Thin is in!
The new Z-Cut kitchen knife series from Spyderco is unique in several ways. They come in four colors: red, yellow, black, and green. Three edges: PlainEdge, SpyderEdge, and fully serrated. Two blade shapes: pointed and blunt. And most importantly are flat ground from very thin stock. At 0.030” on the spine, they are 40% thinner than the average ‘thin’ paring/utility knife. The reduced resistance found in these blade’s profound thinness allows the edge to glide through whatever it is called upon in the kitchen, making cutting effortless and appearance supreme.
Over a month ago, I received three of the four Z-Cut designs from Frank Dailey at Spyderco and since then have put them to work. I have been using a large kitchen knife made from Carpenter CTS BD1N for over three years, so I had a good idea of what to expect. In my opinion, BD1N may be the best overall steel for kitchen and butcher knives. It takes and holds a beautiful edge, does not tarnish or rust easily―even in the dishwasher, and preforms very well in the rough and tough world of most kitchens where the average user is not a steel fanatic or one who hand sharpens to 10° per side on an 8000 grit waterstone. Most users do cringe worthy things to their kitchen knives and based upon my 43+ years of experience selling and professionally sharpening knives in our cutlery store, the average kitchen knife is used and abused far more than most EDC folders. In testing the Z-Cuts, I did all the seemingly unthinkable torture tests that we always council against like cutting on hard, edge destroying surfaces (granite, Corian, glass, and stainless steel), washing in the abrasive and corrosive dishwasher, and cutting into bones and fruit pits. In addition, I sliced and diced pounds of fruits and vegetables during the preparation of meals. I also boned a leg of lamb and multiple pounds of chicken thighs, trimmed steaks, chunked chicken tenders for Pad Thai, and sliced numerous rolls, bagels, baguettes, and sandwiches. After much use and abuse, when their razor edges began to fade, a minimal touch-up, just light strokes @15° on the fine rods of the Sharpmaker was all that was necessary to bring their edges back to shaving sharpness.
The ‘Z’ shaped offset design gives you the ability to hold the handle above the cutting board for knuckle clearance while providing a comfortable grip. The offset also allows your first finger to choke-up on the handle which turns this EKU (Everyday Kitchen Utility) into a paring knife for peeling and trimming fruits and vegetables. I also used the round tip models for spreading mayonnaise, butter, mustard, and cream cheese. These knives allow you to finish cutting a pizza and then breakdown the box all with the same knife.
Beyond basic food prep, the Z-Cuts make great informal steak knives for slicing grilled rib eyes, prime rib, pork chops, etc., like scalpels. I can also envision their use for slicing raw fish for sushi and sashimi, and then precisely slicing those sushi rolls into perfect sections. Z-Cuts will also make an excellent bar knife for cutting all those cocktail garnishes.
While the versatile Z-Cuts are capable of most everyday kitchen tasks, I don’t see them replacing special purpose knives like those designed specifically for boning, filleting, large loaf bread slicing, or roast meat carving. They will, however, easily become a kitchen favorite―that “Go-to” knife that rarely leaves the cutting board. If anything, Spyderco’s Z-Cuts may be the new ‘Ginsu’ knife that actually live up to the promise of superior multi-purpose performance and lasting quality that the originals never achieved.