The F.N. Sharp Guide to Buying Shiny New Kitchen Knives
If you’re ready to upgrade to your dream kitchen where cooking is a pleasure rather than a chore, then buying new kitchen knives should be at the top of the list. These essential kitchen tools should be a blend of form and function, duty and durability. Let’s get real.
Quality vs. Junk: What to Look for When Buying Kitchen Knives
Let me guess, currently knocking around your silverware drawer next to the PBR bottle opener from college is a chef knife so dull it reminds you of your last Tinder date. And there’s probably a bent paring knife that you occasionally use to chunk an apple and open the mail.
You probably also have a sad set of serrated steak knives that wouldn’t saw a piece of steak even if it was pre-chewed, Yeah, we said it. The only tasks these knives can do is break open the packaging on a box of cereal. Do yourself a favor and lose those mangled-handled, loose-riveted, warp-bladed and faded old soldiers for new knives that you wouldn’t dare use to open your credit card statement.
Isn’t it about time you toss that janky set of mismatched Ginsu knives you bought at Goodwill and level up? I mean, come on, we know you tried to cut a beer can in half with that rusty Ginsu back in the day, and all you got was stitches and a tetanus shot (and now everyone calls you “Ginsu Gary”).
Seriously, though, if you’re a little freaked out about dropping some serious coin on knives, then read on for some F.N. Sharp tips on how to select cutlery that not only delivers supreme performance, but makes you feel like a Samurai warrior that can paper-slice a tomato in mid-air.
Sound good? Read on!
What’s So Great About Great Knives?
Unlike the ‘use it then lose it’ function of lots of kitchen gadgets, serious cooks and chefs know that a quality knife is an elemental extension of their hand – an absolute essential component that works as a means to an end.
Energy is everything, so no matter what you’re slicing, dicing, chopping, or mincing, owning and using a quality knife not only makes the job easier, but safer. Save your energy and your sanity by seeking and buying good, quality kitchen knives that deliver.
Just the Facts, Ma’am – Quality vs. Junk
Ask yourself: Can your cheap knife perform the Tomato Test? Can it slice cleanly through a tomato without crushing it into a pulpy heap on the cutting board? No?
What about the Onion Test? Can your cheap knife slide through that onion without sliding off its slippery skin? No? This is why you need a quality, sharp knife and not some dull, subpar kitchen knife – so next time, YOU’LL make the onions cry!
Oh and speaking of cutting boards – the type of cutting board you’re using (or not using ? ) could also be a problem. Make sure you pick up a new cutting board when buying those new kitchen knives – and make sure you pick one that will be nice to your knives (may we suggest Acacia wood?)
Ok back to the knives – So, what should you look for in a quality knife? Read on.
Be Steel My Heart – The Best Steel for Kitchen Knives
Budget blades may get the job done in the beginning, but very quickly lose their sharp edge, which makes your job harder and therefore, less safe. The cutting edges of cheaper blades develop ‘rolls’ and microscopic burrs that keep the blade from making clean cuts. The more pressure you place on the cutting edge of the blade, the duller it gets and the higher the risk of injury.
A dull blade is a dangerous blade. Most cheap knives are made with 440-Stainless Steel which will work today but not tomorrow or any time long-term after that. A crappy knife will have a blade that is riveted into the handle, rather than a continuous piece of metal from the tip to the butt. This means the blade can get loose inside the handle and move around while you’re trying to cut (and probably harbor some bacteria too). How do you think Uncle Frank lost his finger?
A quality blade runs the length of the entire knife, delivering a solid source for cutting. Cheap steel knives are like the difference between a beater car and a BMW – one of them is bound to break down (and it’s not the Beemer).
At F.N. Sharp, we craft art with utility and deliver it to you. Ask any home or professional chef and you’ll find out that a high-quality knife is worth its weight in gold – or in this case, VG10 steel at the core and 67 layers of VG10 and VG2 Japanese steel that reveal a distinctive Damascus feather pattern on each side.
Knife Knowledge 101: The Best Stainless Steel for Kitchen Knives
Wait, What is Damascus Steel?
Forging Damascus steel was a lost ancient art of the Middle East among Samurai sword makers and, thanks to science, has enjoyed a modern-day resurgence. Modern day metallurgists have recreated the process of layering steel to create an exceptionally sharp edge and a stunning blade of intricate patterns.
F.N. Sharp Knives could be considered modern day swords, capable of handling the simplest to the most complex culinary tasks in the kitchen. Aside from being beautiful, Damascus steel is revered for its ability to hold a sharp edge, while remaining hard yet flexible.
Samurai swords forged from Damascus steel were vastly superior to their counterparts forged from iron. Now you can wield those superior Damascus blades in the kitchen – and yes, you can call yourself Samurai Warrior Walt or Wendy if you want – just make sure dinner is ready.
Hold Me Close – The Best Handle Material for Those Kitchen Knives
Often overlooked, but super important to keep in mind when buying kitchen knives is the handle. Thankfully, modern technology affords us many choices for knife handles that are far more sanitary, safe, and comfortable than cheaply made knife handles we’ve been accustomed to. Not to say that some wooden-handled knives are not works of art because they can, indeed, be quite stunning.
Handles made of bone and wood and even stag antlers are popular with hunters and sportsmen, but they’re not necessarily practical for a domestic or professional kitchen.
Plastic, ceramic, and some forms of aluminum handles are cheap and generally acceptable in the kitchen, but can discolor, warp, and crack. Discolored handles are unattractive, warped handles don’t fit in your hand safely and cracked handles will absorb moisture and can harbor dangerous bacteria. Pretty, but pretty cheap.
When you’re looking for quality kitchen knives, function and durability often outweigh aesthetics. But, with F.N. Sharp, you’re guaranteed both. A solid knife handle directly correlates not only to your performance with the knife, but overall safety. A good knife handle balances perfectly in your hand, allows your fingers to grip comfortably without too much overlap and does not create fatigue even during those extended slicing and dicing sessions.
Remember the last time you tried to make homemade pico de gallo with that crappy knife, AKA screwdriver substitute? My point, exactly.
F.N. Sharp knife handles are made with a premium fiberglass laminate known as G10, a type of Garolite (fiberglass epoxy laminate) made with layers of glass that are pressed together with epoxy and heat-treated for hardness. This makes the handles corrosion and rust-free, lightweight, strong and durable.
G10 also provides an excellent grip for both right and left-handed users. It’s also water and chemical resistant, making it the perfect handle for any kitchen task.
What Kinds of Knives Do I Need?
This is not an all-inclusive list, but here’s a great start towards gradually replacing the crappy with the quality.
The Chef’s Knife
The all-purpose Rock Star in the kitchen, a quality chef’s knife is the perfect knife for a wide variety of tasks. If you’re amassing your quality knife kit, then the chef’s knife is the first and only place to start.
Find a knife with a solid blade from tip to the butt (more on parts of a knife here) and a handle that fits snugly and comfortably in your hand – and for you ‘artistes’ out there, one that makes you feel like a true Food Network celebrity.
The F.N. Sharp Chef Knife will be the sharpest tool in your shed (or kitchen)! Eight uncompromising inches of elegant Japanese VG10 steel honed to a cutting edge fit for a Samurai are marked by a swirling, feathery Damascus pattern that will make you feel like a true chef.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Chef’s Knife
The Santoku Knife
Take your sword skills to the next “I’m-showing-off-now” level and get yourself one of these bad boys. The name “Santoku” translates to “three virtues” – and after using this knife, you’ll see it masters three basic tasks: slicing, chopping, and mincing.
Not to be confused with the sleek design of the chef’s knife, the F.N. Sharp Santoku boasts (it really does!) an impressive overall length of 11.25” and features a “Granton” edge that keeps starchy items like potatoes from sticking to the blade as you slice. This Japanese-style chef knife is so popular, we’ve included it in both our 3- and 6-knife sets.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Santoku Knife
The Utility Knife
If the chef’s knife is the king of knives, the utility knife is the ‘jack of all trades. Often referred to as the “tomato knife” or the “sandwich knife”, this handy kitchen knife performs a variety of small jobs with ease – from slicing meats and cheeses for a charcuterie board to (you guess it ) slicing up tomatoes and cutting sandwiches in half.
When shopping for utility knives, you’ll find they commonly come with a serrated blade – not at F.N. Sharp. Available individually and in our 6-knife set, the F.N. Sharp Utility Knife comes straight-edged and ready for business.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Utility Knife in the Kitchen
The Boning Knife
You know you need this one. Despite its name, the boning knife’s skills aren’t limited to removing bones from meat – it’s also a great tool for carving rinds from fruit (we’re looking at you, pineapple bark!) and shaping sweet treats.
What makes the boning knife different from other kitchen knives is the thinner, semi-flexible blade. The flex allows you to maneuver in tight places and cut with precision, like closely following the contours of bone when preparing meat or removing that pineapple bark without sacrificing any of its juicy flesh.
Also included in our 6-knife set, the F.N. Sharp Boning Knife comes with a 5.5” Damascus steel blade and an overall length of 10.75”. It’s designed to perform the tasks of both a boning knife and a fillet knife so you can get the best of both worlds.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Boning Knife
The Paring Knife
Don’t let this mighty midget fool you! The paring knife can do tasks that other knives in your collection just can’t (or not very safely).
With its small blade and pointed tip, the paring knife is the go-to when it comes to preparing fruit – from peeling an apple to segmenting citrus to hulling strawberries. It’s also handy for scoring meats, breads and other baked goods, and even deveining shrimp like for these easy shrimp recipes inspired by Forrest Gump. For tasks that require detailed, in-hand cutting, the paring knife just fits.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Paring Knife
The Bread Knife
Most people think a serrated knife is only good for bread, but you need to understand the versatility of this special knife. While it is ideal for that purpose, its longer blade is used for carving turkey and slicing prime rib – as long as it has the right edge.
Coming in at an impressive 8” blade length, the F.N. Sharp Bread Knife is a cross between a bread knife and a carving knife to create fewer crumbs when slicing bread and better juice retention when slicing meat. Kinda makes you wonder why anyone would have it any other way.
Knife Knowledge 101: Top Uses for a Bread Knife
Let’s face it – you’re not going to cook the perfect steak for everyone. Whether they’re rare, medium rare, medium or and well-done (‘well-done Dave’ doesn’t get invited back), they’ll probably come off the grill all the same, anyway. Your saving grace will be to offer them a sharp steak knife that won’t out the fact that you overcooked the meat again.
Take the F.N. Sharp Steak Knives, for example – they offer 5" of straight-edged sharpness to slice through any hunk of meat without ripping it to shreds (like most serrated steak knives). Just watch those knives glide through that shoe-leather – uh we mean steak!
Knife Knowledge 101: The Best Steak Knives – Serrated vs. Non-Serrated
Keeping Those Quality Knives in Perfect Working Order
When you drop serious dough on quality knives, the last thing you should do is treat them like the warped hand-me-downs you got from Grandma when you rented your first apartment (not judging, I still have mine – I just use them to open packages ?).
Instead, love those knives like they’re your kids (or pets). Read on for some tips!
Keep It Clean – Take Care of Those Knives
We already know your idea of cleaning your crappy knives “perfectly” means throwing them in the sink with the other dirty dishes while you go Netflix and chill. You think it’ll soak overnight, right? Sure, this is why your knives are loose in the handles (and the wood is swollen, smelly, and takes forever to dry). Hello, bacteria!
There is a reason why quality knives deserve quality care. You want knives that work? Then a little bit of work on your part will keep your quality knives clean and ready to work when you are – just follow these tips:
- Never leave them in standing water. Not because they aren’t durable enough to handle it, but because being knocked against the edges of the sink or other dishes could dull the blade or chip the tip.
- Keep them out of the dishwasher. For the same reason listed above but also because the granules from powdered dishwasher detergents will scrape and dull the surface and sharp edges of your knives.
- The best way to protect your Samurai swords, er, kitchen knives is to hand wash them with an uncolored a non abrasive wet cloth or sponge and some mild soap, then rinse and pat dry with a towel.
If You Love Me, You’ll Protect Me – How to Store Those Knives
Face it: The best don’t nest with the rest. Keep your modern-day swords safe from the crappy commoners in their own special crib. Make sure you have the best knife storage to fit your needs (and protect those beauties).
If you don’t have room for a knife block but have the space for a specialized knife drawer, a compartmentalized in-drawer knife block keeps knives in their own little slots for easy access.
Magnetized strips on the wall not only keep your knives suspended and free from contact with anything else, but also makes a great conversation starter when your guests want to hear the story of those ‘fabulously sexy knives and where did you get them?’ Just tell them fnsharp.com.
Ideally, however, you want to keep your knives safely stored away from heat, light, dirt, and that one nephew who thinks your knives make good excavating tools in the backyard (he can have the crappy ones).
If you do have space for a knife block, might we suggest this beauty from F.N. Sharp? Made of beautiful Acacia wood, our knife block features exterior magnets to showcase your ‘sexy’ Samurai knives, plus interior flex rods that give you the freedom to store knives or other culinary essentials in any configuration you like.
Love Me Tender – and Keep Me Sharp!
You may try to fix your beater car, but you’ll take the Beemer to a pro for regular maintenance, won’t you? You trust your hair, your yard, your pool, and even your dog to a professional, so why not your knives?
Whether you’re a home chef or a professional, clearly the most important investment you’ve made in your kitchen deserves the same level of care, right? Instead of spending hours trying to learn how to sharpen your kitchen knives (without destroying them), leave it up to the professionals.
And if you follow these tips for keeping those babies in perfect working order, along with the rules of kitchen knife safety and using the best cutting board – yes, we've got those, too, in both large and small!) – your knives will have a better chance of keeping their edge..