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Kitchen Knife-Veggies

Oct 4, 1998
While we are on the topic of kitchen knives I'd like to solicit some input from the professionals, makers, and other knowledgable folks. I've also planned on ordering a custom for my wife for Christmas. I'd like it to be primarily for veggies. What are the design parameters for a good veggie cutter? Santoku style? Hocho? How long a blade? I'd like this to be a nice one that we can use together in our old age and pass on to the young uns. Appreciate any advice.


[This message has been edited by donovan (edited 17 July 1999).]
I am very partial to my Spyderco Santoku (see Cliff STamp's thread for the full review). I think it is a great veggie knife and is sized perfectly. Plus, it would make a super-attractive knife with a nice wooden handle and some brass pins. A classic, for sure.

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An 8 inch french chef's (without a forged reinforcing section near the handle) is more flexible than the Santuko style. The lower 6 inches of the blade serve all of the Santuko functions, the three inches closest to the point give you a tighter curve for working on inside curves, the narrowness of the last 2 inches are good for following outer contours, plus the point itself is very useful. I have Japanese knives, but they only see one-tenth the use of my 8 inch chef's knife. The blade shape isn't novel, just the most practical in the world.
For chopping vegetables a large chef's knife is invaluable. The chef's knife is used about 80% of the time in a professional kitchen for slicing, dicing and chopping.

For slicing vegetables up for a stir fry etc a smaller knife with a thinner blade 1/16" works better. The thin blade offers less cutting resistance when slicing "hard" vegetables like celery. I use a 5-6" blade about 1" wide for this job but fot filling a stock pot you can't beat a chef's knife.


Santukos are great knives, and would have been my answer a couple years ago, but I've been changing my mind and now agree with Jeff Clark, I'd lean towards an 8" french chef's knife.

Unfortunately, I haven't done as much kitchen knife testing as I'd like to. In the next year or two, I'd like to get some of the thinner better-geometry kitchen knives and see how they compare to my Henckel's 4 stars.

Some of the best kitchen knives out there in my opinion are made by Murray Carter from Japan. His email address is magne@gol.com
I bought one of them and am very happy with it. He makes a bunch of styles. Think I will be getting one a year when he comes to the blade show.
I'm glad that somebody mentioned Murray Carter before I did. I bought a hunting knife and a kitchen knife from him at the blade show and wish I had bought more. I believe the kitchen knife bought was a Nakiri style, which is a blunt tipped vegetable knife. It is a laminate construction blade with Japanese blue steel (high carbon, nonstainless, good edge holding) core and stainless on the sides. It is fitted with a traditional Ho wood handle, which is simple and comfortable. This is one of the sharpest knives I have ever handled and I actually got a little nervous the first time I chopped some veggies with it! IMHO Murray is a up and coming knife maker that we will be hearing more and more about. Bill Moran was very impressed by his Master Smith test, from what I've heard from third parties. The price he quoted me for shipping from Japan was not much higher than what a lot of American or Canadian makers charge.

The price for my Nakiri was lower than what a lot of Henckels and Wusthoff (sp?) knives cost.

Thanks for putting the email address for Murray up.
I just looked at your profile and saw who you are. Duh, I should have figured that one out.
Glad to see you in the forums.
Is the e-mail address for Murray correct, I tried to mail him but it bounced.

Don't forget to pay your taxes...they eventually become my knives:)

I have both a Santuko and an 8" chef's knife in my kitchen, but the Santuko gets more use.

Which one is more practical probably depends on the nature of what you cook and the Santuko (for me) is more suited to the veggie chopping (Asian cooking) that I do in a small kitchen (I use it like a small and light Chinese chopper).

For most of my cooking, the extra 2" and tip of the chef's knife is extra weight and more blade (and tip) that I have to watch out for.

Also, slicing some veggies partway thru with either knife will require using the tip, and a chefs knife will require holding the knife at a higher angle to start and finish the cut... a nuisance if you're doing this a lot.

I agree tho, that the chef's knife has its place ... just depends on whether you mostly slice and dice or work a lot of tight curves. Like I said, I have both and use them both for their different intended purposes.

[This message has been edited by Longden (edited 19 July 1999).]
You might try to get a customm maker to make you a Chinese Choy Doh. It is basically a light cleaver style blade that has a slightly rounded cutting edge for rocking on the cutting board. This tool is probably the most used tool in the world for chopping and cutting vegetables and is used in preparation of most Chinese dishes.

One of the reasons I like an 8" blade on my veggie knife is for large leafies. I like the longer blade for cutting full heads of cabbage, lettuce, and romaine. When you feed kids salad you can reduce mess if your salad greens are cut to a moderate size. Artistic tearing of leaves results in kids dropping dressing-drenched wads on the floor as they try and tilt their heads sideways to stuff over-sized pieces into their mouths. I like to be able to cut a large head of cabbage across the diameter and a head of romaine lengthwise. I never find the point and extra length to be a liability.

When I cut smaller veggies I usually hold a large number in parallel and cut them simultaneously. As long as the blade is thin and fully tapered a blade up to about 8" long is just as handy as a shorter cleaver shape. The exception to this are really small items like radishes. For these I go to a 5" fully tapered chefs knife or a square-ended Japanese style.

If your knife seems to large maybe your real problem is that your cutting board is too small. One of my favorites for cutting veggies in a small kitchen is to use plastic cafeteria trays. You get these at restaurant supply stores and they are great. If you get the ones that are relatively soft they will not dull your knife blade. They tolerate cleaning and don't absorb stuff. The lip around the edge keeps water and veggie bits from falling on the floor. The size is pretty good. You can carry your chopped veggies to the pot without spilling.

I have several and they nest together compactly. When I'm fixing a meal I may use as many as four. One for salad items that I only use with the cleanest foods (to avoid cross contamination since my product will be served without cooking). One for potatoes or other veggies that will be cooked. One for raw meat. And one for cooked meats (it's great not to have the meat juices drip on the floor when you carve up a roast). Using trays does wonders for food sanitation and easy kitchen clean up.
Now that you mention it, I used my chefs knife on a cabbage and melon the other day. Guess I don't do many cabbages except for the occasional corned beef. Definitely anything bulky will see my chefs knife.

Most of what I cut is smaller (even Bok-Choy fits under my Santuko).

Based on some of the comments above, and on my experiences, I suggest that your knife should:

Have a thin blade - since it will be primarily used for cutting vegetables. You can get a great slicing ability if you are willing to forgo the ability to cut bones. One of the most frequently used knives in our kitchen I made from a very thin Czechoslovakian blade. It has a deformation of the blade edge I haven't been able to work out, where my wife used it to bone out a chicken. Nevertheless it slices really well.

Have a long edge with a slight curve to it, to facilitate rocking cuts.

Have a length appropriate to the vegetables you cut most. Cabbages and melons dictate a longer blade.

In addition consider:

If you want the ability to ferry chopped vegetables with your knife you should adjust the blade width appropriately.

Decide if you want a point on your knife. If not, you will need to supplement it with another knife also.

You may also want to add an adornment or feature that is meaningful to you and your wife. My wife and I made a cutting/bread board of oak many years ago. The handle is two swan necks. She carved one, and I carved the other. That cutting board has been in use for many years and means a lot to us.

Please let us see how this special knife for you and your wife turns out.
Howard is right, male knife knuts may worry the topics of blade shape and alloy to death while the handle or a decoration may be of greater significance to the recipient.

I like rosewood or stag slabs for myself. What wooden momento does your wife treasure? Is there something out of your lives together that you could incorporate into the knife motif?
Anyone have a custom Kitchen knife from David Boye?

I've his Basic series and the Loveless Persona, plus had a couple of the folders but not his Kitchen knives persay, they are pricy, but the steel seems to be grippy with the metal he uses. Just wondered if anyone has one and uses it?


It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me,
it is the parts that I do understand.
Mark Twain