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.