The use of knives as tools dates back to prehistoric times, but these days your knives are more likely to be made from metal rather than whittled from flint. However, like our ancestors, you still want them sharp—not only does this make them more efficient, but a sharp knife is less dangerous than a blunt one. Here’s what to consider before adding a knife set to your cart.

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Ask any chef what their number one kitchen tool is and they’ll tell you it’s their knife. Whether they’re boning a chicken, chopping an onion or julienning a carrot, if you’ve got a knife (and a pan), there’s a lot you can do. And while the pros will tell you that they prefer to pick out every single knife individually, there’s a lot to be said for a knife set that gives you everything in one easy package—especially when most of us won’t notice the difference.


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Check that the set that you’re buying includes the products that you’re after—most will have a large chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife and a couple of prep knives too. But larger ones may include shears, scissors, and even steak knives. Also think about storage. Are you happy with a knife block—usually made from wood or tempered glass—or would you prefer individual covers that protect your knives and mean they can be stored in drawers?


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The material that your knife is made from can have a real impact on the longevity of your knife, but also how long it will stay sharp for. High-carbon steel will need sharpening less often, but is more prone to rusting, while stainless steel won’t rust but you’ll find the blade will dull more quickly. The best option are alloys which are a hybrid of the two, although these tend to come at a price.