the best knife set you ever buy. With the lifetime warranty, it will more than likely be the last set you ever need to buy. By now, you may be wondering how much a quality set of knives like these will cost you. They aren’t cheap. A set will run you anywhere from $500 up to thousands of dollars depending on what you want in the set.

CUTCO Homemaker +8 10-piece Set
Features:
– Widely considered the best knives money can buy.– Lifetime warranty ensures you’ll never have to buy another knife set again. Backed by CUTCO’s forever performance and sharpness guarantee.

– This is CUTCO’s most popular set.

CUTCO Starter Set
Features:
– CUTCO starter set. Great set to start off with. Buy this set and add to it as needed.– Backed by CUTCO’s lifetime guarantee that their knive will perform well and stay sharp for life.

 

CUTCO Galley Set
Features:
– CUTCO galley set. Comes with cutting board, basting spoon and peeler.

– Backed by CUTCO’s lifetime guarantee. Knives that don’t perform to expectations will be repaired or replaced.
CUTCO Space Saver Set
Features:
– Ideal for kitchens where space is at a premium.– Comes with 5 of CUTCO’s best knives.

– Lifetime guarantee.

CUTCO Ultimate Entertainer Set
Features:
– CUTCO’s biggest and baddest set.– Contains full line of kitchen cutlery, table knives and silverware. This truly is the ultimate set.

– Lifetime guarantee.

Click on the link below for more information on purchasing CUTCO knives:

Chicago Cutlery Knife Set

Buy a Chicago Cutlery knife set and you’re getting a mid-range knife set with a great warranty. Many people believe they are the best knife set that can be purchased for under $200. Chicago Cutlery is warranted against all defects in material and workmanship for the life of the product. Defective knives will be repaired or replaced, as long as the damage is not from abuse or mishandling.

The Taper Grind blade edge is designed to cut food instead of splitting or tearing it. It is designed to keep its edge and stay sharp. These knives can be sharpened repeatedly while still maintaining the sharpness they had when they came out the box.

A Chicago Cutlery knife set is built to last. They are built with a full tang that extends all the way to the end of the handle. This full tang is attached to the handle with no less than 3 rivets. There are a variety of handle types that can be purchased. Stainless steel handles give a refined look and are ideal for a kitchen with stainless appliances. Soft grip handles are comfortable, while classic poly are long-lasting and easy to clean. My personal favorite are the wood handles, which go well with any kitchen.

In addition to the handles, you have a couple of options when it comes to purchasing Chicago Cutlery knives. The forged blades are well-balanced and durable, but are heavier than the stamped knives. The forged blades have a bolster, which is a metal section placed in between the handle and the blade. Stamped blades are one piece blades that are lighter than the forged blades. They are every bit as sharp and durable as the forged blades.

As with all knives, we here at Best Knife Set recommend you keep your Chicago Cutlery knife set sharp. They need to be sharpened after every couple of uses. Using a sharp knife to cut things reduces the chances of an accident and extends the life of the knife.

Chicago Cutlery Metropolitan 15-Piece Block Set
Features:
– One of the few sub-$100 dollar sets that features high-carbon stainless steel blades.– Full-tang construction.

– Triple-riveted polymer handles for added durability.

Chicago Cutlery Landmark 12-Piece Block Set
Features:
– 75th Anniversary Set. Award-nominated.– Taper grind for great edge retention.

– Contemporary design adds a touch of class to any kitchen.

– Forged bolsters and full-tang blades for stregth and durability.

Chicago Cutlery Insignia 18-Piece Block Set
Features:
– Knife block has built-in sharpener for easy sharpening.– Taper grind edge stays sharp and offers precise cuts.

– High-carbon stainless steel resists rust and pitting.

– Forged bolsters and full-tang construction for better balance.

Click here for more information on the various Chicago Cutlery knife sets available now:

Farberware Knife Set

A Farberware knife set is a passable set of cutlery for the budget-minded family looking for a decent set of knives for the kitchen. You can easily find complete sets for under $50, and even the larger sets of Farberware knives come in under the $100 dollar mark. The big question is, will they last?

In a nutshell, maybe. The blades on most of the Farberware knife sets are carbon steel and are generally of good quality. The handles, on the other hand, are where Farberware cuts corners to keep the costs down. You have to take care not to abuse these knives because the handles are fairly weak and break easily. The most common complaint found on review sites on the Internet is that the handles are fragile and are easily damaged.

If you take good care of your knives and don’t subject them to a lot of punishment, they will probably last you a long time. On the other hand, if you really put your knives to work, you may want to spend a little more money and buy the best knife set you can afford. Cutlery is one area where you won’t be sorry if you spend a little extra cash.

If you decide to go with a Farberware knife set, you have a number of sets to choose from. The Farberware Classic Never Needs Sharpening set is made of carbon stainless-steel and has textured plastic handles. The blades are serrated and they are lightweight and have a slim profile.

The Pro Forged knives look nice and are a little more expensive than the cheaper Farberware knives. They have full length tangs and triple riveted handles. They tend to hold their edge a little better than a cheaper Farberware knife set. They can be found for under a hundred dollars and are of OK quality, but if I was in the market for the best knife set I could buy for under a hundred, I’d go with a Ginsu knife set.

A Farberware knife set will serve its purpose, but these knives aren’t going to last a lifetime. If you want quality, you have to spend a little more money to get a better set. On the other hand, if you’re hard on your knives, a Farberware knife set is rather inexpensive and you could do a whole lot worse for the money. This isn’t the best knife set on the market, but it is one of the best sets for the shopper on a budget.

Farberware Pro II Forged 15-Piece Block Set
Features:
– Black hardwood block with stainless steel plates on the sides.– Full-tang construction with oversized rivets.

– Taper ground stainless steel blades for precise cutting.

Farberware Pro Stainless Forged 15-Piece Block Set
Features:
– Satin-finish stainless steel handles.– Lifetime warranty against defects.

– Dishwasher safe. Handwash to preserve edges.

Farberware Pro Stamped 25-Piece Block Set
Features:
– Large set for less than $100.– Serrated blades never need sharpening.

– Weighted stainless handles provide good balance.

A Farberware knife set will serve its purpose, but these knives aren’t going to last a lifetime. If you want quality, you have to spend a little more money to get a better set. On the other hand, if you’re hard on your knives, a Farberware knife set is rather inexpensive and you could do a whole lot worse for the money. This isn’t the best knife set on the market, but it is one of the best sets for the shopper on a budget.

Click here to get more information on the different Farberware knife sets available:

Ginsu Knife Set

Ah, the infamous Ginsu knife set. They are world-reknowned for being the best knife set on the market for those seeking an extremely sharp blade. Ginsu knives are modeled after the Japanese samurai sword, which is known for being able to slice through pretty much anything.

Ginsu knives are hands down the best knife set you can get for under a hundred dollars. At first glance, they appear to be of Japanese origin. It may be surprising to some that these sets of super-sharp cutlery are made right here in America. The blades are made of high-carbon Japanese steel.

Those over 30 may remember the television ads that aired in the late 70’s and early 80’s. They featured visuals that showed the Ginsu knife set being used to cut nails, tin cans and a radiator hose. Right after cutting the three non-food items, the blade is then used to slice a tomato into thin slices.

There is a Ginsu knife set available for every budget. There are multiple sets available now for under a hundred dollars. The budget-minded consumer would be wise to go with one of these fine sets of cutlery. You could do a lot worse. Just keep in mind that the cheaper sets aren’t made of the same quality of Japanese steel as the higher end Ginsu blades are. They are still super sharp, they just require a little more care. Don’t let them sit around dirty and wet or they may start to discolor or rust.

Ginsu also offers what may be the best knife set money can buy. The Hanaita series is made of Japanese Damascus steel. They are made of 33 layers of steel, alternating between high and low carbon steel. The layers are forged together and the blades are honed to an almost unparalleled sharpness. After sharpening, the blade is then cryogenically cooled with liquid nitrogen, which makes for excellent blade retention. A Damascus cutlery set doesn’t come cheap. It costs around $500 dollars for a set of these fine knives.

Ginsu Chikara 12-Piece Block Set
Features:
– Crafted of high-carbon Japanese stainless steel.– Handles are crafted of water and heat-resistant resin.

– Incredibly sharp edge.

Ginsu Round 5-Piece Bamboo Knife Set
Features:
– Double-edged blade ensures precision cuts.– Commercial quality knives hold up under heavy use.

– Unique round block.

Ginsu Hanaita Damascus Steel 9-Piece Set
Features:
– Made of Damascus steel. Extremely high-quality set.– Damascus blades are made of 33 alternating layers of high- and low-carbon steel for maximum durability and sharpness.

– Crygenically cooled blades ensure maximum edge retention.

Ginsu Hanaita Damascus Steel 15-Piece Set
Features:
– This is one of the finest knife sets sold by any manufacturer.– Damascus steel blades crafted of 33 layers of Japanese steel.

– Crafted in same manner as Japanese Samurai swords.

Click here for more information on the high-end Ginsu Hanaita sets:

Global Knife Set

It’s not an uncommon sight to see a Global knife set in the kitchen of a professional chef. Global knives truly lives up to its name as Global is a brand that is world-reknowned. Many people consider these knives to be the best knife set for professional chefs, as well as the serious home cook.

Global blades are lightweight, thin and razor sharp. They can be used to cleanly slice through all sorts of food. They are well-balanced and extremely lightweight. This helps to reduce hand fatigue after a long day in the kitchen. They have hollow handles that are uniquely weighted with precise amounts of sand to create a finely balanced work of art.

Global cutlery has a unique, modern look. They don’t look like your mother’s kitchen knife set. The all-stainless handles and sharp angles make them look like something pulled from the future.

The blades found in a Global knife set are made of high-end Japanese steel. The CROMOVA 18 steel contains a blend of 18 percent chromium with a small amount of molybdenum and vanadium mixed in. Global knives have excellent edge retention as well as good stain resistance. They will cut whatever you ask them to with ease. Take care of them and they will last you a lifetime.

Professional chefs are a picky bunch. They expect a lot from their knives and put their blades to the test on a daily basis. It’s not uncommon to find a chef who still has and uses the first set of Global knives he ever bought. They are built to last a lifetime.

Global knives are made entirely of stainless steel. There are no plastic or wood handles to get beat up or rot. They also won’t trap small particles of dirt of food like riveted handles tend to do. They are the best knife set if you want something with a unique look that will add a touch of modern class to your kitchen. These knives turn heads and will be conversation piece in a busy kitchen.

A good Global knife set will set you back between 500 to 1000 dollars. If you can afford them, they will serve you well for years to come. They may even last long enough to serve your kids well when you pass them on.

Here are just a few of the best Global knife sets available now:

Global 25th Anniversary 3-Piece Set
Features:
– Classy set makes for the perfect gift. – Molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel blades. This is some of the highest quality steel on the market.

– Stainless steel handles are ergonomically designed for comfort and maximum grip.

Global 6-Piece Set w/Block
Features:
– Thin blades allow for precise cuts.– Face-ground blades made of high-tech CROMOVA stainless steel.

– Precisely balanced handles.

 

Global 9-Piece Set w/Block
Features:
– Blades are thin to allow precision slicing.– Face-ground blades crafted from high-tech CROMOVA stainless steel.

– Hollow handles that are balanced by adding a precise amount of sand.

– Stainless handles have dimpled grips to reduce knife slippage when cutting.

Go Global and you won’t be disappointed. Click here for more information on one of the best knife sets money can buy:

JA Henckels Knife Set

JA Henckels as a brand is sort of hit-and-miss. Their low end knives aren’t worth their weight in metal. Move into the mid-range priced cutlery and you get a much better set of knives. They may not be the best knife set you can buy, but they are of good quality at a good price.

Don’t buy a cheap JA Henckels knife set. They are prone to rust and there are a lot of complaints about them online. They aren’t balanced well and tend to perform poorly in the kitchen. Combine that with the fact that they reportedly don’t hold their edge well, and you have a recipe for frustration.

When you get into the JA Henckels knife sets that are sold for over a hundred dollars, you get a much better set of knives. They are made of high quality German steel and will last much longer than the cheaper sets. Spend a little extra and get a set of cutlery you will be much happier with in the long run. Knives are an item where you typically get what you pay for.

The International Forged Series comes with a full tang that runs from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle. As is the norm for full tang knives, they are well-balanced and strong. The handles have three rivets and are built to be both comfortable and easy to use. The stainless steel blades have a satin finish that both looks nice and cuts wells. These knives are mid-range, but not too expensive to be affordable to most families.

JA Henckels International Forged 13-Piece Premio Set
Features:
– Full-tang construction for added balance and strength.– Satin-finish stainless steel blades.

-Professional-quality forged blades.

 

JA Henckels Twin Signature Set
Features:
– Stamped blades made from German steel.– Edge-cut by a laser, then hand sharpened to ensure the sharpest blade possible.

– Handles seamlessly encase the tangs so no food will ever get inside the handles.

 

JA Henckels Twin Signature 19-Piece Set
Features:
– Friodur ice-hardened blades hold their edge well. – High-carbon stainless steel is laser-cut for sharpness.

– Stamped bolsters make them lighter than other knives in their class.

 

When it comes to JA Henckels, you get what you pay for. Go with a mid-range JA Henckels knife set and you won’t be disappointed. They are built to last, and are nicely balanced with blades that hold their edge.

Click here for pricing and information on the various JA Henckels knife sets available:

Shun Knife Set

At first glance, a Shun knife set looks like pretty much every other Japanese knife set on the market. A closer look reveals what may be the best knife set to come out of Japan in recent years. Shun knives are manufactured in Seki City, a city in Japan famous for its sword makers. They have been refining the art of making swords for centuries, and have transferred their craft to kitchen cutlery.

Shun knives are forged with a VG10 stainless steel core, which is both harder and, strangely enough, more flexible than the type of steel most knives are crafted from. The hard yet supple core is then covered by 32 layers of carbon-rich stainless steel. That’s right, there are 16 layers of carbon stainless steel on each side of the blade. This makes for a beautiful blade that is resistant to rust.

The handles are suited to those with smaller hands. They are D-shaped for comfort and added control. Many of the sets available feature PakkaWood handles that are both nice to look at and safe to throw in the dishwasher. PakkaWood is made of pieces of hardwood fused together with waterproof resin. You get the look of wood with the durability of a strong synthetic handle.

A Shun knife set is one of the best knife sets you can buy. They are beautiful knives and are fully functional. You can buy them as sets or, if a full set of Shun cutlery is cost-prohibitive, you can buy just the pieces you need. Buying them separately will allow you enjoy the benefits of high-end cutlery without the high cost of buying an entire set. Most people can get by with just a handful of knives. While the rest are nice to have, they aren’t a necessity.

A good Shun starter set is the Shun 4-pc. Pro Sho Asian Chef’s Set, pictured above. Click on the link or on the picture at the top of the article for more information on this top-of-the-line knife set.

Shun 2-pc. Classic Carving Set with Bamboo Box

Looking for a good carving knife? The Shun 2-pc. Classic Carving Set with Bamboo Box will add a touch of class to any kitchen. This is one of the best knives made by Shun and is the perfect gift for the cook in your household.

Looking for a good deal on Shun knives? Check Amazon.com out for some of the best deals on kitchen cutlery:

Shun Classic 3-Piece Box Set
Features:
– Beautiful set of knives in nice storage box.– 32 layers of VG-10 Japanese steel.

– Blade profile keeps food from sticking to blades and resuts in cleaner cuts.

– PakkaWood handles give the feel of wood with the durability of polymer.

Shun Classic 6-Piece Set w/Block
Features:
– Blades are thin to allow precision slicing.– Crafted of 16 layers of VG-10 stainless steel on each side of the blade.

– Long-lasting PakkaWood handles.

 

Shun Classic 9-Piece Set w/Bamboo Block
Features:
– One of the best knife sets on the market today.– Extremely sharp Damascus steel with PakkaWood handles.

– Edges formed to an acute 16-degree angle. These may be the sharpest knives on the market.

A Shun knife set is one of the best knife sets you can buy. They are beautiful knives and are fully functional.

Click here to purchase a Shun knife set:

Trizor (Chef’s Choice)

Chef’s Choice Trizor Cutlery is an American made knife brand created in Avondale, PA by EdgeCraft Corporation. Chef’s Choice is widely recognized as one of the best brands of electric knife sharpeners so it makes sense that they would expand their line to include knives as well. The Trizor line was brought to market in 1992 and features fully forged handcrafted blades. This innovative line of cutlery combines advanced higher-carbon stainless alloy with manufacturing technology common to the aerospace industry to create a line of knives that is tough to beat.

Trizor steel measures in at an impressive 60 on the Rockwell hardness scale, making it one of the harder domestic blades on the market. This allows the edges to be honed to a sharper angle and still have superior edge retention. According to the EdgeCraft website, Trizor blades stay sharper for up to 10 times that of other Western knives.

Trizor features full-tang blade construction with a polymer handle molded around the tang. This gives you the balance and heft of a full-tang blade while keeping food particles and other contaminants out of the handle, a problem common to other full-tang knives. They are one of the only manufacturers on the market to offer this unique concept, giving you the full benefit of full-tang construction while eliminating the downside.

The handles themselves are a textured polymer that is designed to be comfortable in your hand while allowing you to keep your grip when working with slippery foods. Wet or dry, the handle is easy to grip and will go a long way towards eliminating accidents due to the handle slipping out of your hand.

The only downside to these knives is the cost. A set of just three knives will set you back around $260, and a set of 5 pieces with a block come in at just over $370. While this price point may seem excessive, you will be getting what are arguably the best domestic knives on the market. Those that prefer to buy things that are made in the U.S. can rest assured they aren’t sacrificing quality just to keep it domestic.

Chef’s Choice Trizor 5-Piece Set
Features:
– High-carbon stainless steel alloy.– Polymer non-slip handles.- Full-tang is covered by polymer handle to reduce contamination.

– Stays sharper up to 10 times longer than other domestic knives.

Trizor Professional Everyday Set
Features:
– High-carbon stainless blades are resistant to rust and able to hold their edge for up to 10 times longer than other domestic cutlery.– Contains 3 of Trizor’s most popular knives. Excellent starter set.- Hand-crafted in America.

Trizor knives rank amongst the best knives in the market. Click on the link below for more information on purchasing Trizor knives:

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