Wanted - More Vorpal Kitchen Knives (attn: Spyderco et al.)

Oct 3, 1998
As Sal Glesser mentioned in another thread, Consumer Reports rated as "acceptable" for cutting ability some kitchen knives made from pretty dubious steel.

Spyderco's Pro Culinaire series, which CR did not review, is the only line of factory kitchen knives I know of, including some rather expensive ones, that identifies the alloy (MBS26), gives you a steel chart for those who speak metalurgy, and publishes hardness figures in its catalog (RC58-60).

I think a knife that can be sharpened with a steel is too soft.

I have a few of them, from back when they had a more complete line, including a NICE big chef's knife. Now the Spyderco kitchen line is down to four kinds. If they added or brought back four more (chef's, bread, boning, and conventional 3-1/2" paring knife), I'd have a brand I could recommend without hesitating. Having the smaller utility availabe in plain edge would be nice.

I've found that mine hold an edge well. Abuse (they get it) results in a few spots, since the "stainless" is apparently formulated for cutting rather than good looks at all costs.

The high-end German knives are made of mystery steel, though Wustoff-Trident gets high marks from a lot of folks around here. Kershaw is economical and stylish and very sharp out of the box, but one doesn't get miracles from AUS6. Likewise the Gerbers, which are 440A.

What I'd like to see is a line of factory kitchen knves, with good working class handles and finishes, using the sort of vorpal steel we expect in our sport-utility folders. Why, after all, should a hunting knife one will use only occasionally, or a fighting knife, which one hopes won't ever get used for that, be better steel than the knives we use to do serious knife work every day?



I second your motion! I've had a pair of the large utility knives for well over a decade. And, as you well know, I recently picked up a santuko and a small utility knife. I certainly wish they had a big chef's knife and a long slicer. That santuko is outstanding albeit it doesn't fit into my Henckels knife block <sigh>.
As a side note, I also use a Spydie Moran in the kitchen! Great blade.



Bald is beautiful! Rub a dome for luck today!

James - thanx for the encouragement. Actually the kitchen knife line was introduced in 1982. The year after the Clipit Worker. Over the years we have made 10 models. They were always a "hard sell". We knew the performance of the steel and grind was not a question. Our tests say there is little as good or better worldwide. We thought it might be the handles? Chris Reeve, who maintains and repairs professional kitchen knives for the chefs in his area is designing a "Professional" handle for us and a few additional blade shapes. This is an area where we could really use your help. We have a great Maker and he is capable of high volume. Once people use them, they love them, but geting the ELU to try our kitchen knives has proved most frustrating. Our new TV commercial shows some of our kitchen knives. W're testing now. Sure could use your input.

The main problem I see is marketing. Obviously, the capability to make a great knife at a reasonable price is there but, unless it is noticed by the End Line User when they are in the marketplace, you will continue to lose out to better known names (in kitchen ware) or mass marketers with penetration into the Walmarts of the world.

I'm sure you would sell a great many people at this site on such knives but, we already know what we want and there just aren't enough of us to make it worthwhile for you!

A few thoughts I would have are to market them under a different name, sort of a sister company, in magazines women read at the beauty parlor, at the check out stand in the grocery store, etc. Put them into places other then dedicated knife retailers - Walmart, Target, Sears, Penney's and, similar stores would work here. Make sure they are given to people who will write them up in magazines!

When the public at large sees no point in between a ~$300 set of German knives vs. a sub $100 set from Brazil, China, etc. they are not going to look to find quality knives. I would think that a set that hit the gap between the cheap run of the mill stuff out in the marketplace and, the high-end German stuff would do very well with the average working man/woman if they knew it was in the marketplace and understood the difference.

As a final note, when I hear your company's name mentioned, kitchen knives are not something that enters my mind. I would have to put out the extra effort to find out about your kitchen line which is not going to work with the public at large. When I hear Henkels, what comes to mind? Buck? KaBar? Certain company names are "brand'ed" in the publics mind to a point that expansion to other products in very difficult if not impossible.

I hope these rantings help :)


Sid makes a pretty good point. BTW Sid they market the kitchen knives under the Pro-Culinare name which is a good one but the largest thing on the knife is the name Spyderco which takes away the brand recognition.

Here are the pics.


Whatever the case the marketing is only half the problem. You must clamshell the kitchen knives like you did the ladybug. I get mine with a white paper wrap and that is it. When you clamshell them you must make at least 5-10 different models and then make a 5 or six piece set. The set must come with some sort of snappy holder. Maybe a small magnetic strip with 2 screws. A boxed set with a wood block would be cool during season. Good packaging would get you in the majors and that would help get you the numbers you need to make the project worth while.

Then you need to hit the shows that cater to these markets. ASD/AMD, International Cutlery Fair and others.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

Hmmm . . . . Chris Reeve on the design team. Very interesting. I'm already coming down with new knife lust syndrome again.

The Pro Culinaire handles are a bit esthetically challenged - until you stop looking at them and pick them up. And the price-performance ratio is excellent. Forschner's synthetic handles are also, well, ugly, but they sell literally hundreds of variants, worldwide. Now, with better steel?

I don't know about clamshell packaging. It's hard to pick up the knife and handle it if it's in a clamshell pack. On the other hand, the Pro Culinaires come, at the moment, with no packaging worth mentioning. So, for that matter, do the Kershaws, another brand that the last Consumer Reports article didn't mention. How about a package something like what the Kyocera ceramic knives come in? Cardboard inside a square plastic box. You can see the knife inside the package, and you can take it out and put it back. And you can gift-wrap it.

Kyocera's kitchen knives, by the way, are also esthetically challenged, at least in the plastic handled versions, but they are the last word in edge holding. "Why is this knife different from all other knives?"


One more note - If you can find a specimen of the Spyderco Challif, once upon a time in their kitchen line, you will find one of the very sharpest knives you'll ever meet. And, if you are a live chicken, "Be afraid!" Good for vegetable slicing too.


Sid, you got it right when you said :

"I would think that a set that hit the gap between the cheap run of the mill stuff out in the marketplace and, the high-end German stuff would do very well with the average working man/woman if they knew it was in the marketplace and understood the difference."

The big part is getting people to understand the difference. Most people can't see past the price label - too much cheap crap around for people to worry about whether a knife is worth the money.
The knives in my kitchen are reasonable (but not top) quality - I would happily pay top prices for top quality kitchen knives - but I still get a "HOW MUCH???" response to knives I would junk if I could buy better.