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johnsmith45678

Good, Cheap/Inexpensive Knives

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Aren't the Chicago Cutlery knives serrated? I checked out their booth at a trade show about a year ago and thought I remembered they were, and the sales guy boasting that they never needed sharpening.

Actually, it was Cutco and not Chicago Cutlery. Anybody like Cutco?

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Aren't the Chicago Cutlery knives serrated? I checked out their booth at a trade show about a year ago and thought I remembered they were, and the sales guy boasting that they never needed sharpening.

Actually, it was Cutco and not Chicago Cutlery. Anybody like Cutco?

Well, if you can ignore:

  • the very cheap, low carbon steel
  • the "double D" edge that has to be sent back to the factory to be resharpened
  • the hideously inflated prices
  • the deceptive recruiting practices that have earned them lawsuits from three different state attorneys general, and
  • the exploitative and cultlike marketing program,

you have . . . well, knives that aren't any better than the no-name stamped garbage you can buy at any grocery store. :shock:

Friends don't let friends buy Cutco.

Hell, I wouldn't let anyone buy Cutco.

Chad

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Friends don't let friends buy Cutco.

Hell, I wouldn't let anyone buy Cutco.

Chad

Where were you when my family decided to buy me a very expensive set of Cutco knives as a gift? :wink:

I've been trying to figure out how to gracefully get rid of them ever since. They're awful.

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oh man, I feel sorry for you. Those knives are such a piece of crap. I have used them, the manufacturer must have no scruples.

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I've been trying to figure out how to gracefully get rid of them ever since.  They're awful.

Ebay. There's plenty of suckers out there that will take them from you. I've seen "sets" sold over $1,000 before...insane.

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I have a block of stainless Chicago Cutlery and they do the job for me. I hone 'em regularly with the included steel. Succumbed to the siren song of ceramic and bought a 5.5" Kyocera ceramic chef's knife, though, and BOY does that thing cut. It's like the onion just melts away from the blade. I use it rarely, though, since I'm afraid of breakage.

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Fear of use seems a pretty compelling, if unintentional, design flaw.

Not unless it translates into a fear of purchase?

SB :rolleyes:

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I recently get a Kyocera ceramic paring knife with the ergonimic handle. It's perfect -- inexpensive, very sharp and great for cutting up fruits and vegetables.

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I'm living in the town where they are made, and I pretty much can get any of those knives for like $20 from people at the factory. They are so bad I wouldn't even pay that, even though I could walk there if they break or get dull or what have you.

I don't think it's been said, but the other knife you need to have is a meat slicer, a chef's knife will work in a pinch, but a good slicer is nice for lots of tasks such as slicing meat and skinning fish. That brings the total to six knives by my count. Cheap Paring, Nice Slicing, Decent Bread, Cheap&Decent Cleaver for bones, Decent Boning, Nice Chef's. Doubt anybody sells a set of those.

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<shrug> Dunno. I've spent the last couple of weeks in the prep kitchens of a couple of high end restaurants. Nothing but chef's knives in sight. I've done everything from fine brunoise to skinning and portioning 50 pounds of snapper and salmon each morning and never touched a slicer, parer or anything else. All of this is done with knives that are significantly worse than what's found in the average eGulleter's kitchen. The prep cooks love it when I bring my knives in.

You definitely don't need a heavy cleaver. Even a soft edged Wusthof or Henckels will cut through a chicken's ribcage with aplomb and need little, if any, touchup. A harder edged gyuto, unless it is bizarrely thin, will not even notice the difference between the ribcage and the softer breast meat. If you are cutting through hocks or trotters you'll probably do what real butchers do and use a bandsaw. It's just not the sort of thing you do at home.

As for boning knives, I use a 4" paring knife or a 10" chef's knife with the same results. The paring knife is a little easier on weird pocket joints, but that's about it. I have a couple of Japanese honesukis -- poultry boning knives -- that have a very slight advantage around the shoulder and thigh joints where there is more connective tissue, but not enough advantage that I'd recommend that someone on a budget buy one. You can get the same results with a paring knife with relative ease.

You also don't need a dedicated slicing knife. They are indeed nice to have and I love my Chef's Choice 9" Granton edge slicer, but you can get by quite easily without one. The MAC bread knife/slicer and Wusthof SuperSlicer both have a reverse scallop pattern and do double duty as bread knives and slicers better than just about anything else out there.

You can have as many knives as you like. I currently have about 40 on my countertops and in various storage systems, more if you count the Chinese cleavers. I love them. I really enjoy having a wide variety of knives to play with. But if I were in the classic "dessert island" scenario I could get by quite easily with just one knife. As a matter o' fact, I have to remind myself that my job at the moment is to test knives so I need to spread the workload around. Otherwise I'd just reach for my favorite and use one 270mm gyuto for just about everything.

Take care,

Chad

edit: spellig


Edited by Chad (log)

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First, I'd take Chad's advice about knives, period.

Second, I'd like to second... um... agree with the recommendation for Chicago Cutlery knives. Solid, cheap, do the trick.

Finally, the OXO bread knife is the best one I've ever had, and it was dirt cheap.

I DO NOT agree with the recommendation for Chicago Cutlery. The knives they made 20 or so years ago were great, not so great recently.

Also agree that Cutco is garbage.

I would go with Chad's reCommendations here. Trust me, I am a serious knife nut! :wink:

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Chad - what about the 270mm Tojiro-DP Gyutou. You said the 8 inch is a great deal. This too?

I'm not Chad but yes, it is an excellent deal. You'd have to pay over $100 for a similar quality blade from other makers.

One caution about the Tojiro's, which is minor though, is that "fit and finish" wise they are not always perfect, or as fine as a more expensive knife. However, you still get way more than you pay for in the wonderful steel.

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Hey fellas, nice thread.

Last Christmas I bought several of these sets (Marshal fields, $29.99) to give away.

gallery_39290_2072_79244.jpg

These are very nice knives for the money. Although I don't like the small one so much, I liked the 8" a lot. I bought another set just in case. Been using/abusing it cutting chicken wings and the like since x-mas, it's still as sharp as the day I got it.

gallery_39290_2072_20972.jpg

May not need to open the other set after all! Unless the wife couldn't find the screw driver. :hmmm:

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Anybody like bird's beak paring knives? I've never use one.

Love mine for certain tasks such as removing the core from quartered apples and similar things.

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Chad - what about the 270mm Tojiro-DP Gyutou. You said the 8 inch is a great deal. This too?

Yup, all of the Tojiros are real bargains. If you are interested in western-style Japanese knives, you might also take a look at JapaneseChefsKnife.com. They are in Japan but shipping to the US is only $7 and your stuff arrives startlingly quickly. They generally have great prices on everything. You do have to negotiate a clunky and slow website, though. That seems to be the case with most Internet knife stores.

Fit and finish on the Tojiros is said to be somewhat variable. The three I have on hand at the moment are all excellent, easily rivaling any big name German brand. However, the one thing the Japanese makers are going to have to get better at, though, is finishing their knives to German standards. I have a couple of $200-$350 knives where the handle slabs aren't smoothly blended into the tang, the bolster is sharp edged and pokey and are the knives are just plain uncomfortable to use. That's why God gave us Dremel tools :shock:. That sloppiness is just not going to fly with the Williams-Sonoma crowd, even if the performance of the knives is head and shoulders above just about anything out there.

Take care,

Chad

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For anybody (like me) who doesn't know much about Japanese knives beyond the santoku, here's a good article and graphic:

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/...il20ataste.html

I'm still not sure how a gyutou differs from a chefs knife - longer blade?

Not a bad article. Nice intro to Japanese knives, both traditional and western-style.

The gyuto is the equivalent of a chef's knife. You can do anything with one. They differ from the German knives we're used to seeing in a couple of major ways. They don't have as much belly as a German knife, but a little more than a traditional French knife (like the Sabatiers), which are more triangular in profile. Most important, though are the weight, steel and edge geometry. Gyutos are significantly thinner and lighter than their German counterparts. For example, I just did a quick check of a couple of knives in my rack at the moment. The German-style 10" chef's knife is 13oz and 5mm at the spine. The 270mm (10.6") gyuto weighs in a 9.5 ounces and 2.25mm at the spine. That lighter weight makes a huge difference when you're going through a case of beets or dicing 25lbs of apples (which I did last week). Gyutos also don't generally have the full bolster of German-style knives, which makes sharpening them much easier.

As an aside, the notion that a full bolster is a sign of quality is pure marketing bullshit. The bolster is a side effect of the drop forging method, nothing more. German makers tout the bolster as a way of balancing the weight of the blade, but that's just as easily accomplished by changing the weight of the tang or handle. Bolsters are evil.

The steel in a gyuto is generally going to be of higher quality and be significantly harder than the German or German-style equivalent. Many, like the Shuns and Hattori/Ryusens, have a VG10 core at 60-61Rc wrapped in layers of softer stainless steel. The softer steel gives the knife added toughness to make up for the slight brittleness of the core. My 270mm Masamoto is pure VG10, a stainless ubersteel that I absolutely love in the kitchen. Other gyutos are high carbon steel and are not stainless. They require a fussier level of maintenance but are great performers. Some, like the Tojiro DP line, have a hard, high carbon core with a jacket of stainless so only the edge takes a patina. All of them have much higher carbon levels and are much harder than their German or German-style counterparts, which come in at 54-56Rc (generally). The added hardness of the gyuto allows the edge to be much, much thinner, which raises the performance level of the knife greatly. It also makes gyutos harder to sharpen. If you're used to just swiping your knife down the steel a couple of times, you're in for a rude shock. The thin, hard edge of a gyuto is prone to chipping if steeled with a western style grooved steel. They need a high grit ceramic to align and lightly hone the edge. Sharpening by hand takes a lot longer, too, and the hard steel hangs on to the burr/wire edge more tenaciously than the softer German steel, which can be extremely frustrating.

One exception to this generalization is the Chef's Choice line of knives. They are made of a higher quality steel than most German-style knives and are hardened nearly to the level of the Japanese gyutos. They are excellent performers, though the edge is a little obtuse for my taste.

Hope this helps,

Chad


Edited by Chad (log)

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<shrug>I've done everything from fine brunoise to skinning and portioning 50 pounds of snapper and salmon each morning and never touched a slicer, parer or anything else. All of this is done with knives that are significantly worse than what's found in the average eGulleter's kitchen. The prep cooks love it when I bring my knives in.

You definitely don't need a heavy cleaver. Even a soft edged Wusthof or Henckels will cut through a chicken's ribcage with aplomb and need little, if any, touchup. A harder edged gyuto, unless it is bizarrely thin, will not even notice the difference between the ribcage and the softer breast meat. If you are cutting through hocks or trotters you'll probably do what real butchers do and use a bandsaw. It's just not the sort of thing you do at home.

As for boning knives, I use a 4" paring knife or a 10" chef's knife with the same results. The paring knife is a little easier on weird pocket joints, but that's about it. I have a couple of Japanese honesukis -- poultry boning knives -- that have a very slight advantage around the shoulder and thigh joints where there is more connective tissue, but not enough advantage that I'd recommend that someone on a budget buy one. You can get the same results with a paring knife with relative ease.

You also don't need a dedicated slicing knife. They are indeed nice to have and I love my Chef's Choice 9" Granton edge slicer, but you can get by quite easily without one. The MAC bread knife/slicer and Wusthof SuperSlicer both have a reverse scallop pattern and do double duty as bread knives and slicers better than just about anything else out there.

You can have as many knives as you like. I currently have about 40 on my countertops and in various storage systems, more if you count the Chinese cleavers. I love them. I really enjoy having a wide variety of knives to play with. But if I were in the classic "dessert island" scenario I could get by quite easily with just one knife. As a matter o' fact, I have to remind myself that my job at the moment is to test knives so I need to spread the workload around. Otherwise I'd just reach for my favorite and use one 270mm gyuto for just about everything.

Take care,

Chad

edit: spellig

The reason you didn't touch a slicer was because you're talking salmon and snapper, generally not needing a slicer knife. If you portion strip steak, or skin a grouper, you'd have wished you had a slicer on premesis. A heavy clever i use for cutting through backbones, or smashing up other chicken bones for stock. You can do that with your chef's knife for sure, but it's easier to dedicate a knife for that stuff. As for brunoise, that's a chef's knifes job, IMO. I don't use boning knives, that was mentioned above so I carried it, apparently they come in handy for some people.

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I'm living in the town where they are made, and I pretty much can get any of those knives for like $20 from people at the factory.  They are so bad I wouldn't even pay that, even though I could walk there if they break or get dull or what have you.

I don't think it's been said, but the other knife you need to have is a meat slicer, a chef's knife will work in a pinch, but a good slicer is nice for lots of tasks such as slicing meat and skinning fish.  That brings the total to six knives by my count.  Cheap Paring, Nice Slicing, Decent Bread, Cheap&Decent Cleaver for bones, Decent Boning, Nice Chef's.  Doubt anybody sells a set of those.

"the town where they are made" being Chicago? Kyoto? Somewhere else?

And "they" are...?

This is one of those occasions where you should have used the "quote reply," as I did here, rather than a plain old reply.

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The reason you didn't touch a slicer was because you're talking salmon and snapper, generally not needing a slicer knife.  If you portion strip steak, or skin a grouper, you'd have wished you had a slicer on premesis.  A heavy clever i use for cutting through backbones, or smashing up other chicken bones for stock.  You can do that with your chef's knife for sure, but it's easier to dedicate a knife for that stuff.  As for brunoise, that's a chef's knifes job, IMO.  I don't use boning knives, that was mentioned above so I carried it, apparently they come in handy for some people.

I just realized that my reply seemed like a direct response (and challenge) to your post which immediately preceeded it. Sorry 'bout that. I meant it to be more general. I agree that a good slicer is a great thing to have. I also agree that a good boning knife is a nice thing to have. This thread started, however, with the idea that JohnSmith was looking for a "good, cheap set of knives."

I'm suggesting that rather than buy a cheap set, he spend the same amount (about $60 as I recall) on one good knife and then build from there. While doing everything with a chef's knife isn't as convenient as having a dedicated slicer, boning knife or cleaver, it's still better to have one really good knife than four or five crappy ones.

Take care,

Chad

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I just realized that my reply seemed like a direct response (and challenge) to your post which immediately preceeded it. Sorry 'bout that. I meant it to be more general. I agree that a good slicer is a great thing to have. I also agree that a good boning knife is a nice thing to have. This thread started, however, with the idea that JohnSmith was looking for a "good, cheap set of knives."

I'm suggesting that rather than buy a cheap set, he spend the same amount (about $60 as I recall) on one good knife and then build from there. While doing everything with a chef's knife isn't as convenient as having a dedicated slicer, boning knife or cleaver, it's still better to have one really good knife than four or five crappy ones.

Take care,

Chad

That is definately the truth, a good chef's knife is the key starting point. You can get by with some of the Dexter Russell chef's knives, I haven't tried that many some of the newer ones seem kinda junky. I have one with a tacky grip that I work with that holds an edge into next month, not that great status wise, but it has some sentimental value having used it for as long as I have.


Edited by coquus (log)

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