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Thread: I hate asking, but I have too!

  1. #1

    I hate asking, but I have too!

    Hi All, I know I'm just another guy asking, but I really want to purchase a quality set of knives that will last me, well my kids, forever! I just missed out on a set of 13 VINTAGE SABATIER KNIVES on EBay. I really didn't know enough to value these knives, but my desire is to get a set. I'm willing to spend up to $1000.00 and looking for the minimum number of knives necessary. I love to cook and have been doing all kinds of Cuisines for years. I'm a custom woodworker and understand that quality tools come at a price, so thanks for listening to my plea for direction/help

  2. #2
    Senior Member Potato42's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    North Carolina
    Sabatier are fine knives but you have many options especially in your price range. A lot of people show up dead set on getting a set, and that's ok, but around here we're going to challenge you to ask yourself why. If you just want similar looking knives, that's ok. If you think having every kind of knife imaginable is going to make you a better cook, that wont happen. As far as a set goes most would recommend a chefs, paring, and bread knife as the standard kit. You can add a utility knife, a slicer and a boning knife to really round things out.

    Having a family around that abuses the hell out of my knives, there are a few things I recommend you keep in mind when selecting a knife. First, make sure that you're willing to see your knives abused from time to time if other people are going to use them. Since you plan to pass these on to future generations, I don't see you keeping them under lock and key. Teach people how to properly handle and care for them, but expect the advice and knowledge to go unheeded on occasion. This doesn't mean you must select a stainless knife over carbon, but be prepared to to expand your idea of what you consider "patina" if you go carbon. I have literally discovered a carbon knife submerged in water at my house, and they know better! (Just about all my knives are carbon BTW, but it doesn't deter me) At my girlfriends house, her one and only decent knife, a shun petty, has been used as a tool to clear the sink...

    Since you cannot control the actions of other who may use these knives, you might consider knives that aren't hardened quite to the level many of the Japanese knives we covet are. 64-65 HRC is a Ferrari level heat treat and can perform as such, but it also takes similar care and maintenance to keep it in tip top shape. I had a Watanabe gyuto floating around in the house for a while, and it ended up with chips in it after a short time. My family will never grasp the concept of "hard foods" and thus as long as such a knife was available to them to use, it would not get proper care. 60-61 HRC is still very hard steel, but in my experience holds up much better to abuse.

    Finally, consider the long term use situation with these knives. How will they be sharpened? How will they get touched up? You might want to have an alternate knife or two so that when one gets dull, you can simply trade in the other. If you want to send them out for sharpening that's ok, but long term you save money doing it yourself. Touch ups can be with a strop or steel. A few years back ceramic rod "steels" were in, now it's leather and balsa strops.

    You have to start somewhere, and given all the choices, I recommend getting just one knife before you buy a whole set and realize you wanted something slightly different. I still have the first couple j knives I bought and I like them, but they're not my favorite knives. If you can give us a little more info on your cooking habits and needs we'll try and find a good fit for you.
    - Sean

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Pensacola, FL, USA
    First, welcome to the forum!

    Don't feel like you missed out on anything special by not getting that set of Sabatier knives on eBay. There are better knives available. A budget of $1000 give you a lot of choices, but I won't make any specific recommendations at this time, and please don't listen to any that are given in a well-meaning attempt to answer your question. Frankly, you need a bit of education about kitchen knives, and I mean that in a good way, so you can make an informed decision, and not waste you money.

    I'd suggest that you start by reading a book: An Edge in the Kitchen, by Chad Ward. This is, in my opinion, the best first step for someone new to kitchen knives. The book is subtitled "How to buy them, keep them razor sharp, and use them like a pro." It's the unofficial "bible" of kitchen knives.

    I think that after you've read it, you'll realize you don't need a set of 13 knives; you need a general purpose chef's knife or gyuto, and a short parer or petty. Those two knives will let you do 90% of what you need in the kitchen. If you want to, add a slicer or sujihiki, and maybe an inexpensive serrated knife for bread.

    So, read the book, and we'll be here to make suggestions after you have.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Rockport, TX
    Welcome! I suggest you stick around. There are quite a few woodworkers here, and they make fantastic boards and handles. For that price, you really can get a full set up - 2-3 knives, board, storage, stone, and strop/hone that will shine in a household setting.

    My first suggestion is this: Buy one at a time! Figure out what knife you use the most, and let us know what it is, how you use it, and why you want to replace it. We'll fit you with a winner to be sure.

  5. #5

    echerub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    There's fun to be had when buying a lot at once, or within a short time frame, but financially speaking it makes a *lot* more sense to buy 1 at a time and gradually find out what works for you and what fits your style + preferences.

  6. #6
    Since you are woodworker:

    Wouldnt it be fun having done your own handles?

    If you really believe you will go down this road of knives, I can promise you that cooking will be more fun than ever.
    The cheapest way to start is to go for a 240 Hiromoto AS and a couple of stones. Then you can see if this is something for you or not. You can even rehandle it your self.

    If you just want a goodlooking knife, that you might send for sharpening I would go for a Devin Thomas 240 ITK

    There are mainly 3 knives you will use as a homechef:


    You might use a breadknife from time to time

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    mano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    You'll get a lot of good input here.

    As someone who was very recently in your position and who has learned a a lot since then, my advice is to contact JBroida

    He'll guide you in the right direction by asking lots of questions and never tries to sell you anything. I bought only one inexpensive knife from him and he recommended not buying two other things I thought I needed. Jon's a former chef so he's tuned in to the realities of cooking.

    IMHO work backwards. Look at what and how you cook and select the knives and stones that fill the need. For me it's a gyuto (chefs), honesuki (boning) and sujihiki (slicing). Plus two water stones. You may need a different set-up but it's unlikely you'll need more than 3-4 knives.

  8. #8
    Thank you Sean for your extensive response. I found it very enlightening, even though I do almost all the cooking I realize from time to time the family will do some "dumb" things. However I have been able to instill the following thought in all their heads, when it comes to my tools, " you break it you bought it ". And some of my tools are quite expensive! It just means at times more chores around the house, helping Mom out .

    Rick, thanks for making me feel like I didn't miss out by not getting those Sabatier knives on EBay. They sold for $620 Four Star Elephant logo and if, as most of you have suggested, one at a time is the best course and mixing different makers is perfectly acceptable, so I'm glad I lost! I will order Wards book tonight and read it.

    Yes, Eamon I do plan on getting board, storage, stone and a strop/hone. I renovate and restore Craftsman homes and find myself constantly making stuff I cannot find! I'm a hands-on guy and respect my tools and this is exactly how I would look at a set of quality knives. I plan to stick around this great forum!

    Thanks Len for echoing what the others have said, I will go down the "one at a time road".

    And finally, Oivind_Dahle I would find it very relaxing making my own handles. And I want you to know I own twenty or so chisels and sharpen them as standard operating procedure!

    To all of you thanks for such a warm welcome is quite a special thing to have complete strangers give such thoughtful advise, it is sincerely heartfelt.

    OK because you asked, I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, I prepare meats and vegetables, my gal loves homemade soups. I build them from scratch. She loves fresh fruit and vegetables. I will buy larger cuts of meat, all kinds, butcher them then freeze. This includes whole chickens. I bake bread and cakes from time to time.

    I just finished buying vintage revere ware, pre 1968, the heavy type, 2X copper bottom, all kinds of pots and pans about 65 pieces including the lids! And 1950's Flint utensils! I just took a look back and said these were the things I grew up with and they seem to stand the test of time. I would like to be able to say the same about the knives I will be purchasing.

    So some may ask the following question,

    What have use been using? Well a clever, one small pairing knife, an old bread slicer and a 14-inch carving knife. That's kind of it. So I want to step up get some great knives.

    Thanks to all of you for you time. I look forward to your responses. Greg

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Rockport, TX
    AW I had a revereware stockpot that I grew up with that my parents had from forever ago, and it got STOLEN after I absentmindedly left it on the porch during a short-notice move. Pissed me off for weeks.

    What kind of motion do you like to use when cutting? Are you planning to learn to cut differently, or do you want a knife that suits your style?

    Do you want to make things for them, like matching custom handles, your own magnetic strip/knife block? Cause if you do, you can buy great blades with fugly handles and save some cheddar.

  10. #10
    Well Eamon I guess I use all kinds of motions, rolling my Clever back tip down, sometimes the opposite. I'm ambidextrous, I write left handed, but can do most things with either hand. I learned at an early age to keep my fingertips turned under and allow the knife to ride off of my knuckles. I'm willing to learn how to properly use a knife, I just ordered Chad's book, it should be here in about a week.

    Sorry to hear about your lost/stolen stock pot. A Made Under Process Patent Patent 2272609 Double Ring 1801 Copper Clad 8Qt can be had for around $35 plus $10 shipping off of ebay. These are the only type to buy, period. Revereware has been increasing in price over the last 2 years about 15%. I have 20Qt,16Qt,12Qt,10Qt,8Qt stock pots and have used them all, the 20Qt I used to brew beer!

    I have a good friend who works at a hardwood store, I can get any type of wood I need, yes I planned to make a block and have some magnets kicking around. What type of blades are you talking about?

    Hi Mano, Didn't mean to leave you out, just was typing away when you posted. Thanks for the link I'll check it out, I'm glad to see someone else has gone through this recently!

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