How many knives do you need?

summary: essential knives for the kitchen; (click on image for larger view and more photos)

knife block We like knives. Sharp knives. Razor sharp knives. And to keep them that way (not to mention, to keep them in a safe spot), we love our wooden knife block. And because we each have our favourite knives, we have a lot of knives.

So many knives that we have had to modify our knife block.

When we did the modification, we removed the rather useless knife sharpener that used to hang at the side of the knife block. We never used it. T sharpens all our knives with his 1000grit whetstone that he got to sharpen his straight edge razors. (Yes, you read that right. He shaves with a straight edge razor.)

The only blades he doesn’t sharpen are the serraded knives and the kitchen scissors. Oh yes, and the secateurs, lawn mower and hedge clippers.

Once the sharpener was removed, there was room for knives to go on the outsides of the knife block.

knives These are my favourite knives. Note that most are short bladed. Because I have small hands, I prefer the ones with shorter blades.

There is only one knife that is in both of our favourites. It is a serrated bread knife – the blade is about 30cm (12in) long – we got at a lawn sale along with a wooden knife holder for $2…. Yes. The knife holder AND the bread knife for $2! We almost threw the knife away. But then when we heard the bells of a knife sharpening truck, we ran out – no no; we didn’t run with knives in our hands – to stop the fellow before he whipped by.

(Have you ever remarked on how fast those knife sharpeners drive by? Don’t they wonder why they get so little business? There have been countless times that I’ve raced down the stairs and out the door only to see that the truck is gone gone gone. A number of those times, I’ve seen my neighbours burst out of their doors, some carrying knives :stomp: eeek :stomp: and all looking amazed to see the tail lights of the truck as it sails around the corner and onto the next street.)

Anyway… Where was I?? Oh yes. The bread knife. Once sharpened, it turned out to be the best bread knife! It’s a stainless steel Gense. Apparently one of THE Swedish brands.

knives These are T’s favourite knives. Note that none are short bladed. T thinks that the knife on the right is short bladed…. :lalala:

The only short bladed knife that T deigns to use is a small carbon steel paring knife that I got a hundred years ago at an A&P. We both love that knife! (But T said that it’s not an absolute favourite of his….)

I was living on my own for the first time. The knife was on one of those long cards hanging with several knives just like it in the supermarket aisle, near the tinned tuna. I didn’t know at the time I was getting a good knife. I just needed a paring knife and bought the cheapest one I saw.

For this past Christmas, I gave T two new (to him) carbon steel knives. Initially, we were stymied. Where on earth could new knives be stored???

knives Improvisation with a strip of leather meant that we can still use the same old knife block to safely store all those ridiculously sharp knives. The really long bladed knife just barely fits (yes, we know; it’s a little too long for the holder.)

This long-bladed knife is one that I often use as well, in spite of the fact that is a lethal looking long bladed carbon steel knife (sword??). The fact that my heart starts pounding and I feel short of breath the moment I touch the knife means that it cannot be termed as one of my favourite knives.

This knife was also purchased some years ago at a lawn sale for $2. The guy had a whole drawer full of carbon steel knives. We didn’t take more. We thought we had enough knives. (I bet he had EXACTLY the right size carbon steel 6 inch blade we’d both love!)

Although, I’m never really comfortable using a long bladed knife. My hands are just too small.

But T (aka Il Cotello) loves long bladed knives. (Hmmm, should I be frightened??)

Oh yes. There is one knife that doesn’t fit into the knife block. It is a beautiful heavy carbon steel Japanese chef’s knife. When not in use, it hangs in a low traffic area on the wall near the paella pan. (Note the little bird decals around the knife; this is because we had a little difficulty with placement of the screws for hanging the knife…).

knife (January 2011)knife (January 2011)


So. Do you have favourite knives that are kept sharp as razors too?



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3 responses to “How many knives do you need?

  1. Patricia

    You have a lot of knives! We don’t have as many and they’re not razor sharp but sharp enough. I have 2 absolute favourite knives: the cleaver and the short bladed paring knife. I use these almost exclusively. We also have a heavy long bladed steel chef’s knife that I use occasionally and a serrated knife that I use for cutting bread. The cleaver was a gift – I’m deeply respectful of it because it’s heavy and I keep it fairly sharp. The paring knife came from the supermarket and it’s stayed extremely sharp for many years. I don’t know how old it is but we have 2 of them. The serrated knife is the kind that people get at exhibitions where there’s a guy haranguing people saying how great the knife is, I want to say Ginsu. Is that the brand? Whatever it’s called it, also, has stayed remarkably sharp for many years.

    Yes. It is a lot of knives, isn’t it, Patricia?
    We had one of those Exhibition bread knives too – the kind that you’re supposed to be able to saw a shoe in half and then immediately turn around and slice a ripe tomato (cue echoing really loud voice: “Can you do THIS with your knife??”) The knife is pretty flimsy and not terribly sharp. It has now been relegated to the camping gear. Because we’re NOT taking our good bread knife on a camping trip! We also have a square nosed insanely sharp knife that I’m very afraid of. It was a gift. And after T cut himself using it (the first time…), we complained to our friends. The reply? “Sharp, isn’t it? :-)” -Elizabeth

  2. JamesSh

    Got to appreciate really sharp knives. Looks like you’ve got a nice collection here. My go to knives are the Santoku and a cleaver. You could try a magnetic knife holder for an new knives you might get.

    Thank you, James. Yes, we’re pretty pleased with our knives. I think (but am not sure) that the Japanese knife that hangs on the wall is a Santoku knife. It’s a formidable knife…. We did consider getting a magnetic wall holder but were concerned that a.) it might damage the knives as they are removed b.) we might damage ourselves as we remove the knives from the strong magnet. Because those knives are really really really sharp.
    But I’m not sure that we will be getting any more knives. Surely this number of knives is enough!! :lalala: -Elizabeth

  3. T

    Nothing beats high carbon steel knives for sharpness. The Japanese knife (on the wall) is called a Deba bocho. Despite its hefty thickness it’s so sharp I can shave hair off my arms just by passing the knife through them.

    (cue loud alarm bells) You pass the knife through your arms?!! I didn’t know that. I’m hiding that knife! -Elizabeth


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