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Feb 17, 2012 08:27 PM

Henckels Zwilling their collections so confusing

Me and my fiance are buying our first home this year and we're starting to collect some necessary cookware.
We're set on Henckels flatware and would like to match Henckels knives, we're just that way, we like our things to match.
Trying to research the one line of Henckels Zwilling is so confusing that I've been at it for 3 days and I'm still getting no where. What should be simple and enjoyable is so frustrating, starting with Henckels stamped vs forged, fairly easy pick, forged it is.
But then we move to Single person stamp on knife (supposedly international) to twin person stamp.
After that we move to made in Germany, Spain or China production. Even further into looking I find Professional S line which looks pretty nice, but then I get stopped again, some of the Pro S line has red stickers on the handles and some of it has not, some of it has red stamp on the blade, same of it has regular black.

This company is so confusing, so many variables and no where do they organize they collection showing which is in what tier, you have to hop from one website to another, trying to piece everything together.

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  1. "We're set on Henckels flatware and would like to match Henckels knives"

    ..... Forget about the fact that Henckels flatware are not that great, there just isn't any "matching" between Henckels flatware to Henckels kitchen cultery. They are not even the same design.

    "Henckels stamped vs forged, fairly easy pick, forged it is."

    In general, forged knives are not necessary better than stamped knives.

    "This company is so confusing, so many variables and no where do they organize they collection showing which is in what tier, you have to hop from one website to another, trying to piece everything together."

    It is confusing, but not as confusing the way you described it. Most of the Henckels Zwilling knives are made of the same steel. The only difference is the handle. So pick the handles you like. For example, Henckel's Four Star II is made of the same blade as Henckels Professional "S"

    8 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I agree with your last statement about the handles. But, there is a HUGE difference between stamped and forged knives. A stamped knife is just that. The cut the shape out of the blank of steel. Polish, shape, and sharpen it. Apply the handle and done. A forged knife is is just that. The steel is put through the forging process. With out getting to complicated, the steel is heated to extreme temperatures and cooled at extreme temperatures. This process makes the steel harder (for edge retention and durability) and more resistant to rusting.
      Aside from high end lines like Cronidur, Kramer, and Cerimax, etc. the premium brand is made of Zwilling's special formula steel. The handle is what differentiate, like you said.

      1. re: ChristopherR

        After much investigation with the Henkel's knives I selected the PRO S and I am extremely pleased with their cutting ability not mention my fingers at times when they get in the way. I've had to retrain me using them because they cut like hot metal going through butter. I've had my set for a year now and wouldn't trade them for another brand!

        1. re: Ksassy44

          Fantastic! The Pro S is their standard bearer. It is the original with little change over that last three centuries. Great choice!

        2. re: ChristopherR

          I have a couple of what German Henckel knives. They are wonderful.

          As far forged knives, I'm going to ask a more than likely ridiculous question.

          I have a set (from Goodwill) of Michael Graves knives that are "forged" and they have "X60 Cr Mo Mn" on them.

          They are made in Taiwan and are really cool looking.

          Could these (probably sold at Target, I know) be of any actual quality?

          1. re: KC_pdx

            With no offense intended to Christopher above...

            'Forged' is essentially a meaningless distinction with respect to mass-produced knives. The 'forging' process used by large knife manufacturers bears no real resemblance to any process that used to be called 'forging,' and has no bearing on the performance of the blade. (some custom knife makers actually do truly forge their knives, though this doesn't necessarily mean that they perform better than modern stamped blades either).

            Here's Wusthof's process:
            60 second mark. Don't blink or you'll miss it. That single blow from a press has no effect on the performance of the blade. They do it to form the bolster a bit and so they can call their knives 'forged' in a market where consumers think that still means anything.

            Mass-produced forged knives get their properties the same way stamped knives do - from heat treatment and the composition of the steel. Not from forging.

            As to whether the Michael Graves knives are any good... I don't know. I'm not familiar with them. x60 Cr Mo Mn tells you a little about the composition of the steel though. x60 most likely refers to steel that contains 0.6% carbon. This is acceptable, though most premium steels contain more. Cr refers to chromium, which is the element added to steel to make it stainless. Mo refers to molybdenum, which has various benefits when added in small amounts, such as reducing brittleness. And Mn refers to manganese, which is another trace element with various benefits, such as improving hardenability. The problem though - this kind of info leaves out more than it tells you. For one, you don't know how much of these elements are used. For another and more importantly, two steels can have the exact same composition and still differ greatly in performance depending on how they're heat treated, how the knife is made, etc.

            Your knives are good if they sharpen well and hold an edge well and are ground in such a way that they're efficient to use. Comfortable, well constructed, well finished, etc. All I can tell you is they don't have much of reputation, good or bad.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              <60 second mark. Don't blink or you'll miss it. >


              Here is another video of the forging process at 0:40 min:

              <x60 most likely refers to steel that contains 0.6% carbon. This is acceptable, though most premium steels contain more.>

              It still has more carbon than Wusthof (X50 Cr Mo V15), Messermiester (X55 CR MO V14), and probably Henckels.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                "It still has more carbon than Wusthof (X50 Cr Mo V15), Messermiester (X55 CR MO V14), and probably Henckels."
                True. You can also add the perennial value favorite Victorinox to that list.

                You can make a perfectly decent, high-performance knife out of steel with 0.5 or 0.6% carbon. You just can't really sell said knife on the basis of its fancy steel is all.

        3. re: Chemicalkinetics

          #Chemical I agree about the CONFUSION aspect on the varying tiers. When shopping for Henkel's 2013 I became so overwhelmed with the many differences and all my cross checking became more confusing trying to keep everything straight so I wrote the company pointing out this same thing but the response wasn't what I expected other than I'll check into it. I asked for simplicity comparison because I had read so many customers just as confused as I was. Now I have my Pro S set I have not looked to see if they changed the comparison issue. I had even asked about the RED label on the handles and found when they manufactured some were with and some were without; it had no specific designation to any knife! Go figure! Earlier production dates were the knives are stamped Red on the handle; no difference just an older knife. In some knife sets they throw in a Red Handle, too, which makes one odd knife; they wouldn't change mine.

        4. For Henckel, I'd go with either the Professional S or the 4 star series. Certainly I'd suggest the twin person stamp, and German production. I have many pieces of the Professional S and was certainly happy enough with them. The 4 star my uncle has and seems similar just a different handle. My parents have the international set, and they aren't bad, but the Professional is noticibly better.

          If you are buying individual knives, and don't have the biggest preference in style, I'd suggest the Santoku. It was my most used Henckel, and the reason is it can be used similar to a chef knife, but has a thinner blade and no bolster. The thing I hated most about my Henckel chef knife was the bolster.

          If money is no object then their Miyabi line or the Damascus or some of the other lines have stronger steel but can get more pricey.

          As for the red labels, i vaguely recall seeing them in the store as I walk past, but I am not sure what the difference is if there is any difference.

          Many people will tell you there are other options to Henckel, but you've already decided you want to match, and you will definitely get knives that you can be happy using for many years.

          13 Replies
          1. re: TeRReT

            I'd like to stay with Henckels, since my father has one Classic 6'' slicer knife and I really like it.
            I got used to it, and would like to stay with the company, just getting confused with too many options.

            1. re: toyopl

              You can buy sets, but you may be inclined just to go with individual knives which you can ad to each year. The sets mostly come in the international anyways. You can save money buy only buying what you need at the start, a chef knife and a paring knife and maybe a bread knife but don't need the boning knife or anything right away.

              Again, the santoku was my favourite, with no bolster, but I used a 12" chef knife in school, and enjoyed it enough, but much prefered the 10" I had at home. I have had no problems with the Profesional S knives except sharpening them was difficult because of the bolster, but you may end up sending them somewhere to be sharpened anyways.

              Kitchen supply stores are good places to get deals, and most will carry Henckels and have different handles available to try. You can probably get them much cheaper in a restaurant supply store then a department store.

              1. re: TeRReT

                Bolster needs to go away. It is just getting more and more meaningless. The whole idea of forged is better than stamped is just... shall we say? Marketing. Only the uneducated would believe craps like these. Lucky enough for the sellers, there are enough people believe that. Your freakly $8 Nakiri (without knowing it for sure) is most likely better than these overpriced knives. You know it, and I know it.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Zwilling is making a few lines with no bolster. Bob Kramer and Pro (without the "S") came out last year, and Profection, Cronidur and 1731 came out before.

                  1. re: Cutcreator

                    Thanks. I agree. I think those are on the good trends. Unfortunately, they are exceptional and often more expensive.

                    1. re: Cutcreator

                      Sure, IF you wont' to pay the price!

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      marketing has nothing to do with it. with all due respect, You are mistaken. it is more about chemistry and physics than marketing. Heating the steel forces the carbides to spread evenly as possible. this reactions strengthens the steel. Cooling it locks in those properties and aids in rust resistance.

                      1. re: ChristopherR

                        <...Heating the steel forces the carbides to spread evenly as possible....>

                        But you don't need to forge a knife to get that. What I wrote was that "The whole idea of forged is better than stamped is just... shall we say? Marketing."

                        You can get very nice heat treated stamped knife too. In fact, better known knives like Shun and Global and Tojiro are all stamped and not forged.

                        As for the bolster help weight distribution and balance, I don't entirely disagree, but I don't entirely agree either. I think you can get perfectly balanced knives without a bolster.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          As an owner of several brands of knives (including Shun, Miyabi, Henckels, and Globals, etc...., I am confused as to what particular line of Shun you are speaking..for they are forged.

                            1. re: ChristopherR

                              These knives are not forged by pounding a hot piece of iron into a knife, like this (at 30 second):


                              If you want to classify knives into stamped vs forged, then Shun, Global, Miyabi...etc are all stamped. Clad Ward likes to use the term "machined knives" to distinguish these higher end stamped knives from old images of cheap stamped knives.

                              They are very good knives, but they are not forged.

                              The marketing people may use the word "forged", but that is exactly the problem I have been saying. People are buying into the ideal of forging is better because the marketing.

                              Let's take Shun Classic knives for example. They have a cutting core steel of VG-10 jacketed/sandwiched in between the soft SUS410. This is not form forging.

                              To quote Chad Ward:

                              "The knives we're really talking about here have been taking the professional cooking world by storm for the last several years and they are starting to make headway into the home market. You may have seen knives by Global or MAC infiltrating your local Gourmet Hut. They are good examples of this new type of knife. The blades are cut and precision ground from
                              a billet of high-alloy steel, a method that custom knife makers refer to as stock removal. They are indeed laser cut or punched from a sheet or thin bar of steel, but the level of finish that goes into them is equal
                              to any of the forged knives. Indeed, the manufacturing process is nearly identical. I think of them as machined knives to distinguish them from stamped knives."

                     also pointed this out:

                              "Final notes of interest
                              Most salespeople working at the cutlery counter of your local stores will tell you that a forged knife is a sign of a strong sturdy knife and any forged knife is superior to a stamped knife. This may have been true in the past, but this is definitely no longer a universal truth. The two MAC knives tested in this article are stamped knives with bolsters that are welded on, ground, and polished. MAC Knife claims that using the stamped steel gives them a level of control over the tempering, the bevels, and the thinness of the blade. I don't know if all that's true, but I do know that the two chef's knives we tested out performed all of the forged knives. Ah, but, you argue, the MAC knives tied or were slightly beaten by the Global G-2? The Global G-2 is also a stamped knife. "


                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          the Pro line is the future of the company. A traditional bolster is created during the forging process, this is why you will not find a bolster on a stamped knife. The bolster helps with weight distribution and balance. The new lines with the "curved bolster" allow the thumb and forefinger to rest perfectly while using the pinch grip method.

                      2. re: toyopl

                        Toyopl: I'd like to stay with Henckels, since my father has one Classic 6'' slicer knife and I really like it.

                        German or French blade shapes are pretty universal. European knives tend to be thicker and Asian blades generally are thinner.

                        Whether Wusthof or Henckels, they are going to feel the same in the cut. The only meaningful difference is in the handle.

                        A French chef knife will have a lower point so, it cuts better on a cutting board then a higher tip German pattern.

                        Before you spend a lot of money on high end knives, I would suggest trying some cheaper options from Spain or *gasp* China. Muella knives perform well for the vast majority of people. The chef branded China imports at the big box places work well too.

                    3. You are talking about 2 different brands owned by the same company. The 2 guy logo is the premium brand ZWILLING JA HENCKELS, Zwilling means twin in German hence the twin logo. With very few exceptions all products with the twin logo are made in Germany. The exceptions are the Cermax and Bob Kramer knives, these are made in their factory in Japan. The single guy logo is the value brand JA HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL, these knives are lower in price and made in Spain or Asia. The difference between the different color stickers is exactly that, the color nothing else.

                      1. I find these knives a little confusing too. a few years ago I decided on the Pro S series and got a basic 3 knife set with the butcher block. It is an 8 inch, 6 inch and 4 inch knives. Oh and it also included a sharpening steel that seems to short to me. It is only about as long as my longest knife. I have not added to these knives because I really don't know what I should get. Several years ago there was a tomato knife that appealed to me. But now I don't think they are available. I don't know much about knives, but these knives seem really nice to me. I am thinking that I would like one of the Santoku knives. But I really don't know, so I just keep using the ones that I have. I also would like some poultry shears. There is a place in my block for those.
                        As for sharpening. I have not tried that yet, because I am not very good at it. My dad can put an edge on one that you can do surgery with. I kid you not. I have cut myself with his knives and never felt it. Just saw blood. I don't know how he gest such an edge on a knife. He just uses a regular old knife sharpening stone. Nothing special.

                        I think I should probably use some kind of knife sharpening machine or something.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: dixiegal

                          Please don't use a blade muncher on a good knife. Those things destroy good knives.

                          1. re: Sid Post

                            100% behind Sid. Please do NOT use a electric sharpening machine. There is no way to be delicate enough with one to apply a truly good edge. Good hand sharpening is easily do-able for $30-45 for a very nice little system.

                              1. re: jkling17

                                >100% behind Sid. Please do NOT use a electric sharpening machine<

                                Well, thanks for the warning, I will forget that.

                                I think my problem with hand sharpening is not getting the angle right on the knife.
                                I do have a knife sharpening thing that I got and Smokey Mountain Knife works, It isn't electric, you just drag your knife through it. There are two sections on it. One is for fine honing.

                                I have used it on my pocket knives and my everyday inexpensive kitchen knives. It is not exceptional, but does put a decent edge on the knives. I have not used it on my good knives. I guess I just need to read up on knife sharpening. But I find that as confusing as newbies to Cast Iron find seasoning and cooking with it confusing. Mostly because there are so many different ways to do it.

                                So many different types of stones. Some say to use oil, some say water. I never saw my dad use anything. Just the stone.

                          2. First, congratulations. I hope that your marriage lasts a lifetime and is a very happy one.

                            I agree with the folks who don't think that you should necessarily match flatware to your knives. There really is no relationship there. Get the flatware that you LOVE, that feels COMFORTABLE in your hands. That's really, IMO, the most important thing about flatware.

                            As to knives, my first thing - do NOT get a set. Just buy a few truly good critical knives. Truthfully about all most people really need is one awesome chef's knife (or santoku / gyuto) and one decent paring knife. Don't splurge on the paring knife. IF one of you turn into very serious chefs and then have a need for a better paring knife, you can always get one later.

                            Again, the most important single thing about your primary cooking/prep knife is how comfortable it is in your hands. Global is a super brand but ... their handles are a bit unique. Go to a few stores and decide if you prefer the feel of a global, a typical western handle or a Japanese style handle.

                            For sure, there ARE good Henckels chef knives. It's just that a really good Japanese knife is a much better value. Mark has a great selection at If you are truly SET on Heckles, just get one good chef's knife or santoku and a paring knife. You can very easily add to those two key knives over time. I wouldn't poo-poo Henckles International stamped knives. They come very sharp out of the box and are easy to keep that way. Their dual 7 and 5" santoku set is an excellent value at like $20. The smaller one is often really nice in the smaller hands of a woman ... your finance may well find the 5" a great utility knife. My mother LOVES it.

                            You will also need something to keep those knives sharp. It won't really take all that long for regular use to take a great knife down from "razor sharp" to "sorta sharp". Here is a good initial resource to read up and give you some ideas.

                            I personally like the DMT stones. But I don't want to go on about sharpening and hijack your thread.

                            Good luck!


                            11 Replies
                            1. re: jkling17

                              Thank you, enjoyed reading this.
                              I was surprised about Henckels poor feedback on flatware so I read a bit on it, and I can't really find too many decent comments on it, most what I read is lack of quality control, that really surprised me, but I liked that I knew more and could make a better decission.
                              I'm in the process of reading about what flatware companies are good as far as quality goes, reading about yamazaki, oneida and others, I wll put some time into it.

                              So since the flatware will be other company other than Henckels, I'm pretty much open to anything at this point when it comes to knifes.
                              I tried my fathers german made 6'' Zwilling slicing knife and I got really used to it, it was my go to knife for last 5 years, and that makes me question Chef's knifes, I'm so used to cmall blade on slicing knife, that I don't know if working with chef knife will be awkward now :)

                              As far as knifes go, I like smaller knives, so I'm guessing 6'' chef knife, 6'' santoku, 8'' bread knife, 3'' peeling knife, steak knifes.
                              I also need a butcher knife, not sure if that's what it's called, but I buy big slabs of meat in Costco and then cut them into small portions and freeze. I also buy steak, dry age it, and then trim it and portion, so nice knife would be good for this.

                              1. re: toyopl

                                "6'' chef knife, 6'' santoku..."

                                6" inch santoku makes a lot more sense than 6" Chef's knife. A 6" Chef's knife does not have the same contact board space as a 6" santoku.

                                "I also need a butcher knife..."

                                A butcher knife, a boning knife or a meat cleaver? Rarely residential cook needs a butcher knife.


                                1. re: toyopl

                                  RE: flatware ... again what you READ is one thing. The feel of them in your hands ... to me that is everything. Next Sat, after you two finish up with your typical morning "being engaged wake up routine" ... head out and visit places like Crate and Barrel, etc. All decent brands are decent brands - period. 3 tine, 4 tine ... whatever. Just try them on for size and pretend to cut up some chicken filets, steaks, etc. Make a short list of the one's that feel comfortable for both and you and then just decide which style you both prefer. Online research is, IMO, useless for picking out flatware.

                                  As to knives .... now you are providing some really good info on what you LIKE to us ... and how you wish to USE them. Awesome!

                                  Honestly, I would skip the bread knife - you can always get one later. By 3" peeling knife I think that you mean 3" paring knife? Any will do ... really. Mine is a $10 mundial or wusthof. Nothing special and I keep it razor sharp.

                                  A SHARP knife will beat - HANDS DOWN - a less sharp expensive or fancy brand knife. Just make sure the handle is comfortable in your hands.

                                  Since you have been so kind as to point out that you probably will prefer shorter blades (I like them too), here are a few thoughts.

                                  1. Steak knives. They can be whatever brand you like. I have Mundial but whatever. Get whatever you want. I prefer non-serrated - they are easier to keep sharp (plates dull knives ...).

                                  2. Steel for prep knives? Consider whether your lifestyle is better for stainless or carbon steel. Carbon takes a better edge and is easy to sharpen up. Really good carbon edges hold up very well. They are my 1st choice, without question. BUT ... you must be willing to give them a quick hand-wash after using them and wipe them dry. They will rust if you don't.

                                  Stainless vs carbon ... well - you know you better than we do. If you are the type who wants the best and will take care of it - get carbon. If you aren't as careful get stainless.

                                  3. WHAT do you prep? A lot of meat, clearly! So one good chef / gyuto / santoku is a good choice. Gyuto is basically a Japanese chef knife, with their wa style handle. I love these handles personally and use a pinch grip. If you LIKE a pinch grip, you may well love the Japanese handles. If you prefer a handle grip ... gosh I just don't know.

                                  4. Slicing knives. If you will do a LOT of slicing of roasts, then one decent slicer might make sense. Others here honestly have more experience with these than I - and in the past have recommended some really good economical choices.

                                  5. Veggies? I prep primary veggies and meat. So ... I bought a nakiri last year and it is now my very best knife. Very high quality Japanese steel and a super flat profile. LOVE it for veggies. What I also learned from buying this knife is that a single VERY high quality blade, if it has the right profile can be used for nearly everything and be your "go to" knife.

                                  6. So ... you need to do a lot of meat ... so a nakiri for you can't be your ONE super knife. A santoku, chef or gyuto could be. None of us know what the best handle design is for you or (yet) what type of grip you employ. In any case, I'd budget about $75-100 for this knife.

                                  Here are a few knives that may be worth your consideration:
                                  1. I own the nakiri version of this gyuto and it's the best knife that I own, hands-down. It's blue carbon core with stainless cladding, and a western handle. I prefer a Japanese handle but I do really love this knife.
                                  2. Tojiro. If you want a stainless blade, you would be hard-pressed to find a better knife for the money. Some of these also come with wa handles but most have western styles. They also have a white carbon line that is even more reasonable and is well worth your consideration.
                                  3. Global. Some of the finest blades around for the money. It's very important to feel these in person as their handles are unique. They have a 5" santoku that might be just super for you ...

                                  That's it for now. There are a LOT of really really good knives out there. Heck, the dual santoku Henckels international set that I got for my parents a few years ago for $20 are still "good" .... because they are VERY sharp. And keep that edge pretty well (the cutting board needs to be plastic or wood or knives will dull FAST).

                                  Hopefully, you have some stores nearby that have a wide selection of Japanese knives, with Global, Shun, and others - so that you can feel them in your hands.

                                  One last thing - I don't OWN this (yet) but the CCK cleaver is something that you may really want to get. Check it out. I already own a cheap chinese cleaver and a super nakiri so I can't really justify (even to myself) getting a CCK just because I want it. But ... you are just starting out ...


                                  1. re: jkling17

                                    I did not know you could even get steak knives that were not serrated.
                                    I like the sound of that.

                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                      Yeah they are nice. They also make great petty knives, without those serrations.

                                    2. re: jkling17

                                      I looked at Tojiro DP line, since they have matching steak knives.
                                      But I think that these knives rust if not taken care of properly ?
                                      I don't think I'm that kind of person that would care for the knives right after every cut or meal.
                                      My fiance especially would treat them as normal knives, meaning use and abuse, with leaving them wet, or in a sink on a soaked plate.
                                      I liked the price of Tojiro, I loved their reviews and little videos on the web showing these off.

                                      Does this mean I need stainless steel knives only ?

                                  2. re: jkling17

                                    "I agree with the folks who don't think that you should necessarily match flatware to your knives."

                                    Thanks for your support Jeff. I knew you and I see alike. :)

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      :-) It happens ... even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.

                                    2. re: jkling17

                                      Jeff, thanks so much for the link to sharpening knives. Maybe I should get on a knife message board or something.

                                      1. re: dixiegal

                                        I read a LOT before I started. That one link is a pretty good place to start. Here's another resource:

                                        And then there are LOTS of good videos on youtube. I especially like this one: All that is done with 3M abrasive films instead of stones and lapping. This method is called "scary sharp". The earlier stages can use high quality sandpaper instead of 3M films.

                                        There are lots of ways to go about it. I went with DMT stones and their aligner. For someone just getting started, I'd probably recommend practicing hand sharpening on a few sheets of good sandpaper and practice on a knife that is decent but not great. Any automotive store will have the kind of paper you need. Get 1-2 sheets of 320 (coarse), 600 (fine) and 1000 OR 1200 grit (x-fine). 1000-1200 will get an edge pretty darn sharp. You won't want to shave with it but it'll do nicely with prepping food. And you'll learn good technique pretty quickly.

                                        If your time is a premium and you just want to get it done fast - then get a DMT stone like the diafold x-fine / xx-fine (green and tan). For under $30 it's a very good deal. You can get a guide for it too but I have found that hand sharpening isn't really all that tough after all.