Choosing your knife

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There is a wide variety of knife choices they come in different designs, steel, form, size, and brand name. You have Damascus pattern or hammered Damascus finish etc. the list goes on and on. What is VG-Max, VG10, German steel, AUS-10? I will explain everything on this page. The knife I can recommend to anyone that is looking for a new knife so that they can start cooking is the chef’s knife.

Chef’s knife and all-purpose knife

Why do I recommend the chef’s knife? They are versatile and can be used for the majority of the task in the kitchen. You can use it to rock chop, slice, push cut, tip slice, etc. The only thing you should not do is chopping through hard bones or frozen food. I did chop through chicken bones when I worked at the restaurant and the German Wusthof Chef’s knife could handle it without chipping the blade. However, they were the knife from the restaurant and not my personal knife. I simply will not cut through bones or frozen food with my own knives. The knife sharpness will decrease super fast if you do that.

Choosing your Knife - Chef's Knife - Nakiri - Santoku - Kirutsuke - 2

Note: I do recommend a Chef’s knife but in the western cuisine we only know one type of chef’s knife which has a rounder belly profile compared to other knives. I prefer a straighter profile and therefore I prefer, the Chinese all-purpose cleaver also called the Chinese chef’s knife. I also like the Bunka, Gyuto or the Santoku knife. So despite recommending a chef’s knife, there are a lot of variations than the standard ”western chef’s knife” that we know.

Info: The Nakiri knife is advertised as a vegetable knife but that does not mean it can’t be suitable for another task than vegetables. It is basically a slimmed-down Chinese vegetable cleaver which we call the ”Chinese Chef’s knife” but then with a different steel type and most likely have a rounded front.

Each cuisine has its own knife!

When I say ”chef’s knife” in this article I do not mean the standard Western/German Chef’s knife. It can be anything from a Santoku to a Chinese Cleaver but more on that later in my next article ”types of knives”. Like I said my definition of a ”chef’s knife” goes further than the typical traditional western/german chef’s knife profile. The cuisine that you plan to cover has a major impact on the knife that is more suitable for you. An easy example to see the differences in cuisines is with the fish dishes. In Japan, they eat raw fish (not pre-seasoned or smoked) and it requires extreme sharpness to keep the fish fresh. In the western cuisine, we mostly eat cooked fish filets no head’s attached and only the filet with all the bones removed. In China, they don’t eat anything that is raw, even cucumbers are mostly cooked before they eat it. Their fish is mostly scaled and they will steam or deep fry the complete fish with skin, head, tail, and all the bones still intact.

Note: This is a small example to explain the differences in traditional cuisines. Now with modern cuisine, we now smoke raw fish. And also with the fusion cuisines, we can now see a shift in flavor palates. Even in China, they are now serving salads in their fusion kitchens. Mostly the ”Millennials” are shifting towards a fusion cuisine. Traditional cuisines still have their place but you will see more and more fusion cuisines. The Millenials in Japan still love sushi but they also love Italian food. So they modified their Pizza with the flavor palate of Japanese people and therefore it is a fusion between Italy and Japan.

The length of the knife

The blade length of the knives is important. For knives that are pre-designed for a specific test like the Santoku or the Nakri, you won’t find much length variations. The shorter the knife the faster you can control it. Let’s start by explaining the length of a western chef’s knife. I will explain the length of the other types of knives in the article ‘types of knives”.

Housewife knife length

”Shorter is better” in the eyes of the ladies when it comes to knives. The ladies simply don’t like to use bigger and longer knives. They prefer a 5 to 7-inch (12,5cm to 17,5cm) knife in their kitchen. Therefore you will see that the Santoku knife also called the housewife knife is 7 inches. And the western chef’s knife is now also available in 7 inches or lower. Personally, I like the 6.5 inches as my minimum length but, what do I know I’m not a lady. I have seen ladies using a utility and even a paring knife as their all-purpose knife (I’m truly amazed that they manage to do everything with such a small knife).

Home cook length

The most common length that you can buy today is an 8-inch (20cm) chef’s knife. They sit right in the middle not too long not too short ideal for the home cooks. Most home cooks will search for an 8-inch length however that does not mean that everyone should get an 8-inch. it comes down to personal preference and for what you are going to use it for. I like my 8 inches however when used in a professional kitchen they are sometimes too short.

Professional chef length

10 to 12 inches is the length that is recommended for professional cooks however, it is a blade length that needs practice and should be used every day in order to have control over it. Of course, it depends on which restaurant and type of cuisine you are using the knife for. Most restaurants that I have worked for used a minimum of 10-inch chef’s knife. The shortest knife is an 8 inch but that was a knife for personal home use and sometimes used in a nonbusy prep day.

General knife length guide

The above-mentioned length is just a guideline it all comes down to personal preferences and where and for what you are using the knife for. So my general guide is the following:

My recommendation:

  • 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm): For the ladies.
  • 7 to 8 inch (18 to 20 cm): For general home use.
  • 9 to 10 inch (22 to 25 cm): For the home chef’s hobbyist and if you have the space for it at home.
  • 10 to 12 inches (25 to 31 cm): For professional cooks, chefs but depends on what cuisine you are using it for.

Note: My recommendation is just a general guideline, this does not mean that you can’t use a 7-inch knife in a professional kitchen. Every person has their own preferences. I personally use 7 to 12 inches at work. a 7-inch Nakiri (for chopping lettuce to make salad etc.), 8-inch Chef’s knife (for days that require less prep work), 10,5-inch Chef’s knife, 9 to 12-inch Yanagiba for small fish and bigger fish like seabass to salmon and tuna.

Warning: Make sure that you also have the correct size cutting board for your knife length. If your knife is longer than your boards cutting surface then it is recommended to buy a larger cutting board. More information about cutting boards can be found here.

The Handle

There are a lot of handle choices for each knife. Some work better on another. There is a preference from chef to chef and person to person. That is why I also recommended you to see what kind of direction you want to go in terms of cuisine that you want to cover. In that case, you would have determined what profile and knife design you want. The handle choices are endless, but the most common handle designs are the standard western handle and the standard Chinese and Japanese handles. Before you can decide what handle is the best you need to figure out what your primary gripping style is. Is it a pinch grip at the handle or the blade? A fingertip or a thumb grip? I can recommend the following universal handle that suits most gripping styles. The Octagonal and D shape handle for Japanese knives. A standard western handle will work for all gripping styles too dependent on the knife design. More manufacturers are making custom handles wich only suits one gripping style. The Global Sai series is a great example of a forced pinch grip at the intended handle design for your thumb.

Note: I recommend the following gripping style for the Western Chef’s knife and that is the pinch grip. Since the blade overall design is the best suitable for a pinch grip especially with the rocking motion from the western cuisines. A fingertip grip is only recommended for slicing motions, if you use a fingertip grip for a lot of chopping then you will put a lot of strain in your fingers. The reason why so many Japanese chefs use the fingertip grip especially the sushi chef’s is that they mainly slice instead of continuous chop. Always adjust your gripping style depending on the situation and food.

Maintenance & safety

It is very important to keep your knife sharp, not only will you perform your task faster it is also safer since you have more control and less resistance. You can hone your knife with a honing rod, or sharpening it with a whetstone. A honing rod is a quick and simple solution to maintain your knife sharpness. Since a honing rod does not sharpen but realign the edge the sharpening effect will eventually fade away. Your only solution is to recreate a sharp edge with a whetstone or let a professional do it for you when that happens.

Never put your knives in a dishwasher! Hand wash them and dry it with a kitchen towel and let it air dry before storing it.

Note: A complete Maintanance Guide coming soon…

Steel Types & Hardness (HRC)

Now that you know what knife I recommend and why it is important to keep your knife sharp it is time to dig deeper into the steel types and hardness also called the Rockwell Hardness or in short HRC (the type of machine they use to measure the Rockwell is called HRC). I can only tell you about my personal experience with the steel types I have used. An HRC or Rockwell is a great indicator of determining what a knife can do or not. The general rule is the higher the HRC the sharper and the more brittle it becomes. usually the higher the HRC the longer the edge retention is on the knife. You have different steel types. I will cover the most popular steel type on this page. I will cover the Japanese High Carbon steel type on a separate page. So basically you have Stainless and High Carbon and Powdered Steel-types.

What knife should I buy?

Once you know what cuisine you want to cover then you know what knife is the best for the task. But most home cooks and culinary students will need and want to make dishes from different cultures. If you want to focus on multiple cuisines then I recommend knives with an HRC of 56 to 58 The reason for this is simple, easy to maintain, stainless, won’t chip or break, medium edge retention and less care is needed. Just to name a few in this range, Victorinox Fibrox (HRC56), Zwilling (HRC 57), Wusthof (HRC 58), Global (HRC 58), or the Shi Ba Shi Chinese All-Purpose Cleaver (HRC 57/58). The Shi Ba Shi is the #1 selling and #1 recommended Chinese all-purpose cleaver in China from home cooks to culinary students and professional kitchens.

Home Cooks: The German/Western Chef’s knife is the knife I recommend as your all-purpose knife especially if you occasionally want to fillet fish or go through small to soft bones. They are versatile and will handle the most task as your all-purpose knife. Won’t break or chip, stainless, less maintenance needed, easy to sharpen.

Chinese All-Purpose Cleaver: is a great knife for home cooks too. It requires some practice but once you master it you will appreciate the knuckle clearance, knuckle guide, meat tenderizer, and food transfer properties.

Japanese Knives: I don’t recommend it to home cooks since they need more maintenance, more brittle, and prone to chipping. Of course, I’m talking about Japanese knives with a high HRC of 60 and above. You can go through soft fish bones and spine but the risk of microchipping is still there especially if your knife technique is not good. You will also destroy your edge and I don’t see the point in filleting a complete fish with a Japanese Gyuto for example. Therefore you need a specially designed Deba for that kind of task. You are better off with an HRC of 58 if you want to do those kinds of tasks with one knife. But if you don’t go through bones or hard food like hard bread, cheese, semi-frozen meat, etc. Then the Japanese knife has a far more superior edge retention than a western chef’s knife. So for your first Japanese knife, I can recommend the Japanese Fusion knives with AUS10, VG10 they are all stainless. Want more sturdiness but less edge retention then you can look at the German-made Japanese style fusion knives like the Santoku from Wusthof or Zwilling.

Culinary Students: For Culinary students, I recommend the same HRC of 56 to 58 just like the home cooks. I don’t recommend the Chinese all-purpose cleaver since it is big, heavy, bulky, and not practical to have one in your knife roll to take it from class to class. Also, it requires a different knife skill than everything they teach you at the culinary school (Unless it is a Chinese culinary school for Chinese cuisine). So a western/German chef’s knife is your best choice. Also, ask your school to provide the recommended knife length.

Profesional cook: If you work in a kitchen then you know what cuisine you cover. I will recommend an HRC of 57 to 58 as your all-purpose knife. I don’t think that a professional chef should only own one knife. So I recommend an all-purpose knife for everything else that does not require special attention. Add more to your collection later on. However, I don’t recommend the Japanese High Carbon steel for western cuisines or fusion kitchens. The maintenance of that knife is something you won’t be able to keep up. Especially if your restaurant is transitioning to the new way of food ordering. So services like Deliveroo, Uber, Just Eat and many more services will make your work a lot harder, more to prep, more to do, and less time for maintaining and taking care of your knives. Japanese Stainless steel is a better choice like the VG10, AUS10, VG1, AUS8. (Only you can decide if you need it or not this is just my advice).

HRC, RC or Rockwell

Here is a brief overview of the Rockwell Hardness:

  • 52-54 HRC: Cheap chefs knives, mostly very cheap 8 euro (10 dollars) made in China. Needs to be sharpened every time we are done with a task. If used in a professional kitchen.
  • 54-56 HRC: Better than cheap knives. Mostly for home cooks and not for the professional kitchen. Most cheap Chinese bone cleavers use this kind of hardness. Needs to sharpen a few times a day if used in a professional kitchen.
  • 56-58 HRC: Easy to sharpen and used in a professional kitchen. Most german knives or better quality Chinese vegetable/bone cleavers use this kind of hardness.
  • 58-60 HRC: Better quality kitchen knives like Japanese knife global. They stay longer sharp but are harder to sharpen.
  • 60-62 HRC: The knives remain sharp for a long time but have more risk of becoming brittle. Harder to sharpen and quality depends on the production. Mostly used in Japanese knives.
  • 63-66 HRC: Needs cleaning after each use and more prone to breaking and becoming brittle. Some steel types with this high HRC needs a wet towel wipe before each slice.

Of course, these are just guidelines. The manufacturer, steel type, and where the knives are made have a huge role in the quality.

HRC 56-58

If you are a Culinary student, home cook, or a professional cook and you are looking for an all-purpose knife. Then I recommend an HRC of 56 to 58HRC. You can pretty much perform all tasks without worrying about chipping the blade. Since the steel is softer it will bend and can be honed with a honing rod. Yes, it is less sharp and the edge retention is not great. However, you need less maintenance and less care for the knives.

The knife brands I can recommend:

They are all stainless and won’t chip. Easy to maintain and you don’t have to switch knives unlike Japanese knives for a certain task. Perfect for cooks that want to test different cuisines.

Tip: It is important to know what cuisine you want to cover. Each cuisine has its own ”Chef’s knife type”. Chinese cuisine uses a Chinese all-purpose cleaver instead of the western chef’s knife. More information about types of knives can be found here.

Stainless Steel

Most knives say just stainless steel without telling you what type of steel they use. The keyword is in ”stainless” it still stains but then ”less”. Most cheap knives or your local celebrity chef use the cheapest form of stainless steel for their own branded knives. They are overcharging you just for their heads on the package. I recommend the branded celebrity chefs knife only if they are on a huge 80% discount (especially when it is their own branded knife). So I would pay max $15 and then I still think I overpaid for it. Good for home use or as a beater knife. My recommended price point for stainless steel without telling you what type they use is $10.

Unbranded Stainless steel is usually 54 to 56 HRC.

German Steel

Like the stainless steel the German steel shares the same pros. The difference is in the material that they use in their stainless steel which gives them a new name ”German Steel” they usually specify the German steel with ”German Steel” or ”4116”, ”4116 German Steel”, ”4116 Krupp” or ”

10-inch Wusthof Classic Knife

They are usually used in Wusthof or Henkels knife with a high stain resistance but medium edge retention. They have an HRC between 56-58.

AUS Series

The AUS steel is produced by Aichi Steel Corporation of Japan. They are tough, easy to sharpen, and has good wear resistance. But the kitchen knives that use this steel only use their AUS 10 or AUS 8 series so we won’t look at AUS 6. AUS 10 has good rust and stain resistance is less brittle compared to other knives with the same HRC of 60. You can maintain and resharpen the AUS 10 steel type very easily compared to a VG10 or VG-Max. An AUS 8 is comparable with German steel with an HRC of 56 to 58.

7-inch Nakiri/Kiritsuke Knife- AUS-10

VG Series

VG steel is made by Takefu Special Steel. Just like the AUS series they have different types. But the knives we can buy for our kitchen usually only use the VG10 or VG-Max series. Despite the higher HRC of 61 vs the AUS 10 HRC of 60, the VG10 series is more brittle and less corrosion resistance than the AUS10. Therefore you will see most VG10 or VG-Max knives being sandwiched between other stainless steel layers.

Kai Shun Classic – 7-inch Santoku – VG-Max

Crmo/CrMov Series

Also called Chinese stainless steel but they also make this type of steel in America. Chinese knife manufacturers use them and the steel manufacturers are mostly unknown. I have been experimenting with a few knives of these series and I have to say that I’m impressed as a cook compared to VG10, AUS10, German Steel, and Stainless Steel. Just like the AUS and VG series they have different types of Crmo/Crmov:

  • 3Cr13 = 52 HRC: cheaply made in China knives
  • 4Cr13 (Stainless Steel) = 55 to 57 HRC Mostly used for Chinese Bone Cleavers
  • 4Cr14MoV = 55 to 57 HRC good enough to make kitchen knives, claimed to be 55 HRC
  • 7Cr17MoV = 55 to 57 HRC. Increases strength, wear resistance, and increased toughness claimed to be 55HRC
  • 8Cr13MoV & 8Cr14MoV = 58HRC Similar to AUS 8 Japanese Steel. This has wear resistance, toughness, and easy to sharpen if it is similar to AUS 8.
  • 9Cr18MoV = Low-cost high corrosion resistance stainless steel should be 58 HRC
  • 10Cr15CoMoV Also called the Chinese VG10 = 60-62 HRC: Claimed to be 60HRC. This steel type is still unknown and only China uses it and they claim that it is the same as VG10 Takefu stainless steel which has good wear resistance and rust resistance.

Of course, these are just guidelines. The manufacturer and where the knives are made has a huge role in the quality.

Hammered Damascus 10Cr15Mov

Update 10Cr15CoMov: After testing this type of steel for more than 2 months in a Professional kitchen I can say that they are definitely not comparable to a VG10 no matter how the sellers want to advertise it. The edge retention is less than a VG10 and the rust resistance is not there either. However, if used at home you won’t notice these differences and therefore I recommend them for domestic use and they are not suitable for professional use mainly because of the rust resistance. The Rockwell hardness feels more like a 59HRC but the quility differs a lot from brand to brand. I can only recommend Xinzuo since they gave me one of the best 10cr15CoMov steel types.

My recommendation?

Even after experiencing different steel types, manufacturers, and brands, it is still very hard to recommend a chef’s knife. Even when I asked for advice from other chefs that I work with everyone has their own preferences. In my career, I have worked with 20+ chefs. And believe me, they all suddenly switch brands and steel types from time to time. It is very personal and therefore I have decided to tell you about the steel types rather than the brand.

Brands that I have used and their steel type:

  • Shun: VG-Max, 61 HRC: Very sharp and has great rust, corrosion resistance but very brittle and prone to chipping.
  • Miyabi: MC63, 63 HRC (They feel slightly sharper than the VG10 or VG-Max series and is lighter than the VG10 but just as brittle and prone to chipping like the VG10)
  • Ryusen Hamano Japan: Cobalt VG10 – 61 HRC: Pretty much the same as a Shun VG-Max Steel type. However, it is sharper more durable than A VG-Max from Shun. Imho, even better than a Miyabi MC63 Steel.
  • Global – Cromova 18 Stainless Steel – 58 HRC: Slightly less sharp than the VG10 but definitely great for everyday use, I have not experienced any chipping
  • Sakai Takayuki: AUS10 – 60 HRC: Out of the box it felt exactly like the VG10 in terms of sharpness and I did not experience any chipping.
  • Wusthof: German Steel 4116 / X50CrMoV15 – 58 HRC: Felt slightly less sharp than the Global but definitely a workhorse! I’m not afraid to go through chicken bones, however, it won’t chip but it certainly can bent depending on how much force was needed to cut through the chicken bones
  • Zwilling knives by J.A. Henckels – Friodur Steel – 57 HRC: Pretty much the same as the German steel.
  • Chinese Brands:
  • 7Cr17MoV – 55 – 57HRC: The quality differs from manufacturer to manufacturer but definitely a good quilty/price ratio of around $15 – $20.
  • 9Cr18MoV – 58-60HRC: Sharpness on par with a Global knife, however, it is more brittle and prone to bending and chipping. Also, the manufacturer plays a huge role in edge retention and sharpness.
  • 10Cr15CoMoV – 60 – 62 HRC: Sharpness on par with an AUS 10 or VG10 steel just as brittle and prone to chipping like the VG10. Edge retention is less than a VG10 or AUS-10 steel. Rust and corrosion resistance is not good.

Note: Some brands use steel types that are not covered here. That is because they use their own special steel designed for a specific brand. Like the Miyabi MC63 or the Zwilling Friodur Steel. Since I’m not a knifemaker but a chef I measure them by using them and comparing them in a real scenario. I think that the Miyabi’s are just a rebranded SG2 or R2 steel.

The same can be said for the Kai Shun VG-Max which is basically a rebranded VG10 exclusive for Shun.

Chinese manufacturers

They are inexpensive and the steel type they use is good compared to the more expensive brands.

Definitely a good buy for the price they sell them for (you will have to pay more for aesthetics so the below price is pretty much the minimum price for the core material without calculating the extra price for aesthetics and brand):

  • 7Cr17MoV $8 to $15
  • 9Cr18MoV $20 to $35
  • 10Cr15CoMoV $35 to $40

The prices above are for an 8-inch Chef’s knife without the aesthetics like hammered finish Damascus layers etc.

Xinzuo Japanese VG10 Knives From China Review (Yarenh)
Damascus Hammered Finish – 10Cr15CoMoV

Warning: The Chinese steel is definitely good considering the price and the performance that they deliver. There are a lot of sellers online that straight out lie about the specification and oversell you this type of steel for 80% more than the original price. The 10Cr15CoMoV is called the Chinese version of the Japanese VG10 and the seller’s straight-up lie about the steel and tell you that they sell VG10 and charge you $80 to $200 for a
10Cr15CoMoV that is worth max $40 (In my opinion for an 8-inch Chef’s knife).

AUS 10 made in China

After using the AUS-10 steel type I fell in love with it. They imported the AUS 10 steel from Japan and therefore you won’t find any AUS 10, 8-inch chefs’ knife under $40.

Click here to go to the ”knives & maintenance” page to read the latest reviews about the knives I’m using or subscribe to my YouTube Channel ”ChefPanko

The aesthetics of a knife and cladding

The hammered Damascus is getting more and more popular. You have knives that have a mirror polish or knives that has been brushed so that scratch marks become less visible. Beware that they also have fake Damascus layers which means that they have ”lasered” the look on the knife. What we now label as ”real” is ”layered Damascus” so steel layers to create the pattern. You also have Damascus edging if the edging is deep enough then you won’t be able to wash it away. The most important thing to know is that these are aesthetics so no benefits at all. Keep in mind that the layered Damascus usually have stainless steel on top of the core material with a lower Rockwell hardness. This means that the layers will scratch a lot faster since the hardness is lower. A hammered Damascus only helps when food reaches the hammered part and that is not really noticeable for many domestic cooks. The cladding is used with softer stainless steel to protect the core material from many of the high Rockwell of Japanese knives. The upside is that it protects the core material making it sturdier and less prone to breaking, the downside is that it can be easily scratched by normal use since the cladding is usually on a lower Rockwell usually below 56.

Want to know more about the core types of knives? Click Here!

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  1. I finally updated this page, and now I’m opening the comment section for those that have extra questions or want some help in choosing their knives. Also, make sure to visit the ”types of knife” page so that you can get a better overview of the knives that are available. I will be adding more videos about each of the knife types on that page.

  2. Excellent write up on knife selection! Helps me decide which will be my next knife purchase. I would like to know more about knife sharpening and maintenance techniques. Great site!

    1. A maintenance guide and knife techniques are planned.
      A video and a dedicated page will be uploaded on the website and YouTube channel.
      If you want a specific topic/subject to be covered feel free to suggest it, I will try my best to cover them in the video 🙂

  3. Wow, just came across your website and I love it, so much information!

    I am a home cook, but a serious one, and I am prepared to take good care of my knives, so I want to try japanese knives, but I cook different cuisines (japanese, peruvian, mediterranean) so after reading your article I think AUS-10 will be better for me than VG-MAX?

    1. Both will be suitable as long as you don’t go through frozen food or bones.
      AUS10 is in my opinion slightly more durable (but you lose some edge retention for the durability over the VG-10/Max).

  4. Very good summary. was actually lookin into buying a chinese made knife.
    wanted to research first so this helped a lot

    1. Glad that it helped you, I also do individual reviews about some of the Chinese brands.
      Keep in mind that I like certain brands but I do not like all their knife line-ups.

      For more videos visit my YouTube channel:

      Thank you for commenting 🙂

  5. Thanks for straight forward information. Just got into cooking since of the quarantine thing and was looking for chef knife. Decide of picking up a wusthof classic! I’m a pinch grip and heard great things about it being a well rounded knife.

    1. The Wusthof Classic is a well-rounded knife, definitely durable and great as an all-purpose knife.
      While the front cap is not nicely fleshed out like the Zwilling it would not really affect the comfort if you ping grip at the blade area. The knife is back heavy wich accommodates the knife profile and use, the Wusthof is personally fixing my blade pinch grip habit and teaches/ slightly forces you got to for a handle pinch grip. It feels more natural but it took a while to unlearn a blade pinch grip habit. (Especially with an 8-inch version it wants you to pinch at the handle).

      I did a review about the Wusthof Classic ”Ikon”:

      In the picture, you can see the gripping point. This is more pronounced with the ”Ikon” version.
      The Classic without ”Ikon” 8-inch is quite similar in where it wants to be gripped, but the blade pinch grip should work perfectly fine.

      You made a good choice I like the Wusthof, only the price is quite steep so I hope that you found a great sale!

      1. Actually I returned it for the IKON because I’ve been hearing people don’t knife the bolster. So waiting on for that to arrive. Also been eyeing on the shun classic 8in since its on a really good sale but I feel like you have to baby that knife since its more brittle?

        1. I agree that you should not buy the one with a full-bolster. Most of the time the one with a full-bolster is usually the one that is on a huge Sale.
          (Wusthof also sells a half-bolster which is the one I recommend but definitely hunt for a discount).
          The Wusthof is a good knife the price is the only thing that is very steep especially if you are from the USA.
          The Shun classic is a VG-Max which is indeed more brittle.
          As long as you don’t use it on bones or frozen food, hard bread, cheese then you should be fine.
          Just as an example an accidental hit with the cutting edge on the metal sink can cause a microchip or bent on the cutting core.
          But the VG-Max has longer edge retention while still maintaining a very good rust-resistant property.

          1. Thanks for the advice! Hopefully the ikon is all I need, don’t want to baby too much. But the shun looks really great and a lot of Michelin chef’s swear by it. Anyways do you have any great recommendations on a good cutting boards that would be a good investment?

          2. The Shun is a good knife and it seems like the pricing went down to a very reasonable price (at least for the classic series).
            As for cutting boards, I love the feeling of an end-grain cutting board there is no other that can replace the feeling of that very soft to your knife edge (and also suitable for heavier Chinese cleavers).
            Edge-grain boards are fine too, but harder on your knife edge but a great contender and won’t warp that fast or easy as the end-grain does.
            Of course, both are natural products so they can warp with temperature swings and even crack. If you want wood definitely buy it at a store with a good warranty and return policy.
            (It is a natural product no matter what brand the chances of cracking and warping remain the same). Also, I would use 2 different boards one for veggies and another one for raw meat.
            Since they may kill a lot of bacteria because of the wood’s natural bacteria-killing effect, the odor and taste remain on the board.
            Therefore my suggestion to get at least 2 since you don’t want to make a salad bowl where you prepared meat on the other day.

            Currently, I like my Hasegawa synthetic rubber cutting-board, they added a wooden plank in the middle to prevent it from warping. This also means that Hasagawa with the wood in the middle is the only rubber cutting board that you can sanitize with boiling water. There is a downside for this board and that is that heavier knives like a Chinese all-purpose and bone cleavers or a Deba are not suitable for rubber boards (you can’t use hacking force on the board since that will damage it). And they are extremely expensive since you have to import it from Japan via eBay and you have to pay import taxes on it too. The Hasegawa with wooden core also has a great side indication so both sides are usable one for raw protein and the other side for veggies (White and Transparent side indication).

            Currently, I use end-grain and rubber boards the most.

            Bamboo is quite hard on the knife-edge therefore not recommended especially for Japanese knives with a high Rockwell of 60+ (there is no use for longer edge retention since the bamboo will reduce it anyways).
            Plastic is fine too but definitely look at the thickness (2cm minimum), a flimsy thin one will not reduce the impact and therefore not great for the knife edge.
            Plastic needs replacement after a period of time hard to restore.

            Hope that this can push you in a direction for a board that will suit your needs feel free to ask more questions 🙂

  6. Thanks again! Gonna look into the shun (just scared of it chipping since I want an all purpose chef knife) And gonna do some research on end grained board! Love your channel btw

    1. Your welcome, Durable all-purpose chef’s knife is the Wusthof or the Xinzuo 440C.
      You just have to get over the hump of being afraid of chipping (it is hard to explain the great edge retention and sharpness of a Japanese knife but once you try it you will understand why you want one even when it is more brittle), I’m planning to make a sharpening guide that also includes restoring chips. Just look it in this way every time you chip you learn what to do and what not to do. It is more the impact so let the knife do the work for you and don’t force your way into something or twisting instead of fully cutting through.

      Thank you for the comment 🙂

  7. Hi ChefPanko I’ve been trying to find the holy grail from your advice I’ve digested, without any success. Do you know where I can get an aus10 8.5 inch Xinzou preferably fancy hammered Damascus?

  8. Hi ChefPanko,

    Your website is amazing and incredibly helpful.

    I wonder what you think of the Robert Welch signature knives? Have you ever used them or heard any opinions on them for homecooks/home chef hobbyists?


    1. Thank you I still try to add more information to the guide/ trying to complete the guide.

      I personally did not try Robert Welch’s signature knives so I can only base my opinions on the pictures and information on their website. The curved cap will be ideal for a blade pinch grip. The chef’s knife profile is interesting it focusses a lot on rocking motion due to the curved blade profile. The handle has an upper curve which will sit nicely in your palm.

      As for the Steel-type, German DIN 1.4116 the Rockwell hardness will be around 56 which is quite soft and the edge retention would not be held for a longer period than 1 or 2 months with regular honing. This means that after 1/2 months you need to resharpen the knife again. (also decreasing the lifespan) These knives are made to be replaced after 1/2 years so that they can sell you another knife.

      Looks great for home cooks but the price is quite steep for a German DIN 1.4116.
      Especially since it is stamped, which many cheap knives are made from. Even with the added design aspect, the knife is very pricy for 60/70 euros. The red dot design awards tell nothing other than that they won because of the design and not because of the functions, edge retention, etc.

      Nothing wrong with the knife, design looks good but just highly overpriced for a German DIN 1.4116 with a Rockwell of 56. I would pay max 30 euro and that includes the design change. Otherwise 20 euro max. And I’m pretty sure they let the knives be made in China, but then designed in a different country.

  9. Excellent write up and it’s very informative even for homecooks! I saw a knife set in Amazon claiming to be Japanese 7Cr17mov steel with 58HRC… is there such a thing since you mentioned crmov is Chinese steel and the 7cr goes up to 57HRC only? Or it’s just advertising? And how do you test for HRC? I saw some of your knife review on Youtube and you’re saying the knife is advertised as 58HRC but feels more like a 56 or 57. How do you feel the HRC?


    1. Thank you, Cr steel-type is usually unknown steel (in other words you can’t track the manufacturer so not exclusive to Chinese manufacturers).
      What a manufacturer can do with HRC depends on heat treatment so it is possible to even reach 58.

      Since I work in a restaurant I can measure knife-edge retention better than a home cook.
      Since we do basically the same prep work every single week for hours a day.
      While a home cook needs just one cucumber to be sliced, we at the restaurant need 100+ a day.

      Of course, the following things plays a huge role in getting an estimate of the Rockwell knife weight, style, and design.
      Since the style/profile can impact the edge the same for the weight etc.

      As a general guideline just so that others can measure I made the following chart that I plan to add in a new article/page since a lot of people want to know an estimate edge retention:

      HRC 56 – 1/2 months
      HRC 57 – 2/3 months
      HRC 58 – 3/4 months
      HRC 59 – 4/5 months
      HRC 60 – 5/6 months
      HRC 61 – 6/7 months
      HRC 62 – 7/8 months
      HRC 63 – 8/9 months

      months with regular honing with a honing rod before needing whetstone maintenance.

      Professional kitchen

      Rockwell 56: Knife died after approx. 30/45min. (Victorinox is one that manages to reach 45min some other cheaper brands manage to survive 30 min despite the claim of a Rockwell of 56)
      Rockwell 57/58, They manage to get the job done longer but a hone is needed after the prep was done (approx. 1.5/2 hours).
      Rockwell 60/61, It managed to survive 4 hours but a hone is needed.
      Rockwell 63+, it survived for 2.5 days (10 hours before a hone).

      This is an estimate but as I said knife weight, style, profile, etc all can affect the edge. (one of the reasons why manufacturers won’t give an estimate since every person use the knife differently)
      But as you can see there is a huge fluctuation in my chart as well since I specify with 1/2 months (since every person uses the knife differently and the knife steel-type and heat treatment plays a role too).

      So how do you feel for HRC? I compare it with knives where the HRC is known and by repetition doing it over and over again every single day you get a feel of each knife and the edge retention.
      Of course, this is not possible to achieve when you just do one single dish at home vs a restaurant setting.

      The above chart is for general/all-purpose knives only since specialized knives have different measurements. Since a Yanagiba that we use at work is mainly used for raw fish and nothing else (which has its own estimate of edge retention).

  10. Hi,
    Just to start – your site and videos are great. No generalisations, like „this steel is better than the other”, very nice table with comparisons of sharpness, toughness and edge retention, easy to sharpen tells you also – per analogiam – wear resistance). So great site and approach!

    Currently I have got a basic all round chef knife from X50CrMoV15 steel, HRC57-58 probably, bought it for $20 maybe in … IKEA Poland. It has exactly the same shape a Global G2, which I bought for my daughter, Global has slightly different handle and is 8g lighter, but the same 58HRC.

    So I had contact with 57-58 HRC steels – these are nice, no worries about maintenance and brittle, but I thought I wanted to try sth next, for now no carbon white or blue, not SG2/R2 yet so maybe VG10/AUS10, HRC60 +/-1 chef’s knife around 200-210 mm, as current one. And my problem is after doing the learning and research at the same time, I realized like a kiritsuke shape, but western adopted so with a little curved shape/belly, I like octagonal wa handle, and with the budget of $200 there is not so many options (compared to standard chef’s) for
    Kiritsuke Wa Gyuto 210mm from VG10/AUS10.
    And I would prefer non-damascus (I like it simple).

    I have found the following:

    $140 Yoshihiro, 210mm, VG10, HRC60, 340g??

    $170 Shun Classic, 200mm, VG-Max, HRC 60-61
    $199 Jikko, 200mm, VG10, HRC 60-62, 181g

    $159 Sakai Takayuki, 190mm VG10, HRC?, 216g,

    $179 Sakai Takayuki, 190 mm, VG10, HRC?, 151g (just different handle)

    There is even less in AUS10.

    I have found also an equivalent of 6A, VG2 or 12C27 steel (DSR-1K6 mono)(based on, very nice:

    $145, Hitohira Imojiya 147g, HRC 57-59 normally for the steel but one retailer claims 60HRC, 210mm C$210

    And a VG1 steel, mono (no cladding I understand), also very nice but VG1…, slightly over budget (theoretically, not available anymore), Ghessin Uraku, $220, 210mm, HRC 60, 124g!

    I have read there are differences in VG1, VG2 and VG10 although but in your table they have the same properties… ?

    Is there any differece between these producers in quality? I like Sakai with traditional handle but maybe a little short (190 mm)? By the look I would pick Hitohira, than Ghessin and Sakai. But only Sakai is VG10 being shorter at the same time (190mm). Is DSR-1K6 ok?

    If a damascus knife costs $170, so how much is the very knife (edge) worth as damascus requires some labour to be paid for?

    I would be gratefull for any recommendation as I am not yet that deep to see the difference between Yoshihiro, Sakai Takayuki, Jikko, Hitohira? Shun you are mentioning And there is also Tojiro DP3 Kiritsuke Gyuto 210mm at $100 or so. Not all of them have wa handle but at this budget choice is limited.

    On top I will probably buy deba for fish and chicken treatment.

    1. Hi Grzegorz,

      Thank you for the comment, the list is based on my personal experience, and of course, there are slight differences per steel-type.
      But those differences are so small that the majority of the home cooks won’t be able to tell.

      Let’s say that X brand and knife has the same Rockwell but a different core material.
      One with VG10 and another with AUS10 same Rockwell of 60.

      You see a few differences on the list, but sharpness I have stated the same. However, VG10 is slightly sharper than AUS10 while AUS10 is more durable the sharpness difference is so small that the overview shows the same sharpness.
      The list is just a quick overview of differences and does not detail the steel composition and the benefits of the material.

      While VG1 and VG10 have a slight difference, the difference is so small that you need to detail the composition used, which makes a quick overview complicated.
      However, the biggest difference I noticed during my time with steel is the Rust resistance. VG10 has a better Rust resistance property.

      Since I have never used a VG2, I have not listed that steel-type in the overview.
      But then you asked something about A6, 12C27 steel, DSR-1K6. Each of them has a low carbon content. This means that the knives are quite soft.
      The low carbon reveals that the knife Rockwell would sit between 54/58 (dependent on the heat treatment).

      But without trying the A6, 12c27, DSR-1k6 steel personally, I can’t say anything about it.

      Now onto your knife selection. You like the shape of a Kiritsuke, but then western adopted with a curved profile.
      You also say that you like the octagonal Wa-handle. Why do you like them? Have you used them or only read about them?

      So the current indication I have is that you like a rounder profile, but why do you like it? (what is your primary gripping style and cutting style)
      You say you like Wa-handle. This indicates to me that you prefer a blade pinch grip.

      With a preference for the curvier profile, you indicate that you are more of a rocker than forwarding chopping/slice and don’t slice that much.
      Is this correct?

      And the knives you linked indicates something different than that you described in your preference.
      I understand that Wa-Handle is harder to find, but some of the linked knives’ blade profile is straighter.

      Yoshihiro VG-10: The profile for this knife shows me it is more of a slicer. Slicing motion or sawing motion is the main purpose.
      While you can make a forward cutting motion, the knife length indicates more slicer sawing or longer slicing strokes.

      Shun Classic Kiritsuke: This shows me a profile that is more in line with your preference. The shape of a Kiritsuke, a tip for scoring or slicing while having a curve for a rocking motion. Keep in mind that this is a D-shaped handle, so make sure you buy the correct handle for your primary hand (left or right-handed handle are available)

      Sakai Takayuki VG10 Kiritsuke: Due to the length of 190mm, it looks more curved, but it is also quite straightforward and most likely a lot straighter than the Shun. So this knife is still more in line with the Japanese cuisine.
      Sakai Takayuki VG10 Kengata: Same profile as above.

      Hitohira Imojiya TH Stainless Kiritsuke Gyuto: It is a traditional Gyuto profile where the western chef’s knife is great for rocking this Gyuto is more for slicing. In contrast, you can still rock slicing is preferred.
      GESSHIN URAKU: a more pronounced curve indicating a more fusion Gyuto than the standard traditional Gyuto profile. (most likely a knife that has been custom ordered by the store to accommodate the western customers)

      Remember a knife is only good if you maintain it, therefore it is more important to find a knife with the correct balance point and the correct profile and handle to accommodate your personal preference.

      Here is why I find the balance point of a knife very important:

      As for the balance, it is still hard for me to explain it, but I did change how I view the balance on video (showing the balance point in a pinch grip).
      The point where you naturally hold (grip) the knife is how I determine the balance point of a knife.

      Giving you the following:
      The fingertip grip: thumb, and middle finger determine the balance.
      Thumb grip: where the knife rest at the pointing finger determines the balance.
      Pinch grip: Thumb and pointing finger determine the balance.

      And then comes the following factor of where you want the balance point, more critical for cooks at work since they prep for hours doing the same task for 1 to 2 hours with the same knife.
      If the balance point is working against them, then they should look for a new knife.

      Yanagiba: slicing knife front heavy.
      Western Chef Knife: main style rocking: Back heavy, middle balance is ok. (I prefer Back)
      Gyuto: Mainly slicing in Japanese cuisine front or middle balance is ok. (I prefer Middle)
      Santoku: up and forward motion, middle balance is the best (I prefer it middle) front-heavy is acceptable.
      Nakiri cleaver styled knife: and middle balance is ok but preferable front heavy.
      Chinese Cleaver: Front heavy since the first half is the most used and the curved belly in the middle prevents you to use the middle for the majority of the task.
      Paring knife: back heavy, since it is used off the cutting board and in the air.
      Utility knife: Middle or front (you are still on the cutting board unlike the paring knife).
      Boning knife: depends on what you debone if it is chicken, I prefer middle/front (Japanese style Honesuki).

      But with a boning knife, I would prefer a knife with a wider comfortable balance zone.
      Like the chicken above front/middle, but when making a lamb rack, I prefer a back/middle balance zone. (so by a simple handle grip switch the balance shift with you)
      I call it ”wider balance zone”, don’t quote me on that. There is probably a better word for it. 😅 (but the handle need to be flexible enough so that it will still feel comfortable by a shift in grip)

      And once you know the knife style, what you intend to use it on, then you can decide what balance point you would personally prefer.
      After that, we look at the handle, the style I want, the balance point I want, but does the balance point feel comfortable with the handle and how I intend to use it.

      So for boning knives, we use it on and off the cutting board all the time we are maneuvering around the meat, so a wider balance zone is preferable unless you want something specific.

      Hope that this helps feel free to ask more 🙂

  11. Hi Chef!
    First thing first, let me tell you that you’ve done an AMAZING job with both website and YouTube channel. This place is really a Bible for coutlery infos, well explained and detailed.
    I have a question for you.
    Since 7cr17mov knives are often advertised as 440c on aliexpress( and we know that is more similar to 440a), do you think that the 440c steel used by Xinzuo is really 440c, or not?
    Where is usually produced the 440c?
    Thanks again for your amazing work!

    1. Sorry for the late reply. 440C from Xinzuo is a 440C. Indeed, they also offer other steel-types, but Xinzuo is a brand that is sold by multiple retailers/resellers.
      They usually import foreign raw materials and then heat treat and produce the knife at a factory as many other brands use the same factory but then under a different brand name.

      Since you can order what types of steel you want and what quality control you want on the knives, it is hard to jump on a new brand and know what you get.
      After speaking to multiple manufacturers, they also told me that some brands add a logo on the blade with a claimed VG10, but in reality, it is the Chinese version ”10cr15comov”. The manufacturer fulfills orders for the brand, so the brand is responsible for informing the customers.

      And for this reason, it is hard to pinpoint a brand that sells good knives. Even when one knife is good, the other series may differ in quility. (so for this reason, I decided to review new brands and only review the knife I received, so if I like a knife, I only recommend the knife I personally have tested and can’t say that the same quility will be the same for each knife line that they sell).

      As for 440C, I find them to have better edge retention, better toughness, and better stainless properties over 7cr17mov. While some brands do a good job and come close to a 440c when heat treated correctly but because of the steel composition, 440C is better than 7cr17mov.

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