Updated: AUGUST 20, 2018. Looking for THE Best Knife Set? If so, you’re in the right place! My favorite is this 12-Piece Kitchen Aid set- See more at Amazon.
It’s clear that you can save a great deal by purchasing a knife set over purchasing individual knives. However, with all of the choices available today it can be tough to know where to begin. A quality knife set will give you years of culinary enjoyment. A cheaply made knife set will be frustrating to use, refuse to hold an edge, and need to be replaced before long.
Finding the Best Knife Set
Today, we’ll take a look at how you can get an amazing knife set without breaking the bank. The following knife sets will give you a great quality Knife Set at an economic price.
I started my set with a Chef’s knife that was less than $100.
(Once you get your knives, you need to get a cutting board, too. Don’t forget about keeping them sharp and maintained! Read more about sharpening and the best option in the kitchen is an electric sharpener.)
Here are some of the best knife block sets on the market – at a reasonable price!
Utopia Kitchen 13-Piece Knife Block Set
This excellent set is comprised of 100% stainless steel blades. As such, they are rust resistant, tarnish resistant, and hold an edge. The handles of the blades are made from polypropylene plastic, which is strong and resistant to moisture and both basic and acidic chemicals. This set contains all the tools a chef will typically need, including an 8″ bread knife, 8″ carving knife, 8″ Chef’s knife, a 3.5″ paring knife, 5″ utility knife, scissors, and 6 steak knives all stored in an attractive rubberwood knife block.
Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Block Set
Cuisinart is renowned for producing quality kitchen accouterments at affordable prices. This set contains an 8″ chef’s knife, 8″ slicing knife, 7″ santoku knife, 5.5″ serrated utility knife, 3.5″ paring knife, 3.5″ bird’s beak paring knife, 8″ sharpening steel, all-purpose household shears, and 4.5″ steak knives (6), all housed in a synthetic block. These ergonomically correct knives have a stylish, modern look. They are made entirely of high carbon stainless steel. You can be assured of the quality of this knife set as Cuisinart stands behind it with a lifetime warranty.
Here is a slightly nicer 15-piece Cuisinart set (see pricing at Amazon here).
Chicago Cutlery 1119644 Fusion Forged 18-Piece
Founded in the 1930s, Chicago Cutlery has a commitment to quality knives. Like the previously mentioned sets, this knife block set is made of professional quality high carbon forged stainless steel. Unlike the other sets, this one is made with Exclusive Taper Grind Edge Technology, for maximum sharpness. This also makes them easy to re-sharpen. The handles are made from a soft polymer for comfortable and confident handling. This 18 piece set includes a 3.25″ parer, 3″ peeler, 5″ utility knife, 7.75″ chef knife, 7.75″ bread knife, 5″ santoku, 7″ santoku, 4.25″ steak knives (8), and stainless sharpening steel. This set comes with a lifetime warranty.
Chicago Cutlery Belmont 16-Piece Block Set
This beautiful 16 piece knife set is also made of high carbon stainless steel and polymer handles. These knives come with an extremely sharp factory edge and are very resistant to rust and discoloration. With their full tang, they are not only sharp but also strong. This set comes with 4.5″ steak knives (8), a 3″ peeler, 3.5″ paring knife, 5″ utility knife, 7.75″ chef knife, an 8″ serrated bread knife, kitchen shears, sharpening steel, and an espresso wood block. This set contains the right tool for almost any situation.
Ginsu 04817 International Traditions 14-Piece Knife Set
Since the late 1970s, Ginsu has been making superior quality knives at an affordable price. These knives are made of high carbon 420 stainless steel, making them rust resistant and durable. Included in this set is an 8″ chef’s knife, 8″ slicing and carving knife, 7″ santoku, 5″ boning knife, 4.5″ utility knife, 4.5″ steak knives (6), 3.5″ paring knife, and kitchen shears. These knives have a unique Symmetric Edge design, which means the serrations on either side of the blade are matched for maximum performance and they do not need sharpening. These are full-tang knives with ergonomic handles. This set also comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
Amazon Basics 14-Piece Block Set
This 14 piece set by Amazon Basics delivers precision, high carbon stainless steel blades at a very affordable price. They feature triple-rivet POM handles to ensure a controlled and comfortable grip. The 14 piece set includes an 8″ chef’s knife, 8″ slicing knife, 8″ bread knife, five and a half inch utility knife, a three and a half inch peeling knife, four and a half inch steak knives, kitchen shears, sharpener, and wood block.
Ginsu 3887 Essential Series Cutlery Block Set
This stylish knife set by Ginsu includes an 8″ slicer, 8″ chef’s knife, 8″ slicer, 7″ santoku knife, 5″ boning knife, 5″ tomato knife, 3″ paring knife, kitchen shears, 4.35″ steak knives (6), and a black storage block. Like the set above, these knives boast Ginsu’s patented symmetrical edge technology and therefore do not require sharpening. The blades are full tang and the blade is secured using a triple rivet to the handles. An added bonus, this set is available in several different colors and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
KitchenAid 12-Piece Stamped Delrin Cutlery Set
KitchenAid knives are remarkable in their comfortable handles, stylish design, and extra-sharp blades. This 12 piece set contains an 8″ chef knife, 8″ slicing knife, 5.5″ serrated utility knife, 3.5″ paring knife, 5″ Santoku knife, 4.5″ steak knives (4), kitchen shears, sharpening steel, and storage block.
Ginsu 3891 Essential Series 14-Piece Cutlery Set
This Ginsu knife set includes an 8″ chef’s knife, 7″ santoku knife, 5″ boning knife, 8″ slicer, 5″ tomato knife, 3″ paring knife, kitchen shears, 4.5″ steak knives (6), and a black storage block. Like the other blades by Ginsu, these are full tang and triple riveted to maintain their integrity, meaning the blades will never come loose from the handles. These knives are surgically sharp, hold their edge, and come in a variety of color options. This Ginsu knife set is a great deal for the money.
Find The Best Knife Set – Your One-Stop Guide to Knife Block Sets
So you’re in the market for a new kitchen block set, eh? It certainly has its benefits. You have the chance to get all your kitchen cutlery in one fell swoop without agonizing over buying a series of individual knives, and worrying if you forgot about one when the need arises.
- But how do you know what to look for in a block set?
- Do you really need that 6” ‘utility’ knife?
- What sort of bread knife works the best?
- Do you need 2 different meat cleavers?
Read on to learn the top items to consider when purchasing your knife set, and then go forth boldly into the world of fine cutlery!
Shopping for a full set while on a budget can be a daunting task. A quick search on the internet can bring back figures up to $1,500!
That’s enough to make most of us snuff out that spark of motivation and go back to using that 10-year old utility knife for everything. However, the vast majority of block sets out there include several more knives than you really need.
Believe us, you don’t need all that fluff! And that’s exactly what it is, fluff. It includes all those extra knives and additions that you have absolutely no need for, and therefore no reason to pay for. Maybe 2 serrated knives, 2 different length boning knives, a Santoku knife, and then there’s the 4” paring knife, the 8” filleting knife, and the 6” knife because, you know, it’s good to have an even number between 4 and 8 to choose from.
So what do you really need in a kitchen block set? Many sets have 8 or more different blades or utilities included which can raise the price and lower the effectiveness of the set very quickly.
However, if you are looking for a more minimalist set with high-quality blades, we’ve found the main 4 knives to be on the lookout for.
These are the paring, boning, chef’s, and serrated/bread knives. You’ll find that these 4 can handle all of your kitchen needs, and you will never need to buy all of those extras that many knife sets try to slip in! So here is our breakdown of the aforementioned knives.
Let’s start with the smallest, the paring knife. A single 2-4” blade will cover most of your vegetable and fruit slicing needs.
From peeling to delicate slicing this should be the only blade you need. Furthermore, when you are looking to create a visually striking plate or hor ‘doeuvres you can count on a quality paring knife to give you the cutting acumen of a professional surgeon of foods!
The paring knife is for small, detailed work. For example, if you wanted to core an apple, you could try to use your chef’s knife, but its 10-inch blade would be a little unwieldy.
If you want to chop a potato, use your chef’s knife; if you want to remove a blemish from a potato, use your paring knife.
Think of it as a smaller all-purpose chef’s knife for controlled, detailed work.
A paring knife is generally between 2” and 4” long, and needs to be extremely sharp because it is light, and won’t cut with its weight.
A paring knife can have many different shapes, including a straight edge, curved edge like a chef’s knife, or a turned down edge. A chef’s knife will always be used on a cutting board, but you will often use a paring knife in your hand for a task like peeling an apple.
Here are examples of three different paring knife sets to illustrate the different blade shapes. The bird’s beak style is best for peeling any round fruit or vegetable. The spear point or sheep’s foot style for most applications depends on personal preference.
Wusthof Classic Ikon Bird’s Beak Peeling Knife
See the Wusthof – Classic 2.75 Inch Peeling Knife at Amazon
The shape of this knife blade is ideal for peeling or shaping round vegetables or fruits. It is made from the high carbon stainless steel alloy that Wusthof is known for. A full tang with triple rivets extends through the handle along with double bolsters. The knife is made in Germany like all Wusthof knives and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Henckels Twin Four Star II Paring Knife
This is a standard blade shape, almost like a mini chef’s knife. Zwilling J.A. Henckels uses their proprietary alloy blend of high carbon, stainless steel. Chromium is also used to help resist corrosion. The design is strong with an enhanced bolster and a full tang. This knife is made of a single piece of steel that has been specially treated with an ice-hardening process which they have call Friodur®.
Victorinox Forged Paring KnifeSee the Forschner Victorinox Forged 3-1/2-Inch Paring Knife at Amazon
This Victorinox is on the higher end of their cutlery. It boasts high carbon stainless steel that was ice tempered, similar to the Henckels process noted above. The knife has a full tang construction and a bolsterless edge. The lack of a bolster makes it easier to sharpen the blade. The steel was hot-drop forged in Germany but finish at the Victorinox factory in Switzerland.
Next up for your arsenal is a slim, sharp, boning knife. Measuring 5-6”, these knives are very narrow compared to the others. Of course, these blades are used to remove the bones from any meat you prepare in your kitchen.
Generally speaking, the more rigid boning knives are suited for beef, pork, and the like, while the more flexible blades generally work best with more delicate meats such as fish and poultry.
Regardless of your personal preference, this knife will allow you to maneuver the blade around whatever delicious piece of fish, poultry, or other meat you have on hand without making it look like you removed the bones with a mismanaged broadsword.
Continuing to work our way up the knife tree, the next one you should inspect for a prospective set is the hailed chef’s knife. By far the most important item for your tool belt, this 8” curved blade is certainly the workhorse of the kitchen.
Any cutting job too large for the paring knife automatically graduates to the chef’s knife. You can use a chef’s knife for almost any cutting task, including mincing, slicing, chopping vegetables, slicing meat, even cleaving through bone.
(We don’t actually recommend that you cut through bone but technically, it would be possible, but some type of a cleaver would be a better tool for that job.)
Buy and properly care for a high-quality chef’s knife and it will become your best friend in the kitchen. Chances are you will use your chef’s knife in almost every meal you prepare in your kitchen.
A chef’s knife is generally around 8” or 10” long.
Like all knives, they can be made of a variety of metals, including:
- carbon steel
- stainless steel
- high carbon stainless steel
- even titanium
Most chef’s knives have a wide triangular blade, often with some curve, that tapers to a point, and the point is on a straight line with the handle.
The curved blade shape allows the chef to gently rock back and forth on the cutting board for ease with fast rough jobs (for example, chopping onions, peppers, or carrots).
There are many different styles of chef’s knives, including French, German, and Asian. If you are going to spend extra money on a knife, this would be the one to do it on! The most important factor is to make sure the knife feels comfortable in your hand.
There is a huge range of handles so it pays off if you can try the knife hands on. Most reputable retail stores will let you handle a knife so you can check the handle in your hands as well as feel the balance. And, some places have some carrots or onions that you can cut up too. I found this first hand when I was testing out chef’s knives.
I tend to favor slightly short knife handles or handles that have a slight ergonomic curve. I eventually landed on this Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife made by Shun. It is awesome and fits in my hand perfectly. I have a Wusthof Classic as well and use it a bunch but when I use a rocking motion the back of the Wusthof Classic handle bumps into the bottom of my forearm.
Here are some examples of top of the line chef’s knives…See the Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife at Amazon See the Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife at Amazon
One of several options available from Wusthof, this classic 8” chef’s knife will meet most everyday kitchen needs. The forged high-carbon stainless steel blade has full tang and triple rivets. Though the handle is made of dishwasher-safe polypropylene, hand washing is recommended. As with other Wusthof products, this knife comes with a lifetime guarantee.See the ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Four Star 10″ Chef’s Knife at Amazon
The 10” blade on this knife is ice-hardened, high-carbon stainless steel. Your fingers will be protected by the bolster, it acts as a safeguard. The handle is sturdy, ergonomic, and made of black polypropylene. Hard and sharp, this knife is up to almost any kitchen task. With a lifetime guarantee, you can rest assured that it will last.
Shun Premier Chef’s Knife, 10 InchSee the Shun TDM0707 Premier 10 inch Chef’s Knife at Amazon
This knife features layered Damascus steel for strength, a 16° blade angle, and a hand-hammered finish (known as ‘tsuchime’ in Japanese). The tsuchime adds a hollow-ground like feature which reduces the knife-drag and prevents food from sticking to the knife blade. The pakkawood handle in a walnut finish allows for a comfortable grip and is embossed on the end cap. This Shun knife is sharpened to a 16° angle at the Shun factory in Japan and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Wusthof Classic 10-Inch Cook’s Knife
See the Wusthof Classic-10″ Chef’s Knife at Amazon
This knife is made of high-carbon stainless steel alloy called X – Stainless Steel. The formula is X50 Cr MoV 15 and denotes the amounts of each of the elements.
- 50 – 0.5 % Carbon – The carbon content is one of the main contributing factors to the sharpness.
- Cr – Chromium adds stain resistance.
- Mo – Molybdenum enhances the stain-resistant properties.
- V – Vanadium for hardness and edge durability and retention
- 15 – Contents of chromium, 15%
Wusthof recently rolled out a new cutting edge, called PEtec or Precision Edge Technology. PEtec provides an angle of 14° per side as opposed to the “normal” European angle of 20°.
From the Wusthof website: The blades are measured by laser before sharpening.
Computer programmes calculate the precise sharpening angle for each blade.
The knives are then sharpened on a whetstone using precision robots.
Finally, the knives are given a final polish using a special disc.
Here are a few of the other features to note:
- Durable polymer handle is contoured for a comfortable grip
- Seamless, hygienic fit of the handle
- Full tang is triple riveted to the handle for exceptional durability and control
- Made in Solingen, Germany
Global G-2 Chef’s Knife – 10 InchSee the Global G-2 – 8 inch, 20cm Chef’s Knife at Amazon
This Japanese knife has a molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel blade that stays sharp longer than high carbon stainless steel. Global uses what they call a “face-ground” with a long taper which helps the blade stay sharp longer. Like many other Japanese knives, this Global G-2 is a little bit thinner than a typical European-style knife, like the Wusthof above. It is a relatively heavy knife and is intended for large handed cooks. An interesting feature is the stainless steel handle that is dimpled to resist slipping.
The balance of this knife is very unique – as described on the Amazon page: Global also dispensed with bolsters on its original knives to reduce weight. Balance is achieved by injecting a precise amount of sand for a particular blade style into a hollow handle. To ensure balance is continuous, the sand flows inside the handle as a blade is maneuvered. This is an innovative way to deal with the balance of a knife.
As you can see from the picture, this is a slick looking knife with modern styling. If you love it or hate it, there is no doubt that Global has a particular style.
One critical feature to look out for when comparing the chef’s knives from several different sets is the inclusion of a curved shape to the blade. We’ll touch on the importance of this feature later in the article.
Serrated Knife (or Bread Knife)
Last, but by no means least, comes the serrated knife or bread knife. You can use the terms interchangeably.
You’ll want to cover your bases completely with this one! First, be sure to get a full 10” blade. Many of the knife sets you see on the market nowadays skimp on this knife, and just provide a skimpy 8” blade.
However, those extra 2” will give you the capability to take on more types of bread loaves without having to make additional passes to cut all the way through. More on the blade length in a minute…
Second, abandon the standard flimsy and thin bread knife to find a serrated/bread knife that has some body to it. A solid heel and belly to the blade will make it more versatile for chopping nuts or root vegetables. Examples follow…
You can cut bread with any knife, but if you want to do it the best way here are the features that you need.
A bread knife should be fluted, serrated, or scalloped. A serrated type edge allows for greater pressure on the points of contact, and the cutting action is achieved by dragging the blade across the surface (in this case the bread) versus pushing into it. This will help you cleanly slice through the thick, crusty exterior of the loaf of bread instead of crushing it.
Also, the general consensus is the longer the blade the better. In general, your bread knife should be as long as you can handle comfortably, and ideally 50% longer than the widest loaf of bread you plan to cut.
The long knife allows for less back and forth motion – less back and forth motion means you will cut the bread instead of crushing it. Lastly, of course, your bread knife needs to be extremely sharp with a thin edge that tapers gently into the blade to help make the cleanest slice possible.
The good news about investing in a high quality serrated bread knife is that it won’t need to be sharpened as often as a chef’s knife. It doesn’t take the pounding and abuse that a general purpose knife, like a chef’s knife, takes when cutting vegetables. Here is how to sharpen a serrated knife.
You will only need to sharpen a high-quality bread knife every few years.
A quick search at Amazon for a 10” bread knife returned over 800 results, so there is a knife out there for you for your budget, brand and style preferences. Here are examples and reviews of three 10” bread knives in different price ranges that all receive an outstanding review from users:
Rada Cutlery Large Bread Knife
This bread knife is made in the USA and has brushed aluminum handle. It comes with a protective sleeve and has a lifetime guarantee. The knife is also available with a black handle. The steel that is used is good for the price but not particularly amazing, T420 High Carbon Stainless Steel. If you consider the price of this knife, which should be very reasonable, the trade-off is worth the compromise of steel.
Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox Wavy Bread Knife
This bread knife is made of high carbon stainless steel and is ice tempered to retain its sharpness longer. It has a Fibrox handle is ergonomically designed with a slight curve for balance and comfort, plus it is textured, and slip resistant. It has a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects and is made in Switzerland.
Wusthof Classic Bread Knife
This German knife is forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel and has a triple riveted handle that affords strength and balance. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Wusthof knives are widely considered to be top of the line.
Those are the Essential Knives in the Kitchen
There you go! The 4 blades listed above are essential to look for in a kitchen block set. These can easily tackle any task that arises in your kitchen, and won’t clutter up your counter.
Many of the additional ‘fluff’ knives that come in standard sets give you no extra capability that these knives do not have. For the remainder of this article, we are going to dive into the more technical features to consider as you compare and contrast different sets.
The Nitty Gritty
Thus far we’ve provided you with the type of blade to keep your eyes open while on the hunt for a knife set. Now we’re going to go a little bit deeper into the anatomy of the knives to keep you on the straight and narrow.
One of the most overlooked aspects of a knife is the method and material it’s made from. In the past, the pinnacle of knife making was a forged blade made of high-quality steel. These forged blades are noticeably heavier, extremely sharp, and have a bolster.
For your reference, the bolster of a knife is the thick junction that binds the blade and tang sections of the knife and improves the overall balance.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from forging was a much more inexpensive blade produced by stamping the knife pattern from a single sheet of low-quality steel and sharpening the blade from there. These knives, while much more light, generally lack the bite of a forged blade.
Furthermore, the low quality of the steel used in the stamping procedure led to several quality issues over time. These blades were very delicate (in the knife world), and would often need to be re-sharpened to maintain some semblance of functionality.
The process for sharpening itself also differs between stamped vs. forged. The main difference being that the flexibility of stamped knives limits the sharpening process, and all but excludes a whetstone. Additionally, it was much more common for these blades to degrade and rust long before the forged knives showed any signs of degradation.
However, don’t let that drive you away from stamped blades altogether! The process for the stamped blade has been improving over the past several years, and it is now becoming common practice to stamp these knives from good quality, high-alloy, steel and use a machining process to grind and hone the blade. This produces an excellent finish that is on par with most forged blades.
Therefore, you’ll find that your choice in this particular matter comes down to the feel you want from the blade. We personally prefer a good quality forged blade for the chef’s knife. The extra weight makes a significant difference when you tackle tougher chopping tasks.
On the flip side, a high quality machined blade works very well for a serrated knife. The light feeling aids in the quick and steady strokes required for a swift bread cutting operation. Finally, to ensure excellent quality and stain resistance, make sure you consider the material your knives are made from.
There are 4 main contenders for the material that your knife is made from. Ceramic, stainless steel, carbon steel, and high carbon stainless steel, and we’ll break down each of these to help you make the best decision for your needs.
Starting with ceramic, these knives are renowned for their sharpness. The blades can go for years without a single sharpening session, but that also means that the types of surfaces you can use them on are limited because they can so easily damage common plates and cutting surfaces.
Next up is carbon steel. While this blade can hold a sharp edge and retains a good weight, it is very prone to rust and stains. This is due to the lack of corrosion resistance in the steel. Consequently, these knives are relatively cheap, so beware if you want your knives to last!
One step up from the carbon steel is stainless steel. This particular material essentially takes all of the benefits of carbon steel and adds corrosion resistance on top to protect against rust and stains. However, these knives will still need occasional sharpening and maintenance to keep their edge and prevent pitting.
High-Carbon Stainless Steel
The current pièce de résistance of the material world is high carbon stainless steel. This material is exceptionally strong and will allow you to tackle even the toughest kitchen tasks with ease. On top of that, these blades have remarkable corrosion resistance and will maintain their edge for a long time, and when the time for sharpening does come around, the knife can be tuned up without any special equipment.
Now that you know the material for your set, let’s take a look at overall shape and craftsmanship. To save time and material, many knife manufacturers will create their knives with a half-tang or just a partial tang. You undoubtedly picked up the clue in those names! When looking for a quality block set that you plan to have last for years and years, the words ‘half’ or ‘partial’ tang shouldn’t ring any positive bells in your head.
As their names imply, these types of tang involve skimping on material in order to keep price overheads low. The half-tang method involves creating the blade so that the tang is only about half the width, or less, of the rest of the knife. This means that if you were to take the handle off, you would see a very thin piece of metal that connects to the rest of the knife. This particular style is more prone to snapping or deforming over time as there is so little material connecting the blade to the handle/tang.
As for the partial tang, this method creates a knife where the tang ends prematurely. Again, if you were to the remove the handle from a partial-tang knife, you would see the tang begin at the end of the blade (where the handle should start), but it would end well before it reached the end of the handle. Consequently, these tangs are glued or press-fit into the handle. In this case, the tang is more likely to pop out of the handle as there is much less holding it in place. Long story short, half and partial-tang blades are not the best options when searching for your perfect knife set!
Instead, focus on full-tang blades while conducting your research. The tang on these knives will remain the full width of the blade for the entire length of the handle. What’s more, the handle should be secured to the tang in 2 pieces, by either rivets or pins. This full-tang has increased balance and handling capabilities than its counterparts, and the method of riveting the handles also works to limit separation in the future.
If you’re looking for a few extra fancy points during your knife hunt, you can search for a tapered-tang blade. This method tapers the tang as you move down the width of the blade. Structurally, this method still produces a strong blade, and it also decreases weight at the same time to improve the overall feel of the knife.
We touched upon the handle fastening method for your knife, riveted or pinned through a full-tang blade, don’t forget! But what type of handle material should you be on the lookout for? There are 4 main choices here. You have wood, plastic, composite, or stainless steel. Which one is the best? Wood is very pretty, but that stainless looks so much more rugged, maybe composite is a good middle ground?
Well here’s the breakdown folks, and we’ll start with wood handles. These little gems are likely the most aesthetically pleasing, and you can get several different types of patterns which help to make them semi-customizable. Furthermore, these handles retain a little bit of grip even when wet, bumping up its safety and handling score. On the flip side, wood is very susceptible moisture so washing can present a challenge. Over time, the exposure to water can warp or slightly crack the handle, therefore take care! Wood handles are also the least sanitary.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have plastic handles. These are much more durable than their wood counterparts and withstand water very well. Unlike the wood knives, however, almost all the grip flies out the window as soon as these knives get wet, therefore we advise caution when using them. Lastly, plastic makes the lightest handles out there, and depending on your personal preferences this can be for better or worse.
One step away from plastic handles, there is the composite camp. This material is a blend of plastic resin combined with a firm material, most likely a form of laminated wood. These particular handles are more pleasing to the eye than the standard plastic ones and are also a little heavier which can vastly improve the grip. Depending on the design you opt for, there are different patterns that can be molded into the handle, and these also have the potential to improve your grip in wet conditions.
The last handle we should touch on is stainless steel. Naturally, it’s going to be the heaviest of the 4 options we have presented, but it is also the most durable. You’ll often find stainless steel handles in professional kitchens around the world due to its durability and cleanliness. Additionally, steel becomes slippery when wet so most of the designs you will come across during your search will involve knurled or indented patterns to improve your grip.
There you have it, 4 different types of handles with 4 different properties. You now know the benefits and drawbacks of each, along with the preferred choice among the pros, so go ahead and take your pick!
Sharpness and Shape
Although it falls squarely under the heading of ‘common sense’, knife sharpness is not an item to take for granted! Yes, all the knives you see at the store will be sharp, but how long will they stay that way? Many of the items we’ve covered so far touch on that point. Material, cutting boards etc., so be sure to cover your bases before assuming that a knife’s sharpness will last.
While we’re on the subject, let’s also touch on the general shape of the knife blade. A slight curve in the blade will be a great help when you’re in need of a few chopped nuts or finely diced herbs. A slight curve will allow you to rock the blade back in forth in order to speed of the chopping process, increase the force of the chop, and give the chopper (that’s you!) more control over the entire operation. This particular feature is most important of chef’s knives as these are the workhorses of the kitchen, but a serrated knife can also benefit from this curve.
We have mentioned ‘balance’ and ‘weight’ several times thus far, and it seems appropriate to take a couple steps back and analyze what we mean. First off, there is no established guide for ‘this weight makes the perfect chef’s knife’.
It is all very subjective and reliant on how the blade feels in YOUR hand. Everyone has different tastes and expectations of how a knife should feel and act for them. Some prefer their chef’s knives nice and heavy to help with chopping, while others would rather they be a little lighter for easy handling.
Therefore, we very much recommend you take the time to test out the knives before making up your mind. Naturally, you can whittle down the options by consulting the points we have put forward, but ultimately the decision comes down to what works for you.
Through all the researching and shopping, you now have your perfect knife set with all the essentials at a much more reasonable cost. Congratulations! Just think how disappointed you would be in a year or so if these blades became dull, stained, and unusable. Pretty disappointed we’d wager. So let’s spend a few minutes discussing kitchen knife maintenance to keep your set on the cutting edge of your kitchen.
First, we’ll talk about proper cutting surfaces, and you have plenty of options! Walk down the kitchen aisle in a department store and you have ceramic, wood, compressed paper, bamboo, plastic, and glass cutting boards.
Quite the conundrum of definitive decision making isn’t it? Let’s break it down a little bit.
You can first separate these boards into hard and soft categories. Where the wood, compressed paper, and bamboo are filed under soft and the rest are harder materials. As you probably guessed, the hard materials will eat away at your knife edge much more quickly than the soft materials. This means that your blades will likely need frequent sharpening when using ceramic, glass, and plastic cutting boards.
Therefore, we definitely encourage you to stick to a soft material for your run of the mill cutting needs. Fruits, vegetables and the like can easily be cut on these boards without damaging the blade. However, stash a hard cutting board back in the cupboard for all your raw meat cutting needs as these can be easily rinsed and washed in the dishwasher without absorbing any of the meat juices.
And a word of advice from our past cutting board experience, reserve onion cutting for hard boards unless you want your nice wood cutting board to pass on a delicate onion flavor to all your chopped foods.
Now we move onto cleaning your blade after a heavy bout of chopping for dinner. Rule number 1 here is, never, EVER, wash your knives in the dishwasher. The high heat combined with the powerful cleaners has an excellent chance of damaging your knife blade.
What’s more, the blades themselves can equally damage your machine by slicing the plastic coating and causing rust to form. Then there’s the damage to your knife handle from the water that can cause it to loosen or degrade over time. Long story short, washing machines are a no-no for your kitchen knives, hand-wash them immediately after use, and dry thoroughly to get the best mileage out of your new set.
On this same note, try your best to clean, dry, and store your knives immediately after use. Leaving these fellas marinating in a sink full of water for hours while waiting for a clean is not only dangerous, but leaves the door wide open for the water and other cleaner chemicals to gnaw away at the blade and handle to cause damage. So essentially, clean and dry your knives as soon after use as possible to keep them nice and shiny.
So you’ve made your dinner after chopping on the correct cutting board and you hand-washed your blades afterward, now what about storing them? Wood blocks and magnetic strips both have their pros and cons.
The choice ultimately comes down to your personal space constraints and aesthetic tastes. The main points to keep in mind are that you should be careful not to scrape the blade edge against the wooden sides, if you go down the wooden block route, nor should they be the edge in contact with the magnetic strip.
If you prefer to store your knives in a drawer, be sure to buy a few sheaths to protect them from everything else in there! However, most sets come with an included organizer.
In addition to an organizer, your block set also most likely came with a standard steel for maintenance work. Remember, this steel is designed for ordinary maintenance work. When you begin to feel the ‘bite’ wear off your blade, you know it’s time for a pick-me-up.
Please make sure to read the instructions, or research online, to ensure that you’re using the steel correctly. Suffice it to say, keep the knife at an angle while your pulling on the steel to make sure the razor edge is in constant contact, we’re working on the blade, not the flat!
Using a steel to keep your blade honed will work for a good year or so, but there will come a time when it is best to have your knife blades sharpened by a professional.
The timeframe for this operation can range from 12 to 36 months, depending on your usage. Keep an eye out for the point where working the blade over with the steel just isn’t cutting it anymore, then you’ll know it’s time!
Now then, there’s one more tiny little point we’d like to touch on before we set you loose with your new knife set. Please, for the love of all things kitchen cutlery, don’t mistake your kitchen knives for utility knives.
Grabbing a kitchen knife out of the block to slice open that cardboard box you got in the mail may seem harmless enough, but it can very easily degrade and throw your knife out of sync. Or perhaps you have a few zip-ties you need to cut off, the kitchen knives should not even cross your mind!
Go out and purchase a standard workshop utility knife to handle all those little incidental tasks, and save the zing of your kitchen knives for the kitchen!
There you have it, folks, a step by step guide on the essential characteristics to look out for while searching for a single knife set to cover all of your kitchen needs. We started by laying out the top 4 knives to include in your purchase. These are a chef’s, paring, serrated, and boning knife.
Searching exclusively for these 4 knives to be included in a single knife set should narrow the field somewhat.
Next up, we took you through the manufacturing and materials that go into your knives. On the manufacturing side, we have forged vs. stamped.
We laid out the pros and cons of each of these methods, and it is very much up to you to find what works best in your kitchen. On the materials side, we have ceramic, carbon steel, stainless steel, and high carbon stainless steel.
The top dog of these being the high carbon stainless steel, and we would recommend focusing your efforts on this material if you’re looking for a high-quality block set to last a long time.
Next, we dove into the world of tang and handle material. For the tang of your blade, a full-tang will offer the best quality and longevity over other partial or half tang knives that tend to skimp on quality to keep the price down.
After you’ve found the perfect tang, take a closer look at the handles. Out of plastic, composite, wood, and stainless steel, the top choices among chefs tend to be composite and stainless steel. However, this is more an aesthetic choice so we highly recommend you test out different handles and see what feels the best for you.
Naturally, remember to check the sharpness of the blades as you hone in on a prospective knife set. Consider such factors as the edge retention and resistance to corrosion that may affect how long a knife can stay sharp.
And of course, please please take care of your shiny new block set! We offered a few pointers on the right cutting board for the right job which included the pros and cons of wood vs. glass cutting boards. We also covered the importance of proper cleaning and occasional sharpening. Good hunting!
If you have a larger budget…check out these sets.
Need the Best Knife Set Quick? The Best Block Knife Sets on our list
If you know you want a complete set of knives, then you won’t go wrong with one of these sets. These are premium, high-quality knife sets and will last a lifetime. Any of the sets listed below will be fantastic as a gift for a wedding or anniversary gift.
Why you should get the Chroma:See the Chroma 9-Piece Knife Set with Block and Whetstone at Amazon
- Ergonomic handle seamless perfection transition from blade to handle.
- 9 piece wood block set designed by F.A. Porsche.
- Special grinding method knife stays sharp longer and is easily re-sharpened.
Why you should get the Shun:See the Shun Classic 21-Piece Mega Block Knife Set at Amazon
- 22-piece Complete Set by Shun.
- Made from vg-10 stainless steel clad with 32 layers of high-carbon stainless steel
- Patterned, layered surface; stunning look of Damascus steel with ultra-sharp 16º blade angle and incredible blade edge retention
- Black laminated PakkaWood D-shaped handle provides maximum comfort and reduces friction
Why you should get the Chicago Cutlery:See the Chicago Cutlery Belden 15-Piece Block Knife Set at Amazon
- Exclusive Taper Grind Edge
- The full metal tang provides added, strength, balance and control
- Professional stainless steel blades with stainless steel and triple-rivet polymer handles
- Trend-forward designs
Frequently Asked Questions
Are my knives dishwasher safe?
Yes and no.
Some of these knives are “dishwasher safe” but most if not all manufacturers still recommend hand washing your knives.
For best results, as stated above in the maintenance section of this article, hand wash your blades as soon as possible after use and dry them. Leaving your blades to soak or allowing them to air dry can cause issues such as rust or stains.
Putting your knives in the dishwasher can cause damage to both the blades and the dishwasher. Your blades could become deformed because of the harsh soap and high temperature of the water.
It can be tempting to through your knives in the dishwasher after preparing a large meal, but just remember that you might end up having to replace the knives because you wanted to be lazy.
Is it worth it to invest in full-tang knives?
Partial- and half-tang knives are good for people on a budget who don’t need anything that will be used a lot. College students and campers may benefit from the cheap knives, but everyone else should really get full-tang knives.
Just think, they don’t cost much more than a partial- or half-tang knife and they last a lifetime. You will most likely never really need to replace a full-tang knife, as long as you care for it properly.
Cheaper knives are cheaper in the moment, but can end up costing more in replacements once they start to break, and it’s not a matter of if but when.
Is it better to buy a set or individual knives?
This depends on your needs.
In the article, I discussed how some knife sets provide you with knives you won’t need and might not ever use. If all you need is a chef’s knife, don’t buy a whole set!
If you need a chef’s knife, bread knife, and a paring knife, it might be worth it to get the set. This will save some hassle and guarantee that you have a matching set (if that’s important to you).
An added bonus of buying knives in a set is that they typically come with storage, such as a knife block. This will help protect your blades and keep them sharp.
Can I purchase just a knife block?
Shenzhen Knives has a storage organizer and holder that can hold 19 knives and a pair of kitchen shears. The slots are different sizes to hold different knives.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller check out the Mantello XL Universal Bamboo Wood Knife Block. This organizer is a little different from your traditional knife block. There are no slots in this knife block, so you won’t be restricted by the size of your blades.
There are all sorts of ways to store your knives and all sorts of different knife blocks you can find with a quick search. Check out Amazon and what works best for you!
Knife storage is important, whether you’re storing them in a drawer, on a magnetic strip, or in a knife block. Keep your knives clean and safe to keep them in shape!
Check out Shenzhen Knives’ Knife Storage Organizer and Holder and the Mantello XL Universal Bamboo Wood Knife Block at Amazon
Why have a knife block and not just put my knives in a drawer?
You don’t have to have a knife block or a magnetic strip to store your knives. You can put them in a drawer if you want to, but be careful.
Throwing your knives haphazardly into a drawer is dangerous for you and your knives. Not only could you cut yourself when reaching for your blades, but your blades could chip and injure each other.
If you’re going to store your blades in a drawer, give them their own drawer and keep them sheathed when in the drawer. Sheathes and edge guards can be purchased at Amazon separately from your knives, or when shopping for a knife, look for one that comes with a guard.