I know this stuff has been asked a ton of times, but...perhaps you can help with my situation. I'm a noob when it comes to high end knives, although I know the basics. I have also done enough reading here and elsewhere to make my head swim.
I'm getting married soon and am looking into getting some good knives. My fiancee and I enjoy cooking together fairly regularly, although we certainly are not expert chefs. I've looked at a bunch of the Wustof and Henckels knives (at various stores), but after reading a whole lot here, it sounds like I could do significantly better. I also came across some Robert Welch knives that were very comfortable to hold, but given that they're about 55-56 Rockwell hardness, they sound a bit soft. I want some knives that will last and give good performance, as well as being comfortable in my hand.
One thing to note, my significant other is left handed and I'm right handed, so whatever I end up with must be comfortable for both hands.
I'm thinking of a fairly basic set of knives, but would welcome input on what I should/shouldn't have. I included a bread knife as I do eat unsliced loaves of bread fairly regularly. It sounds like the Tojiro ITK bread knife might be a good option for that.
I found a questionnaire on this forum to help give a good profile of me, so I thought I'd fill it out:
-What type of knife(s) do you think you want? Paring, ~5" Santoku, 6" Chef's, 8" Chef's, Bread knife (these are guesses based on what I use now)
-Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing? I would like a quality set of knives to replace the cheap stuff that I have now. I have a decent cleaver that I'll probably keep.
-What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
Aesthetics- Not too concerned with aesthetics, although it's always a plus!
Edge Quality/Retention- Current knives are cheap metal with poor edge retention and sharpness.
Ease of Use- Edge quality makes current knives difficult for some chopping/slicing tasks. They do ok though, as I regularly use a honing rod.
Comfort- Current knives are ok on comfort. Not bad but not great.
-What grip do you use? Pinch grip/choked up often, but not always.
-What kind of cutting motion do you use? Slicing, chopping, rocking
-Where do you store them? Knife block currently, but looking at other options, particularly a magnetized wooden strip on the wall (no exposed metal).
-Have you ever oiled a handle? Never needed to, but able to do so if needed (I'm a woodworker).
-What kind of cutting board(s) do you use? Mostly wooden endgrain boards that I have made. Also a cheap plastic one.
-For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing? Currently use a mediocre honing rod regularly. Open to suggestions for a decent one!
-Have they ever been sharpened? I have not sharpened my current cheap knives, as my cheap honing rod tends to be aggressive enough to sharpen the soft steels. I am willing to sharpen knives though. I currently sharpen the blades to my hand planes (woodworking) so they can shave arm hairs. Open to suggestions on a good stone or sharpening method for kitchen knives!
-What is your budget? Willing to spend a bit extra for a good set, but also don't want to break the bank. Maybe $500ish for all of them.
-What do you cook and how often? Variety of dishes. Plenty of veggie slicing and meat cutting. Like to try new things. Cook a few times a week (just home cooking).
-Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)? Nope
That's all I can think of for now.