What is a high end knife?

On the @drrayeye thread on Parer, Petty – or Something Else? I loved the comment of @wabi about collecting knives and having friendships with the makers. I got a little giddy when he referred to Sabatiers, which I use and love, as “high end” knives. So realizing this will likely be entirely subjective and yield a wide range of responses, I put to HO:

What is a “high end” knife?

Is it a knife at or above a certain price point? If so, what is it? Is it a knife that is simply gorgeous and wonderful, whether it was made by an artisan or a factory? Is it any artisan knife, regardless of price? Would it include factory knives that have designs that try to convey artisanal cachet, like Miyabi birch or Wusthof Ikon? Is it a knife with history, like a Nogent forged in the forties?

For the sake of making answers easier to compare, try to focus on the chef’s knife or gyuto with a blade length between roughly 8" or 10". It isn’t a hard rule, only a suggestion. Cleaver users can play, too!

BTW I think of my main Sab as high end because it is wonderful, gorgeous, and irreplaceable, even though nearly 55 (!) years ago it cost under $20 and a similar Sabatier can still be had for under $100.


To me a ‘high end knife’ is either:

  1. Expensive - price very often matters, but not always
  2. Artisan made by hand
  3. Beautifully designed with a touch of class

Or a combination of all 3.

You can find ‘high end knives’ for cheap, if you buy vintage knives - but mostly high end knives will be quite costly in my opinion.


To me this is entirely subjective because the term ‘high end’ is a relative term. When I was in college, getting a $15 is high end. Now, I would consider anything $75-150 as mid tier knives. This isn’t just knives of course. $50 per pound beef used to mean really high end beef for me….etc.

Back to knife, the true qualifications of a high end knife is quality, not price. I bought a Tanaka blue steel nakiri knife when it was sold for $35. Now, the same knife is $120 I think. The knife is still the same quality, but the market price has changed. That being said, high quality is a tough assessment for many. Price is easy to communicate.

So here i go (despite not correct):
$250 above is high end knife — with plenty exceptional case


I also think there is a subtle difference of high end vs highly functional. Sometime they are not the same. Take my pinewood butcher block for example. It is very functional, but it is not high end by any mean. If you say that is a high end cutting board, i would be the first to correct you

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Hi Vecchiouomo,

“High End” to me means “expensive.” Not much more than that.


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It is a product or service when compared to like products/services that is of superior quality which typically is exclusive due to expense.

High end has nothing to do with affordability.

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The antithesis of affordability

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To me a high end knife is not necessarily the most expensive. It’s one that’s made with a tremendous amount of effort and time developed by a widely recognized master knife maker. Creating a master piece that’s both aesthetically pleasing coupled with outstanding performance.

Hmm after typing this, what I’ve described probably falls more into the category of ‘grail’ knife


I had a several year foray into Japanese knives. I had three Tojiro ITKs, a nakiri, a gyuto, and a petty. The wa handles were very comfortable, and once they were well oiled they were quite pretty. The blades were Shirogami white no. 2. They patinated nicely, took a great edge, and held it well. To me they seemed high end. They were very attractive and performed exceedingly well. They now live with my brother in law only because the typical Japanese choil was chewing up my towels. Aside from that irksome issue I thought they outperformed much more expensive knives I have tried, such as Miyabi and Shun.

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Good question.
First I want to say that I do like and respect Sabatier knives. I used it as an example when I spoke of knives that may not be as good as they used to be. I own several vintage Sabatier knives made in the 50s and 60s…they are wonderful. Since the name Sabatier is a makers mark used by several companies that make knives, some currently made Sabatier knives are not your mother’s Sabatiers. Not to denigrate them entirely, but I think some of the makers rest their laurels on the name and not on their quality.

To answer your question…what is a high end knife?..I am not sure I can answer it as well. It would seem that a “high end knife” would be one of exceptional quality…with an attendant high price. But we can all find examples of very expensive knives that that are surely not worth their price. I would lump a lot of so called “Damascus” steel knives in that group. Add the word “Damascus” to describe a knife, and you can add $100 to the price tag, whether it is a true damascus or not.
What I would like to think a high end knife is…is one that is of exceptional quality of steel and construction as to distance itself from the rest of available knives.
There are newer cutlery steels that are only now being used, like Magnacut, which because of its rarity and cost would be called high end.
To me…a high end knife would be one that is of exceptional construction and finish that separates it from the rest of the pack. Sadly, because of it’s no compromise construction or limited availability…they are frequently much more expensive.
So ultimately…and sadly…a high end knife, is frequently markedly more expensive than other knives.


Mmmm. A $15 wristwatch is not high end for Bill Gates or a homeless person.
A Rolex Pearlmaster is a high end wristwatch for Bill Gates or homeless person.

Whether the product or service is affordable by the consumer is irrelevant.


Come on, there have to have been a few way overpriced knives that crossed your path and were crap. Heck, Cutco is expensive!

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I can offer up a toaster that meets that definition. :joy: :sob:

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I sometimes feel stainless and carbon steel knives are difficult to compare

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Come on, HO. We need laugh and cry emojis.


They can be compared as to ease of sharpening, keenness of edge, and edge retention.

Sorry. I agree with you. I mean sometime I feel most carbon steel knives have such a leg up that it is unfair to compare. Just take your Tojiro as an example. Their $50 carbon steel knives likely will beat they $100 stainless steel knives in many areas. Now of course, stainless is stainless and that is something a carbon steel knife cannot compete.

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Yet people buy stainless in far greater numbers. Go figure.

A high end knife is the thing I baby in a drawer while I use my Victorinox for the 8th time today.


It’s the stainless feature, that makes me continue to prefer it over carbon steel.

I do wipe my blade down continuosly during prepping, but a rusty patina blade just never appealed to me, so they were never on my radar.

As long as I hone my blade before each cooking sessions, the stainless steel stay plenty sharp for me over a very very long time.