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Henckel versus Wusthof knives

My MIL wanted new knives, so I scrambled and got her a Wusthof set from Macy's about 1 hour before she arrived to celebrate her birthday. Of course, she said that she had all of those knives, and I encouraged her to exchange them.

She reported back last night that Macy's didn't have what she wanted - open stock Henckels - but when I was there (fleetingly) they seemed to have ample open stock knives. I suspect that they only carry Wusthof, which I have always considered to be on par with Henckels. Would you agree?

(Though discussion of higher-end knives may ensue, this would be irrelevant to her - she doesn't really cook.)

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  1. Such a personal thing. I happen to find the Wusthof Grand Prix line is best for my hand. Not the one with the ergonomic handle, the older one. I have an old Henckels, but practically never use it any more. Just prefer using the Wusthof.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JoanN

      And I'm the opposite - have always preferred Henckels. I've always thought of the two brands as being in the same quality bracket.

    2. Freak her out with some Globals. My much-loved MIL was a longtime Henckels user but loved the feel and look of the Globals. She found the rounded handles quite comfortable and liked the Globals' balance.

      1. I have some of both. I use the Henckels slightly more, they seem to be better balanced for a left-hander, but both brands cut well, and that's really what matters, eh!

        1. I purchased my open stock Henkels knives from Macys, so I think they do carry them...

          1. I've got both and have to say the steel is virtually identical if not exactly so. the only difference is the feel, i like my wustoff better as it feels a little better in my hand but quality wise they are identical

            1 Reply
            1. re: nothingman

              nothingman i completely agree.. are the heel of the handles any different? maybe that is what is something the MIL is considering.

            2. cutting wise they are of equal quality, the ultimate criterion should be which particular brand or type is the most comfortable in your hand.

              1. Yikes, maybe it's your fault for posting on Chowhound, or thinking like one. She wants a label. Functionality doesn't matter. And why should you care? Functionality is the same, cost is the same.

                You can prove this on paper until you explode, but that won't change what she wants, however reasoned. She wants what she wants, end of subject. Get it for her and she'll be happy (less crabby). You won't be out any/much extra money.

                FYI, I believe Bed Bath & Beyond carries Wustof.

                3 Replies
                1. re: SteveT

                  I got her a nice set of Wustofs since I was not aware of her bias toward Henckels. I was simply curious if most people felt that Henckels and Wustof were of like quality, as I had assumed.

                  1. re: miss_mia

                    Yeah, they're similar. All a matter of preference and comfort when holding. Get a knife sharpener. Even the best knife sucks if it's dull.

                    1. re: miss_mia

                      Hi miss_mia,

                      I think you're right - the two brands are very similar in quality. Of course, both brands have their premier lines, but overall, I think the two are basically similar quality.

                      I personally prefer Wusthof, but that's just a factor of how they feel in my hand.

                      Good luck!


                  2. They're both equally useless UNLESS you whetstone sharpen them at least once a month and learn how to use a straightening steel (and use it every time you use the knife).

                    So many people buy a "good" knife, do NO maintenance on it, and then wonder why it's no better than a knife from the 99c store.


                    1. I would recommend Shun knives -- very sharp and durable. As long as you use a steel correctly (22.5 degrees, gently...none of this bravado clanging business) and every time, you don't have to whetstone it.

                      This is also assuming that you arent cutting on metal, or hacking through bones or dropping it on ceramic tiles.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Baber

                        Yeah, but people think "sharp knife, let's cut through EVERYTHING." That's when you need to keep your blade sharp.


                        1. re: Baber

                          Shun knives are indeed very sharp and durable...but need to be steeled at 16-18 degrees not 22. The Shun steel has a guide on it that helps you keep this angle if you have trouble steeling properly.

                          1. re: Baber

                            I would recommend Shun knives -- very sharp and durable. As long as you use a steel correctly (22.5 degrees, gently...none of this bravado clanging business) and every time, you don't have to whetstone it

                            Steeling is no replacement for sharpening and no matter how much you steel a knife it still gets dull and with enough of the steel the burr will break off (well at least with the better knives) and needs some kind of proper sharpening

                          2. I sold knives, bith Henckels and Wustof, for two years. In that time I probably had a customer come in with a broken blade once a week. I would say 3/4 of them were Henckels. I also did the ordering and inventory, and we were selling about the same number of each brand, so that was not the issue. When it came time for me to buy my own knives, I went with Wustof.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Greyhoundgrrl

                              I definitely agree with your assessment of Henckels and Wusthof knives. In my 15 years working in a restaurant kitchen where the most popular knives were Henckels Professional and 4 Stars and Wusthof Classic and Grand Prix. I seen many Henckel broken blades but rarely a Wusthof.

                            2. I started collecting Henckels 4 Star knives about 20 years ago, one at a time, as my budget then allowed. The feel of the handle won me over from the other brands available at the time. It took over ten years, but I amassed about 20 in total. About a year ago, my beloved parer went missing, so I decided to replace it, and to get another 8' chefs knife while I was at it. I ordered the knives and had them shipped to my home, untried. After all, I had been using them for 20 years, right? Wrong! When I tried the new knives, they just didn't feel right. Sharp, they are, but so light, and not in a good way. The new 8" chefs is a full 45 grams lighter than the old. And the handles are already getting dull. It seems that Henckels has changed the way they manufacture their cutlery. It breaks my heart.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: phofiend

                                Does anyone have new thoughts on this?

                                I see some lines have phased out and there's new names around...

                                1. re: Beka

                                  Henckles vs Wusthof, Wusthof definetly. Knives breaking???, If knives are breaking there is something wrong with the user not the knife. That said, I've had a Large Henckels set for 20 years, in the last 6 months I've replaced everyone with lighter, longer, sharper, BETTER, harder (stays sharp longer), Japanese Knives from variouse makers. Shuns are good, the Classics that most people/stores have are the bottom of their line. The Elites are the top. But there is a whole world of insanely sharp, light and nimble Japanese knives out there that more people should explore.

                                  1. re: jeffreyem

                                    Indeed! Check this site out -- I live about 20 mins from these guys, very dangerous!


                                    1. re: jeffreyem

                                      I agree! In many years of professional use I've seen perhaps 2-3 knives with broken tips. Always from misuse. Being dropped or used as a can open or a screw driver etc and even then only the tips broke.
                                      Henckels or Wusthof (or Trident) are all made in Soligen Germany of essentially the same steel. For years I've seen people argue back and forth which will keep and edge better and the answer is totally dependent on the person using the knife and how they sharpen it. If you can break a blade a week on one of the professional series or even one every ten years then the problem is with the user. The problem with theese broad statements about brands is that both companies now make crap knives that get sold at Wally world etc.
                                      Sadly as of this year it does seem that Henckels has changed their line.
                                      I also agree with the Japaneese knives but do your research first. Some of theese are not a good replacement for a Chef's knife depending on your experience.

                                      1. re: Docsknotinn

                                        Well, Henk is no longer made in Germany....tis made in China. No more Henks for me.

                                        1. re: rightzilla

                                          count the men on the knife. If you see 2 and the knife says it's made in germany, then I would suspect it's probably made in germany. fewer than 2, it might be made in spain

                                        2. re: Docsknotinn

                                          Thank you very much for your knowledge and insights, including you swiss_chef (below). I was able to confirm the recent Henckels production limitations from a butcher at the local market here in Germany who happens to hail from the Solingen area. Apparently, Germans are informed at large, for the Henckels is not so readily-available and promoted like the Wüsthof brand, which is also sold at more of a premium.

                                        3. re: jeffreyem

                                          I agree as well. Knives shouldn't break when used for their intended purpose.

                                          I also agree that there are plenty of fine knives out there, and one can pick and choose by how they feel. I have some Henckels and some Wuhstof and a few older Sabattier 4-stars.

                                          I usually sharpen with an oiled flatstone as needed and use a steel regularly between sharpenings.

                                        4. re: phofiend

                                          I've listened that Arcos (a spanish manufacturer) manufactures knives for Zwilling. Zwilling bought a part of the Arcos company because both manufacturers was in competition.

                                        5. What I've seen is that Henckel + Wusthoff (and a couple other German brands) are near even at any given price point. My Henckel isn't the top line and compared to my workhorse 430-10 Forschner....it sucks. I take 5 main knives to work in my kit-the Henck is relegated to a "home" knife. If someone has heavy duty German knives,a lighter-harder-sharper Shun,Mac,Global could be nifty, You could get real spiffy,a Japansese knife with a VG 10 steel core.

                                          At work, 2 main blades I use are the classic 10" Forschner chef's which if you re-sharpen to a sharper steeper bevel is a lot like a Mac,lighter,faster,sharper than the heavy forged types. Another gem is the Kai-Wasabi 8 1/2" Deba. This is a low $ blade that's got very good steel and is pretty beefy but its a single bevel,sharpened one side.
                                          That allows a rather thick blade to have a rather sharp total angle. I've used it on huge quantities of semi-frozen meat,to quarter chickens and still had enough edge I could mince fresh herbs quite well. These are made by the folks who make Shuns. This Daido stell is not as hard as VG 10...but is a bit harder than the Soligen steels....and it's half the price. It's also easy to sharpen.

                                          I also have a Kershaw 7700 clad 7". I think of it as an econo Shun. Rather than VG 10 in a multi layer Damascus clad,it's VG7 core clad with a "regular stainless. VG7 is almost as high performance and this is a light ,compact ,agile knife i keep razor-plus. The other cooks at work just love to borrow it.

                                          Were I more "high budget" I'd consider a Hattori,Kasumi or Shun. Global is also pretty sweet. I can only imagine how sharp I could get a blade made of Cowry X steel or a similar alloy. However....I'd be paranoid to take a $250 knife to work and at home,it's kind of overkill.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: rerem

                                            I have no Experience with the Wusthoff brand but I will tell You what I know. I liked pocket knives of good quality. In the ,made in USA knives are made great. Well I wanted a good knife. The problem Case, Buck, Sharp these company's prices where just too high so I decided to look abroad. I found Bokkers Kershaw, Gerber..ETC..Etc.. The problem is some of these company's sell the brands name but are made in China. Then I came upon 1 Knife made in Solinger Germany Called HERBERTZ. The price of the knife was cheaper even with international shipping so I know where it came from. The quality was equal if not better than the USA knives which cost much more.
                                            So as a cook I decided to buy a set.
                                            I looked at Wusthoff because it seemed to be the best, but the price for stamped steel instead of forged (the Gourmet brand) just didn't do it for me.
                                            I came across the Swiss Made Victorinox Forged steel knives. Once again I know pocket knives Victorinox makes great pocket knives. I bought a 3 set (Cheap 61 bucks). A few days later I came across the J. A Henckles Name made in Solinger Germany. 8 knives for 145.00 so I bought them because where they where made.

                                            Here it is, Never in my life has a set of knives come to my door than the J.A Henckles. These knives are the 4 star quality as there name. Compared to the Victorinox don't get me wrong for the price of the Victorinox you can't beat it. They come Swiss made logo. That's important. Swiss made watches without .a question the best in the world. The thing is the Henckles blows them away.
                                            The knives come with the 2 guys on the blade meaning made in Germany. They are balanced and cut through a raw Chicken like butter. The quality, anyone who breaks the blade on this should not have it in his hand. They are the most sturdy metal through handle cutlery I have owned. I find it hard to believe Henckles is inferior to Wusthoff. I say equal only because in one town competition and the knowledge, gets shared some way or another.

                                          2. I know that there are limitation's to the OP's options, i.e. it has to be from Macys, but I prefer both Messermeister Meridian Elite and F. Dick Premier to either Henckels or Wusthof

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: chuckl

                                              I find that F. Dicks are bloody hard to sharpen.

                                              1. re: swiss_chef

                                                so far, I haven't had to, but I'll keep that in mind. It arrived very sharp and seems to hold an edge. I'll see how it does after a while, and maybe use it exclusively to test it out.

                                              2. re: chuckl

                                                Messermeister is my knife of choice over Henckels, Wustof or Global

                                              3. Umm.. "she doesn't really cook" and Wüsthofs aren't good enough for her?

                                                Lol, furry slippers are more in line for the old thing.

                                                1. If you look closely at a the classic Henckels knife, about 1 cm in front of the bolster you will notice a vertical line. This is a joint between two different kinds of steel. The blade steel and the handle steel. Wüsthof does not have this joint because the same high-grade steel is used throughout the entire knife.
                                                  Having said that, I once snapped a Wüsthof classic bread knife cleanly in half trying to cut through a semi-frozen piece of meat. I think the cold had something to do with it. Never mind, I sent the broken knife to Wüsthof and they sent me a brand new one free of charge.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: swiss_chef

                                                    Thanks! (from a hobby chef was glad to know)

                                                  2. I definitely drop the European knives and grab the globals. If you want precision cuts/slices... Globals the ways to go. Best bang for the buck. If you can track down GLOBAL-PRO even better! Gonna cost you a bit more for the PRO. Had a friend get me a pair in Japan. Sold exclusively in Japan at Yoshikin. Kitchen knife like a samurai!

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: zathan

                                                      Are you out of your mind? I just priced some Globals..are you kidding? They want like 10 million dollars for a set. (for the people that's an exaggeration) . I believe Knives Made in Germany are a religion to the towns that make them. I'm a good person. Buy a Henckles or a Wusthoff anything from Solinger Germany. I don't live there but..Quality comes from that town. Respect.

                                                      1. re: museken

                                                        I agree that they make a quality knife but Global uses better steel. Different religion I presume.

                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                          First you said "better (steel)", then you said "different". So is it a better religion or a different religion?

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            Better steel, different religion. I thought it funny that museken used the term religion

                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                              Oh... I missed that part (the part that museken mentioned religions). Now it is funny.

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                Yeah a religion. The belief that man can create quality that's superior to all other pieces of garbage out there. He crafts, he constructs in the same way the old world did it. With metal he does the same thing over and over again. That's his church. The people that work around him are from different cultures yet they create. Religion is a metaphor for someone who believes in what they believe in creation. Better Steel different religion.......Sorry,. Same religion...different steel.
                                                                Who cares? Where is it made? Did you create it! Whose better China..I say Japanese, You say Japanese, I say German. You say American. I say Japanese and German Knives are the best. Europe's got the edge..U2.

                                                                1. re: museken

                                                                  dude -
                                                                  I am, like, SO confused right now.......

                                                                  1. re: Eiron

                                                                    Good Knives cut time in half. Get a good quality Henkles. The religion thing is a reference to my site on Youtube. I tend to like heavy metal music, henceThey believe I have no belief in religion. I believe religion is what you practiced in everyday life. God, cooking and loving what you love is a religion. That was my meaning. You want to get religious , I say there is something going on I can't explain but this discussions about knives.

                                                      2. re: zathan

                                                        With Globals beware of the edge breaking off, on my 2nd use with a brand new boning knife 2" of the edge broke off, and i've heard this is common

                                                        1. re: zathan

                                                          global knives have a unique hand feel and are pretty light. If you're considering getting one, make sure you hold it and try it. They look sort of cool, and are pretty sharp (though no sharper than shuns, imo), but they feel flimsy in my hand. Macs are also just as sharp, but for me have a better hand feel.

                                                          1. re: chuckl

                                                            I've tried the Shun, it is sharper then the globals, but not as sharp as the Global-PROs.

                                                            1. re: zathan

                                                              I don't understand this comment.
                                                              Knives vary their sharpness with use. Almost any knife can be sharpened to razor quality by someone who knows what they are doing. So do you mean to say that Global pros are "capable" of being sharper than regular Globals or Shun knives? Or do you mean that they are sharper when new? Also, why would you drop the European knives? How many European knives have you used? Which ones and under what kinds of circumstances?

                                                        2. Thanks eveyone. My daughter and step daughter are both getting married
                                                          I am a firm believer eveyone should own excellent knives. Heckles for my left handed daughter and width of for my step- daughter. Both are of equal price. Thank

                                                          1. To the OP. Even though this is waaay late I think this applies to anyone thinking of giving knives as a gift.

                                                            Honestly, she needs to pick out the knives and let you know what she wants. Knives are a personal thing.

                                                            I went to Williams-Sonoma yesterday to look at knives; Henckels and Wusthof. I liked the looks of 2 lines of Wusthof. After the sales lady pulled the chef's knives for the lines out of the case I liked the handle on one knife and didn't at all like the handle on the other knife. Both Wusthof knives but I wouldn't want one set due to the handles.

                                                            The recipient needs to select what she wants, not you.