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.

Best Knife Sharpeners

While you can get by with a sub-par sharpener, the best knife sharpeners make life easy on avid home cutlery enthusiasts. This article is geared towards kitchen knives, but the units discussed here can be used to sharpen other types of blades as well.

There are two basic types of knife sharpeners: electric and manual. The manual ones are harder to use, but can provide you with a very sharp edge. The electric ones are easier, but can end up costing a good chunk more than the manual ones. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Manual Knife Sharpeners

A manual sharpener is used to hone a blade the old fashioned way, by hand. They don’t require any power other than what is provided by the person honing the blade. They are a favorite amongst cutlery enthusiasts because they allow a high level of control over the sharpening of the blade. Let’s explore the various types of manual sharpeners available on the market today.

Water sharpening stones are the hardest to use, but allow the most control and are arguably the means through which a talented bladesmith is able to make knives the sharpest. They aren’t recommended for amateurs, as holding the knife at a constant level of pressure at the same angle through each stroke across the stone is required. A good stone for the beginning enthusiast is the Chef’s Choice Edgecraft, pictured below:

sharpening stone

Honing a blade with a waterstone is an art, and an artist is only as good as his tools. Once you’ve decided to get serious, the Norton Waterstone is the way to go. A good starter kit will cost over a hundred dollars, but you’ll find the edge you get is unparalleled.

Another popular manual sharpener would be the knife-sharpening rod:

knife sharpening rod

This is a simple, yet efficient tool. Pictured is a Diamond Sharpening Rod, available for around 30 bucks from Amazon.com. Also known as a butcher’s steel, variations of this tool have been in use for hundreds of years. They are simple to use, while allowing the person using them to control the angle at which the blade is sharpened. The blade is held at an angle and slid across the rod repeatedly until sharp. Diamond rods get the job done, but if you want to get fancy, there are ceramic rod systems with multiple rods available as well.

Next up on the list of best knife sharpeners would be the slot knife sharpener:

slot knife sharpenerThe slot sharpener scores points for ease of use. All you have to do is line the knife up in the slot and run it through a couple times. Check it after each time through the slot and stop once you reach the desired sharpness. It literally takes less than ten seconds to sharpen a single knife and you can hone an entire set in a matter of minutes. One of the more popular slot sharpeners is the Edgeware 10-second Sharpener. It won’t break the bank either. It’s available for less than 20 bucks at most retailers of kitchen cutlery.

Another good one is the Chef’s Choice M4623 Chef’s Choice Diamond Hone 3-Stage Manual Sharpener. It’ll run you about ten bucks more, but features a three-stage sharpening system that will have your knives sharper than they were right out the box. An added bonus is that this is one of the few manual systems that works well on serrated knives.

Electric Knife Sharpeners

Now that we’ve discussed the best knife sharpeners on the manual side, let’s look at the electric sharpener. They typically cost a little more than the manual ones, but they get the job done fast and they do it well with minimal effort. The good electric knife sharpeners feature multiple slots that gradually and gently remove metal. They also bevel the edge of the blade, making it last longer.

Bar none, the best electric sharpeners are made by Chef’s Choice. A personal favorite is the Chef’s Choice Angle Select Diamond Hone Sharpener from Chef’s Choice. It allows you to choose between the 20-degree edge preferred by American and Euro knife enthusiasts or the 15-degree razor sharp edge the Japanese knife makers tend to use. It is able to sharpen straight-edge and serrated blade and can do a single or double bevel.

Sharpening Steels

Most knife sets have a sharpening steel that comes with them. Don’t mistake this for a knife sharpener. The steel will work well for minor maintenance on the blades, but all knives eventually need a good sharpening. The best knife sharpeners will do this by removing the least amount of material required to give a knife a razor-sharp edge.

Ceramic Kitchen Knives

Ceramic kitchen knives are an area that the editors from this site have steered clear of until now. We’ve touched upon the pros and cons (mostly cons) in a few articles, but have never taken a close look at what’s out there in regards to ceramic knives. We thought maybe if we buried our heads long enough, this new trend towards materials other than steel would go away. We’re traditionalists, but we know there’s a large and steadily growing group of knife enthusiasts that swear by their ceramic knives and won’t use anything else. For that reason alone, this relatively new market warrants a closer look.

What are Ceramic Blades Actually Made Of?

Ceramic? They’re making knives out of ceramic? At first, most people envision glass-like blades that will shatter the first time you so much as breath on them wrong. When I mentioned to my wife I was writing an article on ceramic kitchen knives, the first thing she asked is how fragile they are. To truly understand a blade, you have to understand how it is made, so let’s take a closer look at the material these knives are crafted from.

Zirconium dioxide is the main ingredient, which starts life in powder form. This powder is combined with additives like magnesium and calcium, then dry-pressed and sintered (fired) into the shape of a blade. Yytrium oxide is then added to stabilize the zirconia, which hardens into one of the hardest blade materials on the planet. Zirconia is rated at an 8.5 on the Mohs mineral hardness scale, while hardened steel clocks in at 6 to 6 and a half.

Here’s a great step-by step breakdown of how ceramic knives are made.

Why Choose Ceramic Kitchen Knives?

The aforementioned hardness makes for a razor-sharp cutting edge. Ceramic knives are sharp, and they tend to hold their edge longer than similarly priced steel blades do. Ceramic knives perform well in environments where steel doesn’t hold up, since the non-metal material is resistant to caustic materials. They are light-weight and aren’t susceptible to rust. If you often leave your cooking utensils in the sink overnight and want something that won’t corrode or discolor, then ceramic knives should be right up your alley.

The ceramic used is a very dense material, which means there are less pores on the surface. This allows the time-pressed chef to cut something, then quickly rinse the knife and move on to something else without having to worry about any of the taste transferring over.  This also means this type of cutlery is marginally more sanitary, because there are less pores to trap food and grime.

The Negative Side

While ceramic knife enthusiasts are quick to point out the pros of owning a set of ceramic knives, they often fail to mention the dark side. Ceramics have their place in the kitchen, but they aren’t the do-all, cut-all solution to your cooking needs. Making a knife blade out of a super-hard material has its downside. Hard equates to brittle. Granted, your ceramic knife probably isn’t going to break the first time you drop it in the sink, but you still need to take care not to drop it on your hard kitchen floor. I’ve seen videos of ceramic enthusiasts dropping a ceramic knife on the tile tip-down repeatedly, so they aren’t as fragile as some steel blade traditionalists would have you believe.

The biggest con I found was that you need to watch what you cut with it. Frozen food and items with bones are a no-no and can result in chipped and damaged blade edges. Owning a set of ceramic knives could be a problem for those who chop and hack a lot of meat in the kitchen.

What’s the Verdict?

Ceramic knives are great slicing knives and are perfect for cutting and slicing fruits, vegetables and boneless meats. However, they come up short when it comes time to get down and dirty in the kitchen. For this reason, I’d suggest buying one or two ceramic blades and adding them to a good steel knife set. Ceramic kitchen knives have a spot in the kitchen, they just shouldn’t be your sole knife set. If you decide to add a ceramic knife to your existing collection, I’d suggest Kyocera: