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What's important when picking a new multi-purpose knife?

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I cook quite frequently and one thing that I use everytime I cook is a knife. Recently, I've grown unsatisfied with the knives I have as they are all dull and sharpening them doesn't really do the trick anymore. The knives don't hold the edge long enough so that I constantly need to resharpen them which means I waste a lot of time.

Now I would like to buy a new one but I don't know what's important. I want a multi-purpose knife (vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, etc.) which is on the longer side, that can hold an edge reasonably long and is sharp enough to finely cut tomatoes and not squash them.

What's important when picking one? The used steel, the procedure of how it's forged, the handle?

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The most important thing... no.

Several things have to be "good enough"; at that point you can select a most important thing.

The handle has to be comfortable enough for you to grip.

The blade has to be an appropriate geometry (there are several which will work, but you are looking for a "chef's knife", which means it has a point at the end, a long flat or slightly curved belly, and enough clearance from the blade to the handle that you can rock the knife without crushing your fingers. It must be long enough for you to do the work.

The knife steel can be stainless, carbon, or exotic. It can be a pretty Damascus or it can be satin-finished or mirror-polished. Hardness is measured on the Rockwell C scale. You can choose a softer (Rockwell under 50) metal and have it be more resilient but need to sharpen it more. You can choose a high-hardness steel (Rockwell over 60) and not need to sharpen it often, but it will be more work to sharpen it. Knife nuts will yammer on about steels for months.

Ceramic blades shatter or chip when dropped. The best case for a ceramic blade is a utility (2-4" blade) knife for a bartender's fruit slicing.

All that put together: most people want an 8 to 12" classic chef's knife, in a medium-hardness stainless steel, with a synthetic handle. These can generally be found for less than $50 US. Victorinox (one of the Swiss Army Knife companies) makes several of these which are well-regarded by working cooks.

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