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I have a loved one who uses their chef's knife in ways that really taxes the knife: prying stuff open, chopping hard straight up and down, etc. As you might imagine, this person's knives quickly dull and bend in ways that create safety issues, and s/he is often getting small cuts. The person is unlikely to change his/her technique.

Is there some kind of knife that has roughly the size and shape of a chef's knife, but can better tolerate being used in this way? I'm envisioning something with a very wide spine and a shallow blade angle that won't dull or bend as quickly.

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    The most durable versatile, knife I can think of is a Chinese vegetable cleaver – talon8 Nov 26 '16 at 17:55
  • Not a style of knife steel is fairly durable – paparazzo Nov 26 '16 at 19:51
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    Have them learn how to sharpen them. It will add to their appreciation of a fine tool. – Optionparty Nov 26 '16 at 22:51
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    Chinese cleavers, depending on what brand and model, can be among the most delicate knives around... designed for cutting board impact does not mean designed for general rough use. – rackandboneman Nov 28 '16 at 17:16
  • The cleavers come in various thicknesses, from delicate vegetable knives to thicker for chopping bone. The one I use for frozen food/bone has a full tang. Bonus points for it being dirt cheap. (I also keep some insanely sharp handmade Japanese blades for the real work). Granted, I did say "vegetable" cleaver. I should have just said "cleaver". – talon8 Nov 29 '16 at 15:24
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A so called Western Deba/Yo Deba could be what that person needs - this is a very heavy version of a chef knife, explicitly designed to deal with things like "half frozen food", "small bones" (commonly found descriptions in catalogs).

Do not confuse with the true japanese style deba (single bevelled and thick as a cookie.), that would be a pessimal knife choice for such a use(r). These look even more brutal/sturdy than the Yo-Deba but they aren't, you will need a whetstone and/or a first aid kit very quickly if you abuse it.

A so called "lobster splitter" would be the all-western equivalent.

Another, more rare designation for such knives (from japanese and japanese style makers) is "Reito-Kiri", these are explicitly designed for handling frozen food; not everything designated as a Reito-Kiri is chef knife shaped (some are serrated or double-handled).

Avoid hidden-tang handles (like those found on aforementioned chinese cleaver or more delicate japanese types) on knives used for really rough work: Your blade could literally fly off the handle and cause an accident.

"prying stuff open" and "chopping hard up and down" are two very different requirements when it comes to knife selection. Hard chopping (not TOO hard chopping) can actually be done well with a thin and quite hard knife - such would be a disastrous choice for prying. This exactly applies to the chinese vegetable cleaver that was suggested.

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Since this is an alternative strategy, separate answer.

An existing chef knife can also be made somewhat more resilient by changing to a microbevel-based edge - putting a more obtuse (3-10 degrees per side more than the main bevel), sub-milimeter bevel (can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Symmetrical would be advisable here...) ON TOP of the normal cutting bevel after sharpening (and roughly deburring*) it well. Usually done with the polishing stone and/or loaded strop. This will give you an edge that is almost as sharp as if you had the main bevel angle, but almost as resilient to impact (not prying!) as if you had the more obtuse angle throughout.

This has the advantage of not requiring a very heavy and/or obtuse knife which comes with its own injury risk.

*This method is actually used also to get rid of the last bit of burr on steels that are very hard to deburr cleanly (some manufacturer's VG10 implementations...). A large burr, though, will sabotage it.

  • I thought that when you strop, you put the knife parallel to the strop? How do you put an angle on it? – David Bruce Borenstein Nov 30 '16 at 19:30
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    Ahh... paddle strop or equivalent (leather patch, balsa board or flat newspaper on a board/counter), NOT hanging strop! "Loaded" (opposite unloaded) means "an abrasive, eg diamond spray, razor paste... has been added to it" in knife geek lingo :) – rackandboneman Dec 2 '16 at 10:46

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