An essential part of the kitchen, good knives can be a considerable investment. But once you have them, you’ll never go back. Following are tips from the experts at Viking cutlery on how to choose the best cutting tools for your kitchen.

Must-Have Knives

The most important knives to have in the kitchen are: 1) a chef’s knife (usually 8 inches), which can be used for chopping, carving, dicing and more; 2) a paring knife, which can be used for peeling and chopping, as well as more intricate work like removing seeds from a jalapeno or cutting small garnishes. A good pair of kitchen shears is also helpful for everything from trimming fat off meats to cutting leaves off root veggies or cutting a pita into triangles.

See also Safe Slicing

Knife Life

For longevity, choose knives with a good stainless-steel blade. Look for full tang construction, which means that the blade and handle are one solid piece and that the metal in the handle goes the full length of the knife. This will be a stronger construction that will give you years of durability and use.

Blade Strength

Rockwell hardness (rated as HRc for knives) is a good measure of the strength of the knife. The higher the HRc, the sharper the blade will be, but it will be more brittle. Ceramic knives have a high HRc. The lower the HRc, the more pliable the blade; that makes it easier to sharpen, but it won’t hold the edge as long between sharpenings. A good balance between ability to sharpen and edge-retention is 55–57 degrees of HRc.

Knife Care

Always hand-wash your good knives. Although most knives are dishwasher safe, the movement in the dishwasher puts the blade at risk of hitting other flatware and chipping or damaging the cutting edge.

TRY: The 8.5-inch Viking Culinary

The 8.5-inch Viking Culinary Professional Cutlery Carving Knife is great for holiday entertaining or everyday use. It has a heat-hardened German stainless-steel blade with an HRc rating of 55–56 for strength, sharpness and long life.