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Hand Hammered Woks Comparison: Williams Sonoma and Wokshop.

We had a couple of posts regarding hand hammered woks, and I happened to have bought two recently: one from Williams Sonoma:
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

and one from the SF Wokshop
http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

I have attached a few photos for both woks. The first four photos are from the Willams Sonoma wok, and the last three belongs to the Wokshop wok.

One thing you will notice is that the Williams Sonoma official photo does not really look like the actual wok. The Williams Sonoma wok is thinner and lighter. It has more subtle hammered patterns, while the Wokshop one has a more pronounced look. Enjoy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1. Good stuff. Thanks. We have a couple of the old Atlas carbon steel woks which I believe were spun. Still holding up well.

    20 Replies
    1. re: dcrb

      Yeah, all of my previous woks are spun, and really I don't see any real performance difference yet. In addition, I have a feeling these are not full blown hand hammered woks. I think these are hand hammered at the very last step -- not from start to finish.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        The one from the workshop somehow doesn't look right to me for something shaped by a hammer . More decorative, or the fellow who banged it out was very precise with his strikes. I agree with you about these not being full blown hammered, but only on the one from the workshop. But if they work, they work.

        1. re: dcrb

          Yeah, I think people have said that too. The Wokshop one looks a bit more decorative. In fact, both probably are. This one may be more real though:

          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hand-Hammered...

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            If I needed one I'd buy it. Looks uneven enough to be hand wrought/hammered.

            1. re: dcrb

              http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hand-Hammered...

              Actually if you scrolled down in the description section, it tries to show some of close-up photos too.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                The wok from the wokshop is definitely not hammered. It is bogus.

                1. re: fmed

                  Well, they are all hammered. It is just that it isn't authentic.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Well yes. But calling it "hammered" does a great disservice to the craftsmen who actually hammer woks for a living. I would rather call it a "fake." (Of course a corporate lawyer will argue that point seeing that the wok was worked with a hammer for about 3 minutes. The Wokshop must not be too worried about its credibility.) That bogus product looks to be a regular spun wok "hammered" for effect.

                    It is akin to big corporations slapping the word "artisanal" on their mass-produced goods.

                    1. re: fmed

                      What is the significance of a hammered wok VS non hammered?

                      1. re: unprofessional_chef

                        Many people claim there is, but I doubt it makes a real difference in everyday cooking. Professional chefs use machine spun wok anyway.

                        1. re: unprofessional_chef

                          Hammered woks have very smooth "facets" that provide a better non-stick surface than the spun woks (which have very fine grooves across its surface). The facets are supposedly more conductive too. I don't think it makes much of a difference to the everyday cook. But we are talking about a hand-crafted product - like a fine Japanese knife, etc. Even everyday cooks often have and use such fine tools. Imagine if someone merely acid etched a Damascus pattern on a knife and called it "Damascus steel". That is sort of what they are doing at the Wokshop with this superficial treatment.

                        2. re: fmed

                          I agree with you are right that it is a spun wok which then follow up with some hammering. That being said, I think most of the hammered wok in the market are done as such. A true hand hammered wok take hours to make. There are not many woks which are done this way. I am quiet sure that the Williams Sonoma one is also a machine spun wok hammered at the last step. I have been to a few kitchen supply stores in Chinatown. All of the so called hand hammered wok are also spun woks hammered at the last step just like the Williams Sonoma one. How often do you see a real hand hammered wok (hammered from start to finish) these days?

                          "a corporate lawyer will argue that point seeing that the wok was worked with a hammer for about 3 minutes"

                          Don't you ever compare me to a lawyer. That is a dirty word
                          :D

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Haha. No I would never do that to anyone.

                            1. re: fmed

                              :) Thank you. I am sweeping in joy. In return, I promise that I will never call you a lawyer.

                        3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          It looks to me like something my dad used to do to small electrical panes that where aluminum. To make a panel that was brushed aluminum they would scratch easy and then look like crap, so he would take a dowal with a round peice of sandpaper on one end and spin it on the surface creating all these little circles that where deep scratches and it looks just like that wok.

                          1. re: Dave5440

                            That is kinda of smart. By the way, I finally got that cheap Kiwi knife (along with the wok). It sharpened up very nicely. Push cut paper, shave my arm hair.... It seems soft though because it was so ridiculously easy to sharpen. I will write a review on it soon.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Looking forward to it, it won't take you 7 months will it?

                              1. re: Dave5440

                                :) Nah. I will probably use it a few cooking session times, and call it the day.

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Big oops on my part. I just looked at the entire page. Hammered it is. Thanks.

                        1. re: dcrb

                          Nah, no opps at all. Maybe I should get one. I don't think it will really be better than a machine pressed wok, but the idea of getting an traditional hand hammered wok sounds cool.

            2. Okay, I've been on the fence about buying a WOK. Looking at the WS description it says it is 5 inches deep which is about an inch more then the ones at the WOK shop.

              Are there differences between the WOK shop hand hammered WOK and the cast iron WOK I should consider?

              Any thoughts on the POW WOK with the single handle? I haven't use a Chinese Chuan/Spatula before so I'm wondering if tossing vegetables would be easier with one versus the other.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Sid Post

                Sid,

                "Looking at the WS description it says it is 5 inches deep which is about an inch more then the ones at the WOK shop."

                The Williams Sonoma hand hammered wok and the Wokshop hand hammered wok are of similar heights (depths). The attached photo illustrates it. I think WS description is off.

                "Are there differences between the WOK shop hand hammered WOK and the cast iron WOK I should consider?"

                Do you mean a Chinese thin cast iron wok or an American thick cast iron wok? As many have said, the Wokshop hand hammered wok is not a traditional real hand hammered wok. It is probably hammered at the very last step for visual appearance. That being said, it is a $20 wok, so one should not be surprised about this. It is thicker than the Williams Sonoma hand hammered wok.

                "Any thoughts on the POW WOK with the single handle?"

                An absolutely great question. I have been using the single long handle woks (aka Peking pow wok) for a long time, and only started the two ring handles wok (aka Cantonese wok) in the last month. I understand that some great chefs can toss foods with a Cantonese wok. I have tried to do so with a wet towel and it works, but I have to say it is much easier to do so with the long handle, so I am going to go back to the Peking pow wok again.

                 
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I was wondering about the thin cast iron WOK at the WOK SHOP. A heavy cast iron WOK wouldn't get much use in my kitchen.

                  1. re: Sid Post

                    You mean this:

                    http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...
                    I have handle (not bought) a few thin cast iron woks from stores to stores. They are very light. Not much heavier than carbon steel woks of the same size. They are usually much flatter. I don't think you have to buy it from the wokshop. Most local Chinatown and some Asian supermarkets sell them.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Yes! That's the one. I haven't found one I would pay money for here in northern Alabama.

                      Maybe it's time for a trip to the Lodge Outlet to see if a heavy $50 wok might work for me.

                      1. re: Sid Post

                        "Yes! That's the one. I haven't found one I would pay money for here in northern Alabama."

                        What do you mean by that? The ones you found are too low quality or the ones you found are too expensive? Usually, the thin cast iron wok should cost you about $15-25 US dollars. I have seen the Lodge cast iron woks, and equivalence of it. They are very heavy. No way you can lift it with one hand. You can take a look for the Chinese thin cast iron woks on youtube and see if they will work for you.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          There aren't a whole lot of Asian markets around here. $30 for a bent rusty wok won't leave the market in my shopping bag. I'd rather pay shipping for a better cheaper wok.

                          1. re: Sid Post

                            "There aren't a whole lot of Asian markets around here. $30 for a bent rusty wok won't leave the market in my shopping bag"

                            :D Now I get it. I thought you were looking for something fancy.

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I have that cast iron wok from The Wok Shop and love it.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Yeah, you can find these in Asian markets for one third the price of the Wok shop—which is still reasonable. But you can literally find them for $6-8 as opposed to $20-$24.

                        2. re: Sid Post

                          I use a cast iron wok bought at the Wok Shop. Is indeed flatter than most steel woks, but I would not say "much flatter". I just measured it. It's a 14-inch wok and it's about 3.75 inches deep in the center. I don't have a steel wok to compare that to, but I'd guess the difference is less than an inch. The main advantages of cast iron are it's very easy to season and maintain (just like a cast iron skillet), and the rough finish makes it easier to push food up the sides to control the cooking temperature (the shallower depth is actually an advantage here). Main disadvantage: they only come with loop handles.

                          1. re: Zeldog

                            Actually I have seen a few cast iron woks with long handle. It is rare, but they do exist. The problem with cast iron woks (or any cast iron cookware) is that they are brittle, so long handle does not make a lot of sense, which explains why they are rare.

                    2. I just got a couple of hand-hammered woks from http://e-woks.com/. I got a 14" and a 16", both with a long handle and a single loop. They are really nice woks. I had been using a Taylor and Ng spun wok for the past 20 years or so, and I wasn't pleased with its ability to hold a seasoning, and it had been really hard to clean.

                      Anyway, I have not used the new woks, but they seasoned up very nicely, and I look forward to trying them out this weekend. I enclosed some photos... Not sure you can tell, but these are definitely hand-hammered.

                      I just looked at the Williams Sonoma site. I think the woks I got look very much like the Artisan hand-hammered wok, and is priced similarly (except I got the Beijing style with long handle).

                       
                       
                       
                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sternbean

                        I don't know why my previous message got deleted. Anyway, thanks for the photo. My hand made wok has also arrived and it looks to be the best quality wok that I have ever had. I will use it for a few times and post a review.

                        1. re: sternbean

                          As sternbean posted, e-woks.com is THE place to get a truly hand hammered wok. You can find "hand hammered" woks in many places (though I think the Wok Shop's is a garish and odd looking joke), but they are stamped and then hand hammered to a degree for finishing, but are not shaped by human hand. Whereas the woks from e-woks.com are the real thing—shaped and then entirely finished by hand. They are the woks featured in (and on the cover of) Grace Young's "Breath Of The Wok". These hand made woks are a dying art, and a must-have for us wok freaks. Is there a big difference from mass produced woks? Yeah, a little, maybe not enough to make most spend 5 time more for it, but again, for wok freaks the subtle hand finished marks are entirely romantic and I really think they do season faster and better, and seasoning is the KEY to great taste (wok hay) with any carbon steel (or cast iron) surface.

                          Williams Sonoma also sells the true hand shaped hand hammered wok—they call it the "Artisan"model, and charge $20 more ($100 versus $80) than ordering it from China, and it's only offered in a 14" Cantonese model. You can find WS's Artisan model here:
                          [URL=http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...]

                          1. re: toddster63

                            Yes, in another post, I have mentioned my e-wok hand hammered wok. Thanks for providing this information.

                            1. re: toddster63

                              I've been using the new wok since February, and I really like it. It holds a season really well, and cleans up easily. If there's one thing I don't like about it, toward the end of cooking a four or five course meal, the handle gets extremely hot. I've been half-heartedly looking around for some kind of silicone cover that would fit the handle. I've also considered making something out of wood that could be inserted into the handle, but that would probably require drilling some holes to secure it. I'm not sure I want to do that.

                              1. re: sternbean

                                So far I have been using a towel, but you are correct about a wood handle