You need sharp knives, it’s as simple as that. Blunt knives are dangerous as you need to apply more pressure, that equates to more chance of slipping and cutting yourself. This doesn’t mean your knives need to be expensive, cheap knives can be kept very sharp too, but they’ll just need a little more looking after than a high quality knife.
Sharpening knives is relatively easy, and made that much easier by doing it regularly. Our advice is to purchase a wet stone, sometimes called a sharpening stone, like the ones found here: https://www.steamer.co.uk/atoz/a_to_z_sharpening_stones You basically soak the stone in water, for a given amount of time, then scrape the blade back and forth at a constant angle. This very gradually shapes the blade, removes burrs and polishes the edge. You could always use a “grind” sharpener, the type with a V shape groove you drag the blade through, however these can often damage the blade and leave a rough edge. Butcher’s steels are also very good, but can take a bit of getting used to.
When it comes to cleaning knives there is only one golden rule you should follow; never, ever, ever put them in a dish washer! This rattles the knives around, clanking them together which will ruin the blade edges, also the dishwasher detergent is very abrasive, which will also damage the blade surface. Clean them in the sink with normal washing up liquid, rinse them and dry them straight away.
Knife storage is quite simple, use a good quality knife block, or a magnetic holder. Don’t just bundle them into a cutlery drawer for the same reasons you don’t want them knocking together in the dish washer. If you’ve got very expensive knives, you can even buy rubberised sheaths for them, to protect the blades even further.
As far as brands go, knives can be a bit “snobbish”. However, to be fair to the more expensive manufacturers, there is definitely a difference. We use everything from £10 Stellar knives right up to £100+ Global knives. The Stellars are perfectly serviceable knives and we use them regularly, however the Globals definitely have the edge (pun intended). They’re sharper from the start, stay sharper longer, have a better balance, and with any luck, will last longer. Other brands we like include Robert Welch, I.O. Shen, Kin and Yaxell.