When I talk to people who are buying knives, I always suggest not to run out and buy a knife set thinking it'll have everything in it they'll need. You're much better off buying two or three knives that pull multiple duties than buying a huge set full of knives you'll never use with poorly-made blades that are designed to fit on retail shelves, not cut your food.
The folks at America's Test Kitchen tested a variety of knife blocks in the video above, and we even made mention of some of your essential knives several times, but the video really drives home the point. Too often manufacturers skimp on the build quality, size, and even the blade geometry in order to fit more pieces into a block that fits neatly on a shelf.
Knife sets are often filled with redundant blades, blades that are too short to get the job done (like the serrated knives in the sets in the video), and so-called "utility knives" for tasks which are almost always better served by a traditional chef's knife. What's worse is the fact that when you read "eight-piece knife set" on the side of a box in the store, two of those pieces are probably the block itself and a honing steel that comes with the set.
ATK notes that most home chefs aren't familiar with the right way to use a honing steel, and it's the only point in the video on which we beg to differ, but everything else in the video is spot on. You're far better off buying a few knives that do a lot of things over lots of knives that you'll never use.
Which knives do you keep in your kitchen? Do you prefer to shop a la carte and buy the good stuff, or is it just a matter of budget for you? Let us know in the comments below.
What You Need to Know About Knife Blocks [America's Test Kitchen]