Henckels Twin Select, Wusthof Grand Prix, Global, MAC or Shun Stainless?
- soypower Jan 14, 2007 11:57 PM
Am planning on investing in a maximum of $300 for new knives. Consumer Reports says I should get Henckels Twin Select. Consumer Search says I should get Wusthof Grand Prix, and Cooking for Engineers says I should get either Global or MAC knives...And I love the look of Shun Stainless...
What say you 'hounds? I know this topic has been covered before, but I can't find a recent thread. Please advise.
I love my 10-inch Wusthof "Classic" (I've had the Grand Prix, as well, but I like the feel of the Classic better). I used Henckels years ago and switched to Wusthof, primarily because it seemed to me that Wusthof knives keep their edge better (and longer).
I have also recently bought a Wusthof santoku knife, which I love, as well as a Mac 10-inch chef's knife with dimples.
If I had to buy from scratch, I'd probably buy a 10-inch Wusthof Classic chef's knife (I prefer the way it handles over the Mac chef's knife when "rocking") and a Wusthof or Mac santoku knife. To round out my set, I'd buy a Wusthof paring knife and an inexpensive bread (serrated) knife.
Note that buying knives is a very personal thing. I happen to love my old-fashioned chef's knife because it's what I'm used to (and it's been tough learning how to ease up on the pressure when using the thinner and sharper santoku and Mac).
Carving knives and boning knives are specialty knives that you can add to your collection if you really need them.
Do yourself a favour and try out the different knives in a real restaurant supply or cookware shop. Do not order online, sight (and feel) unseen.
And don't forget to buy (and use!) a good sharpening steel.
I just went thru the same decision as Soypower, deciding to invest in a good set of knives. To get to the bottom line, after comparing a bunch (meaning, holding them and reading about them) I bought Wustof Classic, and am still in love. Even though a lot of people say not to bother buying a set, I found one that was a great buy (on sale) and I got "six for the price of two", so why not? I use the chef's knife the most. I sharpened it twice since I bought them (in December!), but I like it sharp, and I use it all the time. Before I sharpened it, I called Wustof's customer service and asked them how.
I hated chopping and always asked "kitchen helpers" (or my Cuisinart fp) to do it. Maybe that's because it was so hard with my old, cheap knives. Now I chop and mince every piece of food I get my hands on (smile).
Oh, also invest in a good cutting board and storage place for your knives if you don't already have them.
I am looking at two knive types.....Global and Wusthof. Purchased the 13" slicing knife already from Global and find it to be amazingly sharp beyond anything I could have imagined. I also am interested in getting more info on Wusthof.
Two thoughts: which one of these knives is easier to maintain? I just read that the traditional way to sharpen a knife will not work on the Global knives since it needs to be sharpened on a wet Whestone medium grid sharpener........ My thought is what ever happened to the hand held knife sharpener I learned to sharpen on years ago that always worked ok on my old German knives. Will this not do a good enough job on Global knives? Therefore is this knife high maintance?
Which brings me to my next question. What is the best way to sharpen a Wusthof? I was hoping to have a complete set of knives the same however it seems that may not be the case.........
I do a lot of chopping and cutting veggies and also wanted to get your own opinion on the best knife you would recommend to prevent my hands from getting tired.
What are you referring by stating "traditional" way to sharpen a knife will not work on Global? Waterstone sharpening is very traditional, more traditional than most methods. Most Japanese knves and even German should be sharpening on a ~1000 grits stone and probably finish on a 4000-8000 grits. What is a hand held knife sharpener? Do you mean something like this:
A handheld diamond stones works but a bit too difficult to work with and a bit too coarse as a finishing stone.
Global has its own challenge. Global edge is convex, that is the issue. It has nothing to do with medium grid stone. By the way, you probably don't want to finish on a medium grid sharpener.
The best way to sharpen a Wusthof (just my opinion) is the same for a Japanese knife like Shun. I have sharpen my Wusthof Black Ikon and now it is much more refined than the factory edge. It cut way better. I believe most if not all Wusthof is X50CrMoV15, good steel but nothing too impressive.
If you do a lot of vegetable slicing and cutting, then I think the harder (HRC >60) and thinner Japanese influced knives like Shun and Global and Tojiro.... will work better for you. However, if you think you will need to crack a bone once awhile, then the thicker and tough Wusthof is better. We are talking about Chef's knife, right?
Alternatively, I find the $37 CCK 1303 pretty impressive for vegetable slicing. The only thing you need to be aware is that it is a Chinese chef's profile knife and it is carbon steel (not stainless steel).
Sharpening / honing any of the Japanese knives will probably be a little harder overall than a German knife (the steel is a little harder, and often you'll have / want asymmetric angle on the blade), but the good news is that they will hold an edge longer, and you can send the knife out for sharpening by a professional. I've heard different schools of thought about whether you should use any sort of steel (whether diamond or otherwise) with a Japanese knife for basic honing... I usually don't, whereas with German knives, I use a steel periodically to hone the blade. You can use a strop or extra-fine whetstone to hone the Japanese knife... there's also this weird clay-like compound that I've seen used for stropping.
If it were me, I'd go for Misono (or Tojiro if you're trying to save money) or a similar knife over the Global. The Globals are cool and modern looking, but the handles can get slippery. They're pretty light-weight, which I find weird, but I guess you get used to - a matter of personal preference, I guess.
A whetstone is the "best" way to sharpen either type of knife. However, the big bolster on the Wusthof will make almost any method of sharpening you choose more difficult. Save yourself money and get a Messermeister instead if you go the German route - their knives don't have a tang.
I don't think a particular knife will be less likely to make your hands tired (other than to the extent it feels comfortable in your hand) - you should focus on standing correctly, using the knife correctly, and setting up your cutting environment right, and I think the rest will follow. Don't grip *too* tight (but tight enough, obviously), make sure your cutting board is secured (use a board with a grippy bottom or put a wet towel underneath if it's not heavy enough to stay put on its own), stand at a slight angle to the table with your cutting arm and knife at a 90 degree angle to the table / cutting board, use leverage to your advantage, and get a bigger knife than you think you need. I won't claim that I always have the perfect posture, but if you're doing a lot of chopping in the kitchen, it's a good thing to at least keep in mind.
I have never had much luck with any sharpening gizmos. Learning to use a stone is not the easiest thing, but it's worth the effort, especially if you don't have a professional who really knows their stuff locally. Alternatively, you could consider one of the mail-order knife sharpening services.
"What is the best way to sharpen a Wusthof? I was hoping to have a complete set of knives the same however it seems that may not be the case"
Not quite sure I follow. Do you mean you already have a set, that you want all of your knives to match, or that you're thinking about getting a complete set? If the latter, please reconsider getting a set. You don't need one - my guess is that you can probably get away with 3 or 4 knives at most (8-10" chef, 3-4" paring, optionally a bread knife / slicer, and a boning knife if you're actually doing that sort of work). Spend 90% of your money on the chef's knife. If you mean that you want all the knives to match, I wouldn't worry about that so much.
I agree with will47.
The full bolster of Wusthof and Henckels can make sharpening very difficult, though there are few exception like Wusthof Ikon, Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu. Getting an entire knife set is not the best idea. It is best to get what you need. An goto knife like a German Che'f knife, a Gyotu, a Santoku, or a Chinese chef's is necessary, and then a paring knife and then maybe a bread knife and a boning knife.
Try them on for size. Not all knives feel right in *your* hand. What use is a great knife that you hate to use, and then go and use a horrible knife that is like an extention of your hand?
And different size knives of the same maker feel different. So try them all. I certainly do not have a matched set of knives, but I sure have a great set of knives.
Love the Wusthoff's....had the same set since I was 14 and worked in a knife shop many years ago.....
I agree about testing them out in person if possible.
I have said this before in other threads, but anyway, I would avoid getting a "set" of knives. Spend most of your money on whatever knife you're going to use as your primary knife for chopping etc. - usually either an 8-10" chef's knife or a santoku, depending on your style of cooking. Then get cheaper knives for the rest - a 3" or 4" paring knife, a serrated slicer / bread knife, and any specialty knives you really think you'll need. The Mundial forged knives are a good value, and seem well made. http://happychefuniforms.com has good prices on them.
The Shun knives are great, come with a razor edge, and look great. There are also some higher end Japanese knives that may be worth looking into - Hattori and Misono come to mind.
The Japanese knives may be a little trickier to sharpen at home, but are harder and should hold an edge longer than other knives.
OK, this is going to help.
The Henckels Twin Select is a stamped blade welded to a metal handle. This is a slick marketing trick used to tart up their stamped product line. The reason you don't want this is that the bolster is fake and it will be impossible to properly sharpen the knife. As the knife is sharpened, the bolsters get in the way of the knife edge making contact with the cutting surface. Over time the bolster has to be ground back with the rest of the blade. Because the bolsters on these are fake, if you grind them back, it will just open a hole in the handle.
The Wusthof classic has a forged blade and this is the pure vanila choice.
The Shun is made of significantly harder metal (Rockwell 61) than the Henckels or the Wusthof (Rockwell 55-57) and as such can support a more acute cutting angle. A more acute cutting angle, ceteris parabus makes cutting easier (Wusthof and Henckels are 18-20 degrees, Shun is 15 degrees and a razor blade is 4 degrees).
So if you want the better cutting instrument, the Shun is the answer.
(NB There is no accepted engineering standard for sharpness like there is for hardness. This allows all knife makers to make the same claim: "sharp as a razor" and why knife discussions are so lacking in quantitative data. The Knife engineers info is getting us closer to useful data, but the problem is that people say they want sharp knives when what they really want is something that requires less cutting force. Cutting force is a product of the profile of the edge of the knife, i.e. concave or convex or flat, the edge angle in degrees and the coeficient of dynamic friction between the side of the knfe and what it is cutting.)
I have a shun stainless, and it feels great in my hand. I do find I'm building up a bit of a calous on the inside of my index finger using it, no biggie. I also have wusthof, henckels and Mac, and while I use them all, I like the superior heft of the shun for a lot of chopping jobs. You won't be disappointed in the shun stainless though.
Theodore, Well said. I have been very impressed with Shun knives as an "out of the box, mass-manufactured knife" I feel is far superior to the current German offerings. Soypower should also look into some of the more hand crafted Japanese knives. They can be found at www.epicedge.com. Many of the knives available there are, by comparison, in a league of their own.
Sorry, Theodore, I beg to differ regarding the Henckels Twin Select. That knife's blade, bolster, and tang are forged from one steel blank. The sparate, stainless steel handle of the Twn Select if filled with cement. The knife's tang is then inserted about 75% of the way into the handle, where the steel and cement meld together.
By the way, both Henckels and Wusthof do NOT use the traditional "hot drop-forging" process used to make forged knives. Instead, Heat is only applied to the bloster area of the steel blank just before the actual forging take place. Pressure applied to the blank causes the red-hot bolster area to swell, the die hammer drops on the anvil hammer, and the resulting pressure and heat forces the heated bolster to assume its final shape. The entire knife - blade, bolster and tang - is then heated, cooled, frozen and heated again during the tempering process, but only the bolster is heated during the forging. I tlooks a bit like a stamping process with the use of heat and pressure.
The only knife line fromHenckel or Wusthof that still uses drop-hammer forging is the Henckels Twin Select line, and that is only because of the horizontal full tang of these knives.
I have Henkels Twin Pro, which in my estimation, is the kissing cousin of Wusthoff Classic (I have one of those too). I also have a couple of Shuns -- a Classic slicer and a ten inch Kaji (Elite made for WS). Here's my take on it: I love the Shun for most things, but it is super hard and also more brittle. Therefore, when a chicken rib cage needs to be cut through or chopped off, I reach for my trusty, THICK German knives. They won't chip, but I have the distinct impression that the Shun won't be able to survive the rough treatment without a chip.
I have seen my Shun bread knife chipped. A bread knife and I weren't hacking a chicken or a bovine (it turned out it was easy to sharpen a VG-10 and the finished edge is sharpener than the factory edge). Shun VG-10 is very hard. Because it is hard, it can and has taken on a thin edge on a thin blade. I think if two knives are made from the same steel, same HRC, the thinner one will be more prone to chipping than the thicker one.
In short, I think Shun blade chips because of two things (1) the steel has strength but lack toughness (2) the blade and the edge are thin. So I agree with you. It is both the steel and geometry.
Yes, I can see why both the steel and geometry are in play here. I guess I would say this: Sometimes, you just need a monster knife. In the Japanese knife world, that might be a Western Deba, which may come up to 4 mm thick. Don't know how the geometry affects this, but most people would use that knife to chop fish bones. I use my 8" Henkels Twin Pro for most tough things, but when the going gets really tough, I pull out the Wusthoff Classic cleaver. That monster can go through king crab joints and racks of ribs without fear.