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Top 8 steels for Chefs Knives?

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Top 8 steels for Chefs Knives?

As knife makers and knife collectors we've been trying to answer this question for many years. What is the best chefs knife? What steel is used for the best chefs knives? Where is this knife steel manufactured? We've been using this testing and exploration to help our kitchen to be decorated by the finest knives with the finest steel.

10 years or so of exploration and we don’t have conclusive answers. Whilst this may sound annoying for us it is what we've found - different horses for different courses so to speak.

In addition to listing 8 of the top ten chef's knives, their origins and the steel used to make them we have created a small map of the factories where the are produced. Hopefully this is helpful when you pontificate what’s the next addition to your kitchen.

    1. Global Chefs Knife

    The Knife

    The Global Chefs Knife is one of the best known all purpose knives on planet earth. A light weight, easy to maintain, reasonably priced tool that is used by cooks in their kitchen and chefs in their restaurants. This needs no promotion as it is one of the most commonly used knives on the planet which is obtainable from numerous stores.

    A great place to start your testing of blades.

    The Steel

    The steel used for the Global Chefs knife is called CROMOVA18. This steel represents a chef’s knife with slightly lower HRC of 55-57 (a measure of hardness on Rockwell Scale C) when compared with the knives below. This is done intentionally as it allows the edge of the blade to be more malleable so it is more likely to bend than chip. 

    The Steel Maker

    Steel made for Global is made by Yoshikin, in Tokyo Japan. Unlike most steel manufacturers who make steel for everyone, Yoshikin is essentially the steel maker for Global - they are one.

    Gyuto Chefs Knife - Sai Collection

    2. Kasumi Chefs Knife

    The Knife

    This chefs knife is a classic fusion of east meets west. For westerners it looks like a Japanese knife - Japanese steel, classic light weight and a shape that looks like a Gyuto knife (less curvature than a chefs knife). However for a Japanese consumer they will immediately see the German looking handle with pins, steel ferule, etc - things that are simple not part of Japanese tradition. It's a the Kasumi chefs knife and definitely worth a try.

    The Steel

    The steel used is VG10, a classic steel from the Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, Japan - they've been doing it for around 700 years. For Japanese knives the VG10 is very popular for high end knives at commonly used in high end blades.

    The Steel Maker

    The maker of VG10 is Takefu. Takefu is based in Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, Japan and is possibly the best known high end steel manufacturer in Japan.

    Kasumi Chefs Knife

    3. Koi Chefs Knife or Gyuto Knife

    The Knife

    The Koi Knives Gyuto is a stunningly beautiful handle and blade. It has a classic Gyuto shape and blade length (about 2.5mm on the spine at it's beginning) with a sharp edge for all purpose cooking and cutting.

    The Steel

    The steel used within the Koi Knives collection is AUS10 - similar recipe to VG10 made at Takefu however it has some additional ingredients (have a look via the link above). An interesting observation we've had over the years is that the VG10 seems to commonly look a bit darker (which works well for flat surfaced blades) where as the AUS10 seems to have more contrast and shape on the finish of a Damascus blade. Whilst the potion is very similar we prefer VG10 for classic knife edges however AUS10 appears more suited to a Damascus finish.

    The Steel Maker

    AUS10 is a steel made by Aichi, one of the subsidiaries in the Toyota group. The construct of the steel is very similar to the VG10 with a few added spices (for nerds - VG10 has a bit of Co which AUS10 doesn't whilst AUS10 has Si, P & S (which VG10 does not) - the rest is a very similar recipe).

    Koi Knives Gyuto or Chefs Knife

    Gyuto Knife by Koi Knives / AUS10 Steel

    4. Miyabi Chefs Knife

    The Knife

    A Miyabi chefs knife is a stunning birchwood handle connected into light weight yet very hard steel. This is lighter and tougher on the edge of the blade. The downside is that the edge is more likely to chip. These knives are perfect when making precision cuts on fish or lighter weight ingredients - it's not the knife for bone chopping. The birchwood handle is different and delightful - if you haven't got one in your kitchen it's fun just grabbing hold of it so try that in a nearby shop (if there is one).

    The Steel

    The steel used on the Miyabi is ZDP189 or MC66 (same thing) which has substantially different constitution to most other brands. It has 3% carbon (around 6x what you'd find in a wusdorf knife) which is what brings out the super sharp and hardened edge - this also can make it a bit more likely to chip. To look after this knife, if you're not a professional knife sharpener, finding one is worth while. The tough blade edge makes is less likely to bend which means sharpening is needed less often. That said, when sharpening is required, the toughness make it harder to do. This blade should be sharpened on whetstone - hoing on a rod doesn't really work.

    The Steel Maker

    Steel made for the Miyabi is Hitachi in Japan. They have a history of concocting their own brews of steel. This blade and brand was ultimately acquired by Zwilling and has become more common in US based stores however it's tougher steel and delightful birch-wood handles have remained the same.

    Miyabi Chefs Knife

    The Miyabi Chefs Knife / Made with ZDP189 or MC66 (same steel)

    5. Takeda Hamono Chefs Knife

    The Knife

    The Takeda Chefs knife is a knife for a cook or chef who knows what they are doing. They require a little more treatment and maintenance (keep them dry, don't smash the edge) and they will perform better than  any other.

    The Steel

    The steel used to craft the Take Hamono chefs knife is called Aogami Super Steel (also named "Super Blue Steel"). It is an evolution from the ZDP189 (some would argue they prefer ZDP189 however you decide for yourself).

    The Steel Maker

    Steel made for the Takeda knives is also made at Hitachi plant in Japan. Typically they are making steels with significantly higher carbon concentration which will lead to harder knife edges. This is wonderful however it also means they are a little more prone to chipping. When holding these knives you need to be careful - they are high end, relatively expensive, and if you drop them most likely to chip. That said - they will also be the fastest knife to dissect and onion.

    Takeda Hamono Gyuto Knife

    6. New West Knifeworks Chefs Knife

    The Knife

    If you reside in the US this is a great place to visit as both the steel and the manufacturing is completed in the US. As with all brands you've not played with before the best place to start with is the chef's knife - as you can use it for everything or gift it to anyone. The New West Knifeworks Chefs Knife also owns a unique design and look particularly in the handle.

    The Steel

    The steel is made locally from the Syracuse steel manufacturer ominously named "Crucible." It crafts numerous steels the steel used New West Knifeworks is made from S35VN.

    The Steel Maker

    As state above the steel s35VN is made by Syracuse used steel manufacturer named Crucible. Hopefully the name doesn't scare you. In a less ominous way Crucible has handy steel data sheets.

    New West Knives

     

    7. Krup Chef’s Knife & Wusthof Chef’s Knife Chefs

    The Knives

    These two chefs knives are knives for life. They are classically shaped western chefs knives with more curvature on the blade edge. This makes the knives more easy to rock when chopping just about anything.

    The Steel

    The steel used for both knives is the ThyssenKrupp classic 1.4116 stainless steel (also commonly called X50CrMoV15). They are slightly more malleable and will lose there sharpness more quickly than a Japanese classic high carbon steel however the flip side is they become immune to cracking. Instead of cracking the steel at the blades edge will bend and this bending can be relatively easily by using the knife honing rod. So the one thing to remember when using this knife - more honing (with a rod) and less stoning (whetstone sharpening).

    The Steel Maker

    As stated above the steel maker for the 1.4116 steel which is commonly used in German knives is ThyssenKrupp.

    wusthof chefs knife

    8. Savernake Chefs Knife

    The Knife

    A couple of professionals in the UK have started producing some delightfully looking customized blades - as with all manufacturers or makers their chefs knife is a great place to start.

    The Steel

    The steel used by Savernake is s14c28n (the steel released in 2011 after making the 12c27). The steel itself has high variance in hardness from 55 to 62 depending on heat treatment - so we need to look beyond the steel manufacturer and check up on the knife maker. 

    The Steel Maker

    Steel maker in Sweden in Sandvik. Again the bless of their website is detailed steel specification sheets :)

     Savernake Chefs Knife

     

    We hope that this page is handy when considering which chefs knife to buy and how to upgrade your kitchen - good luck!!

    chef knife chefs knife knife steel

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