This is a review of the Ginsu Chikara Series Knife Set.
If you remember the Ginsu knife infomercials from several years ago, you aren’t alone. These knives shot to fame seemingly overnight, claiming to be super sharp and highly affordable.
But do Ginsu knives live up to the hype? Or do they have more flash than quality?
I’ve reviewed the Ginsu Chikara Knife Set and detailed the features, as well as how to get the most out of your knives. I’ve also listed some alternatives to the Ginsu Chikara knives for those who’d like more options.
Are these Ginsu knives worth having in your kitchen? Keep reading to learn more.
At a Glance
What to Look for in Kitchen Knives
When considering kitchen knives, it’s important to consider several factors.
The first and foremost consideration is the blade. A dull knife is worthless, no matter how nice it looks or how comfortable it is to hold. A knife has a primary job, and that is to cut. So it must do that job well.
Blade quality is influenced primarily by two things: the material and the design. Blade material can vary, but most high-quality knives feature high-carbon steel or stainless steel blades. You can also find ceramic knives, but they’re not as common.
These materials resist corrosion and are super durable, making them popular among knife manufacturers.
The higher the carbon content, the longer it will stay sharp. But higher carbon means a higher risk of rust or chipping.
Stainless steel can be sharpened to a fine point, and it’s flexible, so you don’t have to worry as much about chips. But stainless requires more frequent sharpening. There’s a trade-off either way.
The design of the blade is also important. Does it extend all the way through the handle in a full tang? That will add stability. Is the knife forged or stamped? Forged knives last longer and are sturdier than those that are stamped.
Secondly, you want to make sure the knife handle is high-quality. A good knife handle is comfortable to hold. It should feature an ergonomic design.
A non-porous handle is better, since it won’t hold odors or moisture. Some handles are wooden, while others are made of plastic or composite material.
Lastly, you have to consider your cooking needs.
If you cook a lot of chicken or pork, be sure to have a knife designed to handle meat, and perhaps a set of steak knives. Vegetarian? You’ll definitely want a knife for slicing vegetables. Eat a lot of fruit? You might find a paring knife especially handy.
The food you plan to cook has a big influence on which knife sets will work for you.
Are Ginsu Knives Good?
Ginsu has been making kitchen knives for decades. The brand focuses on fine craftsmanship at an affordable price point.
Ginsu knives aren’t likely to last forever, but they can easily last several years with proper maintenance and care. Be prepared to sharpen your Ginsu knives regularly and wash each knife by hand. They are not dishwasher-safe.
Ginsu Knives Overview
Ginsu knives have been a leader in the Japanese cutlery industry for over 40 years. Ginsu was originally marketed to American families through infomercials.
Check out the original 1980 commercial:
The infomercials might be gone, but the reputation for value and cutting performance remains strong.
Ginsu Chikara 12-Piece Knife Set
The Japanese word chikara means power, a name befitting this Ginsu knife set. The Ginsu Chikara set includes 12 pieces:
- 8-inch (20 cm) Chef’s knife
- 7-inch (17.8 cm) Santoku knife
- 5-inch (12.7 cm) utility knife
- 5-inch (12.7 cm) serrated utility knife
- (4) 4.5-inch (11.4 cm) steak knives
- 3.5-inch (8.9 cm) paring knife
- Kitchen shears
- Honing rod
- Bamboo storage block
If that size doesn’t suit you, Ginsu offers the Chikara series in a 19-piece set and an 8-piece set, as well. They offer individual knives separately. If you had to pick just one, my favorite knife is the Chef’s knife or the Santoku.
This set of knives features forged blades, straight edges (except the serrated utility knife), and excellent balance. The sleek, modern design has a stylish appearance that will look great in the kitchen.
Customers were pleased with how these knives handled slicing and chopping meat and vegetables. They found the Chikara set to be a great value.
While you probably won’t find a professional chef using a Chikara knife, it’s a great option for home cooks who want a great entry-level knife.
Ginsu Knives Features
Let’s take a closer look at the features of the Ginsu Chikara set of knives.
Ginsu Chikara knives feature forged blades, as opposed to stamped blades. This means that the knives are shaped from a single rod of steel. A stamped knife, on the other hand, is cut or stamped from a big sheet of metal.
Forged knives are more durable and offer better balance than stamped knives. Forged knives also encourage better knife grip.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to develop proper techniques or a veteran who can pinch grip with the best, a forged blade is superior.
Japanese Stainless Steel Blades
The Chikara series knives are made from 420J2 stainless steel. This type of steel is a low-end steel that’s high in chromium.
420J2 stainless steel has a high corrosion resistance and a maximum Rockwell hardness of 56. It has poor edge retention, however.
This budget-friendly steel is likely the number one reason that Ginsu kitchen knives are so affordable.
But just because Ginsu knives feature low-end stainless steel doesn’t mean they aren’t quality knives. It just means you have to be more diligent and run the blade across honing steel after each use.
I recommend having your knives professionally sharpened at least once a year. A professional will ensure the sharpening process is done thoroughly and safely.
Full Tang Construction
The Chikara series features full tang construction, meaning the blade extends all the way through the handle. A forged knife typically has a full tang construction.
Stamped blades tend to feature partial tang, where the blade only extends part of the way into the handle.
Full tang knives have better durability and stability than partial-tang knives.
The only knife in the Chikara set that has a serrated edge is the 5-inch (12.7 cm) utility knife. There’s a utility knife with a straight edge, as well.
Straight edges are better for single-direction cuts. Slicing, dicing, chopping, etc. A straight cutting edge is also preferable for honing.
Serrated knives have little teeth that tear through food, called serrations. Serrated knives are suited for sawing through meat, tomatoes, and other food. Serrated blades are not suited for fine cuts.
Bamboo Storage Block
The bamboo knife block has enough slots for all the knives and sports a honey-colored finish. The block is of decent quality. The only issue? Many customers wished it was angled.
The block’s upright construction means you can’t pull out knives when under the kitchen cabinet. You must pull the block out first before removing a knife. Having an angled block would alleviate that inconvenience.
Cleaning and Maintenance
To help your Ginsu knives stay sharp, it’s important to care for them properly. First, you must hand wash these knives. Ginsu knives are not dishwasher-safe and will rust in the dishwasher.
Use hot water and dish soap, if necessary, to clean the knives.
Secondly, and this is important, dry the knives immediately after washing them. Never let your Ginsu knives sit out while wet. Leaving a wet knife to air dry is the quickest way to get rust spots.
It’s a good idea to hone the knife after each use. Ginsu knives are some of the sharpest knives at first, but they don’t have great edge retention.
Use the honing steel included in the set to maintain that sharp edge.
Store the blades in the knife block or in a protective sheath. Storing individual knives unprotected in a drawer will quickly dull them. Contact with other objects could even damage the blades.
A knife block is the safest storage option.
Finally, at least once a year, you should get your knives sharpened. I recommend sending them to a professional to make sure it’s done properly.
However, if you can’t afford professional sharpening, then be sure to sharpen them at home.
This set of knives is super affordable. When compared with other popular kitchen knife brands, you can’t beat the value of Ginsu Chikara knives. You can snag a full set of knives cheaper than a single piece from other brands.
Alternatives to Ginsu Knives
Ginsu Kiso Knife Set: Ginsu Budget Alternative
The Chikara series is just one of several Ginsu knife sets. The Ginsu Kiso Line comes in unique colors, with a choice between a bold purple, a classic black handle, or an eye-catching red handle.
It comes with the following pieces: a Chef knife, slicing and carving knife, Santoku knife, boning knife, utility knife, six steak knives, a paring knife, kitchen scissors, storage block, and four assorted spoons.
If you’re looking for a cheap set, Kiso knives are light on the budget. But they’re also lighter on quality.
The good news? These Kiso knives are low-maintenance. With serrated edges, you won’t be able to sharpen the knives with a honing rod. The serrated blades are nice and sharp, but they don’t retain their sharpness for long.
Ginsu claims you can put this set in the dishwasher. I suppose you can, but several customers claimed they had problems with rust spots after doing so. Your best bet is to hand wash this knife set.
Imarku Knife Set: Non-Ginsu Budget Alternative
This Imarku Knife Set includes a Chef’s knife, Santoku knife, bread knife, slicing knife, paring knife, utility knife, 8 serrated steak knives, a sharpening rod, shears, and knife block.
Imarku makes budget-friendly knife sets. These kitchen tools feature a high-carbon Japanese stainless steel blade with a stainless steel handle. The handle is ergonomic and sports a finger bolster for an extra secure grip.
The higher carbon content in the blade means these knives are more susceptible to rust. That was one of the most common complaints among buyers.
To avoid rusting, I recommend hand washing the knives and drying them with a towel immediately after washing them. Otherwise, the metal will rust.
If you need to slice off a piece of the cost (see what I did there?), the Imarku Knife set is a budget-friendly alternative to the Ginsu Chikara set.
Shun Classic 6-Piece Knife Set: Best Splurge Alternative
Shun is practically synonymous with Japanese kitchen knives. This Shun Classic 6-Piece Set includes a paring knife, Santoku knife, Chef’s knife, kitchen shears, honing rod, and slim design knife block.
The Shun knife set features premium Japanese stainless steel and an ebony Pakkawood handle with stainless steel end cap.
The 34 layers of Damascus cladding on each side offer durability, while the D-shaped handle provides comfort. You can chop, slice, and dice with ease.
Each knife in this knife set is handcrafted in Seki, Japan, for unmatched quality. To keep your knives at their best, wash them by hand with warm water and gentle soap.
These are some of the best knives, but they come at a premium price. Expect to pay significantly more for Shun knife sets than other knives.
Ginsu Knives Review: The Last Word
Is the Ginsu Chikara Knife Set worth it? If you want quality knives that are highly affordable, and you’re willing to put in a little extra work in care and maintenance, then yes. The Ginsu Chikara is one of the best-value knife sets.
You won’t get the same high-end durability or performance of a Shun Knife set, but you’ll be able to make quick work of food prep.