Your budget of ~$1250 for knives only is more than adequate. But some of your criteria are hard to understand.
Fill me in a little.
Laser AND Robust Gyuto:
- Why semi-stainless?
- Not much choice in semi-stainless, you know.
- Why PM?
- What qualities does PM have which you think make them particularly attractive?
- What is it you don't like about stainless?
- Any chance you might consider a non-clad carbon?
- Have you ever used a san-mai (aka cladded) knife?
- What did you think?
The issues with lasers isn't what they can or can't do so much as how their flexibility makes it hard to do some things without good knife skills or the luxury of taking your time -- or preferably both. Because flex leads to wracking, and wracking leads to binding: You probably
won't want to use anything with as much flex as a laser for splitting melons, cutting thick-skinned squash, or skinning pineapple -- but some people do, me among them. It depends.
In some ways a laser is a little more delicate than a mid-weight knife -- but not by much. It's a fact of life that nearly all, modern, high performance knives need a heavy-duty backup of some sort at one time or another. With a laser you might go there a little faster than you would with something a bit heavier. Chances are you won't want to use any of your good gyuto for breaking the chines on prime rib roasts -- few people do, not even me.
The question is whether you want to tag team a laser with a more robust gyuto AND a heavy-duty backup, or just go with either two of the three.
I have all three, and it works very well for me. But I don't want to sell you on the concept -- I want to give it some thought. Heavy Duty Knife
It's something of a minority view in this forum, but I recommend not wasting your money on a Western Deba. There are all sorts of alternatives which do the same things just as well -- better really -- for a lot less money. If there's any way in hell you can live with a carbon knife, you can get a knife which is strong enough to be used for digging holes in the garden and gets beaucoup sharp for under $20. Utility:
The idea of utility covers all sorts of ground. You want a "petty," which is an incredibly versatile knife and will take the place of your parer, your boning knife, and perform just about any food function.
But I have to say I want another knife for cutting all the things I don't want to use one of my good knives for like cutting pies and frosted cakes, leaving out on the cheese board; opening the occasional box; etc. Paring Knife:
Go cheap. You need a small knife you can treat like crap.Bread Knife:
Sharpening is crucial. Your oil stones (whether you use them with oil or use them dry) are too slow for sharpening strong modern alloys; and you'll want at least some of your knives to be made of those.
You'll want either a quality set of water stones or a quality tool and jig system such as an Edge Pro. Since the skills for using oil stones are exactly the same as those required for water stones, you might as well go the bench stone route for its greater versatility. Hone:
- Laser - Richmond Laser AEB-L, or Konosuke HD2 if you want the best in semistainless; or Konosuke HH if you want one of the best in stainless;
- Robust gyuto - Richmond Ultimatum M390;
- Heavy duty backup - Old Hickory 10" butcher's knife (carbon and not sold at CKtG);
- Bread - Tojiro ITK
- Utility - Richmond Artifex "Petty";
- Other Utility - Forschner by Victorinox, wide fillet, Rosewood series (not sold at CKtG);
- Paring - Forschner by Victorinox, Rosewood series (not sold at CKtG);
- Sharpening, soup to nuts, including stones and accessories - CKtG 8 piece set; and
- Rod hone - 12" Idahone Fine (aka 1200) Ceramic with wooden handle.
[Note: Some of the above knives are best sharpened on water stones, and some on oil stones.
Food for thought,