Catalyst shops for kitchen knives

I’m in the market for a set of kitchen knives, and I’d like some input from the Teeming Millions. I want to get some decent forged knives at a reasonable price, but I don’t know enough about the various brands to make an informed decision.

While I’d love to buy a super-duper-doubleplusgood 94-piece set, I have a feeling that a three-piece set will suffice for nearly anything I’ll be doing in the near future. Most three-piece sets I’ve come across on Froogle have a four-inch paring knife, a six-inch utility knife, and an eight-inch chef’s knife; this seems like a fairly versatile selection and fits my needs pretty well.

How do hollow edge knives compare to non-hollow edge knives?

Anyway, in short, I’d appreciate any help with selecting a three-piece forged knife set. If you know of any good deals online, please feel free to point me in the right direction. Thanks.

(Mods, I put this in CS because it’s somewhat cooking-related. If you think it’s more suited to IMHO, please move it.)

The most important factor is how the knife feels in your hand. Does it have a comfortable balance? Enough heft for you? Then go ahead and buy it. Personally, I think three knives is one too many. 95% of the time I use my chef’s knife, and I can literally go weeks without using the shorter ones.

Make sure the knife has a tang that goes all the way to the base. You don’t want a tang that ends at the hilt, or sticks into the handle just an inch-- it’s more likely to snap off. Tangs and handles that are connected with three rivets are pretty standard. As for the handle, go with whatever feels best in your hand: wood, plastic, or metal. These knives aren’t going in the dishwasher*, so a wood handle’s not likely to degrade.

The other factor is the quality of the steel in the knife. All you really need to know is that the harder the metal, the longer it will take to put an edge on your knife, but by the same token, the longer it will keep that edge before you need to sharpen it again. And the better you are at trueing your blade the longer it will be before you have to sharpen it too.

As a rule of thumb carbon steel is softer than stainless steel, but that just means you may have to sharpen every six months instead of every two years.

A hollow edge only matters if you’re using a straight-edge razor, and even then you only want it because it’s easier to sharpen. With a knife, you’ll probably sharpen it using a clamp on some other system, so you don’t need the hollow edge.

You’ll also want a block. If you lack counter space, there are some new blocks that fit in your kitchen drawers.

[sub]* unless you are a moron[/sub]

I’d like to second what Barbarian said. You really need a good chef’s knife with a comfortable handle, and a nice long serated slicer (bread knife). I also have a boning knife but I doubt you’ll really need one of those.

I’d also like to suggest that you buy middle-of-the-road. Stay away from $10 blades at Walmart, and the $200 Henkel. The brand is really quite irrelevent, especially if you’re just cooking at home as a hobby.

I currently own two chefs knives. The first, and my favourite, was an 8in knife from Ikea of all places. It was a great price, with the most comfortable handle I’ve ever seen. When I went through chef school I purchased a set of blades from a local restaurant supply store. They offered a package for $50 that included the chef’s knife, slicers, pearing knife, and boning knife. The chef’s knife was 10in and about twice the weight of the Ikea knife, but I’ve come to love the weight and length. Its also what I use at work.

As a final note, you might want to consider the new Santoku knives. A lot of people swear by them now, as opposed to the classic French style.

Best of luck.

A recent thread on the subject

So what’s the deal with knives and dishwashers?

Short version:

Most modern stainless knives won’t explode if you put them in the DW but it’s better to just wash and dry them as soon as you are done with them. Leave the DW for the gunked up stuff.

High carbon, hand wash only.

The only reasonable place to buy kitchen supplies is a restaurant supply store. It will probably be ugly, but it will be extremely useable and will last forever. The stuff they market for the home is either cheap and worthless or over priced and just plain not worth it.

I’ve got an ugly plastic-handled thing from a restaurant supply store that cost around $20.00, I think. I’ve never been happier with a knife.

Pick up some frying pans while you are there and a decent cheese grater.

Thanks for the replies so far. I’m curious about the recommendation of a santoku knife in place of a regular chef’s knife. What’s the advantage of a santoku knife?

I would recommend the Forschner 8" chef’s knifefrom It’s stamped, but high quality. On the recommendation of some professional chefs, I bought this knife instead of a fancy schmancy forged knife, and I’ve been very happy with it. It’s much cheaper than a knife from Wusthof or Henckels (I think I bought mine for around $25) and it’s very sharp, sturdy, and easy to use.

(I am not affiliated in any way with or Forschner, by the way.)

I managed to get a three-piece set from Shun for a little under half price; a store near here was going out of business and just liquidating stuff. I really liked my old knives, which were some pretty nice $30-each things I bought at a Chinese restraunt-supply place, more than Wusthofs even (haven’t tried Henckels, but when I was looking around there seemed to be a small religious war going on between brand loyalists), but the Shuns really are amazing.

At half off, it was actually pretty reasonable; I haven’t regretted it. I’m not quite sure if I’d buy them at full price, though.

The other really great thing about them, at least from my perspective, is that they give off a really strong impression of being crafted things. Before, with the blocky, utilitarian knives, I had a big problem with my roomies misappropriating my knives (they can probably take it, but my roomies treat all knives like $10 WalMart Specials, and it really annoys me). People look at the Shuns and go oooh, pretty… dangerous and personal, too, so almost everyone will ask before touching.