Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/08/good-deal-on-cuisinart-15-piec.html
Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/08/good-deal-on-cuisinart-15-piec.html
Not bad for a set of so so knives.
Knice Global knockoffs
We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.
All stainless steel knives pre-date Global. My parents have a (terrible) set they received as a wedding gift 4 years before Global was even founded. And there’s nothing particularly Global like about the Cuisinarts. They’re typical low end western shapes, with typical western shaped handles.
In other new these all steel Cuisinarts are among the worst name brand knives I’ve ever had the displeasure to use. They’re dull, flimsy, and crazy difficult to sharpen. I once sharpened a friend’s set and it took several hours of hard grinding to get even a basic edge on them. And I say that an aficionado of cheap, utilitarian cutlery.
I bought one of these for my daughter when she was setting up her first apartment.
It was sale priced at $10.00, regularly around $20.00. She liked it a lot, and she knows her way around a kitchen, so when a smaller version came on sale for less than $5.00 (regularly $10.00 or so) I bought it as an experiment.
It’s surprisingly good. If I give my Wusthof 6" slicer an arbitrary 10 for fit and finish, the Cuisinart is about a 9, and the handle is more rounded and more comfortable. The blade is thin without being flimsy. It came with a decent, if uneven, working edge. I have avoided sharpening it, but after a year of light use with only regular steeling it’s still cutting well. The Granton flutes vary a lot in size and spacing, but they’re harmless.
All in all, this is a better knife than you will find in many kitchens, and gives more bang for the buck than the big name brands. I wonder if the set you have experience with was made in a different Chinese factory, or if the heat treatment is hit-and-miss.
We have 6" Cuisinart Santoku that seems just fine. For reference we also have a set of Global’s received as a wedding gift, and a Henckels, so know what good knives are. Bought my MIL a set of Cuisinarts at Costco for $30 for the holidays, no matter how bad they are they’re miles better than what she had.
One of the best designed paring knives I’ve ever had was from Ikea, now discontinued. The Global design sucks, in fact their design in general is pretty bad, I get blisters from too much cutting because the throat of the blade is too narrow.
Some Cuisinart’s are fine. But from personal experience the all metal, one piece ones are a disaster. As is the case with most mass market one piece stainless knives. I’ve seen more chipped, cracked, tipless, and dull as a rock Cuisinart stainless handle knives than any other make but Chicago cutlery.
My personal experience with this specific line is that after a couple years (at best) they border on unusable. As it is with most of the identical knives under various brands (or no brand). Stainless handle knives from anything but a reputable cutlery company are bad juju.
In general these “kitchen brand” knives. Like Cuisinart. Kitchenaid. Faberware. Etc. Are at their best no better than your restaurant grade beater knives like Dexter Russel and Mercer. In the same price bracket there are much more reliablely good, and often generally better options. Like Victorinox, Messermeiser, Mundial, etc.
They can be a good buy when stupid cheap. But generally these thing start out as “better than in most kitchens” and in time they turn into that knife in most kitchens we’re all bitching about. I don’t generally advocate for expensive knives (unless you think they’re fun). But I’m a big booster for good cheap knives.
I hate global. The handles are uncomfortably slight and slippery. Their reputation is a holdover from when they were the only high end Japanese brand broadly available in the US and Europe. Many of the myths/hysterical fetishizations of Japanese cutlery you hear seem to come from their marketing.
I’ve heard they’re great if you have small hands. But for the most part there are both better cheaper options these days. And better crazy expensive schmncy options.
Why do suppose the one piece style vs full tang or hidden tang makes a difference? I don’t prefer it, I like to be able to choke up on a knife comfortably. I like your general attitude, I have no patience for people who blindly believe they get what they pay for despite much evidence to the contrary.
What I do like about Global is their light weight, a professional cook friend insists that the weight of classic European style knives is important but I think that’s nonsense. And they do hold an edge well, when they were new they were terrifyingly sharp.
So long as the steel will hold an edge, any knife can be a good knife. The key is sharpening. But the trick is patience. Patience in sharpening is what most folks lack, and that lack is why so many middling knives are sold, and so often.
Spend what you’d (generic you, not you specifically… you seem to already know your knife stuff) otherwise spend on a new knife on a sharpening set instead, watch some YouTube videos or bribe a skilled friend with baked goods to get them to show you how, and get a decade of enjoyable use (if not a lifetime) out of the knives you already have. Knives weren’t meant to be disposable!
Best knives you’ll find for a kitchen come from antique stores and estate sales. Clean them up, refinish the handle if you must, and sharpen them. Practice on one that’s in especially rough condition… if for some reason you mess it up irredeemably, you’re not likely to feel too bad. It’s worth the effort!
If I had to guess it would be because of 2 things. 1st the steel chosen being more appropriate for a handle than a blade. Softer steel, something easier to form and so forth. 2nd would be down to heat treatment. So far as I know most kitchen knives are basically differently hardened. Such that the blade gets the heat treatment, but the tang is heated less. Leaving it more flexible. Changing that tang to a solid or hollow hunk of stainless changes the math on that. So if your Chinese factory number 112 producing 30 different knife brands, you aren’t necessarily gonna take the extra time to make it work.
Ultimately I don’t think it’s an issue with the design itself. More the quality of manufacture. Most of these knives are Chinese made and offered as white labeled products by various kitchen gear brands. Aside from being a lower grade product that may not have been even designed by the brand selling it. Chinese cutlery is known for having inconsistent QC and bad heat treatment. It’s fine if the company marketing them excersises significant control and does a lot of QC work. But with these all metal designs it seems identical knives are marketed under many brands. So I suspect they’re just something a name gets slapped on.
It is. For certain things. A heavy knife let’s the weight do some of the work for you. Take a nice heavy 8 inch chefs knife and whack it into a tough squash. It’ll chop the thing in half pretty easy. Take a much lighter 8 inch to a squash the same way and you’ll stick in the rind. Then have to put significant pressure on the blade to split the squash. That can be dangerous.
But it’s only neccisary for certain things. Tough veg. Splitting joints in butchery. Hacking up lobster.
Likewise more weight is more material. Which means more durable. Feather weight Japanese knives chip when they hit bone. Heavier western knives don’t. Heat treat and edge geometry effect that to. But mass is a factor.
These things are why cleavers have such broad, heavy blades. And why the Japanese knife tradition includes heavier, more durable blades for specialised tasks like butchering poultry and breaking down fish.
That’s the real distinction. Western knives come from a tradition where one or two knives do all tasks. Where Japanese knife tradition uses many knives that are only suited to one or two things.
And that is my problem with the above knives. They come with a decent edge. And will hold it damn long. But once it finally dulls it can be damn near impossible to get an edge back on there. Mark’s pull sharpener (for all its issues) can keep a usable edge on there longer, but it’s a losing game. The ones I’ve run into seem to be made from that old school stainless that doesn’t like an edge. Heat treated to prioritize edge retention above all else. Task specific machines can get a usable edge on there once. But mere humans struggle. Particularly after the first few times. When you start cutting into the thicker part of the blade.
Good advice. But all the water stones, files and steels in my house didn’t make the 2 hours to get an edge on those Cuisinarts any easier. Good knives are easy to sharpen. Even mediocre knives (some of my favorites!) are easy to sharpen. If you can get a good edge one something. But it takes more elbow grease than totally regrinding a better piece of steel. Then there’s an issue.
Yes and no. There are millions. Billions. Of crap vintage knives. I’ve rescued family from many.
Good old school carbon chef knives are boss. If you like carbon and do the maintenance. However old carbon, especially French, knives are seriously trendy these days. Time was you could get an old Sabatier for 30 bucks. Now they frequently approach the price of new high end knives. Likewise there are tons of new affordable carbon steel knives out there.
And new knives tend to be harder and more consistently heat treated. Lots of old carbon knives were stupid soft. Such that you have to steel them every couple of strokes.
So it’s a YMMV kind of thing.
I was told that I needed a waterstone for the Globals, and that using a regular steel on them would only ruin the steel. I use a ceramic “steel”. I have a hard time imagining the Cuisinarts are harder to sharpen than the Globals. Have you tried a diamond hone on these cheap but hard to sharpen knives? I have a number of them for chisels and such, even cheap ones will do a good job. Another thing is one of those tiny belt sander sharpeners. My son got one for a present and I thought it silly, but it can put a shaving edge on a knife, better than I can with a real 1x42 belt sander.
BTW, a global chefs vs a squash wins by sharpness and thin-ness.
There isn’t anything special about the Globals that requires a water stone. Its just that they’re generally better and easier to use for freehand sharpening than wet stones. But you can freehand sharpen with diamond plates, sandpaper glued to a flat surface, grit compound on leather, various guided systems and its all generally fine for your knives. And free hand sharpening/proper sharpening systems are almost always better for your knives than pull sharpeners and machines. As for the steel? Panicky misinformation. A regular ribbed steel is fine. Textured metal steels are coarser than smooth steel or ceramic/diamond. Unlike a smooth hunk of metal they can remove some metal (a steel isn’t supposed to), and ribbed steels (particularly round ones) do that unevenly. With very fragile knives, any steel can cause chipping. A ribbed steel may be more likely to do that. For that reason its sometimes recommended that you don’t steel certain Japanese knives at all. Or at least as a final step in sharpening.
Ceramic and diamond steels aren’t really steels. They’re very fine sharpening rods. They remove metal since they’re abrasive. Metal steels aren’t meant to be abrasive, and they accomplish that by having softer metal than the knives they’re used on. The abrasive from the ceramic/diamond is way more likely to “ruin” the blade than a decent ribbed steel. As you’re grinding away material in a largely uncontrolled and unpredictable fashion. But its still not likely. You’re talking about removing microscopic amounts of material. It’d take decades for an misshaping to take place.
But Globals aren’t particularly sensitive knives. I don’t know a single person, professional or otherwise, who doesn’t use a regular steel regularly. Though I have heard they can be a little resistant to grinding.
And that’s the issue with the knives in question. They’re highly resistant to grinding. It takes a lot of elbow grease, with a surprisingly coarse abrasive to remove metal at all. The finer your grit the more work it takes to remove the same amount of metal. But with something very tough, a certain grit can’t actually remove anything. You might as well be rubbing it on a flat piece of metal. Better/harder abrasives can mitigate that. But it won’t change a situation where you need 30+ minutes of constant, high pressure grinding to pull a bur. I don’t own these knives, or any of the similar ones. So my chances of running into them boil down to my friends and family knowing I’m the guy that can sharpen. But I have tried a diamond plate on similar ones. And it wasn’t much of an improvement.
Otherwise I don’t like diamond plates. They clog easily, and the good ones tend to be pricey while the cheap ones tend to be useless. Water stones I dig. Cause the cheap ones are down right cheap, and work damn good.
Depends on the squash. The issue isn’t that the knife can’t cut the squash. Its how much effort it takes to do so. Like I said if you smack your global into the squash with the same amount of force as you would use with a heavier knife. It won’t cut particularly deep. You need more force. I’ve got a big, heavy (overly so), 10 inch German style chef knife. You drop it on a squash it it’ll stick about 2/3 of the way through. The amount of added force you have to add to cleave you’re average spaghetti squash in half is minimal. My smaller and lighter 8" knives take significantly more force.
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