Wusthof knives - difficult to maintain?
I am trying to choose between either Global or Wusthof Classic knives. Globals I believe suffer with a problem in that some people get blisters with them (subject of separate post) and there seems to be a bit of a sway from the German knife brands for being to heavy and hard to maintain.
I have looked at a number of readily available Japanese knives in the UK and, apart from Shun and Tojiro Senkou (which seem VERY pricey for what they are - DPs with Micarta handles?) I'm not that keen. I'm not sure Shun handles will appeal and if I don't go for Globals I'll be likely to get Wusthof.
I have seen numerous comments that German knives take a ton of maintenance and I'm wondering how bad this problem is. They seem to be very popular knies and they have been around a long time so it seems they can't be THAT bad. It would just be nice to get a handle on just how much hard work and effort maintaining an edge on Wusthof Classics will be.
I like their new Ikon range also which seem to be styled on Japanese knives and lack a full bolster. They too though seem very pricey.
The design and the steel of good German knives is specifically intended for edge retention -- anyone who says "they are difficult to maintain" is just wrong! Now many of the shops that SELL costly knives are also going to make a pitch for some pricey knife storage accessories, and a pricey butcher's steel, and probably share a a bit of "geek talk" about the proper care of the knives. Some of the talk IS useful, and helps to prevent misuse/abuse/warranty claims (hand wash, keep sharp, don't use 'em like crowbars...) but a lot of the talk from the shop keepers is OVERKILL -- it is frankly EASIER to take care of a quality German knife than some cheap steel knife that is going to get rusty and have a poorly attached handle. I typically put almost all my knives to the steel every time they come out of the block. 3-5 strokes takes a few seconds. If I am chopping a large quantity or even cutting up a big pile of meat I might steel 'em twice a day. Actual sharpening (I have an Chef's Edge machine) is maybe twice a year. The key is don't abuse the knife and use the steel to keep the edge aligned.
The edge angle on the Global is steeper than the German knives -- the steel is a bit harder too , these tend to offset each other and the maintainance is pretty much a wash. Harder and less effective to steel.
I don't now what prices are like in the UK for lower line stamped knives, but the reality is that you can afford to throw away two or three food service style stamped knives for the price of one expensive forged German knife. If I am going to have "helpers" in the kitchen they definitely get to use those...
There are lots of options.
I have Wustoff's and love them.
Maintenance is a breeze. A few swipes on the steel before use and it's good to go. I had mine sharpened at Christmas time and it's still sharp as the day it was done.
I must confess, I will put them in the dish washer on occasion. In the instructions they said it's okay occasionally but not recommended.
The other issue here is weight. I used to use a lightweight stamped chefs knife and once I got used to the heavy one, it's much, much easier to use.
I have a wusthoff grand prix santoku, as well as a shun and a mac, and of the 3, i'd say the japanese knives hold their edge better. the shun in particular stays very very sharp without even honing, as does the mac. I like the weight of the shun better than the mac, though, and it's the one i reach for when i really need to do some chopping. i can go from cutting through artichoke leaves to slicing effortlessly through a tomato with no problem whatsoever. whichever you choose, make sure to handle it first. the way it feels in your hand when you use it will determine how often you use it. this is particularly true with globals, which have a unique hand feel. don't underestimate stamped knives, though. i have a stamped forschner which is much cheaper than the good german and japanese knives, but stays very sharp and is a pleasure to use.
chuckl - great point. I have wustoff classics, but tried out several brands in the stores before I bought. There were several that felt too large, too small, weird, in my hand. I love the wustoffs, and use them almost exclusively now. All others are in the drawer takin' up space.