Kitchen knife reviews?

Daren Welsh

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I'm trying to compare a couple knife sets and I haven't found many reviews to help me out:

Henckel's Classic series 15-piece set

vs.

Calphalon Katana 8-piece set

I've only found the one review on Amazon for the Katana set. Now I'll admit I'm letting the coolness factor of the Japanese steel sway my reasoning, but I'd like some opinions/experiences to help me decide. Or, if anyone knows of a good cooking forum that might have more info, I'd appreciate it.
 
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There was a thread about knives a little while ago - a quick search should find it.

One thing I'd add is that it doesn't matter how expensive or well-rated the knife is if it doesn't feel right in your hand. IMHO, try before you buy.
 

Ted Lee

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SethH

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It seems to me that you're looking at two different levels of knives. One is a $200 set that does not include steak knives and the other is $199 and does include steak knives.

My wife and I got a Henckels set for our wedding. It cost about $150 and did not include the steak knives. We then picked up 8 Wusthof steak knives from Amazon -- mostly because they looked great, got great reviews, and we wanted 8 instead of the 6 that come with most sets.

Here's a link to the steak knives we bought. We've been very pleased.
 

Marc_Sulinski

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I own the Wusthof Classic knives, and I think they are great, though they are a little pricey. They are comparable to the Henckels Professional line. Just to give you an idea of price, they run about $300 or more for a basic 8 piece set (one piece is the block and another is the sharpening steel, and another is a set of kitchen shears, so you get 5 knives).

If you are looking for something cheaper, the Henckels Classic (which you mentioned in your post) are pretty good.
 

Andrew W

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Marc, I have to disagree. Your Wusthof Classics are not comparable to the Henckels Pro but are in fact far superior to the Henckels Pro.

Henckels is no longer making knives from a solid piece of high carbon/stain resistant steel. They are welding the blade and handle together which is a failure point.

Wusthof and Messermeister are probably the best knives coming out of Germany today.
 

Marc_Sulinski

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I did not know that. I always assumed they were comparable since the prices were about the same (or the Henckels are often a little more expensive).
 

Brian Perry

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I guess the relevant question would be: Has anyone ever seen a Henckels knife fail (i.e., break)? I haven't heard of any, so while it may be a marketing advantage for Wusthof to say the handle and blade are cut from one piece of metal, it makes no practical difference.

Now one thing I will say about Henckels is that there seems to be a difference in quality control between their knives coming out of Solingen and the ones made elsewhere. I have purchased several non-Solingen knives that were slightly warped but the ones that say "Solingen Germany" on the blade are always straight and true.

While we're on the subject, does anyone know what the grid markings on German knives mean? (With Henckels, there is a 6 row x 2 column grid of boxes just to the right of the model name, with some boxes filled in and some empty.) I thought it had something to do with the metal composition, but the markings are different on several knives I own that supposedly have the same blade (from the same model line).
 

Arthur S

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Daren

Pick up a copy of the latest Consumer Reports, November 2005. They tested 38 knife sets.

Standouts:

Henckels Pro S $260

Wusthof Trident $300

And the Best Buy: Chicago Cutlery Metropolitan $60.
 

Daren Welsh

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Good call Arthur. I checked out the CR and they have the Pro S set ranked 2nd, behind another Henckels set that costs twice as much! I also stopped by BedBathBeyond and looked more closely at the Katana knives. Their marketing is all geared on traditional Japanese steel. I looked at the side markings -- "Made in China"
 

Jeff Gatie

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My brother broke the tip off a 10" carver opening a paint can (sacrilegious bastard that he is). It was from my dad's set (25 years old and still going strong). Dad wrote Henckels about it and they sent him a new one, complete with a carving fork. I still say that if he used the 6" chef, he would have gotten the paint can open without snapping the tip, but alas, he used the thin bladed carver. My brother also used the bread slicer to cut the end off a plastic oil can to make a funnel. Maybe Henckels should hire him for quality control.
 

Robert_Gaither

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I'm a fan of Boker Ceramic knives, I've had one for three years and it's never been dull moment.
 

Andrew W

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The owner at the knife shop I frequent has seen a few split Henckels. He's the one that told me about it, or I wouldn't have noticed. The reason he remarked on it was I was taking a vintage stag handled Henckels carving knife in to be sharpened and he remarked that "they don't make them like that anymore."

He does see a lot of professional use knives since he's the only place in Austin to get a pro sharpening and there are tons of restaurants here. Most of the good chefs in town go there.

I found the PR on SCT, they actually are using 3 parts, blade, bolster and tang. The bolster is sintered which means it's made from powdered metal. Whenever you see a gear or pulley or some shaped metal part that has broken and the inside is kind of grey and powder looking, that is usually a sintered metal part.

As to Chicago being the best buy, I had Chicago for many years. It takes a good edge, but doesn't hold it more than a few weeks. The Messermeister only needs to be steeled ocassionally and still has a wicked edge after over a year.
 

Walt N

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My knife collection is a mix of Henckel Pro S and Wusthoff Classic and other than some slight ergonomic variables, there are no meaningful differences between the two as far as I'm concerned. Been using them for quite a few years. I can't imagine how one could seperate a Henckel Pro S except through extreme abuse, like using one for a crowbar.

The traditional 3 rivet design feels best to me using a standard "forefinger and thumb pinching the bolster and blade" chef's knife grip, however you own style and anatomy will dictate which handle design suits you best. Japanese style, classic German style, ceramic, they're all good. Just different and a matter of preference.

If I were doing it all over again I'm not sure I'd spend so much. In recent years I've seen many clones of the classic designs that appear to be nearly as good or just as good. Even Sam's Club has a Kirkland set now that would suit most folks (except for the status concious) perfectly.

Get yourself a good sharpener and learn to use it well. The traditionalist or purists like Lansky systems or wetstones, however I'd never go back to those after having lived with a Chef's Choice 120 for a couple of years. Quick, easy, works great. If you prefer traditional sharpening methods a good oval shaped diamond steel will keep your blades honed perfectly between sharpenings, however the Chef's Choice 120 has a honing wheel that's as quick and easy to use as a steel.

Stay away from any knife set that has stamped steel blades. That's what I used working in hotel kitchens (F. Dick brand) years ago and they never felt good to use. You see a lot of those in pro kitchens as good knives tend to dissappear, however I don't know anyone who wouldn't rather be using a good forged knife.

Shameless picture I once posted on another forum during a lengthy cooking discussion. 3 knives is plenty, 5 is a luxury, over 10 is a fetish. :b
http://av123forum.com/attachment.php?s=&postid=54130
 

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