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It (doesn't) last forever

I bought my husband, then boyfriend, a Henkel's chef's knife for $100+ in 2001 for his birthday. His birthday is on Friday, and Henkel has bit the dust after 12 years of almost daily use, inconsistent honing, amateur and professional sharpening. That knife doesn't owe me a dime. Question is, how long do your knives last you? I think I read somewhere that some professional kitchens rent their knives because they're so hard on them. Made me feel better about mine not "lasting forever."

Also, thinking about getting this one for him for Friday. What say you?

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  1. How did it bite the dust?

    The handle disintegrated on an old Sabatier that I inherited from my grandfather. My MIL has nearly ruined my paring knife a few times, though I've rehabbed it successfully so far. I've given away quite a few knives that I didn't use very often. And I've had a few sharpening stones expire on me. But the knives I use most often don't seem any worse for wear now than they did several years ago when they were new. If a knife is only lasting 12 years for you, you might have a problem to address, depending on the circumstances of its demise.

    Professionals definitely go through knives faster than the average home cook. I would generally expect over 10 years of use from a chefs knife in a professional setting, though that can depend heavily on how the knife is sharpened and the kind of treatment it's subject to.

    As far as the Wusthof Icon - it's a good replacement for someone who's used to a henckels (4 star line?). It tends to look nice, feels very similar to the Henckels, sharpens reasonably well, and I like that it doesn't have a full length bolster.
    The Messermeister Meridian Elite has almost the exact same specs at a lower price point. For consideration:

    1 Reply
    1. re: cowboyardee

      the tip broke, and where the knife meets the handle (hilt?) is a little wonky.....

      it's never seen the inside of a dishwasher.

    2. The wooden handle of a paring knife split, after years of use and frequent washing. It was part of a knife set given to me and obviously wasn't made to last. My knives with non-wooden handles are showing no signs of age, and most of the wooden-handled ones too.

      1. 12 years @ $100 equals a great deal, less than a dollar a month. Buy another one just like it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: genoO

          Feeling pretty good about my Henckels, then; got it for $50. in late winter 1983, so that's less than 14 cents a month. And going down all the time, as it shows no signs that I'll ever need to get another.

          1. re: ellabee

            Most of my knives are 15-20 yrs old. Only one I got rid of was one that I allowed some idiot "professional" to sharpen for me. Never again - he totally ruined the shape of the blade. It ended up looking like a thick fillet knife.

            We have a knife that's about 75 years old - was my grandmother's on the farm. It's pretty funny - i think you'd have to be on a ship at sea to make a decent cut with it: the edge is completely wavey from her sharpening the middle only.

            _______/--------------------\___________ <kinda like that!

            1. re: ellabee

              Most of my knives are 15-20 yrs old. Only one I got rid of was one that I allowed some idiot "professional" to sharpen for me. Never again - he totally ruined the shape of the blade. It ended up looking like a thick boning knife.

              We have a knife that's about 75 years old - was my grandmother's on the farm. It's pretty funny - i think you'd have to be on a ship at sea to make a decent cut with it: the edge is completely wavey from her sharpening the middle only.

              _______/--------------------\___________ <kinda like that!

          2. You might want to try taking your knife to a store to see if they will return it to Henkel. I had a Henkel for five years that developed tiny hairline cracks on the handle. It didn't affect its performance, but I thought it was odd, so I took it to a speciality knife store (it was a wedding gift, so I don't know where it was purchased and didn't have the receipt) and they sent it back to Henkel for me. I got a new knife back two weeks later. I was amazed at how easy the process was.

            The replacement is now doing the same thing, so I think it may be a design flaw and I've decided not to worry about it, but I thought I would mention my experience in case you think your knife might warrant replacing.

            PS. Like Cowboyardee, I love the Wusthof Icon!

            1 Reply
            1. re: playingwithfood

              Cracks around rivets with plastic handles are a common knife issue I see and most German makes replace them easily if that happens.

              Hypothetically could be from the rapid temp changes in the dishwasher.

              I point these out to folks and give them a choice of letting them send it for warranty now or sharpen it and next time it needs sharpening send it in.

              I prefer the fully encased handles like the Wusthof Grand Prix because of it

            2. Post a pic and lets see if it is beyond hope.

              I have stuff going on 20 years and have sharpened stuff that was even more.


              1 Reply
              1. re: knifesavers

                will do. it's been relegated to the "cape" for summer use. I will be down there this weekend, and i will take a photo.

              2. That's what she said!

                More seriously: could you say what makes it qualify as having bitten the dust?

                Indeed, frequent sharpening, especially of the more aggressive types, like those Chef's Choice machines, will just wear the blade shape down.

                If you're in Boston, you can surely locate someone. I also suggest, as an ardent cook myself, that you involve your spouse in a new knife selection: go together to a good shop and get him what he likes.

                1. I have a forty year old Sab in daily use that still looks ok to me. I rinse and wipe the blade after every use, maybe with a little dish washing soap if dealing with meat, hone (2-4 swipes on a steel) before each use, and sharpen for Thanksgiving and Independence Day.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tim irvine

                    Hi, Tim:

                    What a beautiful knife! I have a "Red Violin" chef that looks almost identical, maybe also a Sab. It was my grandmother's (passed 1937), and I believe it was in her family before that. A distant cousin returned the knife to me around 1985. Like yours, it looks like there is less "belly" or rocker to the edge than it probably had when new, but still a fabulous piece.


                  2. Hi, eLizard:

                    Oh, don't get me started...

                    A good unabused chef's knife, hand-washed, dried, judiciously (and competently) resharpened, should last a normal household an actuarial *lifetime*. It might deserve a few trips to a general practitioner knife doctor after a few decades, and *maybe* one radical regrind/conversion in its dotage.

                    It depends on DH's wants/needs. I think this is a serviceable blade at a reasonable price. The integral pommel is unnecessary, and I would favor the 9" or 10" length.

                    Consider sending the dusted Henkels to our CH friend knifesavers for rehab. It could make a fine slicer or petty knife to complement your new blade.


                    1. I bought my 8" forged chefs knife in 1988 and it still looks like new, even after 2 years in a professional kitchen.

                      My 6" chefs knife that I now use on a daily basis looks almost new, except for sharpening marks/scratches the blade.

                      I broke a Theirs Issard knife but it was because I was in a rush and tried to pry something apart. I admitted that it was my fault but the warranty was still good and they replaced it for only the shipping cost.

                      I am abusive on Forschner paring knives but at $5.00 each they aren't a big deal. I commonly break one or two a year.

                      1. Great for sharing your story. You are absolutely correct that a knife does not last forever. Hey, not even diamond, did I tel you that? :) Anyway, back to your previous statement, I thought 12 years is a bit short for home cook setting, but it really depends how you use it and how you sharpen it.

                        Wusthof is a great choice for your next knife. It is very similar to Henckels. I particularly like the Wusthof Ikon line because of the reduced bolster (not a full bolster).

                        I agree with cowboyardee that Messermeister is also very good. In fact, I used to recommend it because neither Wusthof nor Henckels had reduced bolster and only Messermeiser had them.

                        If you want something exciting and thinner, then you can think about trying a Tojiro DP knife. Great knife and slightly cheaper too. However, it will be a change.


                        Ultimately, the Wusthof Ikon will be a good safe choice.

                        1. I'm on my second carbon-steel 4" Sabatier, and I figure it's got another twenty years in it, given the wear on the blade. At that rate it'll likely outlive me. On the other hand, my 14" Stanley butcher knife was dated by the dealer at ca. 1916, and it will outlive my grandchildren. The big difference, of course, is that the Sabatier gets used three or four times a day, and the Stanley maybe three times a month. Especially in a half-vegetarian household.

                          1. Knives can easily go for 30-50 years or more in heavy home use with proper care.

                            My main set of Wusthofs are over 26 years old and have heavy use by me with vegetables being the core of my cooking. They have survived visiting relatives who used them as a screwdriver and other such abuse. I also have an old Chicago cutlery paring knife that is over 37 years old and is still the one I reach for.

                            These are good, basic knives - not custom made Samurai swords as some knives are, and still they serve me so well.

                            When I was a youngster, and assisted my parents in cooking, one of the things they taught me very early on was how to sharpen and maintain knives. This is probably the most important step in working with knives. If you know how to do that well, you can take any knife and make it a good working one.

                            1. I'm real pleased with my Forschner Fibrox stamped chef; it takes an edge well and keeps it for a while, and responds well to the steel; it's light and easier on the arm after a few hours in the kitchen, and the fibrox handle won't slick up, even if it gets greasy, which means a lot fewer bandaids. And when it does break, it won't cost a fortune to replace. Besides, I'm not looking for an heirloom, I need a tool that does what I need it to and doesn't cost a fortune to do it.

                              On the other hand, my son saw be drooling over an 8" Miyabi Damascus and surprised me with it a couple years ago. I love the weight and the steel is amazing, but I also find myself being a lot more anal about that knife too.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: coakes

                                  I've been toying with buying a couple of those knives, and a Chef's Choice sharpener -- I am terrible about getting knives professionally sharpened when they need them. I wouldn't feel guilty about running a $35 knife through the dishwasher and the sharpener as much as necessary.

                                  On the other end of the spectrum, I just got a lovely Aritsugu as a gift that I'm nearly afraid to use...but boy is it nice!

                                2. I bought my Russell chef's knife in the late 1970's and still use it. My oldest knife is an Olsen bread knife acquired in 1967, which has lasted longer than the company that made it. My second oldest is a Japanese paring knife from 1968 which is still one of my most often used knives.