Let's cover all the nitty gritty details here and go through how the steels are made, basic knife care, how to keep your blade sharp and the different types of blades available.
The core steel of my knives is VG-10 with an outer Damascus cladding. The VG-10 steel is a stainless steel with a high carbon content comprised of 1% Carbon, 15% Chromium, 1% Molybdenum, 0.2% Vanadium, 1.5% Cobalt, and 0.5% Manganese.
There is no "perfect" knife steel. Knife makers will argue to the ends of the earth about which steel is better and there will always be a difference in opinion. As a qualified Chef for nearly 20 years I have picked my favourite, and this is what I use in all my knives.
So, why do I like this steel? First off, we need to talk about the 'Rockwell Hardness Rating' which is a test that pushes a pin into a piece of steel. The harder the pin needs to be pushed to make an indent, the harder the steel is. The Rockwell rating on my knives is between 60-62. In comparison, here is the Rockwell Rating on other well-known brands:
What this means for you is that you are getting a blade that is durable. The harder the steel, the longer the knife will stay sharp. The steel is easy to sharpen and has very good rust resistance.
DO NOT PUT YOUR KNIVES THROUGH THE DISHWASHER.
I can't stress this point enough.
The high heat and steam inside of the dishwasher will make the wood expand and become swollen and detached from the epoxy. The finish over the handles will yellow and crack and the caustic cleaning agents can cause pitting inside the steel, which will help it rust.
Just warm water, detergent and a handwash will do the trick!
All Knives need to be sharpened but the regularity depends on the use of the knife. You can keep your knives sharp at home by using either a Carbon Honing Rod or a Diamond Steel. What's the difference?
Carbon Honing Rod:
A Honing Rod is not used to sharpen but to restore a bent edge. You would typically use this rod before every use of your knife. It will ensure that the edge of your knife is straight and not curved which will continue to optimise the sharpness of the blade. Using a honing rod as opposed to a diamond steel will stop you from removing steel from your blade as you sharpen, meaning your blade will keep it's original shape for longer.
A Diamond Steel will remove material from your knife. This will restore the V-shape of your blade edge to sharpen it. You would typically not use this method of sharpening frequently - only when your blade is feeling dull. If you use this method too often it will erode your blade very quickly. This is a great method for sharpening if you are a bit lazy or forgetful with knife maintenance (like me).
Over time you will need to have your blade professionally sharpened. If you followed the above care instructions you would typically need your blades sharpened by a professional once a year. If you like to do it yourself you can look in to whet stones. 1000/6000 combo ones are what I recommend, and watch a few YouTube videos to see how it's done. If you're in Adelaide you're welcome to bring it to me anytime for a quick sharpen.
Deciding on what knife to buy can be intimidating, more so when you don't know much about knives. Here is some information to help you make your selections.
People generally fall into one of two camps, or somewhere in between. Some people will keep the tip of the knife against the board and rock it back and forth, making them 'rockers'. Others, like me, will have an up and down motion - they are 'choppers'. There are knives available for both styles of cutting which will help you streamline your cooking preparation.
Blades designed for choppers have a flatter edge along the blade, allowing for more cutting space. The Santoku & Nakiri are perfect for this style of cutting, and which one to choose comes down to personal preference on what feels comfortable. The Santoku is my go to, but only because it's what I'm used to.
Now for the rockers. You want a blade with more of a curve to it, which allows you to rock the knife along the chopping board for a nice smooth cut. Imagine holding something like parsley in a big clump, and rocking the knife back and forth along the board for a nice smooth cut.
The Standard Chef's knife is perfect for this job.
Now these are for the people who fall somewhere in between both cutting styles, or just want more of an all purpose blade. The K-Tip is the first one I would recommend for you. It has less of a curve to the blade than the regular chef's, but more of a curve than the Santoku.
The large and small Chef's knives both fall into the 'all rounder' categories as well. And it's more of a personal preference for both, or what people feel comfortable with. If you've got a big pumpkin or watermelon, the large chef's knife is ideal. Quickly slicing some mushrooms, the smaller chef's knife gives you the accuracy to make it easy.
Now these are designed for certain jobs in particular, and they do those jobs well.
The paring knife is one I use every single morning, I like to cut up a few strawberries for my cereal, and I'm not bothering with a chopping board, so I grab a Paring knife and just cut them up in my hands. It's really good if you're making a quick dish and want to half some mushroom quickly over a pot too.
Now the Utility knife is a great smaller knife, I wouldn't call it a workhorse, but when you need to quickly slice a few lemons to make a drink the Utility knife is perfect.
The Boning knife is as it sounds. If you've got something like a whole lamb leg and want to butterfly it, or just remove the bone, then this knife is ideal. It's a small, thinner blade, with a very fine tip. It can get around all the joints, and break apart all the difficult parts while keeping the meat clean.
The Bread knife - enough said. Great for slicing bread. It's super sharp and you cut through bread like it's butter so that's a tick in the plus column.
The Brisket knife is one of my favourite. It's a perfect power move to pull out at a dinner party. Very little effort goes in to cutting anything, this knife is just that sharp. Pair it with our Carving Fork and you'll be loving yourself sick.
Hey there Mr Fork, I was just talking about you. I never had one of these growing up and I have no idea why not - once you use it you never go back to cutting meat any other way.
Steak Knives! No, they don't need to be serrated because they are so sharp they will cut through the steak like it's fairy floss. These are STEAK knives.
Take care of your new knives with this honing rod, see above for more information on how they work.
Perfect for keeping your blade sharp (and ideal for lazy people like me). See above for more information on how they work.