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Dec 25, 2007 10:12 PM

Opinions on Calphalon Katana knives?

For a couple of years now, I've been using a set of Farberware Pro Forged knives I picked up at Ross for all of $25, and they have served me well. This year for Christmas, I got a Calphalon Katana 8" Chef's Knife, and I've done a bit of messing with it while cutting an onion in the kitchen. For some reason, it just doesn't seem all that sharp to me when I compare it to the 8" Chef's knife in the Farberware set, even though I haven't ever sharpened that in the 2+ years I've owned it (I do hone it after every use though.) In other people's experience are these worth keeping, or would I be better off trading it in on a Henckels or Wusthof?

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  1. For the same money you could have Global, Wusthof or Henckels--for a little more Shun. I'd definitely trade it in. The knives are Japanese steel, but they're made in China. I just have to feel that, if there weren't shortcuts being made to save production costs, they'd just have the knives made in Japan.

    I think they're banking on the average BB&B type customer who has brand loyalty to "Calphalon" not taking the time to research the fundamental differences between these knives and the Japanese and German standard-bearers.

    FWIW, I cooked on a friend's Calphalon One cookware this holiday season and found it to be a serious step down from my 15 year old Calphalon Commercial and nowhere near the All Clad LTD that I replaced that with two years ago. I just see Calphalon as a classic case of an American company chasing cheap Chinese production costs and hoping to compensate with slick marketing and lingering brand loyalty.

    4 Replies
      1. re: Sam Harmon

        I don't actually own any other Calphalon products, so there's no brand loyalty here. Unfortunately, it looks like the return policy for the place the knife was purchased (Cutlery and More) says they won't allow returns on anything that has been opened, so I might be stuck with this one unless I can manage to trade it in for credit at BB&B or some other similar store.

        1. re: Sam Harmon

          Well, I own All-Clad, Calphalon One, and Calphalon Contemporrary stainless products and here is what I have discovered:

          All-Clad has, hands, down the best overall engineered products. The handle angles, and precise fitting lids can't be beat. And, they make a perfectly designed pot for every kitchen task. That said, they are God awful expensive, and I get similar cooking results from my Calphalon Contemporary stainless products. They make fewer pans, so if you need everything to match, you may be out of luck. If, however, you are willing to mix and match you could save yourself considerable money and end up with a fine product that also looks attractive.

          Now, a word on Calphalon One: These are great products. I am not really referring to the Nonstick version, which is also excellent as far as nonstick pans go, but rather the base Infused Anodized product. I have cooked for years on the old Calphalon Commercial, and I can assure you that, despite people's nostalgic attachments, Calphalon One is a far cry better than the old product. Now, keep in mind that the Calphalon Commercial product was a non-stick line of cookware, whereas Calphalon One is not truly nonstick, but merely stick resistant. But you can brown, fond and deglaze in Calphalon One. My 11" chef skillet is the best pan I own. If you want to cook an omlette, buy a nonstick/teflon coated pan. But for meat, sauces, and meaty fishes, the Calphalon One pans will beat the pants off of anything for overall performance. And they clean up quite nicely. No, they don't look as nice as my All-Cad, but the reality is that aluminum transfers heat better than anything other than copper, and certainly better than anything layered with stainless. I was skeptical at first, but I am true believer now. And, for the record, the Calphalon One products are still made in Toledo, Ohio, though, regrettably, their stainless products are made in China.

          Pans I own:

          All-Clad Stainless 2 1/2 quart double boiler
          All-Clad 3 quart saucier
          All-Clad 11" french skillet
          All Clad 10" nonstick fry pan

          Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 5 quart sauteuse
          Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 6 1/2 quart soup pot
          Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 10" everyday pan

          Calphalon One 11" chef's skillet
          Calphalon One 4 quart casserole
          Calphalon One 13" Indian Wok

          Williams-Sonoma 12 quart stockpot

          In addition to my set of Wusthof Classic knives, I also own the 8" Calphalon Katana chef's knife, which works beautifully, and the 5.5" Honesuki knife, which works even better (there is nothing on the market quite like the it). For the money, I think the Katana knives are a good product for the money, but, like the pans, it just depends what you want to do with it. I don't know if I would buy a complete set as my only set of knives, but a few of the pieces are excellent for specific tasks.

          1. re: randallhank

            Just to correct myself, the original Calphalon Commercial was NOT nonstick, but rather just hard anodized, which was actually not all that easy to clean, but cooked well. They did come out with a nonstick line which I used extensively and with success. No comparison to All-Clad and Calphalon One, but as nonstick pans went, they were the best of their generation by a long shot.

        2. I have a small Calphalon Chef's knife I use sometimes. It takes and okay edge, has decent balance, and seems like it will last. It is one of those things that seems nice until you try a much nicer one and say " I get it." My wife likes it as she has small hands and th efit is good for her, but other than that....not much to recommend.

          1. I'm not a knife set type of guy. Bought quite a few over the years and always end up using only three or four from the set. It's not a quality issue. I just find myself gravitating towards the knives that "feel right." And of course this will be different for every cook.

            I never use sharpness as a factor in judging a knife. That is strictly a function of how well you care for the knives and how much time and care you put into sharpening them.

            All that said I started buying individual knives a few years back. And the Caphlon Katana 7" slicer is my current favorite. I had already made the leap from chef's knives to slicers as my primary knife of choice (with a short stop off at the Santuko trend). But I always found that the 8" slicer which almost every manufacturer offers to be a bit more knife than I wanted size-wise.

            When I saw the Caphalon slicer was a strange size (seven inch) and I saw the cool Asian design and Damascus style blade, I had to take the plunge. Is it the equivalent of a real $300 Japanese steel, Damascus style knife? No way. But then again I only paid $30 for it on sale, and I am in love with it. So I got my money's worth and then some.

            1. Sounds like it just needs to be sharpened. It would be nice, and I think many people expect, that a knife will be sharp right out of the box. I can tell you from experience that that just isn't true

              4 Replies
              1. re: Jack_

                Japanese steel, American steel,German steel. doesn't mean anything . That just references where the steel came from . There are economy steels in every country. Remember , You get what you pay for. Great steels are not cheap. Plus blade geometry also plays a significant roll in a knife's performance . Never buy a hollow ground kitchen knife if you want it to perform well.

                1. re: Ken Onion

                  It would be great if you could say more about the hollow ground issue, why not? I sharpen my knives free hand using bench stones now but I want something electric and was looking at a Tormek (I also sharpen my woodworking tools) which has a pretty big wheel. At what size wheel does the concavity of the hollow ground become trivial? At least for kitchen knives. That is if I use a 2" wheel the concavity is pretty pronounced but as the size of the wheel gets larger the concavity becomes flatter

                  1. re: Jack_

                    Jack ,
                    For a kitchen knife I wouldn't want a knife that was hollow ground on anything less than a 20" wheel . Why ? Well because kitchen knives are often used to cut thich and deep and the added drag of a hollow ground kitchen knife is not practical and will cause deviation of your cut and unnecessary friction . I love a hollow ground pocket knife . I also like a well made hollow ground hunting knife . Just not a hollow ground kitchen knife. I doubt you will even find a reputable kitchen knife company that offer a higher end hollow ground kitchen knife for this very reason.
                    The Tormek system is a very nice sharpening system. I have one and highly recomend it .

                    1. re: Ken Onion

                      I can see what you mean when it comes to my chef knives, but would this be true for specialized kitchen knives as well? Would you also find this to be true for a narrow blade like a slicer, or a knife used to cut cheese or fish? I've always felt that the hollow ground edge prevented "stickage" . What are your thoughts?

              2. My son bought the high end Calphalon Japanese style knife for me and swears by it, but I keep using my Chicago Cutlery chefs knife. I really don't see what the deal is with them.
                I have been using Chicago Cutlery for years -the ones that look like wusthof and henckels
                If you do want to buy the big names be careful and look to see where they are made.