which zwilling j a henckel knives?

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by mjbakos, Aug 21, 2011.

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  1. Aug 21, 2011 #1

    mjbakos

    mjbakos

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    I have never owned a set of good kitchen knives. My brother recently bought a set of zwilling j a henckels twin four star 2 knives and he absolutely loves them. I have been looking at the same knives or the less expensive four star. Looks to me that the only difference is the stainless end cap on the handle. Trying to save some $, so is there a big difference between these two sets or not? Like I said, I am very new to this and am unable to just spend a lot. Maybe a smaller set, and then just add a knife here and there as I save. Any pointers?
     
  2. Aug 21, 2011 #2

    jm2hill

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    how much is the total you are looking to spend for the two knives?

    there may and usually is better options out there than the henckels so long as your not set on the henckels brand.
     
  3. Aug 21, 2011 #3

    so_sleepy

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    Before the gang tries to convince you to buy something else, I'll answer your question. There is no difference in the blade or cutting performance between the Henckels Four Star and Four Star 2.
     
  4. Aug 21, 2011 #4

    tk59

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    I have the four star which I was very happy with until I came to this forum. These knives are built with an unskilled, relatively careless consumer in mind. The steel is on the soft side which is good for steeling and minimizing damage from dings, and twisting action. They are also exceptionally stain resistant and dishwasher "safe." The trade-off is these knives are not built to hold a great edge very long, nor are they built to give excellent cutting performance. If you are interested in cutting performance, German production knives are decent at best.
     
  5. Aug 21, 2011 #5

    ThEoRy

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    Is it ok to talk him into buying something else yet? :D

    Compared to the knives we rave about over here your typical German blade henkels, whustof, messermeister etc are about a 2 or 3 on a 1-10 scale.

    That being said if you are dead set on the henkels brand, they do have a Japanese line called Miyabi. These are pretty good from what I hear and are considered a good first entry into the world of Japanese knives.
     
  6. Aug 21, 2011 #6

    Eamon Burke

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    Ok I'll break the decorum here.

    I find those knives appalling, because the qualities that make a knife worth ANY amount of money are:
    1. Geometry
    2. Heat Treat
    3. Edge quality(strictly sharpening job)
    4. Design
    5. Comfort
    6. Aesthetics

    I've never seen a single knife from Henckels' name brand lines that provides a single one of those points in any quantity worth noting. It may seem snooty, or petulant, but considering they are a gigantic global company and producing them in state-of-the-art factories with highly paid engineers behind them, it is completely unacceptable that they aren't brilliant performers on SOME level.
    :rant:



    That said, I have a brother. Nothing like one-upsmanship between siblings, why not just take yourself back to scratch and come out with cutlery that is going to blow any concept of expectations out of the water(for both of you)? There's a thread here with some simple questions, and links to definitions of terms like "grip" and "cutting motion" that will help us provide you with a knife and accessories that will fit your budget/wants/needs and set a new standard for your expectations.
     
  7. Aug 21, 2011 #7

    mjbakos

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    Wow! I did not realize what I was getting into. I thought the Henckel's were a very nice knife. I am used to having cheap department store garbage that breaks and just tears meat instead of cutting it, and forget about cutting vegetables.

    Like I said, I am on a pretty tight budget - and was just willing to spend a little more on a better knife set than a cheap $50 set that feels flimsy and doesn't last. Really liked my brothers four star 2s & they felt very good in my hand. Then looked at the original four star (because they are cheaper.) That was the reason for my question. Didn't want to buy the cheaper, and then wish I bought the four star 2s even if a smaller block to start out with, then add to it.

    I don't know, maybe $200-$300 for a couple of useful knives that maybe I could add to when I save up some more money.

    Not trying to be a chef or anything - I have a very small kitchen, and cook for a small family, nothing special. Any tips or info is greatly appreciated.

    Really don't know anything about German vs Japanese knives. Henckel's were the best knives I ever knew, and felt very comfortable in my hand. Didn't know they rated so low. Guess I'm not a knife fanatic (yet) ha ha

    Thank you guys for listening to an inexperienced beginner
     
  8. Aug 21, 2011 #8

    Eamon Burke

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    Budget is not a real big issue. Clearly, the more you are willing to spend, the better stuff you can get(provided you make an informed decision). Whatever your budget/style/needs/etc are, there is cutlery for you.

    Do the questionnaire! Be detailed, don't be embarrassed if you don't know stuff. I got into knives because I wanted to buy a Shun chef's knife to use as a full-time Sushi Chef. :slaphead: It's been my passion ever since to help guys as earnest and ill-informed as I was.
     
  9. Aug 21, 2011 #9

    tk59

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    I guess I'll break decorum, as well, Eamon.

    1. Geometry - If you mean thin, yes, the chefs' knives are thicker, esp at the heel. However, if you are referring to grind, it is no worse that some of the flat ground knives that so many here rave about.
    2. Heat treat - No amount of heat treating is going to turn the steel in a vier sterne into a top performer. It is stainless and tough at 55-ish hrc, period.
    3. Edge quality - The sharpening job is limited by the iceberg-sized carbides in the steel.
    4-6. There is so much ambiguity and personal preference built into these that it would be a waste of time to comment.

    These are the Jeeps and personnel carriers of the knife world. They don't get you from point A to point B the fastest or with the same style but they serve their purpose.
     
  10. Aug 21, 2011 #10

    mjbakos

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    What type of knife(s) do you think you want? chef, utility, bread,

    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing? wanting something better than cheap department store garbage (faberware)

    What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already? dislike all of these qualities of my knives
    Aesthetics-
    Edge Quality/Retention-
    Ease of Use-
    Comfort-

    What grip do you use? I would have to say mostly a pinch grip

    What kind of cutting motion do you use? mostly slicing

    Where do you store them? In a block

    Have you ever oiled a handle? no

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use? plastic but thinking of wood

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing? nothing

    Have they ever been sharpened? no

    What is your budget? lower end

    What do you cook and how often? meat/vegetables - couple times a week

    Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
     
  11. Aug 21, 2011 #11

    tk59

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    You're gonna need to do something about sharpening. The best knife is still a POS without a good sharpening job. You need to decide if you want something very stainless or if you mind some minor discoloration or if you are okay with carbon steel.
     
  12. Aug 21, 2011 #12

    Eamon Burke

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    Here's my picks for you, keeping in mind that you are on a very tight budget:
    Sani-Tuff Board 15x20 : $40
    Idahone Ceramic Rod : $25-30
    Ditch the bread knife, if you want a bread knife that bad, get the Tojiro DP bread knife, it's like $60.

    Your main, go-to knife(A 'Chef's knife', or it's Japanese equivalent, the 'Gyuto'), submitted for your approval, in order from most most budget conscious to bang-for-the-bucks(though none are a lot of care at all):
    Tojiro DP ($80 alone, matching Petty is $50, Parer+Chef's is $100)
    JCK Carbonext ($105 alone, matching Petty is $66)
    Hiromoto AS ($145 alone, matching Petty is $72)
    Murray Carter SFGZ Funayuki ($190 alone)

    I priced them for the 210mm, which is 8", because that is what, in my experience, most home cooks want/need. When they inevitably get dull(about 4 months to a year from purchase, depending on how hard you are one them and how sharp you like them), just send them out for professional sharpening. Unless, of course, the sharpening stone bug bites you. Which it might. :wink:
     
  13. Aug 21, 2011 #13

    mjbakos

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    I really do plan on taking care of a good knife. (Sharpening, hand wash & dry). Never thought it was worth it or even possible to sharpen these things correctly being very thin and serrated. I was thinking stainless to keep them looking like a nice knife.
     
  14. Aug 21, 2011 #14

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    I say if you like Henckels, there are a few good options. Check out the Miyabi line. The MC line is top notch. Also, the Henckels Twin Cermax is bad a$$, with ZDP189 steel hardened to 66...

    But, if you're open minded, these guys will guide you to the cream of the crop.....
     
  15. Aug 21, 2011 #15

    Eamon Burke

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    The Hiro AS is a carbon core with stainless cladding, an attempt at the 'best of both worlds. They certainly do look nice.

    Sharpening is not so much a sign of care as a new life skill. If you want to learn to do it, you CERTAINLY can, and you don't have to spend over $100 in sharpening stuff all told(though you easily can if you like it). I'd say cross that bridge when you get there. It'll be a while before you will want to take them to the stones.
     
  16. Aug 21, 2011 #16

    jm2hill

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    unless you become crazy like us... then a factory edge usually just won't do!

    Tojiro dp's are all good. F&F (fit and finish) isn't amazing. but it'll do. If you are interested in carbon they also have the shirogami (white steel) line. which will soon include a wa-gyuto (japanese chef knife) a wa-petty (japanese utility) and already includes a nakiri and santoku.


    Johndoughy's list is a fantastic starter list. if you are interested in carbon steel tho look at the knives mentioned above. only difference I would say is don't get the tojiro DP bread knife. get the Tojiro ITK bread knife.

    The tojiro ITK bread knife is supposed to be fantastic (highly used and I think reviewed by theory). Its part of my next purchase!
     
  17. Aug 21, 2011 #17

    mjbakos

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    So basically, I don't need to inventory too many knives. And it sounds like these Japanese knives are way better than the Henckels? If I dont need as many, maybe I can splurge a little. Is there another notch up in quality to look at. Really want to make the right choice, but without overdoing it of course. Thank you guys so much for your guidance. I have much to look at and learn.
     
  18. Aug 21, 2011 #18

    tk59

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    I also like the list. If you want something that is very stain resistant and you're willing to spend a bit more, my choice would be Ashi or Konosuke stainless (Japanese Knife Imports). These are significantly better cutters than Tojiro and I like the steel better. It chips much less and the edge stays keener longer. If you think you might like something a bit more substantial-feeling, I really like Yoshihiro for a wa-handle (also from JKI) or Masahiro MVH for western (only the Knife Merchant version). With regard to sharpening, I'd get a cheap fine grit diamond plate from Lowes and go to town on whatever knives you've been using. Just work on maintaining your grinding angle/keeping your bevels nice and even. By the time your knives need sharpening, you can jump into whatever whetstones you want or you'll know you gave it a shot and send it to someone (not just any pro sharpener) for sharpening.

    If you want to go even better, go for the Ashi-Gesshin line but depending on what kind of user you are, the difference in performance vs the regular Ashi might be negligible. It just doesn't get that much better regardless of price.
     
  19. Aug 21, 2011 #19

    Eamon Burke

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    You won't need as many knives because a good knife will do a lot of things for you. At home, you can get by with 2--a short one and a long one. Though if you love to cook, you'll want more!

    Japanese knives in general(included the massive amounts of factory garbage that never get exported) are about the same as anywhere else. But they do offer better quality at a lower price point than most anywhere else. A knife made from comparable steel from an American factory costs about 4 times what a Tojiro does.
     
  20. Aug 21, 2011 #20

    Eamon Burke

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    :plus1:

    Spending a bit more can get you a knife that blows budget factory stuff like Tojiro out of the water(which is saying something, if you are coming from German knives).
     
  21. Aug 21, 2011 #21

    obtuse

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  22. Aug 22, 2011 #22

    tk59

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    That's also not bad advice, esp if you think you might end up chipping your edges. It's softer but tougher and much less chippy and surprisingly nice to sharpen for a budget knife. The handles run smallish, if that matters. That compared to the large Tojiro handles.
     
  23. Aug 22, 2011 #23

    mjbakos

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    OK - took a look at some of these knives, and now I really don't know which way to lean.

    Hiromoto AS
    Kagayaki CarboNext
    Tojiro DP
    Fujiwara FKM

    Really liked the look of all of these knives. Don't really know the difference between all of them (which would hold an edge longer, which would be more stain resistant, etc.) Really liked the price of the Fujiwara FKM and the Tojiro DP even though the carbonext and hiromoto's were not terribly priced. Also liked the many different styles of knives that the Tojiro DP has to offer. (Could make a real nice matching set down the line). Never thought about size of handles. If it matters, I do have very large hands.
     
  24. Aug 22, 2011 #24

    mjbakos

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    Oh - I did look at the Mayabi also. Liked the look but thought maybe I could do better for the price.
     
  25. Aug 22, 2011 #25

    tk59

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    Hiromoto AS: solid all-around performer excellent edge-holding except in acidic conditions where it is only good
    Kagayaki CarboNext: excellent cutter with very good edge-holding and very good stainless properties (although it does turn a dull gray with time).
    Tojiro DP: stainless cladding with somewhat less stainless core. good edge holding and somewhat chippy, decent cutter.
    Fujiwara FKM: stainless. decent edge holding, good cutter.

    All of them are easy to sharpen with the Tojiro being a bit less easy.

    As a home cook that takes good care of his knives, my vote is for the CN, no question.
     
  26. Aug 23, 2011 #26

    mjbakos

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    OK - My final thoughts that I wish you guys to help me with so that I can make the best decision for myself.

    How many knives should I definitely want to start out with for general home use (trimming meat, slicing, dicing veggies, etc.)?
    I know that the main "go to" knife is the chef knife (gyuto). Having that, do I really need to have a santoku right away. Are they used for similar tasks?
    Thinking of starting out with a small # of knives and using some of the $ for a good board to cut on. (thinking the sani-tuff that was recommended or a boardsmith) Am I correct in thinking a gyuto and 2 sizes of petty knives?

    I guess what I'm asking for is a list of "must have" knives (in your opinion) and sizes, from best to worst for a novice that may not notice a difference between them. And one that will last

    Everything that has interested me to this point so far has been - Tojiro DP, Kagayaki CarboNext, Fujiwara FKM, Miyabi, Hiromoto AS -- If you can think of any similar knives in this range that are worth looking at, let me know also.

    I am sorry if I am being a pain in the a$$ -- I'm driving my wife as well as myself nuts too -- I just dont want to regret my decision and I know nothing about this
     
  27. Aug 23, 2011 #27

    jm2hill

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    santoku and gyuto are both multi-purpose knives. some prefer one more than the other. General consensus I believe is pro-kitchen gyuto. Home kitchen if you have room to cut with a 210-240mm gyuto do it. Some people, however don't have room for that and will use a 190mm santoku. It all really comes down to preference.

    I would recommend gyuto, but that didn't stop me from buying a santoku for a friend. Its what you think will work for you.

    I would get 3 knives + bread (if you would use it):

    gyuto 210-240 (if you have room I would get longer)
    Petty 150-180
    Paring/petty 90-120

    As for which model and brand. The DP, Carbonext, FKM, AS, are all highly reviewed as good buys. Can't really go wrong with any of them.

    As for cutting. Get a boardsmith board, those things are beautiful. I'm saving up for one of those. (for some reason whenever I save up it jumps straight to a knife)

    + tojiro ITK bread knife

    The essentials could easily leave out the paring and just use the petty, but its nice to have tho.
     
  28. Aug 23, 2011 #28

    Eamon Burke

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    A man only NEEDS two knives in a kitchen--a big one, and a small one. But the more, the merrier. It depends on what you like to do a lot. You cook a lot of veggies? The flat profile on a Nakiri might be in order. Lots of crusty breads? Bread knife! Sushi? Yanagi. Whole Chicken? Honesuki. Small fruit? Parer. The list goes on.

    The truth is, although this is not always the case, the list I compiled for you previously is graded in order of quality AND price. The more you spend, the more you get. Tojiro will be far and away better than anything I've seen out of Europe, but the others are better still. The Murray Carter knife, while out of stock for now, is one of the most amazing values out there--a handmade knife by an expert American craftsman, performs beautifully and under $200. Almost too good to be true.

    These knives have other qualities that differentiate them, like exact placement of the balance point, shape of the grind, subtle profile differences...but, being a newcomer to high-performing knives, you won't notice. I really suggest you get whatever you budget can handle on that list. None of them will leave you dissatisfied.
     
  29. Aug 23, 2011 #29

    macmiddlebrooks

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    Another vote for the Carbonext and matching petty. Amazing value!
     
  30. Aug 23, 2011 #30

    MadMel

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    I think u would NEED 3 rather then 2. The other being a serrated bread knife.

    My list would be Carbonext 210mm gyuto with matching petty, Itk bread knife and, kings 1000/6000 and a DMT XXC or a Atoma for flattening.
    Probably cost you about 300 or so for everything.
     

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