It should come as no surprise that Pro Tool Reviews would review a set of kitchen knives. While the application is different, blade design, build quality, and balance all play the same roles. Only the overall design and intended use differ. We recently acquired the Kershaw Emerson 3-Piece Kitchen Knife Set for review. Kershaw refers to this as the Emerson 3-piece Cook’s set, and they most certainly belong in a residential kitchen.
[pullquote]”It must cut and it must be comfortable. Any function or design feature that does not add to those attributes simply makes the knife less functional.” – Ernest Emerson[/pullquote]
No strangers to the work of Ernest Emerson, we did our first Kershaw Emerson knife review back in 2015. He invented the Wave auto-opening system which opens the knife as it leaves the pocket. While the Kershaw Emerson kitchen knives don’t require an open system, other ergonomic design elements remain. Ergonomics have always played a huge role in Emerson knives. This set applies those principles to the kitchen.
Kershaw Emerson Kitchen Knives Build Quality and Design
The Emerson 3-piece Cook’s set includes three staples of the kitchen: a 7-3/4 inch chef’s knife, a 4-1/4 inch paring knife, and a 7-1/4 inch bread knife.
The blades are DIN 1.4116 stainless steel. This is European steel whose components seems to fall in the neighborhood of 420HC. It’s a mid-grade stainless sharpened to a 16° cutting angle on both sides. Kershaw claims the knife uses a full-tang across the length of the handle, but it’s hidden. The glass-filled nylon handles are textured along the sides and smooth across the top and bottom.
Kershaw Emerson Chef’s Knife
The Kershaw Emerson chef’s knife weighs just 5.1 oz. It feels very light compared to the 7.3 oz. of our daily-use Wolfgang Puck chef’s knife. It also feels quite a bit forward-heavy, though this doesn’t negatively affect chopping. The Emerson chef’s knife stays sharp all the way to the handle end due to the absence of any bolster. That means you want to be careful when you grab forward of the handle. If you slide under the corner of the blade you’ll get nicked.
The height, shape, and length of the blade stayed true to what we expected from a chef’s knife, and it did well in both slicing and cutting. We tested it on greens, tomatoes, scallions—even watermelon.
Kershaw Emerson Paring Knife
I liked the thumb rise on the pairing knife. There’s no jimping, but it gives you more control if you’re cutting small potatoes or similar-sized vegetables or fruit. It also helps with not having a thick bolster area near the handle. The super-light Kershaw Emerson paring knife weighs just 1.4 oz. compared to the 2.6 oz. of our WP knife.
As mentioned, there’s no real bolster on these knives. Some knives are ground down, like the one pictured above, creating a nice rigid bolster at the top of the handle. The blades on these Kershaw Emerson kitchen knives simply disappear into the handle.
Kershaw Emerson Serrated Bread Knife
The 4.1 oz. Kershaw Emerson serrated bread knife feels light in the hand. The serrations bite more aggressively on the cutting stroke than the back-stroke. I noticed quite a bit of deflection on the blade of this knife in particular. That means it easily bends sideways when you push against it. Based on the weight and where it moves, it feels as if the full tang design must utilize a narrower piece of the steel blade. It also has a narrower and thinner profile than the larger chef’s knife.
The knife functioned well for slicing through whole bread loaves and even tomatoes. We love to get sourdough bread and dip it into a hot fondue of fontina cheese mixed with garlic cloves and wine. It makes for a great Friday-night appetizer.
Kershaw Emerson 3-Pc Kitchen Knife Set Specs
- Steel: DIN 1.4116, satin finish
- Handle: Glass-filled nylon
- Blade Length: Bread 7.25 in., Chef’s 7.75 in., Paring 4.25 in.
- Overall Length: Bread 12.5 in., Chef’s 13.25 in., Paring 8 in.
- Weight (no cover): Bread 4.1 oz., Chef’s 5.1 oz., Paring 1.4 oz.
- Price: TBA
While these knives get the job done, don’t expect them to perform like more expensive kitchen knives. For that, check out some of KAI USA’s higher-end models. The handles on these Emerson Cook’s Set knives all have a central bump as opposed to a single smooth arc. This makes them a tad more ergonomic when you press forward using your front fingers.
The blades on these knives measure about half the thickness of my everyday kitchen set. That accounts for the slight imbalance I feel when using them. It also explains the blade deflection. I would like to see a model with a true bolster at the top of the handle. I also tend to like a more significant tang that runs through the handle. It balances the blade better and makes for a more stable knife overall.
With that said, the Kershaw Emerson 3-Piece Kitchen Knife Set would make a great gift. These would be good for someone starting off their kitchen knife collection. Kershaw also has a great reputation for quality, and we’d expect these knives to hold up well over time. Considering they come with a limited lifetime warranty, they should.