Every home requires an adequate set of knives to help make memorable meals where the family can come to eat and spend time together.
When looking at various knife sets, you will see a number of different options in front of you.
However, all high-quality knives have one thing in common: they cost a lot of money.
Here are 10 reasons knives are so expensive.
Why Are Knives So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
1. High-Quality Steel Blade
The blade is arguably the most important part of the knife, so an expensive knife should come with a high-quality blade made out of the best material.
The majority of knives use a steel blade, but steel comes in a wide range of quality levels.
Better quality steel will hold up to chips and last longer than lower quality steel.
It may also look more attractive.
There are four basic types of steel.
The material is categorized based on how the steel is made, especially with regard to the alloy elements:
- Carbon steel: Carbon steel contains a higher level of carbon than most steel but not more than 2%, as you would find in cast iron. It comes in three subcategories: low, medium, and high. The best knives have high carbon steel.
- Alloy steel: Alloy steel uses a wide range of different possible alloys, including aluminum, copper, manganese, and silicon. The different alloys used to make this type of steel especially versatile.
- Tool steel: Tool steel is made with the specific purpose of creating tools. The steel is made depending on its use, such as water-hardening, oil-hardening, high speed, and shock-resisting.
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel is the only steel that uses chromium. It will contain anywhere from 10.5% to 30% chromium. It is the shiniest option, and it protects from corrosion.
Carbon steel and stainless steel make the best knives since it is exceptionally strong.
Most of the knives on the market are either carbon steel or stainless steel with most people favoring stainless steel despite the higher price tag.
Cold-rolled carbon steel goes for $1.038/lb. Stainless steel goes for $1.67/lb.
2. Titanium Or Carbon Fiber Handle
When using a knife, consumers want a handle that looks great while also providing exceptional grip.
Improper gripping can lead to disaster, so it’s important to purchase a knife with a handle made from something easy to grip.
Most knives have handles made out of rubber or plastic.
While effective, these handles don’t provide the best grip and may deteriorate over time.
Of course, they are cheaper than metal options.
The three main metal options are aluminum, steel, or titanium.
Aluminum can provide additional strength, but it can corrode quickly.
Titanium provides the best option for people who appreciate a metal handle.
It’s strong, long-lasting, attractive, and it won’t suffer from corrosion.
Aluminum only costs $0.32 for the rod while titanium costs $11 for the same size rod.
In addition, the best knives will have advanced gripping technology to ensure that a slip doesn’t happen while you use it.
If a manufacturer sells a knife on the high end of the spectrum for the price of knives, they better stand by their product, and for the most part, they do, with the help of a warranty.
A warranty is a guarantee from a company that they will replace their product according to the details of the warranty.
Many cheap knives don’t come with any warranty at all.
However, the best knives come with a long-term warranty or even a lifetime warranty that covers the product for as long as you have it.
The following are only some of the brands that offer a lifetime warranty (not all-inclusive):
- Big Green Egg
- Chicago Cutlery
It’s important to read all warranties carefully before you purchase.
Some lifetime warranties include a “no questions asked” clause, which means they will cover whatever you bring to them, while others include more strenuous stipulations for replacing your knife.
Many warranties only cover replacement if the consumer can prove the knife contained a defect when they got it.
No warranties cover a loss if you no longer have the product in the case that you misplace it or it gets stolen.
4. Forged Vs. Stamped
Blades either come forged or stamped, with both methods having advantages and disadvantages.
However, forged knives ultimately come out on top, especially for someone looking for a quality knife.
Stamped knives are made out of one large piece of sheet metal.
A cutting machine stamps the knife’s shape out of the large piece of metal.
This process is simple and inexpensive. However, the design isn’t as intricate, and it isn’t as strong.
Forged blades are made from molecules that are melted together, reinforcing them and making them stronger.
These knives have more rigid blades, helping them hold up longer than stamped blades.
They are also easier to sharpen.
Forged knives cost a lot more, though.
To determine if you have forged or stamped knives, you need to look at the bolster.
The bolster is the wide metal lip of the knife between the blade and the handle.
Sometimes, it extends into the handle and creates a tang.
Only forged knives have a bolster and tang.
5. Overhead Costs
There are a lot of things that go into the costs of the manufacture and sale of knives, including the distribution, employees, and packaging.
Knives need to transport from the manufacturing plant to their desired location, which costs gas money.
Sellers can transport the knives to local retailers, where consumers will pick them up from the store.
Alternatively, the seller can deliver the knife right to the home of the consumer via online sales.
Most major manufacturers have multiple manufacturing plants around the country or the world so that they can reach more stores and customers instead of traveling to distant locations.
For example, a knife manufacturer in California may choose to open a new manufacturing plant in New York to allow for cheaper delivery to the people in that area.
This keeps the product at a more affordable rate, thus increasing sales.
Companies that handle their own distribution save money in the long run.
However, most companies don’t have the budget to pay for trucks and truck drivers, so they hire other people to do it for them.
A whole team of people works together to make cooking knives and get them into your kitchen.
It costs money to pay the warehouse workers, executives, truck drivers, and salespeople in the company.
Having a complete staff that ensures the customer gets the help they need when they have a question or need to file a claim under the warranty increases customer satisfaction immensely.
However, a properly staffed facility costs more than most small companies can afford.
This makes it easier for national chains to offer the best customer service.
Knives can become dangerous when they unexpectedly find themselves outside of the packaging.
This can lead to lawsuits and other problems for consumers and manufacturers alike.
However, knives are sharp and can easily penetrate through cheap packaging.
To avoid a problem before it happens, high-end companies use expensive, high-quality packaging to keep everyone safe throughout the entire process from the creation of the knife to the consumer opening it after they bring it home.
6. Safety Features
Knives result in 350,000 reported accidents every year.
Most of the accidents happen when people use knives improperly.
Some tips to prevent accidents from kitchen knives include:
- Cut items on a steady cutting board
- Use the right tool for the job
- Don’t try to catch a knife that falls (and wear full coverage shoes when cooking)
- Cut away from yourself
Another reason that people experience an accident is using dull knives.
Contrary to popular belief, this makes especially sharp knives safer than dull knives.
Furthermore, high-end knives will have additional safety features.
The most important safety feature is a nonslip handle.
Certain knives may also come with accessories to increase safe use.
When you buy a knife, you need the proper tools and accessories to make using it and caring for it simple.
Some accessories you may get include:
- Cleaning materials
Knives get dull over time, so some knives include a sharpener so that you can keep your knife sharp no matter how many times you use it.
Most sharpeners are made out of steel and have a handle.
You simply slide the knife across the steel rod a couple of times when you notice it getting dull.
Better knives don’t require as much sharpening, but they still probably come with a sharpener.
The sharpening frequency varies depending on how much you use your knife and how well it maintains its sharpness after each use.
The knives also need to fit into a block for safe and convenient storage.
Some blocks even act as a sharpener so that you sharpen your knife every single time you take it out of its place.
It’s important to clean your knife properly, never in the dishwasher.
Typically, this involves washing your knives by hand with dish soap and water.
Let the knife soak in warm water if it has something particularly stubborn caked on it, such as a cheese-based sauce.
Always point the knife away from you and work carefully when you wash it.
While this will work for standard cleaning, you may also get a special cleanser to use on your knives periodically or special microfiber washcloths.
Finally, some knives come with a sheath that keeps them safe while in a kitchen drawer, while also ensuring no one accidentally cuts themselves on the knife.
8. Full Set
You can’t fully satisfy all of your kitchen cutting and slicing needs with one knife.
Some jobs require a larger blade while other jobs require something smaller and more precise.
That’s why it’s rare to get a knife without purchasing a full set that gives you everything you could need (and more).
Not only do you have everything you need in one knife block, but everything matches and looks great.
If you lose a particular knife, you can, of course, request a replacement from the manufacturer.
You may find the following types of knives in your knife set:
1. Chef’s knife
The chef’s knife is one of the most commonly used items in the kitchen.
It usually spans anywhere between six and 12 inches, depending on the user’s size and preferences.
Since this knife can handle most tasks, it’s considered one of the most important knives in the kitchen.
2. Utility knife
A utility knife is small at between four and seven inches, and it’s used for smaller jobs that can’t safely be done using a chef’s knife, such as trimming.
3. Nakiri Bocho
This Japanese-style cleaver has a thin, wide blade and usually works best for chopping vegetables quickly.
4. Steak knife
Steak knives are one step up from butter knives and come with a thin, serrated blade perfect for ripping into a piece of steak.
5. Paring knife
A small three- or four-inch paring knife blade works best for intricate detail and precision, like for making garnishes.
Cleavers have a very wide blade, and it’s one of the largest knives in the kitchen.
It’s the best knife to use when cutting through bones or extra-large vegetables, such as pumpkins.
The heavy blade can also be used to crush small items, like garlic.
7. Bread knife
Bread knives stand out with their serrated edges.
They have a blade up to 10 inches long, and they are perfect for cutting loaves of bread and cake.
8. Boning knife
A boning knife is a small knife specifically designed, as the name suggests, to remove meat from the bone.
Most boning knives are stiff and come with a three- to eight-inch blade curved slightly upward.
9. Fillet knife
Similar to a boning knife, the fillet knife is specifically designed to allow a chef to fillet fish.
Fillet knives are usually straight and slightly more flexible.
Many manufacturers combine the boning knife and filet knife to make things as simple as possible.
Shears are scissors as opposed to a knife.
However, they come in just as handy when you need to cut something in the kitchen.
You can use them to cut herbs or slice pizza, but they work quite nicely when trying to break down a whole chicken.
Naturally, not all sets will come with every type of knife.
Knowing which knives you want can help you pick the best set for yourself.
Of course, you can usually depend on the fact that the more options, the better.
Naturally, a set of knives costs more than one knife, contributing to the high price tag.
However, that doesn’t mean you should buy knives one by one.
Buying the set offers a substantial discount compared to buying each knife individually.
It’s important to note that it’s not exactly necessary to have every type of knife you see in your knife block.
It’s more a matter of want and convenience over need.
Some people prefer to only buy about three or four knives to cover all of their kitchen cutting needs.
9. Quality Control
Every high-end knife goes through an extensive quality control process at the manufacturing plant.
They test the knives to ensure they hold up to various conditions.
Additional testing is performed to ensure the knives don’t break while in use and that they are as sharp as advertised.
Extensive quality control costs a lot of money.
It also means that many otherwise passable products end up getting scrapped.
In the end, companies find the quality control effort to be worth it since it reduces the number of returns, warranty claims, and dissatisfied customers.
The four types of quality control are:
- Prevention: preventing accidents before they happen with proper safety procedures and safety features on the product.
- Appraisal: during the appraisal, problems are found during the quality control process while manufacturing.
- Internal failure: failure identified before a product leaves the retailer.
- External failure: failure that occurs after the product falls into the hand of the consumer.
Every knife manufacturer pays for quality control as part of the manufacturing process.
Every time they lose money thanks to products that don’t meet their standards, the price goes up.
10. Aesthetic Appeal
Knives function as cutting tools, but they can provide so much more.
Some knives look amazing and add an element of style to the sometimes already very stylish kitchens, especially knives that have shiny stainless steel blades.
The blade may even have designs on it, such as fishbones or an elaborate Damascus design.
The handle also adds a lot to the look of the knife, and you can find intricate handles in different styles and colors.
Some craftspeople apply a dramatic design to the entire knife that is sure to drum up a lively conversation when someone sees them.
Looking for something unusual?
Take a look at these sets that come in a cosmos pattern and a Jurassic pattern.
High-quality knives tend to last longer, perform more accurately and more safely, and look better than low-quality knives.
You don’t necessarily need every single knife in your knife set.
However, buying a full set ensures that you have everything you need to cut anything you come across in the kitchen and at a better deal than purchasing each item separately.
When you are in the market for new knives, look for a set that will become the last set you ever need to buy.