The sharper knife revolution has begun in the US and in Europe! I’ve been using samples of what I am calling the new sharp from top-tier German supplier Wusthof.  Yes, these new knives are sharper. I’ll give you my take AND share with you the secret of hoxw you can convert existing cutlery to the new sharp as well as maintain any of the new sharp knives sharper than ever before.

Many Mr. Gadget® followers already know I am crazy for good and sharp knives as I have written extensively on the topic.  When I was contacted by Wusthof representatives and offered the opportunity to try their new angle on sharpness, the new Classic series, of course I was interested.  It’s a little thing that does so much.

What’s Hot?

• Same great Wusthof Classic workmanship, precision fit, fine finish in its design – These are of trans-generational quality to last more than a lifetime in service

• New handle material for greater resistance to fading and discoloration, with smoother edges for a better feel

• New handle technology designed to eliminate the possibility of rusting or pitting of the stainless steel rivets

• NEW, demonstrably sharper edge that appears as durable as “old” sharpening angle’s edge

• Price and performance promise longer than lifetime service

• Good value

 

What’s Not?

• May be more expensive than anticipated, though NOT overpriced

• Requires new sharpening tools to maintain this new edge angle – easily achieved through my recommendation (Read on!)

 

The little thing from Wusthof is a running change from what has been a sharpened blade angle of about 19 degrees (per side) to the Japanese-inspired about 14-degree angle (per side).  That is the change.  See? Simple!  But there’s much more to the story.

When looking at a typical double-edged, non-serrated knife, that is, one that is sharpened to a “V” (sharpened on both sides), each side is now at this 14-degree angle.  Most fine European and American brands have been at the 19- or 20-degree angle for what seems forever.

Intuitively, it would seem that the narrower the angle, the more delicate the edge and the tougher it would be to maintain sharpness.  It would seem that the wider the angle, to a point, the more durable it would be.  Makes sense, right?  When the steel is of sufficient quality, however, it can stand up to the narrower angle, resulting in a noticeably sharper edge that can last as long as before without requiring more attention than traditionally angled edges.

 

4066

4572

 

4522

 

Wusthof sent three production samples from their revamped Classic line of kitchen cutlery for me to put into daily use in the Gadget Central kitchen – a four-inch Classic Paring Knife (4066), about $50 retail, an eight-inch hollow (granton) edge Classic Cook’s Knife (4572), about $120 retail, and an eight-inch Classic Carving Knife (4522), about $70 retail.

Note that the Paring and Carving knives shown here have a conventional looking edge, without scallops or serration.  The Cook’s Knife shown has vents that are perpendicular to the edge.  This style is sometimes known as a hollow or granton edge.  The vents are designed to provide air channels to relieve suction that can occur when cutting through extra thin or soft slices, causing the blade to stick as it is cutting.  A granton edge such as this is most common on a Santoku-style knife, my favorite workhorse style used and preferred in the Gadget Central kitchen.

Here is a flash video showing, in general, how Wusthof knives are created. Click the Play button once you arrive at the linked page.

What’s the big deal?  If you’ve ever used a properly, keenly sharpened knife in the kitchen or for other duties, you may have come to appreciate the virtues of such razor-sharpness.  A sharp knife does all the work without significant downward pressure into the object to be cut. And remember, a sharp knife is a safer knife!  A sharp knife is less likely to slip off the target and injure the user or anyone else nearby.

In my experience, most consumers do not have much experience, knowledge about or interest in the sharpness of their knives.  They are not as crazy as your humble servant!  It’s just not such a bid deal, though I believe sharpness ought to be of paramount interest.  Why the general malaise on the subject?  This is for three reasons.

First, some consumers are under the misconception that their knives will remain sharp forever or at least for a protracted time period.  Some specialized and oddly created saw-like knives will appear sharper, longer, but make no mistake about it, all knives dull over time with misuse AND with proper use.  Saw-like blades cannot and do not cut without tearing.  A sharp, conventional blade relies on sharpness of its keen edge to get the job done.  Have you ever seen anything other than a conventional-looking edge on a surgeon’s scalpel or on a haircutting or shaving razor? Of course not!  A conventional edge is capable of the ultimate sharpness described here.  Some knives are inexpensive and made of inferior materials creating challenges to sharpening.  However, one need not spend a fortune for an excellent knife and subsequent razor-sharp edge.

Some knives, such as the Cutco brand, are multi-level marketed and sold on the basis that when sharpening is needed, it is done FREE of charge.  On the surface, this may seem like a great deal. However, these knives do not hold an edge as well as other, better knives sold at the inflated prices Cutco commands.  In addition, it is inconvenient to be without everyday-use knives while they are away for re-sharpening. There may also be a shipping and handling fee, adding to the inconvenience. Consumers are better served with knives that have conventional-looking edges such as are on these new Wusthof Classic series and most other better cutlery.

I’m a strong advocate of sharpening at home with the proper tools.  This is a time saving and money saving proposition. In addition, with the tools at hand that anyone can successfully use, there is now no barrier to having sharp knives at the ready every day!  Keep reading.  I’ve got you covered!

Second, most consumers may be under the impression that sharpening, if needed, is expensive.  This may be true!  Therefore, consumers often continue to use knives that are clearly in need of sharpening so as to avoid the expense and inconvenience.  As a knife edge wears and becomes less and less sharp, the ability to use the knife as the intended helpful and nearly effortless tool is gone.  A sharp knife does all the work, skillfully guided by the hand of its operator.  Once dulled, the knife becomes a tough-to-maneuver implement that is destined to offer little satisfaction to its owner.  Moreover, a dull knife simply does not work well.

Third, most consumers, even if presented with do-it-yourself sharpening options, have no clue as to how to proceed, or what products to buy. I’m here to assure one and all that there is an ultimately easy and accurate solution.  There is a proven way to easily assure what, in some cases, is a better than new ultra-sharp edge on these new knives and nearly any other knife.  Taking my advice WILL save a boatload of cash over the life of the sharpener, which could easily be in excess of 20 years!  If needed, my sharpening solution can be serviced and brought back to new condition.  The byproduct will be this ultra sharpness.  The dullest knives in the kitchen may be completely resharpened to the new sharp that is the subject of this article.

When thinking of sharpening knives, do you picture rods of steel or of some ceramic material, sharpening stones, clay, files and strops?  These are so old school!  Even this old Boy Scout has finally tossed out all but two among the extensive array of accumulated sharpening tools!

Keep reading for more about sharpening, please!

Sharp knives are easier to use and more efficient in the kitchen. Super-sharp knives, such as these new Wusthof Classic knives, are a joy to use and glide through whatever the task with greater ease and less effort.  Sharp knives create less drag, which is why they are better and easier to use.  Whether slicing such test-items as ripe and soft tomatoes to transparent thinness or carefully, strategically trimming fat from an uncooked hunk of meat before cooking, the job is easier to successfully accomplish.  I’ve even practiced spiral-slicing a cucumber lengthwise into a single sheet with the sharpest of knives.  It takes concentration and practice, but it is a good test of ultimate sharpness as well as being a test of the knife operator’s skill.  The chef’s and kitchen knives’ work is just that much easer on cooked meats, too.  It is altogether a better, more satisfying experience using a knife sharpened to this newest standard.

Add to this the quality and inexplicable feel of Classic Wusthof knives and it is easy to sense that something special is in hand.

Sharp knives bite better, so they are less apt to slip and cause injury.  Injurious cuts made with a sharp knife also usually do less damage, are more easily repaired and heal faster with less scarring.

Wusthof is to be commended for being among the first of the leading European makers to take this leap into the new sharpness.  The Wusthof Classic knives I have been using are their same customarily outstanding to behold, finely finished works of useful kitchen art, built to last lifetimes.  That’s right, lifetimes, as in suitable for being handed down from your generation to succeeding generations.  That is the way Wusthof (and many other fine brands) produce their quality cutlery.

The new Classic series Wusthof knives feel substantial. They are solidly built with a certain, welcome heft to them.  Using them, one will easily sense the quality.  In fairness to other fine brands, this is also a personal observation.  When evaluating cutlery, it is not possible to describe what may be an ultimate best product for everyone.  In truth, any of the top German brands should deliver similar quality within competitive product lines, and many Japanese knives are also excellent.  I’ve not seen any inexpensive Chinese knives to recommend, however.  That is why it is so important to have a hands-on experience with different models and different brands to see if one feels better to the user than another, even different models within the same brand.

Having used several top brands as well as several lesser brands, I can attest to the difficulty in deciding upon what is just right for the individual user.  I’ll have more to say on choosing the right knife later.

These Classic-series Wusthof knives are forged, meaning they are created from a single piece of fine stainless steel from tip to heel, all the way through the handle, in a time consuming process of heating the metal, grinding and polishing it to become the fine instrument it ultimately becomes. The other common, less expensive knife-making method is called stamping.  The knife is stamped out, really punched out, from within a larger piece of metal. There are some very good stamped knives, but none have the finely created look of these and other fine forged knives.  On the other hand, stamped knives are far less expensive. They cannot be made from the best steel and do not generally have the feel of a good forged blade.  Some of the better stamped knives can, however, be sharpened to a fine edge, though they cannot hold that edge through use as long as a good forged knife.  The tradeoff here is price.  Forges knives cost two to five times more than good quality stamped knives.

According to the company, these next-generation Classic knives feature a “new handle design made of a highly durable synthetic material – Polyoxymethylene (POM) — that has a tighter molecular structure to resist fading and discoloration. The shape of the new handle is more rounded for a comfortable and sure grip.”

“Additionally, the new and technologically advanced Classic handle offers a Wusthof patented feature designed to eliminate the possibility of rusting or pitting of the stainless steel rivets, or the knife’s tang that could occur from contact with impurities, high humidity, or salt water.”

The new Wusthof Classic knives are of the same fine steel that features an approximate hardness of 58 on the Rockwell hardness scale, a great number to have!  They feel wonderful in the hand, just as have all the Classic series and others from this truly legendary name among German cutlery makers.

In my trials, the three new Wusthof Classic knives’ edges have proven to be excellent in all ways important to discerning consumers.  They arrived beautifully, expertly sharpened (not all knives arrive in such perfect condition – but this is not an impediment IF the consumer has the best and easiest to use sharpening tools.  Their superior edges have remained sharp with minimal attention.  Of course, knives here are used only on proper cutting surfaces that promote maintenance of the fine edge.

In all ways, Wusthof Classic knives with the new 14-degree edge are highly recommended.

I’ve enjoyed using all three new Wusthof knives and can be certain in my recommendation of them to you, whether for personal use or as among my favorite wedding gift suggestions.  These gifts will last longer than a lifetime, to be sure.

Wusthof Classic knives are available in sets and as open stock.

Alas, this is but the beginning of the story.  As indicated earlier, no matter how much or how little is spent on knives, no knife can exist for long without the need to maintain sharpness.

Please click HERE for the link to the companion article,  Mr. Gadget’s® Easy, Foolproof Knife-Sharpening Secrets.  Fear not!  YOU can and YOU will be able to sharpen all your knives as good as or better than you’ve ever experienced from professional, expensive sharpening services.  And I’ll also weigh in on other recommended brands to investigate.

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