View Full Version : cheap boning knives
05-16-2005, 10:01 PM
I'm looking for something cheap for work to get me through a couple lean months before I can afford a couple nicer pieces. Right now my usual knife is just a standard issue stamped forschner, but I'm thinking about picking up either a Henkel Twin Signature ($23) or a stamped MAC ($28). I realize both are stamped and not great pieces of steel, but I imagine either are upgrades from what Im using. Opinions? Just grin and bear it until I got some real money to spend?
05-16-2005, 10:57 PM
Grin and bare it. I used a forschner for years with great success. Hold out and get something good. Put that $28 away and then that's $28 more knife to chose from. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
05-17-2005, 11:35 AM
I agree with blwchef. Save the dough. Cook's Illustrated gave the stamped Forschner chef knife a higher rating than the forged German knives. So you might spend money on something not as good!
Whoa. Easy. Not true. I think Cook's Illustrated does a pretty poor job of reviewing cutlery but they aren't that bad. They thought the Forschner were a better value, not a better kife. They didn't test any stamped knives that are better then the Forschner even though they are really easy to find. That's how the whole silly thing got started. I trust Victorinox sends them a Christmas present every year.
As an example, they liked the stamped Mac santoku better than other santokus. Why? They didn't really say but the reason is that the Mac has harder steel than the others they tested and the others they tested aren't any better balanced than the Mac. If they tested that stamped knife along with the Forschner, Forschner would be a footnote in history instead of the U.S.'s most popular house knives.
05-17-2005, 12:37 PM
Not sure which MAC boning knife you're looking at. They make a couple, both selling in the $25-30 range. If it is the one with the upswept blade and plastic handle, I have no experience with it. If it is the pakkawood handled one with the plastic sheath, I have owned it in the past and would caution you against it. The one I purchased had some unacceptable gaps between the end of the blade and the handle scales which were constantly crammed with fat and debris. I spent more time cleaning the crap out of the gaps than I did using the knife......
05-17-2005, 07:43 PM
The forschner shape is sort of unique. I have a few laying around. It will get you by untill you buy a nice one. I still use a wusthof, and I like the shape other than the sharpening problem presented by the bolster. Pretty soft also. One of my next will be a cheap little tojiro.
I actually wouldn't mind having a custom made in the shape of the wusthof but with better steel. Would there be a way to get the round tip and straight edge of the wusthof without the bolster shape? I might play around with some profiles. Maybe put the bolster shape on the handle, keep the edge straight, and use removable screw pins on the handle so you could remove the blade for sharpening. I crazy.
05-18-2005, 10:09 AM
OK Fred, appreciate your feedback here. I have certainly disagreed with many of CI's ratings/opinions and you have made some good points about their knife reviews.
05-18-2005, 10:31 AM
OK now I have the original Cook's Illustrated article from July 1999 titled "Rating Inexpensive Chef's Knives".
It gave the Forschner (Victorinox) Fibrox Model 40520 the top rating, not just the best value. The knives tested were ranked best to worst:
Friedr. Dick Pro-Dynamic Hi Carbon No Stain
Dexter/Russell SofGrip stain free high carbon
Zwilling Henckels no stain rostfrei
Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition
That said, they also published an update in Nov. 2002 where they equivocated a bit on the stamped vs. forged point, stating that personal preference for lighter or heavier knives made a difference.
Here is a quote from that article:
"What Should You Buy?
First of all, let it be said that all of the knives in our testing did a perfectly good job even after we butchered 30 chickens and cut up the same number of butternut squash. Our testers were divided into two camps: those who prefer a lighter knife (7 to 8 ounces) and those who like the power of the heavier models (9 to 10 ounces). (However, based on prior testing, we don't recommend that you buy a knife that weighs less than 7 ounces—it will be too lightweight for many tasks.) As for forged versus stamped, it simply doesn't matter, nor does the existence of a bolster. And as for the handle, it has to fit your hand much like a glove. Before you buy a chef's knife, pick it up and see how it feels. Most folks preferred a softer, textured plastic handle to either steel or hard plastic but, once again, we discovered testers who were exceptions to the rule.
If you prefer a lighter (and less expensive) knife, look to either the Forschner or the Oxo (about $30). For those who insist on a heavier blade (with a forged blade and bolster), the Wüsthof Grand Prix or Henckels Four Star are great bets, and at $87 and $70, respectively, both are less expensive than some of the more esoteric brands we tested."
Which of the knives on the list are forged? I don't think any of them are. The Henckels and Lamson don't say which series they are. All the others are stamped just like the Forschner. There is no Wusthof on the list.
I can tell you that, if they were to test knives over a period of time and add performance and edge retention to the collection of assets, #2 and #3 would both outperform the Forschner. I know because I've tested them myself. The thing they seem to prefer about the Forschner is the ergonomics of the handle. That is interesting since I think the ergonomics of 1,2 and 3 are about the same. Obviously they disagree.
I did a bit of blind testing with a panel of testers back in 1999. I found that women tend to prefer light knives and men tend to prefer heavy ones. In that sense I feel personally that the women are right because a light knife produces less fatigue. The heavy, forged knives, however are better balanced. The stamped models aren't balanced at all. In that sense I think the men have it right because I think good balance is important in a chopping knife. So people choose light or heavy for different reasons. I think the real slam dunk that the Japanese gyutos have is the combination of light weight and good balance.
Last year CI did a test on high end knives (what I call mid priced knives.) The winner in that test was the now discontinued Wusthof Grand Prix. Forschner wasn't included since it isn't a high end knife even though Forschner does have a forged line. Last year they also reviewed santokus and the Mac SK65 was the winner. The problem is that someone reading the first review thinks the Forschner is the best brand on the planet. Those reading the others think Wusthof or Mac are the best. No surprise there.
Actually, they are all good brands but not necessarily the best for a given application. I'll give you some examples from my own personal preferences. I have no use for the Forschner house knives but I think their forged line is as good as any of the European brands. The Forschner brand is a good one for me but knives they tested are not. I don't like Wusthof chef knives at all. They are heavy and have too much belly for my personal preference. I have Wusthof Super Slicer that I like a lot. It is stamped. Wusthof is a good brand for me but not in forged chef knives. I don't like the Mac SK65 or any other santoku for that matter, but I sure do like my Mac Pro Series parer. So Mac is a good brand for me but not in a santoku. I think you get the idea.
CI needs to do two things relative to knife reviews. In the first place they need to involve performance in the mix of cosmetics and ergonomics and they don't have a system for doing that. Secondly they need to have some sort of numerical scale on which they can put the products so that someone doesn't confuse a stamped Forschner with a forged Wusthof. That can't be done with a panel, so they will need to augment the panel with someone who is involved in all the tests who can put the knives into categories.
Another interesting thing is that they appear to be comparing stamped knives in the review but then comparing them to forged knives from a completely different category of knife in the article, saying that some people like light and others like heavy. That's fine except they aren't reviewing them together to show people how to decide whether light or heavy is more in tune with their preferences. Sorry, I didn't mean to turn this into a rant.
05-19-2005, 05:03 AM
No objections to the "rant", Fred, I always learn from your posts.
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