When you're looking for a simple folder to carry in your pocket every day — something with a no-frills design, a sharp, well-made blade, and a mechanism that opens easily — you need a Svord Peasant Knife ($19). An extended tang means you can open the three-inch New Zealand tool-grade carbon steel blade easily with just one hand, while also functioning to keep the knife open while you hold it. Each one is hand made and, while we prefer the classic look of the wooden handle, is available in a range of colored polypropylene handles. Use it as your go-to carry piece, or for fine and rough work around the shop or your home.
Stainless steel is great and all — easy to clean, sharpens to a razor edge — but there's nothing quite like ceramic if you really want the edge to last. The Kyocera LTD Ceramic Chef's Knife ($120) keeps its Zirconia 206 ceramic edge ten times longer than steel, so you don't have to sharpen it nearly as often as the typical chef's knife. It has an ergonomic pakkawood handle with a stainless steel bolster and rivet that makes it easier to handle, and more comfortable to use. Hand-crafted by experts in Seki, Japan, this knife won't brown foods with use, and resists corrosion.