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Slicing/Carving Knives

How we tested

There you are at the head of the table, with family and friends arrayed expectantly on either side. You’ve got a carving fork in one hand and a chef’s knife in the other. It doesn’t end well: Before long, the rosy roast is reduced to a pitiful pile of slabs and shaggy slivers.

If you’re spending time and money on a special meal, it’s worth getting the right tool to serve it. Unlike shorter chef’s knives and pointed, flexible carving knives, slicing knives are long and straight for smooth, even slicing. They have rounded tips so as to be less threatening for tableside serving.

For years, when we wanted perfect slices, we turned to a nearly $55 12-inch slicing knife from Victorinox. To see if it’s still the best, we retested it against seven new knives, priced from roughly $28 to $118, by slicing more than 150 pounds of turkey breast and roast beef and rating each knife on its handle, blade, sharpness, and agility.

Comfortable, grippy handles were imperative, as was the right degree of flexibility: Bendy blades bailed out midcut, leaving behind ragged slices. Stiff blades went where they wanted, not where we asked. Subtle but present flexibility allowed for control and strength.

Length mattered, too. We had to insert shorter blades to the hilt to get a full slice, causing our knuckles to brush against the meat; longer blades gave us more room to work. We also liked taller blades because they put more distance between our fingers and the sharpened edge. Called a bevel, this edge tapers to a point like a V and ranged from 14 to 20 degrees wide on either side, depending on the knife. As in our chef’s knife evaluations, we preferred narrower blades because they’re sharper.

Lastly, when it came to those scalloped divots called Grantons that dot the side of many knives, we preferred blades with them. And we spoke to N. Brian Huegel, knife expert and owner of Country Knives Inc., in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, to understand why. According to Huegel, Grantons break up the resistance on the blade, and the reduced friction makes it easier to cut even slices, thick or thin.

In the end, our old favorite wowed us all over again. “I feel like I can do anything with this knife,” said one tester. It was long, tall, sharp, and just flexible enough to give us utter control and perfect slices.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*