Knife qualities that matter most to you

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captaincaed

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Which qualities drive your knife choices?

For me:
  1. Steel quality, ease of sharpening.
  2. Straight blade and handle mount
  3. Comfortable/grippy handle
  4. Good profile - flatter heel
  5. Good grind - easier to adjust than profile
  6. Not too reactive
My list is basically ordered in terms of things that are impossible or hard for me to fix on my own.

Not on my list are damascus, aesthetics, perfect length, perfect heel height, but I know these are major factors for others.

What's important to you, in practice?

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Duukt

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Would #5 good grind include heat treatment?

If so, I would go 5, 3, 2, 1, 4 and exclude 6 because my best knives have all been reactive blades with the exception of a Kurosaki Raijin.
 

ragz

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1. edge retention
1. sharpen-ability
1. blade geometry
2. it's intended use
3. reactivity
3. materials
4. handle
5. fnf
 

captaincaed

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Would #5 good grind include heat treatment?

If so, I would go 5, 3, 2, 1, 4 and exclude 6 because my best knives have all been reactive blades with the exception of a Kurosaki Raijin.
Naw, HT is #1, but saying "HT" encompasses an awful lot. The important aspect for me is easily taking any grit edge I want to throw on it.

#5 grind is pure geometry
 

chefwp

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What about "aesthetic qualities." That seems to be conspicuously missing from the list.
I think if y'all are being honest, it is high up there. Food would be a good metaphor here, taste and texture should be all that matter, and certainly to a blind person, that's it. But there is a good reason instructors drill into culinary students, "you eat with your eyes!"
 

ian

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I think grind, profile and sharpenability are most important to me, maybe in that order.
 

Barmoley

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In use or when buying?

In use

1. Profile
2. Grind (geometry)
3. Balance (I can adjust to some degree, but if I can't then I won't use the knife, so could be 1 at the extremes)
4. Edge retention/stability (Steel + HT properties, ease of sharpening not important)
5. Looks (I think profile is part of it though, so it is probably higher in importance)

When buying
1. Profile
2. Steel
3. Grind
4. Looks
5. Balance (this one is tough, because need to feel it, even if you ask exactly where it is depending on the handle/neck/choil/bolster shape, size, etc the knives with physical balance at the same spot might feel very different in use)
 

HumbleHomeCook

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If talking when buying...

1. Price - While I do tend to migrate to bang-for-your-buck offerings, I mean this as being a little more encompassing. I am quite unlikely to spend more than $250 on a knife but I also mean that the price, even if higher, seems commensurate with the offering overall. But yeah, I'm skimming right over $400 knives so if being fully transparent, price is number one.

2. Design - Meaning, gyuto, petty, etc. I'm often cruising through selections looking to fill a gap or because I'm curious about something.

3. Ergonomics - This one is kind of hard as you so often have to use a knife to really know, but I do like to look them over and at least make a cursory judgment on if they look like the kind of knives I find comfortable.

4. Profile - I like flatter profiles but there's just certain profiles that will talk to me when I see them.

5. Steel - I do have a preference for semi and full stainless but am open to carbon if the other factors above are high enough. I also want a steel I'm either confident I can sharpen or one I want to try. Maybe it's just a steel I've never used. Maybe I really want a PM steel. Maybe I want stainless for the specific application. All of those things play a role in steel choice.

6. Does it look like it will make me happy? Whether it's looks, the usage, steel type, handle, or a combination of all of it, whether or not a knife seems like it s going to make me happy matters. I know we often have to try them to really know, but you can often get a good sense from looking at them.

7. Hardness - I put this in here because it can matter to me. I may not want ZDP-level Rc or may be intentionally looking for a lower Rc for the application. So, knife depending, I do think about it.

8. Overall maintainability - This is a little broad but it might mean do I think it's too chippy, is it too pretty that I will be hesitant to grind away at it, is it too thin? My knives are tools and tools I often tweak.

Edge retention and OOTB sharpness are very low on my considerations. I do think about them but they don't really play much of a factor. Edge retention is just not that important to me and I'm likely to put my own edge on a new knife anyway.
 

JaVa

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1. Maker
2. grind
3. grind
4. Heat treat = 1. Steel, 2. edge retention 3. hardness, 4. edge taking, 5. durability, 6. sharpening feel
5. profile (more specifically edge profile, preferably quite flat)
6. F&F

First I look at makers that are known for good grinds and also good heat treats.
I've learned that for me grind = cutting performance.
And if the steel is well heat treated I'm open to most steels. If those things are in good shape, I can mostly work around other features as long they're not horribly wrong. Good profile is a big bonus though.

But if the grind or heat treat (especially edge retention) is off, I get uninterested pretty quick.

If the cutting performance isn't working for me after initial sharpening, I can overlook that only if the fix is minor and only if the heat treat is spectacular. A Munetoshi I had a brief but lovely encounter with comes to mind as a prime example of a very easily fixable performance with an insanely good heat treat.
 
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Jason183

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1. Ease of sharpening
2. Good edge retention
From previous 2 combined I basically only be looking at blue/white/hd2/SKD steel
3. Ease of maintenance( semi stainless or stainless clad)
4. Edge geometry( prefer high performance thin grind)
5. Profile(different knives have different purpose but for Main working gyuto I prefer KS or Funayuki style)
 
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McMan

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For me... (I'm on the fence about this ranking--see ya later tonight when I re-order it :))

1. Good grind - easier to adjust than profile
• Because you can’t put metal back on…
• Because I’m not going to like a knife with a ****** grind enough to spend a lot of time fixing it, if that’s even possible

2. Good profile - flatter heel
• Because changing the profile means you’re going to have to thin (and maybe a lot, depending on how much the change is). I’d hope this would be maintenance not something necessary OOTB

3. Steel quality, ease of sharpening.
• Because very good steel/HT also requires a very good grind/profile

4. Straight blade and handle mount
• Because crooked blades are annoying. Slightly off kilter handles don’t really bother me and are easy to fix.

5. Comfortable/grippy handle
• Not a factor

6. Not too reactive
• Not a factor (but can be a boon if unexpected)
 
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tostadas

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1. Blade Profile (length of flat spot, location of tip in relation to spine and edge)

2. Steel properties (type, hardness, toughness)

3. Weight Balance

4. Ergonomics (width of neck, handle size/shape, thickness, finger clearance, etc)

5. Grind ... important, but not a deal breaker as I can adjust this myself if needed

6. F&F
 

captaincaed

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What about "aesthetic qualities." That seems to be conspicuously missing from the list.
I think if y'all are being honest, it is high up there. Food would be a good metaphor here, taste and texture should be all that matter, and certainly to a blind person, that's it. But there is a good reason instructors drill into culinary students, "you eat with your eyes!"
Not on my list are damascus, aesthetics, perfect length, perfect heel height, but I know these are major factors for others.
 

IsoJ

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What about "aesthetic qualities." That seems to be conspicuously missing from the list.
I think if y'all are being honest, it is high up there. Food would be a good metaphor here, taste and texture should be all that matter, and certainly to a blind person, that's it. But there is a good reason instructors drill into culinary students, "you eat with your eyes!"
But very rarely I do cut with my eyes 😁
 

big_adventure

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Sooooo...

Assuming we are talking about a potential new acquisition, first up will be some kind of "it" or "wow" factor. I have plenty of beautiful knives here, so I don't need another. Hell, I don't need most of the ones I have, but that's another story and one that applies to most of us here. So, the "wow" - it could be a smith/maker whose work I want to try, a profile or grind that looks interesting, a steel I want to add to the collection, or just something that looked pretty or exciting in photos or in person. Only after that do the practical factors apply, and there, well, the steel is the most important because it's the thing I can't do anything about. Granted, it's all hearsay until the blade hits the board, the product, the stones, but we judge things like this based on reviews, advice, responses, etc. Next up are the hardish-to-correct or interesting things: grind, profile, etc. The thing is, I want these to be good but good is relative to the use case in question, and these things can also be corrected/addressed in the future. I don't care for any specific finish over others, but I would always prefer a "better" example over a "worse" one, all things being equal-ish. I don't think I would pay a 500 dollar premium for purely aesthetic amelioration. The OOTB edge doesn't concern me at all - as I've improved as a sharpener, I basically assume that the OOTB edge will be unacceptable. And so far, I've been right on all but 3 knives in my arsenal.

Now, once the knife is here, things change. I use every knife in my kit, but there are some I reach for by default or more often. I maintain my own gear, so if it's here and on my strip/board, it's doing it's job my way. Edge retention is important but honestly only just - as long as it can make it through a couple of prep sessions before I feel it needs a touch up, it's "enough". Reactivity? I baby my gear from subjective dangers. There is no way rust is happening here. I can make any grind work on the board - I've used all kinds of knives in my life. So once it's here and on the board, there are blades I force myself to use from time to time, and there are blades that just show up in my hand automatically and I'll be halfway through a session when I realize I wanted to use a couple of other knives. Oops.
 

Pertti

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1. Looks, fancy rugged most.
1. Cutting ability
1. Maker, a combination of the previous in a way, but I'd rather theres also "something" about the maker I like.
2. Steel, cladding, sharpenability.
3.?? Dont really care about FF much.

Have just ordered a Takeda large and mabo 195. These ace looks and maker. See about the rest :D.

Ordered a Matsubara nashiji honesuki too today, my 3rd Katsuto Tanaka, like his stuff so far.
 

MowgFace

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Interesting discussion! Thanks @captaincaed !
  1. Profile
  2. Grind
  3. Weight/Feel
  4. Balance
  5. Aesthetics
  6. F&F
Some notes on the above comments.
  • Straightness - To me, this does not drive me to my knife choices. It better be straight, and if it is not I will likely return.
  • Steel - Matters more to me the HT or maker handling said steel.
  • Maker/HT - This one is a tough one for me. Obviously I want a quality maker and a quality heat treat that suits the steel, but personally I have no way to know what makes good or bad. I know what I have grown to like of the steels I have, based on sharpening feel/edge retention/toughness/etc. In all reality, I have no idea. I DO usually find the makers i really like, and trust their hands, but again. Objectively is it good, or do I just like it?
  • Handle - Doesn't really matter to me unless its one of those GOD AWFUL customs that are epoxied on. Ill just burn in a new one that suits me better.
  • Knife type - This is silly. Only Gyutos really matter
 

Pointless1

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At this point, ten years after buying my first Shun and three years after buying my first “real” Jknife, I have to say I have my actual needs covered By my Anryu, Shibata, and Konosuke MM. They all cut food as well as I need them to. So when I look now, I’m looking for knives that have that...je ne sais quoi.

1. Price. I look at all of them I’m not going to spend more than I’m going to spend. It used to be $300, and now is $600 with a margin of error defined by ? but I won’t ever spend $1000.

2. Need. Purely subjective of course, but I’d ideally like something new to have a role. I have lighter knives, so now I want something that just feels more substantial. But it still needs to cut well (realizing that it may not be as good with some items as others).

3. Desire. This combines all of the tangibles (maker, handle, weight, and steel) with the intangibles: reputation, reputed qualities like sharpenability and edge holding, and Does it Make Me Want It. As mentioned, at this point I’m buying for pleasure.
 

captaincaed

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3. Desire. This combines all of the tangibles (maker, handle, weight, and steel) with the intangibles: reputation, reputed qualities like sharpenability and edge holding, and Does it Make Me Want It. As mentioned, at this point I’m buying for pleasure.
I don't think enough people realize this about themselves. Myself included.
 

M1k3

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Straight spine
No holes in edge
Profile
Handle on correctly (if worth keeping)
Grind (not super duper important if there's enough material to improve it)
 

YumYumSauce

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I view the different qualities of a knife more on a spectrum than a # list but generally:

1.Left hand friendly- if its not, its simply not the right tool for me. Im not into collecting/reselling.

2. Price/availability- if I cant afford it I cant have it. If it's not available thru regular means I'm not gonna jump thru hoops when theres other great options.

4. Performance- does it work well for its intended use? Need to use it and judge it as a whole before nitpicking individual aspects.

5. Balance between maintainence, durability, sharpenabilty, edge retention

6. Profile/Grind- In my fairly limited exposure to different knives I do have preferences but like to think Im fairly adaptable to different designs.

7. Comfort in use: handle ergonomics, weight, balance, tallness/length of blade. Again I think I'm fairly adapable. Something light and nimble feels good but so does something with lots of height or more heft.

7. Reputation- Limited funds so I like to read good things about a knife before spending hard earned money on it. Wont prevent clunkers, lemons and ones that just dont work for me 100% of the time but havent got one yet.

8. Steel type- Guilty of percieving certain steels as "good" and wanting them

9. Aesthetics and fit and finish- I still want something "nice and cool looking" if Im spending a pretty penny on it
 

ian

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Straight spine
No holes in edge
Profile
Handle on correctly (if worth keeping)
Grind (not super duper important if there's enough material to improve it)
Must be at least 50 HRC
Profile should be convex, not concave
Should have a handle, or not have a handle
Should not have holes in the middle of the blade
Should be thinner at the edge than at the spine
 

M1k3

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Must be at least 50 HRC
Profile should be convex, not concave
Should have a handle, or not have a handle
Should not have holes in the middle any part of the blade
Should be thinner at the edge than at the spine
Agreed.
 
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