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A knife is a tool; as with all tools, the manufacturing quality will affect the knife’s performance, durability, and efficiency. Some people prefer a cheaper option for knives, while others prefer quality knives because they value the attributes of an expensive knife. But are expensive knives worth the cost?
Expensive knives are worth the money, but if the frequency of your knife use is low, it may not warrant the cost of expensive knives. Expensive knives will stay sharper for longer, perform better, and last longer, but these benefits may not be enough for some people to pay the cost of these knives.
Many options are available when purchasing knives, each at varying price points. While it may be tempting to opt for the cheapest option, many people wonder if splurging on an expensive knife is worth it. We will explore the factors contributing to the cost of a knife and whether it is worth spending more money on a higher-quality blade.
If you are interested in checking out the best Japanese knives (made by Hayate Yoshihiro) we recommend and use, you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Are Expensive Knives Worth It?
There are many types of knife users, each with their perspective on the type of knives on which they are willing to spend money.
Some people don’t put too much thought into a knife purchase and only look for the cheapest option to serve the immediate purpose.
For other people, spending a lot of money on a knife is too much for their budget constraints, and they settle for a medium-priced knife.
Confident people see the need for a quality knife because of the value of the knives to their profession or the benefits of spending extra money on a quality knife that will last and give superior performance.
Whichever category you fall into, you have probably wondered whether an expensive knife is actually worth the money. Is it all marketing hype to get consumers to spend more on a knife without getting added value?
We will discuss what makes expensive knives expensive and whether they deliver on the promises made by the suppliers.
What Makes A Knife Expensive?
When we pay more for any item, we expect to get more value from our purchase, including the knives we buy. What makes an expensive knife cost more than other knives, and does this difference warrant the price?
It’s important to understand that several factors contribute to the cost of a knife. The material used to make the blade is one of the most significant factors, as are the workmanship and the design of the blade.
The Steel Used In Expensive Knives
Any knife is only as good as the quality of the steel used to make it. This implies that the higher the steel quality, the better the knife will perform and have a higher price tag.
The type of steel a knife is made from can affect the knife’s sharpness, edge-holding ability, reliability, and overall performance.
High-quality knives are made from more expensive materials such as carbon steel, stainless steel, or high-carbon stainless steel.
These materials are known for their durability and ability to hold a sharp edge, making them ideal for producing top-quality knives.
High-quality steel takes more time and cost to produce, contributing to the higher cost of knives made from these superior steels.
Combining steel types to get the benefits of different qualities of the steel and create Damascus steel is a time-consuming process that requires more highly skilled labor.
The quality of the steel and the skill and time required to produce it make Damascus steel knives more expensive than many other knives.
TIP: Damascus steel has almost become a buzzword in the knife community, with everyone seeking to make knives from this metal. Find out how to spot fake Damascus steel in the article below:
6 Main Differences: Real Vs. Fake Damascus Steel On A Knife
Quality Of Workmanship In Expensive Knives
The manufacturing process is another factor that can affect the cost of a knife. Automated industrial machines generally mass-produce cheaper knives and lower-cost knives.
Very little individual attention goes into the process of manufacturing these knives. Modernized production is not necessarily insufficient, but it affects the quality of the end product.
Handmade knives are typically more expensive than mass-produced ones, requiring more time and attention to detail.
Knives made using traditional forging techniques are also often more expensive than those made using more modern methods due to the labor-intensive nature of hand-forging and the lower production rate.
Handle Material Of Expensive Knives
The materials used in the knife handle can also affect its cost. Knives with handles made from natural materials such as wood or bone may be more expensive than synthetic ones.
Synthetic materials are helpful because of their lower manufacturing cost and durability, but handle materials made from natural materials can have similar characteristics.
The reason for the higher cost of natural materials is lower availability and higher labor costs to produce the handle. The benefit is often a more aesthetically pleasing handle and better comfort while using the knife.
Most expensive knives have handles made of natural materials, which increases the final cost of the knife.
Many Expensive Knives Are Purpose-Built
Many expensive knives have been crafted to include specific design features and characteristics that make the knife the perfect tool for specific tasks.
This attention to detail in the knife’s design matching the function takes additional care, time, and human participation in the design and creation of the knife.
The extra effort and time translates to a higher cost but results in a knife that outperforms other, more general-purpose knives for specific tasks.
BTW: If you are interested in buying the best cutting board, you can find our recommendations below:
- The best overall: Virginia Kitchen Boys Cutting Board (Amazon link). This fantastic cutting board is made from sustainable walnut wood from the United States and brings almost perfect safety when cutting with your knives.
- Alternative: Yoshihiro Cutting Board (Amazon link). Professional traditional Japanese cutting board that chefs around the world use.
- Cheaper option: Shun Cultery Cutting Board (Amazon link). Another Japanese cutting board stands out, especially for its simplicity and affordable price.
Can An Expensive Knive Save You Money?
Many people only consider the upfront cost of the knife when they buy a knife, but this strategy may not be the most cost-effective approach.
Expensive knives are made with durable materials that will outlast knives made from lower-quality, lower-priced materials. A top-quality knife can conceivably last a lifetime, so you may have had to buy 4 or 5 lower quality knives.
The superior quality of the steel used to make top-quality knives means that the knife can be sharpened to a greater degree and will hold the sharp edge for longer.
From a cost perspective, this characteristic results in fewer sharpenings required for the knife, which adds to the durability of the knife and reduces sharpening costs.
There are always advantages and disadvantages to any decision, including the type of knife we buy. We will investigate the pros and cons of expensive knives to get a brief look at both perspectives.
TIP: Are custom knives worth the cost, and should a custom knife be something you should consider buying? Find out the answer in the article below:
Custom Knives: Should I Buy One? (Costs, Investment & More)
Pros Of Expensive Knives
Expensive knives present many advantages for the knife user. However, many of these advantages will only be relevant if they play a significant role in your reason for buying a knife.
The following are the pros for buying expensive knives over cheaper options.
1. Expensive Knives Are Better Quality
Expensive knives are typically made with higher-quality materials, and more care has gone into the design and craftsmanship of the knife.
This aspect results in a sharper, longer-lasting, better-performing blade. The quality of the materials leads to a better and sometimes safer experience for knife users and provides more comfort when the knife is used for extended periods.
2. Expensive Knives Perform Better
Knives are made to cur, slice, and chop, which requires a sharp edge. The sharper the edge, the better the knife performs for its intended purpose.
The top-quality steel used to make high-quality knives allows these knives to be sharpened to a greater degree, and the steel holds the sharp edge for longer.
This improves the knife’s overall performance for its intended purpose.
Many expensive knives are often designed with specific tasks in mind, such as processing herbs and vegetables, filleting fish, carving poultry, skinning game, or bushcraft and survival tasks. As a result, they may be more effective at performing specific tasks than cheaper, general-purpose knives.
3. Expensive Knives Are More Durable
Expensive knives are made with higher quality materials and better care in the manufacturing process.
The higher quality materials and manufacturing translate to a more durable product, making more expensive knives more resistant to wear and tear over time.
Proper care and maintenance can result in these knives lasting a lifetime and passed down to subsequent generations as family heirlooms.
4. Expensive Knive Are More Comfortable To Use
Expensive knives are designed to perform well and are created to be comfortable to use.
Extended knife use can lead to fatigue in your hands and arms if the knife’s design is not geared to comfort and ease of use.
The care that goes into the design and creation of expensive knives extends to the comfort experienced by the user. This is evident immediately when you hold a well-crafted, expensive knife in your hands and experience the balance and natural feel of the knife.
5. Expensive Knives Are A Work Of Art
Expensive knives may be more visually appealing, with attractive handles and intricate design details.
The additional care that goes into making a more expensive knife results in an end product that performs better than its counterparts and looks attractive and appealing.
TIP: Many new knife owners question the need to use a cutting board with their expensive kitchen knives. Check out why you always need to use a cutting board in the article below:
7 Crucial Reasons Why You Should Always Use A Cutting Board
Cons Of Expensive Knives
Purchasing and owning an expensive knife also has its downside, and some of these aspects may deter some people from choosing a knife from the upper price range.
1. The Cost Of Expensive Knives
The main disadvantage of expensive knives is the initial upfront cost of buying the knife. They can be significantly more expensive than cheaper knives, a significant barrier for many people.
Even if you would like an expensive knife and could use the benefits, the price may be too steep for your budgetary constraints.
In this situation, the best choice is to buy the most expensive knife you can afford. You will benefit from a better knife without the financial pressure of stretching your budget.
2. Greater Maintenance Is Required On Expensive Knives
Expensive knives often require more maintenance to keep them in good condition. Most people are willing to give more attention to items they paid a higher price, but not everyone is prepared to commit additional time.
Expensive knives generally require hand washing, sharpening on high-quality whetstones, and special care when storing the knives.
This additional care and maintenance can be time-consuming and inconvenient for some people.
3. Concern Of Risk Or Damage Of Expensive Knives
Expensive knives may hinder the use of the knife and create concern over the risks of damage or loss of the knife.
When people buy an item at a higher price, they often want to protect it and may not use it as often as they would a cheaper version. People may also not use the expensive version to its total capacity for fear of damaging it or wearing it out.
There is no point in paying a lot of money for a knife if it is not going to be used to its full potential but sit and gather dust in storage.
TIP: Knife sharpening stones come in such a wide variety that it can be challenging to choose the best stone to sharpen your knives. Check out the explanation for all types in the article below:
All Knife Sharpening Stones Types Explained & Compared
Should You Buy An Expensive Knife?
So, are expensive knives worth it? It depends on your budget, needs, and preferences. If you are a professional chef or someone who uses a knife, investing in a high-quality knife is definitely worth it.
These knives are typically made from superior materials and are built to last, so they can save money in the long term by not needing to be sharpened or replaced as often. They may also be more comfortable to use and perform better, making your knife experience more enjoyable.
In contrast, investing in an expensive knife may be overkill if you are a casual knife user and only use your knives occasionally. There are many affordable knives available that can still provide decent performance and durability.
BTW: If you want to know more about Japanese and other knives and their sharpening, check out the books listed above. These books are recommended by professional sharpeners and knife makers (Amazon links):
- Japanese Kitchen Knives: Essential Techniques and Recipes
- The Knifenerd Guide to Japanese Knives
- Knife: The Culture, Craft, and Cult of the Cook’s Knife
- Sharp: The Definitive Introduction to Knives, Sharpening, and Cutting Techniques, with Recipes from Great Chefs
Ultimately, deciding whether to invest in an expensive knife comes from your individual needs and budget.
If you have the resources and are willing to spend the extra money, you can expect to get a knife made from high-quality materials and built to last.
However, plenty of good options are available at more affordable prices if you are on a tight budget. So, it’s always good to research and consider your needs before making a knife purchase.
TIP: Japanese knives are quality kitchen tools that can be expensive but definitely worth buying. One of the best Japanese kitchen knives is the versatile gyuto. Check out the best picks in the article below:
4 Best Gyuto Knives For Your Kitchen (Under $100 And $200)