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Rada – The Best Knives in the World

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I’m still on my quest for the best of everything, and in that quest, some years ago I discovered the American-made miracle that is Rada Cutlery. Many people swear by Haenckels or other extremely expensive European cutlery and I’ve owned a variety of knives from those sources as well as lesser knives, even the Amazingly Crappy Ginsu. None of these knives have equalled the quality of inexpensive, American-made Rada knives.

I first encountered Rada cutlery on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. I stopped by a little store called the MDI Workshop just off of Route 3 which sold handicrafts made by handicapped workers in the area. Some of those goods were interesting, but what really caught my eye were the unusual stainless steel kitchen knives they kept behind the counter. The knives came in all shapes and sizes, at surprisingly low prices, and had stainless steel blades and attractive brushed aluminum handles. On examination they were nice and sharp and surprisingly sturdy, so I bought a couple of paring knives and took them home.

Over the next year I used the hell out of those two paring knives and they never failed me. They stayed sharp the whole year and cut perfectly every time – both knives still hold a perfect edge now 10 years later and have never needed to be sharpened. The blades were strong and stiff and the brushed stainless handles felt good to the hand and have remained strong and firmly attached. The durability of the knives beats anything I’ve ever seen before. Every expensive European knife I’ve had has had problems. Haenckels are the best, but although their blades hold up well, their handles are fragile, break easily, drop their rivets, and can’t handle being put in a dishwasher. I have a very nice French paring knife which has a super edge, but the stainless steel isn’t really stainless and developed rust spots after only a few uses. Those two Rada paring knives have been in the dishwasher thousands of times and although the handles have discolored slightly, they’re as strong and reliable as ever, and the blades remain perfect.

Every year since then I’ve been back and bought more knives, so that I now have almost a complete set of Rada knives, including a couple of lovely carving knives, a butcher’s knife, a set of steak knives, a bread knife and many others. I’m particularly pleased with the remarkable wavy-edged carving knife which allows a super fine cut on chicken and turkey and the wide variety of paring knives of different sizes and blade shapes for every purpose.

Sadly a couple of years ago the MDI Workshop closed down, but I’ve kept my eyes out and have discovered other sources for Rada as well as other Rada products which they didn’t carry. My current source is a booth at our local gunshow where a retired couple sell a really complete selection of Rada. But there are lots of other sources. Rada has a very active program of selling through small dealers who go to flea markets and craft fairs all over the country. The minimum purchase is only $75 which will get you about 15-20 knives which you can then resell at a modest markup and make some spending money. A great little business for retirees or anyone looking for some extra income selling a really high quality product from an American manufacturer.

Among the interesting non-knife products I’ve found recently are an excellent ice-cream scoop with a super-strong unbendable shaft, plus several sizes of spatulas with a similar strong yet flexible design. There’s also an excellent draining spoon, a cooking spoon, a pizza cutter, the best peeler I’ve ver used, and many other useful kitchen tools. But in my opinion the finest of their other utensils is their extraordinary scissors. They’re super sharp and incredibly strong, and the blades can be easily separated so that they can go through the dishwasher. They’re actually strong enough to cut leather or tin – though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the latter.

The scissors and some of their other items – like their rarely seen hunting knife – are hard to find on the Rada webpage, but they are in the catalog. If you visit their site you’ll also see that they offer most of their knives in three different handle styles, the standard brushed aluminum, a polished aluminum and a black handle made from a composition material similar to that found on traditional expensive kitchen knives. The blades are all made from high carbon T420 steel and the quality can’t be beatten. And don’t forget they’re not expensive at all. they range in price from a $5 paring knife to a top price of about $25 for the largest and fanciest items. Rada also offers gift sets and special combinations in nice retail packaging.

If there’s a shortcoming, it’s that Rada hasn’t expanded their product line enough over the 60 years they’ve been in business. I’d really like to see a Rada pocket knife or clasp knife, and they really, really need to make forks to go with their steak knife sets or just produce a full set of Rada tableware. I get very tired of knives, forks and spoons whose handles break in the dishwasher.

It’s really nice to find something of such outstanding quality that’s made here in America, plus I have a lot of respect for their marketing methods. They don’t sell through Target or WalMart or any major retail outlets. They seem to do just fine selling through small individual dealers who do well by just letting the quality and fair price of the product speak for itself. This is the way business ought to be done in America.

To get some Rada knives for yourself try a quick search on Google. There are even a few items on Amazon. You can start out with a Rada Paring knife for under $4.

Dave

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    Dave, you’re missing ASINs. How about 0318T993166, the bid ID for a Rada Quick-Edge Knife sharpener? There’s also a Rada Air Pistol, B0007LKJVC.

    There’s no image for the Rada Paring Knife, B0007YBGEI, but it’s an Amazon Kitchenwares item…

  • http://bendreth.blogspot.com/ Maglase

    Hey, this is a hot site today! My father bought two complete sets of Rada steak knives nearly 35 years ago. We’re still using them today, and they’re still sharp.

    Thanks for the lead to the Rada website. I want to put a friend onto these, she already has a booth at the monthly flea market.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Actually, Dr. Pat, I included the Rada Cutlery links you note and also links to two books on kitchen cutlery, but there’s some sort of error which won’t let the links appear. I’ve posted about this on the BC mailing list.

    Oh, and the Rada air pistol is from a different company – an eastern european gun manufacturer as I recall – unrelated.

    Dave

  • Bobby

    The best knives in the world are actually Cutco brand knives, for a number of reasons.

  • Samwitch

    I bought my first Cutco knife 40 years ago, then bought a few more 20 years later. The price had become almost prohibitive! I laughed when my sister gave me two little Rada knives six years ago — thinking they looked like cheap dime store knives. I stuck them in my knife box in their little slipcases, didn’t use either for a year or so. My favorite Cutco went missing (in husband’s office). I pulled out the Radas in desperation! Much to my surprise, they were sharp as razor blades, easy to handle, washed up beautifully, and laid patiently in wait to be used again. Now my favorites, THEY occasionally go missing in husband’s office, for he, a real connoisseur of knives, loves them, too. I think it’s time to buy a bunch!

  • http://www.jmgoutlet.com JMG Outlet Store

    I have been using Rada Knives for 35 yeas and would never use any other knive. I strongly believe in these knives. My husbands grandmother used to sell them for her church which was the only way you used to be able to buy them. I believe in these knives so completely that I developed a website exclusively for Rada Products at discount prices. I do not know if I am allowed to give the site. I was wondering if you would check out the site and if you feel that it is worthwhile, would you please create a link to the site. Thank you for listening to me.
    Jan
    JMG Outlet Store

  • chris

    Find a non=profit group that sells the knives as a fundraiser. You will get Rada’s best price usually a 20%-30% savings.

  • Mags

    I’m a big fan of Rada knives but I have to say, you can NOT and should NOT wash these in a dishwasher.

    After only once in the dishwasher, the aluminum handles not only got light pitting, they turned black and drip the ‘oxidation’ all over everything as soon as they get wet. It stains, it’s nasty and you could end up throwing out some funky gray blothched food if you haven’t paid enough attention.

    Great knives for the money but you MUST handwash and make sure you don’t use dishwashing detergent with bleach in it.

  • Nick

    Cutco makes the World’s Best Knives…they’re guaranteed FOREVER! The guarantee is on the product not the person who owns it…so you can pass them down in your family and your grandchildren’s grandchildren will still have the same coverage for the knives! Plus Cutco has the DD edge and is the only fine cutlery manufacturer to have this edge…unlike serrated edges this edge can be sharpened! Plus Cutco will send a representative out to your house to sharpen your Cutco for free! Can Rada offer you that?

  • Cree

    Seriously though, if you use a Cutco knife for 5 years and it needs to be sharpened (by a rep) and you use a Rada knife for 20 years and it STILL doesn’t need to be sharpened, which is the better buy? I could do without having to have a rep come to my house to sharpen a knife I’ll tell ya that much!

  • Gerald

    I’ve owned Cutco for 27 years, the sales person had to convince me to come over because I thought they were perfectly ok. But anyway, I’ve never heard of Rada, and if they are so good why did they go out of business??

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Rada has been in business for 60 years and I see no indication that they have gone out of business.

    Dave

  • Eric

    RADA is not out of business. I just placed a big order through a friends church fund raiser for Christmas gifts.

  • NENA

    Thank you so much for this article, I have read all the comments and suggestions and my search for my first knives has become easier …
    I am new at cooking…to tell you the truth everything I know now is from watching the food network for a year and reading articles online, I love experimenting with food. Now I want to start cooking right and hopefully attend some basic cooking classes and definetly need new knives (to give you an idea of my “expertise” I have the magic blade set :S and the only ones I use are the serrated steak knives !)…Im 5.2″ and have really small hands so some knives feel really heavy and any 7″ plus look kind of scary to me…
    So I got this week two Wusthof knives the 5″ santoku and a 6″ Chefs, mainly because thats what everybody says I should have…and Wusthof because I red many good reviews, also because I was really lucky someone at Williams Sonoma made a mistake pricing these knives and I ended up paying $60 for the Santoku Classic Ikon and $50 for the Classic Chefs knife!
    Like I said I am not chef, I just cook everyday for me and my husband (poor soul eating all my experiments), but I see I really like cooking and want to learn how to do it right. Im eager to become a great cook!! so I hope you can help me with my questions

    What other knives should I get?
    I was thinking of a 5″ tomato knife that I could use for bread and cheese too and a 4″ utility/paring?

    I also see they all sell sets of steak knives … I was thinking on buying the wusthof classic set of 4 … are these just to use on the table or can these be used as utility knives? do I need all these?

    Is there any website that has videos showing how to hold and use every type of knife properly ?

    sorry Im just full of questions and are not adding any interesting knowledge…I promise when I become a great cook I will contribute ;)
    Thanks!!

  • Alicia

    I am trying to find the Rada Scissors somewhere. I have been looking but can not find them. i tried to order them by the catalog number in the link you provided but it says that number does not exist. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Anita

    I have used RADA knives for 15 years now..they stay in block on my counter top, the rest of my knives live in a drawer for occaisional use.

    I am so particular about the knives I use, I will take my Rada knives with me if I am going to be cooking at someone elses house.

    I won’t claim they stay as sharp as I like my knives for all these years, I do own a RADA sharpener…..but then, I like them razor sharp at all times….and I use at three of them daily.

    I would stick with the stainless steel handles, very durable.

    I own more expensive knives that still get some use, but these are my “go to” knives.

  • Anon

    Rada Scissors were discontinued about 6 or 7 years ago….they were fantastic though!

  • EJ620

    Mr Nalle apparently can’t tell the difference between aluminum, which is what the RADA knives handles are made of and stainless steel. This really makes me question the validity of his judgement. Further, some of the other comments refer to Cutco knives as being something great and they think the same of RADA. Cutco knives are crap – I don’t own any, but I cook daily for someone who has a set and after one try at using them I bought my own knives for his kitchen.

  • james

    Honestly I’ve never heard of rada and that’s ok with me I’m a huge cutco fan and recently been promoted to advanced sales rep through cutco! I loved my knifes so much I figured why don’t sell them and spread the joy! Hands down the best knives in the world! Who else has a. Forever guarantee? Name one! That and the construction and overall sharpness is unmatched

  • NOYB

    You can question all you want but these knives are the best I’ve ever used as well! I did the whole expensive knife thing and was disgusted with the overall quality and longevity. Then a friend introduced me to Rada. I’ve been a huge fan ever since and routinely request them for gifts. You can never have too many knives. And, just for the record, whether or not the handles are stainless or aluminum doesn’t have anything to do with how the knife cuts. Hope you never make a mistake EJ620

  • ted

    It is sickening to see all of the comments promoting the Cutco junk on here. Cutco knives are overpriced blades of marginal quality. I have owned, used and abused Rada knives for several years now. They may or may not be the world’s greatest blade but the bottom line is that you get much more than what you pay for with Rada. For the cost of a handful of crappy Cutco knives I can buy every Rada knife I would ever need – and the Rada knives would be around for as long as I would ever need them.

  • Jim

    Cutco Knives are crap these days.. they are not the cutco of 30 years ago.

    Cutco is CHINESE crap just like many others today. RADA knives are Classic and 100% american made for 60 years. They have never spent money on advertising..just word of mouth and have survived over the years with that alone. They are truly a wonderful product…

  • 4Stiches

    I bought a Bosch Mixer for Christmas and the sales guy threw in a Rada Bread knife for free. I thought it looked like a cheap piece of junk but was proven otherwise during my first personal encounter with it. I had a roll cupped in my hand and was cutting inwards, towards my hand. Having been a Boy Scout, I knew this was stupid, but never had any problems before, so I didn’t expect any. Suffice it to say, I ended up at Urgent Care with 4 stitches and a new respect for my Rada BREAD knife.
    As a side note, my wife nicked her finger with it today, though not nearly as bad as I ended up. The knife is perfectly balanced, incredibly sharp and could double as a knife you could go to war with. My next set of knives WILL be Rada.

  • Ron

    While shopping for some good quality kitchen knives, I stumbled upon Rada on Amazon.

    Curiouse as I had never heard of this brand before, I started to do some research (including this site).

    I was very surprized to find no real negative postings and quite a few realy positive comments about the construction and quality and decided to order the french chef, stubby butcher and the tomato slicer knife from Amazon (great return policy).

    I will return to post my results.

  • Lew

    Nice article, Dave.Also, many great comments on here about Radas….
    They are not the most gorgeous critters in the world, but they are extremely tough and seviceable. You can not find BETTER at any cost.They are not Rolexes, they are Timexes!NOTHING wrong with that…
    I worked in the engineering departments of steel mills during my working days, and made handmade knives and did hobby blacksmithing and knife making (at home) since about 1980 or so.
    I will make a couple comments about steel,hopefully speaking to clarify some things….FIRST OF ALL,there is NO SUCH THING as STAINLESS steel….it is commonly known in the metallurgical world as STAIN RESISTANT steel….there are hundreds of alloys of the so called “stainless” and only a few (in the 400 series) are good for knife blades.Cheap crap called “Stainless China” or “Made in Pakistan” (right there on the blade) is NOT good for knives….throw it away as soon as possible.
    Any one who tells you a knife blade will never dull should be approached carefully, he will lie to you about other things too. ANY edge will dull eventually, especially in households where cardboard is cut. Don’t cut cardboard or paper with a good sharp knife,because you will have a good DULL knife shortly. That’s why utility knives were invented (some morons call them “box cutters”)
    Aluminum reacts with alkalai (sometimes badly with some detergents), that’s why the Rada handles turn yoogly sometimes. Wash ‘em with lukewarm water and mild soap,(Ivory,etc.) and hand dry them.Don’t put ANYTHING you don’t want to murder in a dishwasher.

  • Navan

    My grandmother first bought her Rada knives through a flea market vendor. They became a big deal for our family- she gave my Mom her first Rada super parer and peeler when she got married and moved away, same with my Aunt. I just got married and got my own! As kids we always knew to stay away from the knives with the brushed handles- they were SHARP! My mom now pretty much has the entire set, and I’m slowly working on mine. They are absolutely the BEST knives! (And I love that you can use their sharpener on any knife- even my old cheapo ones that I had as a student cut great after being run through their sharpener a few times!)

  • Ericap

    My dad bought a set 30 years ago and they are still in perfect condition and the are used constantly. My mom loves them so much that she keeps buying more. I’m in the process of moving and I don’t have a knife set yet but these are the only knives I’ll use. My hands are so tiny that most knives are uncomfortable to hold because the handles are so big but these knives have small handles and they cut very well. I’m hoping that I’m able to find a set locally so I won’t have to order them.

  • Chris

    My mother and I have been using Rada knives for as long as I can remember and have never had any issues with them. I plan on trying to talk my wife into allowing me to get a couple of choice pieces from them to add to my set as my cook abilities are increasing

  • Gloria

    Great article, Dave. I have been researching bread knives lately, and that’s how I came across Rada knives and this site. I really appreciated and enjoyed all the comments — I am sold on the Rada knives, and will certainly order the bread knife.