These three knives from Chicago Cutlery’s Signature series are about as simple as good knives get. The design is completely functional and could have come from any American frontier kitchen. The black walnut hardwood handle slabs and brass rivets create durable grips for the full tang high carbon stainless steel blades. You might see art in the simplicity. If you just want good knives for the kitchen, these three — paring, utility, and chef’s knives — will cover most kitchen chores short of chopping but don’t offer any special features.
The taper-ground blades cut well when sharp but need frequent maintenance with a honing steel or whetstone to stay keen. The blades are cut and ground from a sheet of 420C steel — not likely to break if twisted the wrong way, but without any unusual edge holding ability. Many of the best stamped steel blades made today compete well with heavier forged styles but are made from alloys with special strengths that compensate for the plain structure of the knife. The 420C steel in these knives is an ordinary grade.
With no bolsters or fingerguards and only minimal handle shaping, you’ll depend on your own grip and knife handling skill to avoid slips. Leading sections of the handle slabs have squared edges and sharp corners that won’t feel very ergonomic if you need to use them as thumb leverage.
The set of three starter knives is covered by Chicago Cutlery’s lifetime warranty, but that warranty won’t cover dishwasher damage. The stain-free blades resist rust and corrosion if hand washed in mild detergent. Hardwood handles could swell and distort if run through a dishwasher. Avoid soaking the knives in dishwater for longer than necessary to prevent gaps from forming between slabs and tangs.
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