My Wüsthofs: surprise, I don't hate ALL of them

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Jovidah

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Perhaps a bit boring to write about since most of us already know about these, but I figure I'd write something down anyway... who knows maybe it's of use to some outsider at some point or helps people who are shopping for cheap stuff, or just to provide a 'different' perspective than most mainstream reviews. It may surprise some of you that I actually have 5 Wüsthof knives considering how much **** I talk about them. What can I say, I got them all for dirt cheap on a sale (they did a slight rebrand with a differnet logo so all this stuff went out for at least 50% off), and they have some uses.
Don't worry I'll try to keep this actually short.

Photo down below is mostly to make it easier to get an idea what knife I'm talking about.

Starting from the top:
9 cm and 12 cm paring knives (classic Ikon)
Main reason to buy these (apart from being surprisingly cheap on the sale) was because although you've probably heard me rave about the cutting performance of the dirt cheap Robert Herder paring knives - that normally cost like half as much as these do - you might have also seen me complain about their anemic skinny handles. And these tend to win a lot of 'normie' consumer reviews looking at kitchen knives, so I thought why not.

Well... the handles are indeed a bit of a step up. It's no-maintenance POM and they are indeed larger than the Herder and Opinel, so in that sense the handles are more ergonomical for me. The handles are probably also a little bit larger than you usually find on J-knives this size. But the cutting performance... yeah... sorry... not even in the same ballpark as Robert Herder. Sure, they can cut okay-ish, but they're just noticably thicker behind the edge. Quite similar to the cheap Opinel paring knives (that I also found somewhat underwhelming in cutting performance given how good their folders are ground). Guess I'm spoilt.

Between the two I noticed I massively favored the 9 cm over the 12... The 12 is in this awkward middle spot where its extra length only makes it more annoying for in-hand stuff like coring strawberries, or cutting pits out of potatoes, but doesn't really bring anything else; it's still awkwardly short for board work. So between the two I'd say 9 cm-10 cm any day of the week. I really wished more Japanese brands would make petties / paring knives in this shorter length; the 12 cm is just a bit too awkward for me.

Although the Herder cuts way better these still see some use. They're basically my 'dirty hands but need something pointy and somewhat sharp right now' kind of beater knife that mostly gets abused and then left dirty. I think everyone needs at least some of those knives in the kitchen too right? In that role they're quite alright, but for actual performance look elsewhere.

16 cm slicer / utility knife (classic ikon)
This was actually the most surprising to me in a positive sense. Yes, it's too fat behind the edge like all of them (boo!). Originally bought it as a beater you can just hack at cooked chicken carcasses with and not give a damn, yet I still find myself liking it and using it more in normal prep work more than I expected. Why? Two main reasons:
-The handle is decently sized, making it much more comfy than most affordable yo-handle petties that I've held in my hand.
-The very low profile. This is essentially a 16 cm paring knife, instead of a tiny gyuto like most petties, Making it much more comfortable to still use in-hand. But unlike the 12 cm paring knife it's actually long enough to be usable on a board (push cutting with the tip)... Instead of using both a paring knife and a petty you can just use this and it sorta does everything.

Of course it's not perfect; like everything Wüsthof it has a boring mundane finish, comes with meh edges, has sharp choil and spine, bla bla, and is a fat tubby behind the edge but I still ended up liking this. Might end up thining the hell out of it. Wished someone made proper thin stuff in this profile, with such a decent sized handle.

15 cm curved boning knife or whatever the hell they call it (classic)
I think this is mostly advertised as a boning knife, but I've also seen it being promoted in crappy advertising as 'great for slicing meat'. Yeah. Right. Originally bought it to experiment with the shape for trimming meat.
What can I say; it's crap. It's reasonably thin, but it's just too short for any of the advertised usecases. It's too short for trimming meat, it's pointless for 'cutting steaks' or whatever slicing tasks they were trying to push it for, and only a sadomasochist would want to use something this short as an ersatz chef's knife. Could be an interesting if it came in like 18-20 cm.

It is however quite good as a steak knife or cheese knife! Due to the curve it's easier to use on plates that have rims, where I often find myself poking the heel of petties into the rim. That's about the only thing I'd consider it for, for actual prep it's pointless.

23 cm chef (classic Ikon)
Bought this knowing it'd be an axe, and with the specific intent as making it my new 'abuse knife' for the less glamorous tasks of cutting hard frozen bacon, nuts, chocolate... you know.. all those things you kinda don't want to use a good knife on. That it does; it is indeed an indestructable kitchen axe for all those things you don't want to use a good knife on.
But if you're actually looking for a good knife that actually cuts well, this isn't it.

It manages the surprising combination of being a heavy weight that's a fat piggy behind the edge, yet still has crap food release. It's also so rear heavy that it's essentially the Nicki Menaj of the knife world. That may be true for some of the earlier knives too but on those it doesn't bother me; on this one it does. It balances where the POM meats the bolster in the handle.
The handle itself... if you're using it in hammer grip it's not that bad, and the balance also feels less terrible when used like that. But even then the downward angle starts hurting my wrist after a while. In pinch grip it's just downright uncomfortable, also because the spine and choil are all sharp.
In general it just feels like I'm holding a brick in my hand. Uncomfortable, heavy, clunky, and cuts like crap; it's a wedge monster.

The profile is also... just not good. It's not as bad as the shorter ones (the 20 cm feels like you're cutting with a football since they're nothing but belly), but still... way too much belly and curve. You don't need this much belly to rockchop! I rockchopped fine for years with my Carbonext and IMO even the cheapest entry level J-knives have a better profile even for people who prefer rockchopping.

That's also the most painful thing about this knife. If you're paying full price this comes in at the same pricelevel or higher than entry level J-knives, but is completely outclassed. To put it in perspective: personally I consider the performance gap between the Wüsthof and my humble Carbonexts larger than that between my Carbonexts and my higher end Japanese stuff like Yoshikane, Masamoto, etc.
In hindsight I wished I had just bought something soft and cheap like a Fujiwara FKM instead; I'm sure that'd survive the kitchen torture just as well, without being such a dissapointment. Would probably have also preferred a Victorinox Fibrox in hindsight, even if it looks like crap by comparison. But at least the Fibrox handles aren't uncomfortable, and the profiles are a bit better.

Summing up
9 cm paring knife; alright for something you can abuse on the side but don't expect miracles from it
12 cm paring knife; pointless in-betweener length
16 cm slicer / utility knife; positively surprised, wished someone made a petty with this kind of profile, handle size, but in proper steel and proper thin behind the edge
15 cm curved boning knife; pointless unless you want a steak knife or a cheese knife
23 cm chefs knife; it's alright as a kitchen axe but if you actually want a knife that cuts
 

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coxhaus

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I tried holding some Ikon knives and I don't like the handles. I prefer the Henckels 5star knives' handles better if you want that style of handle.

PS
I just realized this is under reviews. I am only a home cook with a bunch of German kitchen knives.
 
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Benuser

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It's a shame Wüsthof has abandoned their Le Cordon Bleu series. Not handle heavy, lighter and a lower tip. After good thinning behind the edge and turning the edge itself into a convex one it's a decent knife, providing you don't pay the full price.
 

Jovidah

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I tried holding some Ikon knives and I don't like the handles. I prefer the Henckels 5star knives' handles better if you want that style of handle.

PS
I just realized this is under reviews. I am only a home cook with a bunch of German kitchen knives.
Yeah my main reason to get the Ikons at the time was that A: I hate full bolsters and B: this was the only bolsterless option on a dirt cheap sale. From what I can remember - but this is years ago, I think I slightly preferred the normal 'classic' handles, but they're still pretty clunky and lame to me. At least they don't have that odd downward angle though (which admittedly only bothers me on the 23 cm chef's knife, not on the smaller ones).
Even just the most basic Japanese pakkawood handle is a significant step up in look, feel and ergonomics IMO, without really losing anything in practicality.

Haven't held the Henckels long enoguh to have an actual informed opinion, but I think they're a bit lighter on the rear end? The Classic Ikons are really rear heavy.

And no worries about introducing discussion; that's what we're all here for after all!


It's a shame Wüsthof has abandoned their Le Cordon Bleu series. Not handle heavy, lighter and a lower tip. After good thinning behind the edge and turning the edge itself into a convex one it's a decent knife, providing you don't pay the full price.
I did some digging and... they might still exist under a different name. Compare this:

Wusthof Cordon Bleu Chef's knife 23cm (9")
Wüsthof Classic koksmes halve krop 23 cm, 1040130123
The pictures look very close, and the specs look identical (though it could have just been copy pasted).

Either way the weight difference is indeed significant... 230g for the Cordon bleu / Classic half bolster, 290 for the Classic Ikon.

Profile looks pretty similar though, but at least the balance is probably better, given that it looks like the exact same blade with a different handle. It's cheaper too. If I were for whatever reason forced to pick between those two it would be a nobrainer for me to get the lighter one.

Although admittedly, at 90-100 euros it's an even bigger no-brainer to just get some entry level Japanese knife instead... Or pay a little bit more and get something quite good. Even though I only paid 60 euros I still felt like I didn't really get good value, even though I knowingly bought it for kitchen abuse duties.
 

Jovidah

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Oh another thing about that quirky 'curved boning knife'. Perhaps worth mentioning, it performs worse than a more traditional boning knife (cheap Victorinox) for both boning and trimming as well. The heel just gets in the way for trimming, the curve is 'too much' and it just doesn't feel right (at least to me). And a simple honesuki or normal boning knife just has a more useful tip IMO.
Even that 16 cm slicer/utility knife I'd pick over that thing any day of the weak, even though it's a bit thicker.
I don't think that'd necessarily improve all that much even if you got them a size up.
Still decent as a steak knife though. I prefer them a bit bigger.
 

ModRQC

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Vics get so much more things right for a ridiculous pricepoint. Balance and profiles being an obvious, although I’d rather see some of them with the W. Classic handle (half bolster) or any other classic shape - without losing their more natural balance. Their fibrox/rosewood get awefully big and their Grand Maitre Chef seem like they would tend to be afflicted with some rear balance and general stance of the Wusthof Ikon. I considered getting one of the Swiss line and see. Not entirely sure but at least would be less in the way when sharpening.

Zwilling Diplome (Le Cordon Bleu) Santoku and 8in. Chef were bolster/pom junction balanced too. Not entirely terrible with their round choil and forward heel for comfort but balance made even less sense I think out of it.

Thanks for your review. Two years ago I was looking into these Ikon hard. It’s nice to see them reviewed here for what they are.
 

Michi

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I have a fairly large collection of Wüsthof that I accumulated before I got interested in Japanese knives. Surprisingly, I still find that most of them don't suck.
IMG_4002.jpeg

Brief opinions:
  • Steel. Does what a steel is supposed to do and works well to keep the Wüsthofs sharp.
  • Meat fork. Nothing much to say.
  • Poultry shears. They get used about once every three years. They work.
  • Kitchen scissors. Get used several times a day and they work well.
  • Tourné knife. I use that a lot for peeling things. Unlike most of the others, it actually is thin behind the edge and very sharp. It's a good knife.
  • 9 cm paring knife. I like the shape: no bloody heel waiting to nick me. It's good for in-hand work, but I would like it better if were thinner behind the edge.
  • Steak knife. Well, it's a steak knife. It cuts steak.
  • Flat and curved cheese knives. Not essential, they cut cheese. The one with the holes in it actually does work better for soft cheeses than just about any other knife.
  • Mezzaluna. Effectively useless. It's far more efficient to cut herbs with a chef's knife.
  • Tomato knife. Does indeed work well for tomatoes, but I never use it. My wife likes it, though.
  • Boning knife. That is actually a good one. Very sharp, and I use it all the time for trimming primals and the like. (This is the stiff version; I don't think I'd like the flexible one.)
  • Flexible fish filleting knife. It works for taking the skin off fillets, but so do a lot of other knives. Because it's so flexible, its pretty much no good for anything else. Sharp though.
  • 18 cm chef's knife. Too thick behind the edge, but very sharp, and damn near indestructible. I use it as my beater knife, for chopping nuts, cutting semi-frozen meat, and other hard produce. Stays sharp for a long time with regular steeling.
  • Slicer. Sharp and thin, works fine, but really should be longer.
  • Short and long bread knife. Yes, they are bread knives. They cut bread about as well as any other bread knife.
  • Super slicer. I'm really fond of that knife. It's a good all-rounder, from cutting brisket to slicing cake, to skinning pineapple.
  • Salmon slicer. Perfect for slicing salmon, ham, or turkey into see-through thin slices. It really works well.
  • Meat cleaver. I don't use it much. But when I really want something to whack through some bones, I'm glad that I have it.
To me, the take-away here is that these are knives that work acceptably well, and are extremely robust. In other words, just about perfect for someone who isn't a knife nut. They survive getting thrown into the dishwasher, and they do get very sharp. (Not Japanese-sharp, but sharp enough to command respect.) They are a pain to sharpen. The steel is so abrasion-resistant that it takes ages to raise a burr compared to my Japanese knives. Even PM steel knives are much easier to sharpen than the Wüsthofs.

For a household that wants decent knives without having to baby them all the time and learning how to sharpen on stones, these are actually a good choice, in my opinion. Nice trade-off between performance and robustness.

The main drawback to me is that they are way too expensive for what they are. A Victorinox Fibrox is, for all intents and purposes, just as good, but costs only a fraction.
 
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Jovidah

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Vics get so much more things right for a ridiculous pricepoint. Balance and profiles being an obvious, although I’d rather see some of them with the W. Classic handle (half bolster) or any other classic shape - without losing their more natural balance. Their fibrox/rosewood get awefully big and their Grand Maitre Chef seem like they would tend to be afflicted with some rear balance and general stance of the Wusthof Ikon. I considered getting one of the Swiss line and see. Not entirely sure but at least would be less in the way when sharpening.

Zwilling Diplome (Le Cordon Bleu) Santoku and 8in. Chef were bolster/pom junction balanced too. Not entirely terrible with their round choil and forward heel for comfort but balance made even less sense I think out of it.

Thanks for your review. Two years ago I was looking into these Ikon hard. It’s nice to see them reviewed here for what they are.
The rosewood gets a bit pricey here, that's the main problem I see with it. It's often close to double the price of the Fibrox. I haven't seen those swiss line handles up close but on the pictures they look a bit skinny? They don't look a whole lot better than the fibrox to me.... and again they put it in a price territory where it no longer makes sense.

Really a shame about the rearward balance on the Zwilling Diplome; looked like it had some potential in all other regards. It looks to me like Zwilling is really getting with the times more and trying to keep their offerings fresh. Still making the old classics but also experimenting with new profiles, steels, etc., while I mostly see Wüsthof doubling down on whatever they already have with slightly different handles.
 

Jovidah

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I have a fairly large collection of Wüsthof that I accumulated before I got interested in Japanese knives. Surprisingly, I still find that most of them don't suck.
View attachment 149545
Brief opinions:
  • Steel. Does what a steel is supposed to do and works well to keep the Wüsthofs sharp.
  • Meat fork. Nothing much to say.
  • Poultry shears. They get used about once every three years. They work.
  • Kitchen scissors. Get used several times a day and they work well.
  • Tourné knife. I use that a lot for peeling things. Unlike most of the others, it actually is thin behind the edge and very sharp. It's a good knife.
  • 9 cm paring knife. I like the shape: no bloody heel waiting to nick me. It's good for in-hand work, but I would like it better if were thinner behind the edge.
  • Steak knife. Well, it's a steak knife. It cuts steak.
  • Flat and curved cheese knives. Not essential, they cut cheese. The one with the holes in it actually does work better than just about any other knife for soft cheeses.
  • Mezzaluna. Effectively useless. It's far more efficient to cut herbs with a chef's knife.
  • Tomato knife. Does indeed work well for tomatoes, but I never use it. My wife likes it, though.
  • Boning knife. That is actually a good one. Very sharp, and I use it all the time for trimming primals and the like. (This is the stiff version; I don't think I'd like the flexible one.)
  • Flexible fish filleting knife. It works for taking the skin off fillets, but so do a lot of other knives. Because it's so flexible, its pretty much no good for anything else. Sharp though.
  • 20 cm chef's knife. Too thick behind the edge, but very sharp, and damn near indestructible. I use it as my beater knife, for chopping nuts, cutting semi-frozen meat, and other hard produce. Stays sharp for a long time with regular steeling.
  • Slicer. Sharp and thin, works fine, but really should be longer.
  • Short and long bread knife. Yes, they are bread knives. They cut bread about as well as any other bread knife.
  • Super slicer. I'm really fond of that knife. It's a good all-rounder, from cutting brisket to slicing cake, to skinning pineapple.
  • Salmon slicer. Perfect for slicing salmon, ham, or turkey into see-through thin slices. It really works well.
  • Meat cleaver. I don't use it much. But when I really want something to whack through some bones, I'm glad that I have it.
To me, the take-away here is that these are knives that work acceptably well, and are extremely robust. In other words, just about perfect for someone who isn't a knife nut. They survive getting thrown into the dishwasher, and they do get very sharp. (Not Japanese-sharp, but sharp enough to command respect.) They are a ***** to sharpen. The steel is so abrasion-resistant that it takes ages to raise a burr compared to my Japanese knives. Even PM steel knives are much easier to sharpen than the Wüsthofs.

For a household that wants decent knives without having to baby them all the time and learning how to sharpen on stones, these are actually a good choice, in my opinion. Nice trade-off between performance and robustness.

The main drawback to me is that they are way too expensive for what they are. A Victorinox Fibrox is, for all intents and purposes, just as good, but costs only a fraction.
I think your lineup is showing one of the Wüsthof strengths... they do offer almost every shape known to man. Not necessarily at its best performance, but if you want a certain shape and length they're almost certain to have it.

Regarding the slicer... this is really a pet peeve for me with 'regular' knife sets. 20 cm slicer... really? What's the damn point?! Especially since it's usually not thin enough to really work for trimming or filleting. Same problem with bread knives. IMO all 'normal set' slicers and bread knives should be at least somewhere in the direction of 25 cm. This whole '20 cm chef + 20 cm slicer' set nonsense is just stupid.

While I agree they are robust, IMO it's a bit too robust. Yes, most normal people definitly shouldn't look for some delicate 65 HRC carbon laserbeam, but there's a lot in between that makes more sense for most normal people. If someone was so abusive of his tools I wouldn't dare to recommend even an entry level J-knife, I'd recommend a Victorinox with an electric pullthrough sharpener instead. And while it's worth having at least some 'bombproof' knives around, like you said, the price point just doesn't make sense (unless you get them at a massive deal).

I didn't have any problems sharpening, but I did the same as I used to do with VG10 and other more annoying steels; mostly edge leading with a bit more pressure. A bit like Bob Kramer in the videos floating around on YT. The 'standard' gentle rubbyrub you see in most Japanese sharpening instruction doesn't seem to work as well.
 

Michi

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Regarding the slicer... this is really a pet peeve for me with 'regular' knife sets. 20 cm slicer... really? What's the damn point?! Especially since it's usually not thin enough to really work for trimming or filleting.
I agree. 26–27 cm is a good length, IMO.
Same problem with bread knives. IMO all 'normal set' slicers and bread knives should be at least somewhere in the direction of 25 cm
My longer one is 26 cm. That one works well for all but the largest loaves. The shorter one is 20 cm. That one has its uses, too, for bread rolls and the like. But, if I could have only one, I'd definitely go for the long one.
 

Jovidah

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I agree. 26–27 cm is a good length, IMO.
I'm not going to say it should be this or that (though I like my 27s!) but anything above 20 just makes more sense. What's odd is that Wüsthof has them in their lineup... they just don't seem to make it into the sets that often. Just looked through them and only a handful had a longer slicer (23 cm). With most other 'mundane' consumer brands / sets its always 20 cm for both the chef knife and the slicer. I can see some argument for sticking with a 20 cm chef knife (most people start with 210 gyutos too), but who wants to slice with a short slicer! The French 25cm size is a good compromise IMO.

My longer one is 26 cm. That one works well for all but the largest loaves. The shorter one is 20 cm. That one has its uses, too, for bread rolls and the like. But, if I could have only one, I'd definitely go for the long one.
Yeah I'm quite satisfied with my Victorinox 26 pastry knife too. That one is awesome; gives some extra blade height too. Its similar to your superslicer but with a more ghetto handle and normal serrations. Like you said, for bread rolls 20 is fine, but for cutting actual proper bread 20 cm is just too short. Maybe one day I'll pony up the money for a Güde... :cool:
 

Michi

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What's odd is that Wüsthof has them in their lineup... they just don't seem to make it into the sets that often. Just looked through them and only a handful had a longer slicer (23 cm). With most other 'mundane' consumer brands / sets its always 20 cm for both the chef knife and the slicer.
I suspect that this reflects commercial reality. It's hard enough as is to convince a layperson to spend several hundred Dollars on a Wüsthof knife block, when there are knife blocks available that look very similar at less than half the price. With a 26 cm slicer, that same knife block would be even more expensive (and the block likely would have to be bigger as well).
 

Jovidah

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I suspect that this reflects commercial reality. It's hard enough as is to convince a layperson to spend several hundred Dollars on a Wüsthof knife block, when there are knife blocks available that look very similar at less than half the price. With a 26 cm slicer, that same knife block would be even more expensive (and the block likely would have to be bigger as well).
I think you might be on to something with the knife block size thing. I think most producers might make this choice since adding a longer slicer complicates the block design. Still a shame IMO; if someone's paying big bucks for a full set they deserve a longer slicer. :)
On the bright side, while it was the minority they had at least a few sets that had either a 23 cm slicer or a bread knife. So there's some hope on the horizon.
 

coxhaus

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My 26 cm slicers do fit in my knife blocks but they need to be in an upper slot. I agree on why buy a shorter knife when you can have a longer one. I would buy only 10- or 12-inch knives, actually, that's all I try to buy. The shorter knives were my mom's. Paring knives are the exception and 1 MAC Pro knife to try which was 8 inches.

Michi, I like your super slicer and I may end up buying one to use for bread. I like the longer size than my bread knife.

My Wusthof knives seem to hold an edge well.
 

Michi

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Michi, I like your super slicer and I may end up buying one to use for bread. I like the longer size than my bread knife.
I have the super slicer and a bread knife. Both are the same length.

To be honest, for bread, I prefer the bread knife. The serrations make short work of anything with a hard crust.

The super slicer shines when it comes to cutting delicate things. Cake, croissants, and anything else that is soft and tears easily. The super slicer is also great as a brisket slicer, for skinning pineapple, cutting up a watermelon, and a bunch of other things.

I like mine a lot. It's a versatile knife.
 

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I stopped at my folk's for dinner tonight and pulled my mom's 20cm Wüsthof classic out of the drawer to give it the once over. Starting at the bolster and working towards the tip I felt behind the edge and... was pleasantly surprised at how thin it was! Granted, hers has got to be at least 20 years old at this point, but for all of the complaining I read about online I expected it to be like my Zwilling Pro set. Turns out they used to make decent knives. No wonder she likes it so much.

When did Wüsthof get away from thinner grinds? It has to be somewhat recent. My mom's chefs knife felt like my Messermeisters do, which perform pretty well.
 

Jovidah

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It might have been whenever they shifted to automated CNC machines doing the grinds. I don't know when they changed this but before then they used to be hand-ground.
 

Benuser

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It might have been whenever they shifted to automated CNC machines doing the grinds. I don't know when they changed this but before then they used to be hand-ground.
When they have introduced their ... rambling... PETEC edges. V-edges advertised as 13° per side, and it's true, they are. Shoulders of 0.37mm above it for their thinnest, 20% lighter version. The ones I've weren't properly deburred, but came OOTB with the most spectacular wire edge I've ever seen, in one case uninterrupted along the entire edge. QC, liebe Wüsthof Freunde? My simple explanation: the steel doesn't take or hold such an edge.
These knives are being sold to the general public. Not to crazy knifenerds who won't miss any occasion to take out their stones, like me. What will an average consumer think when paying a substantial amount of money and the edge turns totally blunt after four slices of cucumber?
 
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