Choosing cutlery is something that not enough people know how to do. Most home chefs think that all you really need to do is go down to the local department store, and find a set that looks good. However, as these people often find out, the average life span of such cutlery sets is only a year or two. After that time, it is time to go out and pick up some more.
Why waste that time and effort in needlessly replacing an inadequate set of cutlery? Take the time to properly choose your cutlery set, and you may easily find yourself with the same set a decade later. Keep in mind that your cutlery is not only a set of utensils, but also an investment.
- Know your parts. Before going out to purchase a set of cutlery, make sure that you know what the major parts are of each knife. This will help you understand what the knife maker, or shop owner is talking about, and help you make a more educated decision. There are six major parts to each knife, and they are the blade, edge, heel, tang, rivet, and bolster. The blade and edge are the parts most people think of when they think of knives. The heel is the bottom part of the knife's blade/edge that extends over the hand when it is held. Tangs are what the knife handle is based off of. Your knife should have a full tang (full length of the handle) to help give it strength and durability. The rivets are what help hold the handle to the tang.
- Know the construction. Basically speaking there are three types of knife construction: blocked, forged or sintered. Each type of construction will have its own quality. Blocked knives are cut from a single sheet of metal, and the blade is then ground down, and then added to the tang. Blocked knives are not usually very good quality knives. Forged knives are knives that are made in what many people think of as the "traditional" method. Every part of the knife is made from heated metal that is shaped, pounded and tempered into a knife. Forged knives are usually expensive, but very high quality. Sintering is where a blade and tang are fused together to form a single knife. Usually this type of knife is about medium range quality, halfway between blocked and forged knives.
- Frequency of use. How often are you going to be using the knives? Will you be using it every day for work? Then you will need to get a high quality set of knives. Are you going to be using it periodically throughout the week when you manage to have dinner at home? Then you may not need to get a very high quality of knife, unless you don't want to have to buy another set within the next ten years.
- Size of set. Only purchase a set that you will be using. Why purchase a set that has something like 30 pieces, when you may only need one that has 15. Take the time to assess your needs prior to purchasing the cutlery.