The list author says: "Why not just buy cheap knives? Most of us get by with cheap knives without really knowing what we're missing. You can cut things with a poor quality knife, but the balance, edge holding ability, and cutting power of a good quality well maintained knife makes kitchen prep a totally superior experience. Developing an awareness of and passion for good steel will pay you back in a multitude of ways every time you cook.
Fine edge trumps serrated on everything except bread. Forged have great strength and balance, but there are great stamped knives that get close for much less money. I've written an exhaustive "so you'd like to" guide about picking the right knives called "So you'd like to...pick (and maintain) the best knives for your kitchen". http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/R2VODKYZA1FUV6/ref=cm_sylt_pdp_title_full_1 I'm putting many of the items discussed in that guide as a listmania below. This list is meant to introduce you to many different brands and types, so most will be represented by the 8" Chef's knife. Obviously I don't mean you to only buy 8" Chef's knives - but it's a way of quickly seeing relative pricing. You can explore the full lines on your own. I also address maintaining and storing knives."
"Most cooking tasks are handled by a paring and a Chef's knife. This set is a great way to transform your kitchen experience. Wusthof makes state of the art forged high carbon stainless ice tempered knives. Grand Prix molded handles are more ergonomic, durable, and hygenic than classic riveted style."
"Everyone needs a few paring knives. This set fully equips you for a great price. Victorinox Forschner are Cook's Illustrated best buys. Stamped and lightweight (not necessarily a great thing) but great grinding and steel quality. Molded plastic handles. Great value."
"The other size everyone needs is a mid-sized utility knife for all the multifarious tasks not best handled by a paring or a Chef's. Henckels makes some killer forged ice tempered high carbon stainless knives. There's a variety of handles - 4 star is best value, but 5 star has full tang and better ergonomics. Be careful of "Henckels International" - same name but inferior quality."
"Fine knives must be hand washed (true for most of the others listed here except this one). Rada Cutlery is an American company that makes inexpensive stamped stainless blades and handles of tough cast aluminum. These aren't state of the art blades, but for folks who can't help themselves putting knives in the dishwasher - these are a good pick."
"Global makes a superb line of stainless knives of advanced alloy and grind. Handles are composed of the same steel stamping as the blade, hollow rolled, with a texture molded in. The entire knife is a single piece of steel. Light weight because of the hollow handle and thin (Asian) grind. However, lack of a bolster and a sharp pointy heel takes a little getting used to. It's finesse over force."
"Henckel's 4 Star doesn't quite have a full tang (rat tail tang underlies 3/4 the handle) - but the blade is superb, the balance doesn't suffer much and the price is low - only F. Dick can rival this for forged value."
"Henckel's Professional "S" line is the classic riveted handle style. The molded type is more hygenic and ergonomic, but the classic style will match your other knives and some prefer the look. These are high quality resin - not likely to shrink or warp."
"Shun's Elite line has a ductile steel blade body with a super hard carbon steel edge inset within like a samurai sword. You can see the wavy line between the two types of steel wavering up the blade. Incredible."
"Shun's Wasabi is a traditional Japanese line. Yanagiba is a sashimi fish slicing knife. Single ground (beveled on only one face and hollow ground on the back) to allow paper thin slicing of fish for Sashimi/Sushi. Very fragile, but the ultimate slicer"
"Kyocera is the big name in ceramic knives. Ceramics are very hard, and hold an edge very well. But they are brittle, don't survive falls, are extremely difficult to resharpen, and are prone to edge chips. Yet high quality ceramics can be incredibly sharp and, if cared for, maintenance free for decades. No sharpening, no honing with the steel."
"You should hone with a steel regularly to keep edges in shape (honing doesn't remove metal like sharpening - so honing actually extends the life of your blades). Big long steels are easier to use (if harder to store). Henckels' 12" is a great value."
"Sharpening is all about keeping a consistent angle. Chef's Choice machines have guides that help. The M130 has much better disks for the critical 2nd and 3rd stages than previous models = sharper knives. Be very careful when using - it's easy to remove too much metal by accident (especially w/ stage1)"
"If you use bench stones it takes lots of practice to grind with a consistent angle. Using a guide really helps by holding the knife at a consistent angle. Only trouble is, it doesn't work for the tip (you'll have to do that free hand). Still, you'll have a good idea of the correct angle after using the guide."
"Awesome 11.5" long sharpening stones - set of 3. You might want to add a super-fine finishing stone - but this set is killer. The big size means quick sharpening (as does the excellent synthetic abrasives)."
"Knives should be kept out of drawers. Knife blocks are a great way to store your knives within easy reach safely on the counter. Get a big block with lots of slots to hold your collection if it grows."
"Good knives should never be used on glass, stone, or stone substitute (i.e. corian) cutting boards. Poly plastic is the best because it's hygenic, easy to clean, impervious, and easy on your blades (your knives will hold an edge longer if you use poly cutting boards)."
"Wood cutting boards are beautiful, but less practical because they must be oiled, cannot be soaked, and are not hygenic to use with raw meat. Since they look good I leave one out for show and then put a poly board on it when I actually cook."