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How to choose a gift knife for any level of cook.

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Castro

Knives are useful, beautiful tools that make great gifts. Most everyone needs a quality knife for cooking, but many people have accumulated knives that might be dulled from use or not so well made to begin with. For these reasons, most people are delighted to receive a beautiful knife as a gift. But since preferences can be personal, we’ve put together some questions to ask yourself when choosing a knife as a gift for someone else.

A knife you buy for someone brand new to cooking is likely different that a knife chosen for an experienced cook. For beginners with less than high quality knives, choose an all purpose knife like a gyutou. A chef’s knife (gyutou) 210mm (8.2”) is the most popular size and will work well for the majority of people. A utility knife (petty) is great for many tasks and 150mm (5.9”) petty will be ideal for cutting fruit, small vegetables and herbs.

More experienced cooks might already have all-purpose knives, so a knife made for a special purpose can be a great gift. For vegetable lovers, a nakiri (vegetable cleaver) is the perfect tool for breaking down hard ingredients like pumpkins, squash, potatoes and cabbage. A sujihiki (slicer) is a great option for those who barbecue or cook lots of meat. It is the perfect knife to carve roasts, slice cooked steaks and even slice raw fish thinly for sashimi or crudo.

Think about what they like to cook and what kind of knives they already have. For the cook that has a sizable knife collection already, you might want to choose something unique such as a hand-forged or handmade option. These special knives are made in smaller quantities by renowned blacksmiths and will not only make a useful gift, but a treasured heirloom for generations to come.

Most of us are familiar with the block of knives that sits on many kitchen counters. Although it might seem like a good idea to get all these knives at once, most of the knives in the set never get much use. We advocate for investing in smaller sets, with the knives that will get the most use. You can shop our sets of the most useful knives that make great gifts for milestones like weddings, graduations and retirements.

Right or left-handed? For many years, Japanese knives were known to be for right-handed use only. While this is the case for single-edged knives (left handed are available by special order), we offer many options of knives that are sharpened to a 50/50 bevel, appropriate for both right and left-handed use. You can use the filter found on the left hand side to include or exclude knives sharpened to 70/30 or single edged.

Lastly, the blade material is a key consideration when choosing a knife. A wide range of steels are used in making knives, but an important choice is made between stain resistant or a high carbon steel option. Carbon steel knives are popular with professional chefs thanks to their ability to get super sharp and hold an edge through heavy use, but they need to be kept very clean and dry especially when cutting acidic ingredients. If you suspect the recipient would not relish the extra attention and care carbon knives require, choose from one of the many stain resistant options. Furthermore, by choosing a high technology powdered steel option, the knife will remain stain resistant and require sharpening less frequently.

We hope this guide gives you the information you need to pick a great gift knife, as always, contact us with any questions and when all else fails, gift cards are available!