Choosing the best knife set for your kitchen is one of the most important decisions when you’re building your collection of cooking tools. A poor (some people might call them “cheap”) knife set can be not only extremely frustrating but also dangerous since they can be more prone to breaking and become dull which can cause more accidental cuts. I think it’s important to learn how knives are made in order to make a more educated decision on choosing the best knives for my own kitchen, but I also understand others might just want some recommendations on knife sets so if that is you, feel free to scroll down to the bottom for a few of my favorites.
Learning How Knives Are Made
I don’t feel I can ever pick something that is the “best” of anything unless I understand how they are made or the materials that are used in them. If you’re like me, here’s an overview of how different types of knives are made, otherwise feel free to skip down below straight to the recommendations.
Stamped vs Forged Knife Sets
Understanding the difference between stamped and forged knives is very important because it directly relates to the quality and durability of the knives.
Stamped Knife Blades
Stamped knives generally cost quite a bit less than forged knives do because they are much more cost effective to manufacture. In stamped knives, the metal part of the knife that that cuts and is sometimes the metal you can see riveted between handle pieces or sometimes fully covered in the plastic of the handle starts off as a large sheet of metal. Large machines with patterns will “stamp” the shape of the metal knife including handle out of the sheet like a cookie cutter. This leaves the knife’s metal shape but it is the same thickness at the top of the blade as it is at the bottom and then must be ground down into a sharp blade. Once the blades are ground down, they are heat treated to make the metal hard so it will hold the edge better and also make the steel stronger. The first heat treating is done at a higher heat but makes the knives brittle so most stamped knives are actually heat treated twice so they will lose some the brittleness.
Forged Knife Blades
Forged knives are generally more expensive as the process to make them is much more labor intensive. Some are machine forged and others, usually the more expensive ones, are hand forged. Forging is a process where metal is repeatedly heated and shaped (usually by pounding) the metal into the desired shape. The forging process does not create the hardness that heat treating does because the knives are repeatedly heated, pounded and cooled.
Which is Better?
Stamped knives are very durable because of the heat treating process and can last for quite some time. The main drawback of stamped knives is that once they become dull it is quite difficult to sharpen them at home with most sharpening equipment. Stamped knives are generally much lighter also since they don’t have nearly as much metal for the same size of knife. Forged knives can be damaged easier (by say dropping them point first onto granite floors) so they do have that downside although I have not personally ever damaged a forged knife and I’m not usually very gentle with anything. Forged knives also won’t hold the edge quite as long, but they make up for this by being much easier to sharpen at home.
My choice: Forged Knives Are Better
I prefer forged knives due to their heavier weight, build quality and the ability to sharpen them myself at home. If you want to get really kitchen-knife-geeky, you can read about all the different types of knife steel properties here.
Choosing The Best Knife Set
Now that we know a bit more about how knives are built we can make a more educated decision about what type of knife set is best for our own kitchen. Some people will prefer the forged sets due to their craftsmanship, feel and ability to be sharpened easily. Others may prefer the price of a stamped set (although high quality stamped sets can also be fairly expensive) or their lighter weight for repeated use such as large amounts of vegetable chopping. Here are a few of my favorite knife sets in various price ranges with both stamped and forged blades.
Best Forged Knife Sets
Wusthof Classic 36 Piece Knife Block Set 8736 The Wusthof Classic 36 Piece Knife Block Set 8736 is arguably one of the creme de la creme knife sets available. Wusthof Knivesare manufactured in Germany (and we all know how picky about quality those Germans are stereotyped to be) out of a single piece (not welded like some others) of forged steel and feature Wusthof’s Precision Edge Technology to help retain a sharp edge for longer. I do want to warn you that this carries quite a hefty price tag so don’t get sticker shock when you check them out! Click here to find out more about this set. Mercer Cutlery Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Set I just love the modern simplicity of the Mercer Cutlery Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Set! It isn’t a large set, but you can do just about everything you need to with the 5 knives in this set and I personally would prefer to have a high quality set of these 5 knives instead of a lesser quality set just to get more knives. The block is constructed of metal and tempered glass, so the knives are protected in case you try to reach in and touch the blades accidentally. At not much over $100 this is what I would consider quite a bargain for a high quality and very nice looking forged knife set. Click here to find out more about this set. J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set If you’re looking for a more traditional looking forged knife set, the J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 18-Piece Block Set is another great choice and still budget conscious. J.A. Henckels is probably one of the better known quality knife manufacturers with a solid reputation so choosing a knife set made by them could be a great way to get an entry level but still quality forged knife set. Click here to find out more about this set.
Best Stamped Knife Sets
Miracle Blade III 91M3RBXST2 Perfection Series 11-Piece Cutlery Set Now I know some of you may laugh at the recommendation of the Miracle Blade III 91M3RBXST2 Perfection Series 11-Piece Cutlery Set because yes it just has that made-for-TV type of appearance but for they money it is one of the best knife sets available. They are made from German stainless steel, “never need sharpening” and are quite durable. They’re fantastic and can be had for less than $20 for the entire set. At the current $17 price they are only $1.55 per knife. Wow. These are a great choice for someone on a budget who is looking for a good quality set for the money. All that being said, the shape of these knives is different from traditional knives and can take some getting used to so do consider that if you are going to buy them. Click here to find out more about this set. Victorinox 4-Piece Knife Set with Fibrox Handles If you prefer the lighter weight of stamped knives but are looking for a higher quality option, the Victorinox 4-Piece Knife Set with Fibrox Handles can be a good choice. They are built to commercial kitchen standards and designed to be incredibly durable and hold their edge for a long time. The “Fibrox” handles are textured so they are more slip resistant and they have been ergonomically designed for maximum comfort. Click here to find out more about this set.
What About You?
Do you have a favorite knife set that you’d recommend? Please let us know about them by leaving us a comment below.