The basic information on the chef knives below will greatly benefit you in your decision to buy a chef knife.It will increase your understanding of the different types of chef knives. When you purchase your chef knife, you should consider at least two things: how the blade is processed and what the blade is made out of. After you check the blade process and material, you should consider other options, such as length (usually 8-10 inches), blade shape, types of edges, and handles.
1. How is a knife blade processed?
The blade, the most important part of chef knife, is usually made in two different ways: forgedand stamped.
“Forged” blades go through a complicated multi-step process and are usually made by hand by experienced forgers. This makes forged chef knives more expensive than stamped knives.
The process of creating a forged chef knife is to heat the steel to a very high temperature, beat it into shape, and then grind and sharpen the blade.
Usually, forged knives are full-tang, meaning the blade in the knife runs from the tip of the knifepoint to the very end of a handle.
“Stamped” blades are made in a less complicated way than forged blades. Stamped blades are cut from cold steel, heated, ground, and sharpened.
When you choose a high quality chef knife, consider purchasing a "forged" blade to insure the highest quality.
2. What is the knife blade made out of?
The blade can be made of various metal combinations: carbon steel, stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel, titanium or ceramic.
The best benefit of "carbon steel" is that the blade can be very sharp. However, the drawback is that the blade can easily rust and tends to discolor.
“Stainless steel” is a combination of several metals with only a small amount of carbon.
Low-quality stainless steel is not as sharp as high-quality carbon steels, but it has a high resistance against corrosion, and tends to cost less. However, high-quality stainless steel can be sharp as well. Stainless steel needs frequent sharpening to keep a good edge.
“High- Carbon Stainless steel” the best carbon and stainless steels. It is tough, strong, sharp and corrosion-resisting, but it can be very pricey.
"Titanium" is a light, flexible, and durable, material and has good edge retention. However, it can be quite expensive.
“Ceramic” has a reputation of easily chipping and breaking when dropped. Special expertise is needed for sharpening the blade.
So, when you are purchasing the best chef knife that you will keep for a long time, you will want to purchase a knife that has a forged blade made from high-carbon stainless steel.
There are some notable exceptions such as Global Knives, which are made out of high-quality stainless steel. Even though Global knives are made of stainless steel, they also have a very good reputation for having a sharp and long-lasting blade.
Some professional Japanese chefs prefer the traditional knives made out of carbon steel with an extremely sharp edge. Despite an amazingly sharp edge, the carbon steel knife needs a lot more care and maintainence in keppeing its edge sharp.
For a relatively easy and low maintenance chef knife, it would be better to go with high-carbon stainless steel material, which can be very sharp and resist corrosion. After checking these two features affecting the quality of the knife blade, other features like the handle, blade shape, bolster, etc. can be considered based on your preferences and experiences.