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Wusthof Knives — a Buyer’s Guide

Wusthof Ikon Blackwood chef knife, 6-inch

Last updated 03.23.23 — Wusthof knives are one of the most well-known and trusted in the kitchen-knife universe. Enter any kitchen supply store from Macy’s to Sur La Table and you will see the name “Wusthof” dancing out of the glassed-in wall cabinets. Peek into any professional kitchen of note, and odds are, you will see someone slicing a julienne with a Wusthof Classic—one of the best chef knives you can buy.

Manufactured in Solingen, Germany, since 1814, Wusthof knives (along with the other major German maker, Zwilling-Henckels) have all but dominated sales of kitchen knives around the world for the past 50 years. And there is good reason (other than smart marketing)—they are well-made with a very high nod to quality.

Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that the company is run by Viola and Harald Wüsthof, seventh generation of the same Wusthof family that founded the company 200 years ago!

All this said, there is one very important caveat to be made: Wusthof makes quite a few lines/models of knives. And if you desire to benefit the most from what the brand offers, you should stick to the forged lines (as opposed to the stamped/laser-cut) and be fully aware as to what those lines are.

BUYER’S GUIDE If you don’t have time for small talk, CLICK HERE to skip down to my recommended Wusthof knives.

Wusthof Knives—Forged and Stamped Lines


ClassicLooks like it sounds, with a triple-riveted polypropylene handle that feels like wood.
Classic IkonCurvy, ergonomic polypropylene handle that feels woody as well.
Classic Ikon CremeSame Classic Ikon design, but creme-colored handle instead of black.
Ikon (Blackwood)Original African blackwood handle design—not only feels like, but is wood.
AmiciMajor new design with olivewood handle; very similar to the old Epicure, but improved.
CrafterNew! Similar to Anniversary Edition; classic look, smoked oak handle with brass rivets.
PerformerNew! Coated blade, Darth Vader look; ergonomic handle with honeycomb grip.
AeonLimited edition. Coated blade with bog oak handle; only three knives in entire line.
CulinarCurvy, pure stainless steel handle.
EpicureCustom-designed for Sur La Table—appears to be discontinued.
Gran Prix IIModern molded polypropylene handle and looks and feels like it; probably discontinued.


GourmetLooks like a Classic, but it’s not.
Urban FarmerNew! Playful style with dark beechwood handles.
ProLight and thin like a Victorinox. Discontinued?

Again—Wusthof’s forged knives are what I recommend and will concentrate on in this article. So, unless otherwise noted, I am always talking about their forged knives.

Are you with me?

FORGED VS. STAMPED A forged knife is made from steel that has been heated and hammered and heated and hammered some more, so as to realign its molecular structure and make it stronger and more resilient. While a stamped knife is literally stamped out of a roll of steel and thus lacks this strengthening process. With modern manufacturing techniques the lines have now blurred. But in the case of Wusthof, their forged knives are higher quality and should stay sharp longer.

Wusthof Knives—How They’re Made

Wusthof knives all use the same X50CrMoV15 stainless steel—with molybdenum and vanadium added to enhance their hardness, durability, and resistance to corrosion. There is nothing out of the ordinary about this steel, but it’s tough and definitely won’t rust. Each knife is drop forged from a single billet of steel, the blade and handle one solid piece, thus they are all full-tang (one piece of steel from the tip to the heel).

The knives are heat-treated to a Rockwell hardness of 58 which is the norm for German-style knives. Finally, employing Wusthof’s Ptec sharpening system, they are all sharpened to an angle of 14 degrees per side (with a few notable exceptions). This is much sharper than what German-style knives used to be sharpened at (around 22 degrees) and shows the influence of the Japanese invasion.

Wusthof factory heat treatment oven
(Above: Future blades emerging from heat treatment at the Wusthof factory in Solingen.)

What’s important to remember about Wusthof knives is that all the various lines (forged, that is) share the same manufacturing process, the same forged blade at their core. But they are customized into a spread of styles that distinguish themselves from each other by their handles and their balance and feel.

So if you’re in the mood to splurge and spend $300 on an Ikon chef knife with a African blackwood handle (a gorgeous knife), please understand that the extra money you’re spending is going to the handle and the feel, not to the engineering of the blade. And understand that a Wusthof Classic chef’s (which costs significantly less) should slice through a carrot just as effortlessly as the Ikon Blackwood, hold it’s edge just as well, and have just as long a life cycle. The same is true for the Classic Ikon, the Performer, et al. The blades should all perform similarly. (Below: Blanks that will become Wusthof Classic chef knives.)

Wusthof factory blanks

There is one mild exception to this rule—the Japanese hybrid models (within each line). The santoku, nakiri, and chai dao are all slightly thinner than the corresponding chef knife and are sharpened to 10 degrees per side (instead of 14). This allows them to slide through food with slightly less resistance.

PEtec (PRECISION EDGE TECHNOLOGY) Wusthof’s patented system of high-tech sharpening that guarantees each and every knife leaving the factory floor has been sharpened to their specs. By measuring with lasers and using robots to do the sharpening, the aim is to insure every blade is evenly sharpened from tip to heel and that there is consistency from knife to knife.

For the purpose of this article (and because we’re awash in knives), I’m going to focus on 8-inch chef knives and their Asian-style counterparts. But with each chef knife, I’ll give you a snapshot of what other knives come in that style/collection.

To review: All of these Wusthof knives are forged from the same steel. All are full tang. All are tempered to 58 HRC (Rockwell hardness), and all, except the Asian hybrids, are sharpened to 14 degrees per side.

(Knife prices: Because the prices of many name-brand kitchen knives can fluctuate wildly—sometimes up to 50 percent—please understand my quotes are ballpark.)

Wusthof Classic Chef Knife

BUY NOW $155–200 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Wusthof Classic chef knife

The original—with a traditional triple-riveted polypropylene handle (but it looks and feels like wood) and a full bolster. Well-balanced and not too heavy. Holding it in your hand, you feel like a pro.

BOLSTER In a traditional forged knife, the bolster is that narrow wedge of steel that separates the handle from the blade. It’s supposed to protect the cook’s fingers from slipping into the cutting edge. Many modern forged knives have minimal bolsters or none at all. For more details, read How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.

Wusthof Classic chef knife, 14-inch
The Classic line boasts the largest collection—roughly 70 types of knives in all (not including accessories like forks). Everything from an ultra-narrow salmon slicer to three cheese knives to a bird’s beak paring knife. And chef knives, Lordy! It sports 8-, 9-, and 10-inchers and, in case you’re cooking for an army, 12- and 14-inchers, too. And, of course, it has a full range of santokus, and a nakiri as well. (Above: An 8-inch chef knife next to a 14-incher at the Wusthof outlet store in Norwalk, CT.)

If all your kitchen knives simply must match (mine don’t), that would be a definitive reason to go with the Classic line. It’s the most comprehensive collection of knives Wusthof manufacturers. As you grow your kitchen knife collection, adding specialty knives, etc., you can rest assured you’ll find it in the Classic series. If you can’t find it in Classic, Wusthof doesn’t make it.

Wusthof Classic Wide Chef Knife

BUY NOW $150–225 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Wusthof Classic wide chef knifeThis bad boy is a fantastic option for cooks doing some serious slicing. A wider blade can power through large fruits and vegetables (like butternut squash or heads of cabbage) or large quantities (think cubing up pork tenderloins) without being overcome by the food. The Classic wide blades are a 1/4-inch wider than regular blades. So a regular chef’s, at its widest, is 1 3/4 inches, while a wide chef is 2 full inches. (Just don’t forget that the extra width might prevent Big Boy from fitting in the usual slots of your wood block. A small price to pay for the extra chopping power.)

Ikon Series Knives

A contemporary answer to the Classic with a curvy, ergonomic handle. It comes in three versions, each identical, except for the color of (and material in) the handle: 1) Classic Ikon, 2) Classic Ikon Creme, and 3) the Ikon (Blackwood). (Below: Classic Ikon chef knife, hollow edge.)

wusthof classIkon_chef7

The Ikon series totes a half bolster which offers a slightly different balance/feel than the Classic and makes it much easier to sharpen. It also has, what Wusthof calls, a second half-bolster at the very end of the knife where the steel core spreads out to cover the entire butt and which aids greatly in the balance act.

The handle really is something. It not only looks graceful as a deer antler, but fits into your hand (or mine, at least) like a kid-leather glove. This is my favorite Wusthof knife. (Tip: If you can afford it, you might want to spring for the 9-inch chef which, to me, feels even better and more balanced than the 8-inch. The handle is exactly the same size as the 8-inch, so it looks like they designed the handle with the larger knife in mind.)

What’s so cool about the Ikon series is that they’re not only beautiful, but serious tools that you can plan on having in your kitchen for decades.

Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef Knife

BUY NOW $180–200 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Wusthof Classic Ikon chef knife_2
Black polypropylene handle that (like the Classic) looks and feels like stained/varnished wood. A stylish, yet workhorse, knife. Medium-sized collection: 28 knives, including 9-, 10-inch chef, and 6 1/2-inch santoku.

Wusthof Classic Ikon Creme Chef Knife

BUY NOW $150–180 @ Amazon
Wusthof Classic Ikon Creme chef knife
Ditto the Classic Ikon, but with a creamy-white handle. Kind of Western, no? Harking back to pearl-handled pistols and what not. Small collection, only 17 knives—6-, 8-, 9-inch chef, and 6 1/2-inch santoku.

Wusthof Ikon (Blackwood) Chef Knife

BUY NOW $250–285 @ Amazon
Wusthof Ikon (Blackwood) chef knife
Why the heck, for the sake of clarity, didn’t Wusthof officially name (or rename) this knife the Ikon Blackwood? At any rate. . .this top-of-the-line version comes with a genuine wooden handle made of Grenadilla wood (African blackwood)—one of the hardest woods in the world.

Classy stuff and it’s an eye-catcher in an understated sort of way. And, yes, you can feel the subtle difference of the natural wood in your palm. What’s more, the blades tend to be ever-so-slightly thinner and lighter than the Classic Ikon. I assume it’s for balance, to match the lighter weight of the Grenadilla wood.

This is the knife to buy for that very special person who’s passionate about cooking and appreciates fine things. Medium-to-small collection: 20 knives including a 6-, 8-, 9-inch chef; 5-, 6 1/2-, 7-inch santoku.

BUYER BEWARE Wusthof is such a powerful brand that it does attract knock-offs. Please be aware that the best way to guarantee you’re buying a genuine Wusthof blade is to buy from an Authorized Wusthof Retailer.

Wusthof Amici Chef Knife

BUY NOW $280–300 @ Amazon
Wusthof Amici chef knife
The Amici is one of Wusthof’s newest kitchen knife creations which seems to be cashing in on the olive-wood-in-the-kitchen craze. Nothing wrong with that—who doesn’t have a thing for the swirling grain and golden tones of olive wood?

To my eyes, the design of the Amici seems very close to Wusthof’s old Epicure line (which appears to have been discontinued). The long gentle arch of the spine and handle; the full-sized bolster (to protect your fingers from the blade); the top-exposed tang and two rivets (on the handle); the asymmetrical, organic-shaped grip—all hark back to the Epicure.

It’s a beautiful, artistic design—immaculately finished, no rough edges or gaps. Plus, you can count on a roomy handle (longer than the Classic) with decent knuckle clearance. The olive wood is naked, not oiled or sealed, which gives it a marvellously tactile feel and an excellent grip. But it will require a little TLC—you’ll need to regularly rub in a light coating of mineral oil (as you would with a cutting board) to protect it.

Wusthof Amici chef knife handle

One major improvement over the Epicure—the Amici is perfectly balanced. Hurray! It’s also a bit lighter—and lighter than the Wusthof Classic chef and the Classic Ikon as well (the Ikon weighing 1.5 ounces more).

There is only one big negative—you guessed it—the price! No way around it, Amici is one expensive chef knife. And please be crystal clear that the steel and the cutting performance will be exactly like the Wusthof Classic and the Classic Ikon. Period.

Oh, because of the price point, the factory might spend an extra minute or two on quality control to guarantee the edge comes perfectly sharpened. (Mine was unusually sharp for a German knife, more like your average Japanese.) But, other than that—exactly the same as the other knives above. You’re spending an extra $100-plus for the beauty of the design and an olive wood handle. Viva l’Italia!

Wusthof Amici kitchen knife line
Small collection: 7 knives total including an 8-inch bread knife, 6- and 8-inch chef knives, 7-inch santoku, serrated sandwich blade, a utility and a paring.

Wusthof Crafter Chef Knife

BUY NOW $255–275 @ Amazon
Wusthof Crafter chef knife
You can trace the Crafter’s vintage vibe—dark wood handle, brass rivets—back to Wusthof’s Anniversary Limited Edition set issued a few years ago (see further down the page). Except the carbon steel has morphed into Wusthof’s more standard stainless, and the handles have evolved from rosewood to smoked oak.

It’s still a handsome look and a heck of a lot easier to maintain than having to regularly oil a carbon steel blade in order to stave off rust. So, there! Small collection: 8 knives including a 6-, 8-inch chef; 7-inch santoku, 2 bread knives, 2 utility knives, and a paring.

Wusthof Performer Chef Knife

BUY NOW $350-375 @ Amazon
Wusthof Performer chef knife
Wusthof leans to the dark side with this bad-ass concoction designed for Darth Vader devotees when they want to impress (or scare the crap out of) their frinds at the grill station. Everything about it screams bold—from the total black of both blade and handle, to the huge, ballsy Wusthof logo (trident in circle) seared into the back side of the blade.

Salient facts. . .
1) DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coated blade offers strength and durability—extra protection from water, tomato juice, getting scratched, etc. Although. . .with German steel at HRC 58, you’re already tough as nails. And I do have concerns about how this DLC coating (Rockwell hardness 104—almost twice that of the steel in the actual blade) will handle serious sharpening. Especially if whoever’s doing the sharpening, desires to improve on the factory bevel.

2) Ergonomic, high-tech, honeycomb handle: Supposedly, grips like a mother, and guarantees the knife won’t scoot out of your olive-oil-coated fingers when you least expect. Niffy!

Hey, don’t count me out—it speaks to the tough-guy in us all. Of course, then there’s the price tag. Small collection, only 5 knives: 9-inch bread, 6-, 8-inch chef; 7-inch santoku, and paring.

Wusthof Culinar chef knife

Wusthof Culinar Chef Knife

BUY NOW $165–180 @ Amazon
Honestly? I just don’t get this knife. Why would I want a cutting/slicing tool with a handle made of polished steel so smooth (without a single gripping texture) that at any moment it might slither out of my fingers like a Brook trout? True, it’s a sleek, contemporary design—like a Classic Ikon with a handle that’s morphed from polypropylene to steel. But can you imagine cutting up an avocado with it? No fun at all.

However . . . if smooth steel handles are your thang, rest assured the blade will have the exact same quality as all the other Wusthof forged knives. Medium-small collection: 20 knives; 6-, 8-, 9-, 10-inch chef knives, plus santokus.

Wusthof Double-Serrated Bread Knife

Wusthof Classic: BUY NOW $125–150 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Wusthof Classic Ikon: BUY NOW $160–200 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Double-serrated might sound like a gimmick, but it’s not. The cutting edge of this bread knife has larger serrations and then smaller ones within the larger ones which adds up to one smokin’ bread knife. If you are sick and tired of your bread knife sliding off crusty peasant bread loafs, or smooshing down baguettes before actually carving into them, your time has come. This knife is meant for you. Even angel food cake! (So the promo goes.)

Wusthof Classic double-serrated bread knifeWhen I visited the Wusthof outlet store for the first time last spring, my Wusthof guide raved about this knife. I didn’t let on, but went, “eh” inside. But as I shopped for other flashier items, I mulled it over and gradually realized it was a brilliant idea and a powerful tool. So I put it in my shopping basket, along with too many other cool knives that my heart wanted but my wallet didn’t, and, unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut.

When I got home that night and whipped out one our bread knives to slice up a warmed-up ciabatta loaf, and could feel the edge barely grip the crust as I gingerly sawed, trying not to smush it down to nothing, I realized I’D MADE THE WRONG DECISION. But it’s on my calendar to return to the next major outlet sale and NOT LEAVE WITHOUT IT. [Update: I did eventually nab this knife. And after five years and counting, it still, cleanly, slices through croissants without crushing them!]

If you eat any kind of baked items on a regular basis that need to be hand sliced—this bread knife will make you smile and keep on smiling.

• • •

Wusthof Japanese-Style Knives—Recommended Models

Although I’ve already touched on these Japanese-style knives above (in my encapsulations of collections), I think it’s important to spotlight them because they are so terribly useful. Many home cooks are discovering they prefer the slightly reduced length and weight of this style of knife versus the traditional Western chef knife.

Wusthof’s Japanese-style knives generally come in two sizes—5-inch and 7-inch. I recommend the 7-inch because it’s closest to an 8-inch chef and can handle most kitchen tasks. For me, a 5-inch is a bit too small to be my go-to knife. But if small works for you, then you’ve got options.

As the chef knives above, all the blades are forged, full tang, and pass through the same rigorous manufacturing process—the only difference being they are 1) slightly thinner, and 2) sharpened at a 10-degree angle instead of 14. What does that add up to? Improved sharpitude, these babies can slice!

Wusthof Classic Ikon Santoku, 7-inch

BUY NOW $160–200 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Wusthof Classic Ikon santoku
I’ve featured this wicked beauty for years as one of my favorites in my article: Best Knives—Six Recommendations. So all I can do is gush. It’s nimble, it’s sharp, it’s sexy, and it’s got that wonderfully comfy Ikon handle. It’s the babe of my kitchen. It can slice through melons, split an avocado, and chop up oregano. If you’re looking for a slimmed down go-to knife for your kitchen, you will never regret buying it.

It comes in the Classic line as well (with a different handle, of course). And if you need a paring knife and can’t resist a deal, you should consider the Asian two-knife set. You get the santoku along with a 3-inch, straight-edge paring knife for around $40 less than buying them separately.

SANTOKU (sahib-TOH-koo) KNIFE Santoku in Japanese translates as “three virtues” or “three uses.” Traditionally, Japanese knives were highly specialized, each designed for a specific task (slicing sushi, dicing carrots, etc.). But the santoku blade was invented for a variety of tasks—cutting, chopping, mincing—most everything done with a chef knife in the West.

Wusthof Classic Chai Dao (Hollow Edge), 7-inch

BUY NOW $120–140 @ Amazon
Wusthof Classic chai dao (hollow edge), 7-inch
Strictly speaking, the chai dao is Chinese, not Japanese, but let’s not mince cultures. Santokus and Japanese-Asian-style blades come in a range of shapes—some pointier, some longer or wider than others. But the most important distinguishing factor of this blade, versus your average santoku, is the smooth, round curve of the cutting edge. This allows you, without lifting, to rock it back and forth when you dice veggies. (In Chinese “chai dao” means vegetable knife.) Which can save hand and arm energy. It’s a technique that needs to be practiced, assimilated—and, I must admit, I’m still assimilating.

Regardless—the other thing I love about this knife (and santokus in general) is the “scoopability factor.” You know, the way you can use the wide blade to scoop up what you you’ve just chopped and toss it in the pot. This baby’s got a high scoopability factor—3/8” wider (or taller) than the Ikon santoku above.

If you’d like to save $30 and don’t care about the scalloped edge (it only comes into play when you’re pull-cutting through something thick anyway), buy the model that’s not “hollow edge.”

Wusthof Amici Santoku, 7-inch

BUY NOW $280–300 @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Wusthof Amici santoku

Although billed as a santoku, if you compare the shape and width of the Amici santoku’s blade to the chai dao above, it’s pretty similar. The main distinction would be a straighter cutting edge. And it has a wonderful scoopability factor, too—all good things.

Compared to the Classic Ikon santoku (see above), you’re getting seriously more blade—mainly in the width—along with a chunkier handle. If you desire a svelte, agile santoku, this is not the one for you.

On the other hand, next to the Amici chef knife, this santoku is lighter (by an ounce) and more compact. Yet it carries the same amount of cutting power. At the heel, the blade is a full half-inch wider than the chef, and it retains most of that width all the way down to the tip. Thus, even though the Amici santoku is, technically, an inch shorter than the chef, it should be able to handle the same amount of food prep.

So if you were looking for a more agile go-to blade, but didn’t want to sacrifice your ability to speed chop a stack of zucchinis, this santoku might be a way go.

Performance-wise this knife is extremely promising. Mine came from the factory uber-sharp (sharper than the Amici chef). And although the thickness of the blade at the spine is rather German (i.e. on the thicker side), by the time you reach the cutting edge the metal slims down to Japanese thin.

Like the Amici chef, the olive-wood handle is comfy, the balance perfect (better balanced than the Classic Ikon santoku), and the finishing impeccable. But it does carry the same lofty price tag. If you’re looking for beauty and performance, there are better values to be had. (Miyabi comes to mind, but most of their knives are made with Japanese steel.) Otherwise—if you’re seeking a Western-Japanese hybrid, hewn from German steel with Mediterranean style—the Amici santoku is highly worth investigating.

Wusthof Classic nakiriWusthof Classic Nakiri, 7-inch

BUY NOW $150–170
@ Amazon / Sur La Table

The Classic Nakiri has gotten raves on Amazon and near to nil negative reviews—which is rare nowadays with so many opinions out there. So, it definitely has something to say for itself.

I own this blade myself and find my hand reaching for it often for small, everyday tasks. Like cutting up a pickle for lunch—and then the sandwich I’ve just assembled. Stuff like that. I think the fact it’s compact and lacks a sharp point (nothing to dodge) is what makes it so companionable. Although it’s also great for typical meal-prep tasks like chopping up onions (preferably not too large) or quartering a cantaloupe.

The blade is two inches wide which makes it wider than the Classic Ikon santoku (1 3/4”), but a touch narrower than the chai dao at it’s widest. (To give you some perspective—your average 8-inch chef knife is 1 3/4” wide at the heel.)

What’s nice about this size is that, although it’s wider than a standard chefs, it’s not as wide and cumbersome as a traditional Chinese cleaver. So, you can chop and scoop without banging into things or catching yourself with the edge of the blade. Plus, it’s got a rounded tip which, again, makes it a touch safer.

This is the ideal knife for someone who does a whole lot of chopping and dicing in the kitchen, but not humongous quantities. And, look out—you might get hooked! Many of the Amazon reviewers have been converted to using the nakiri for almost everything they do.

JAPANESE CHEF KNIVES For more of the skinny on Japanese chef knives, please visit Best Japanese Chef Knives — Six Recommendations.

• • •

Wusthof Knife Sets and Knife Block Sets—Recommendations

Kitchen knife sets are always tricky because it’s nearly impossible to get exactly the knives you want. You invariably get a knife (or honing steel or kitchen shears) you don’t really need—the 6-inch utility knife being the classic culprit. (Although after 20 years of neglect, I’ve finally found a couple of uses for mine. Woo-hoo!)

Nonetheless, a knife set can serve the purpose of jump-starting your kitchen with a bevy of blades without having to go through an exhausting series of buying decisions. And it can also make quite a splash as a gift. So sets have their place. (Please note: If your knife set does not come with a block, you should buy one, or a knife storage drawer, or at least some knife covers. Protect those edges!) (Below: Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-piece block set.)

Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-piece knife block set

Here’s the roadmap: First, I’m going to divide the knife collections into three basic categories: 1) two-piece chef and paring knife sets, 2) medium-sized sets, and 3) full-sized sets. Then, within each category, I’ll focus on the six Wusthof knife lines I’ve recommended above, touching on sets/blocks worth considering, and drawing some distinctions.

Oh, one other important detail. Just because a Wusthof knife set isn’t in this listing, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it. This is not a definitive list, just a sampling of sets to consider with some useful guidelines.

On your mark, get set, go!

THE CORE THREE A bare-bones kitchen can get by with just three essential knives. Curious? Check out How Many Knives Do You Really Need?

Wusthof Chef and Paring Knife Sets

This is my favorite type of knife set to recommend because you get two out of the three core knives every kitchen should have—a chef and a paring knife. Pure muscle, no fat.

The sets below feature an 8-inch chef and a 3 1/2-paring knife. An 8-inch chef knife is the standard for home kitchens and there’s a reason why—it’s big, but not too big. These sets run from around $225 to $290. There are cheaper chef-paring knife sets that feature 6-inch chef knives. But unless you know for sure you want a shorter chefs, I don’t recommend them. (Below: Wusthof Classic 2-piece starter set.)

Wusthof Classic 2-piece set

Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Starter Knife Set
@ Amazon / Sur La Table

As I’ve already mentioned, santoku knives (and the other Japanese models I recommend) can stand-in for traditional chef knives. The size I recommend (comparable to an 8-inch chefs) is a 7-inch blade. And that’s the size that comes with the sets below.

Wusthof Classic Ikon 2-Piece Asian Santoku and Paring Knife Set
@ Amazon

Wusthof Classic 2-Piece Asian Santoku and Paring Knife Set
@ Amazon
(Below: the Classic 2-piece Asian santoku and paring knife set.)
Wusthof Classic 2-piece Asian set
For those who already own an 8-inch chef and are adding on, or are certain they want a smaller chef knife, here’s a set with a 6-inch chef:

Wusthof Classic Ikon 2-piece Knife Set (6-inch chef)
@ Amazon / Sur La Table

Wusthof 200th Anniversary,
Limited Edition, 2-piece Knife Set

@ Amazon
In celebration of 200 years of knife making (since 1814), Wusthof issued a limited edition 2-piece set in a vintage style circa 1920. Wusthof’s way of making whoopee.

Wusthof Anniversary 2-piece set handlesThe handles are real wood, rosewood to be exact, the rivets are brass, and the blades, and this the most important part, are forged from carbon steel—not high-carbon stainless. Carbon steel is what most knives were made of before the stainless revolution. This sets these knives apart from all the other forged knives I’ve covered in this article and here’s why: 1) carbon steel is harder (HRC 59) than high-carbon stainless and will take a sharper edge and stay sharp longer; 2) unlike stainless, carbon steel corrodes and is susceptible to rust if you do not keep it dry after using. It will also gradually develop a dull patina that will give it a cool, vintage look. (The set comes with a little bottle of oil you should use to protect them.)

Wusthof Anniversary 2-piece knife set
Excuse me while I effuse, but these are seriously beautiful knives. Well-conceived and painstakingly executed. I think I like the feel of this chef knife even better than the Classic Ikon—something about the balance and the natural wood. Please be aware that it’s a 9-inch chef and a 4-inch parer, but don’t let that extra inch on the chef scare you. The blade’s so light and nimble in the hand, you’ll hardly be aware.

Wusthof Medium-Size Knife Sets

If you need the core knives for a home kitchen and you want them all to look alike and fit in their own block—this is the type of set you’re looking for. Most often it will come in the same configuration: paring, chef, bread, utility, shears, honing steel, block. You can often find different types of wood for the block, Acacia being my personal fave. These sets range from around $495 to $900.(Below: Wusthof Amici 6-piece knife block set)

Wusthof Amici Olivewood set of six
Wusthof Amici 6-piece Knife Block Set
@ Amazon
Core three, plus santoku (yay!), and a serrated sandwich knife—which I think is much more useful than a utility knife. And the handsome Italian cowhide leather block. Bought separately, these would all add up to $100–200 more.

Wusthof Classic 7-piece Knife Block Set
@ Amazon

with Acacia Slim Block
@ Amazon

The slim design and Acacia block might be worth paying extra for—it is a beauty. And not as massive.

Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-piece Knife Block Set (also with a Walnut block)
@ Sur La Table / Amazon
same in Classic Ikon Creme (with slim block)
@ Amazon

Wusthof Ikon (Blackwood) 7-piece Knife Block Set
@ Amazon

Beautiful, top-of-the-line set. Four knives: 3 1/2-inch paring, 6-inch utility, 8-inch bread, 8-inch chef—and shears, honing steel, block.

HONING STEELS I am not crazy about the honing steels that come with most knife sets. They are usually made of a ridged steel that is tougher on your knives’ edges than is necessary. I recommend using a ceramic hone—for more info see my article What’s a Honing Steel?

Wusthof Large-Size Knife Sets

These jumbo knife sets define “pricy” and are a bit over the top. One of the main elements bumping up the price are the steak knives. Those who really really crave forged, high-quality steak knives along with their kitchen knives will need to pony up.

Steak knives aside—if you’ve got the budget, enjoy cooking, and have more than one chef in your kitchen (like our house), you’ll probably find the extra blades come in handy. Especially on special occasions and crunch cooking times like holidays and big dinner parties. These big-boy sets run from (take a big breath) $1,000 to $2,500. (Below: Wusthof Classic 36-piece knife block set.)

Wusthof Classic 36-piece knife block set
Wusthof Classic 36-piece Knife Block Set
@ Amazon

This puppy’s in a league of it’s own. I can’t imagine ever needing another knife to do anything. Multiple paring knives, multiple chef knives and santoku knives, multiple carving knives, a cleaver, the list goes on and on, and, of course, for good measure, a couple of those really weird-looking cheese knives.

Wusthof Classic Ikon 22-piece Block Knife Set
@ Amazon

This is just about the largest set you can buy in the Classic Ikon line. (OK, there’s one larger featuring 26 items.) What I like most about this set is that you get two chef knives and two santokus. It’s fun to have lots of options! The official list: paring knife, two utility knives, bread knife and sandwich serrated, 6- and 8-inch chef knives, 5- and 7-inch santoku, boning knife, 8-inch granton carver (no fork), and eight steak knives. Plus, the shears, steel, and block.

• • •

Wusthof Steak Knife Sets—Recommendations

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of paying a premium for steak knives. Most of us don’t use them often enough for their sharpitude to be a major issue. They just need to look nice and cut reasonably well. Thus, in this one instance, I’m not a stickler about recommending only the premium Wusthof forged lines (Classic, Ikon, etc.) for a steak knife set.

Below is a sampling of sets that cover a range of blade quality as well as style, fit, and finish. In my opinion, any one of them could do the job. Priced from $55 to $375.

Wusthof stainless steel steak knives, set of 6

Wusthof Stainless Steel Steak Knives, Set of 6
@ Amazon
Set of 8, with Wooden Case
@ Amazon

Rave reviews, best value, serrated blade. And, unlike everything else Wusthof-ian, they’re made in China. All the sites that sell these say they’re forged, which doesn’t make sense. I’m sure they’re stamped, but it’s been hard to verify. So what? They’re only steak knives :)

Wusthof Gourmet steak knives, 6-piece set with blockWusthof Gourmet Steak Knives, Set of 6 and Storage Block
@ Amazon

The Gourmet line is stamped, not forged. Rave reviews as well.

Wusthof Classic steak knives, 4-piece setWusthof Classic Steak Knives, Set of 4
@ Sur La Table / Amazon

Forged . . . and you pay for it! But side-by-side, the look and feel (next to the Gourmet), is a step up.

Wusthof Classic Ikon steak knives, set of four with boxWusthof Classic Ikon Steak Knives, Set of 4 with Wooden Case
@ Sur La Table / Amazon

Wusthof Classic Ikon Creme steak knife set, 4-piece, with wood case.Classic Ikon Creme w/case
@ Amazon

Decisions, decisions. . .ha!

Ikon Blackwood w/case @ Amazon
Top of the Pops!
Wusthof Ikon steak knives w/leather case
One can dream, can’t one. . .?

• • •

Wusthof Wrap-Up

Hope you’ve had a successful tour through the world of Wusthof! I’ve tried to give you a roadmap that you can return to again and again when you’re feeling lost. Don’t worry if at the moment it all feels like a blur. Just remember this one, most important, thing—stick to the forged lines. That’s where Wusthof’s reputation lies.

Oh. . .and have fun in the kitchen with!

Wusthof chef knives rack

113 Responses

  1. Thank you veru much for your info. I am disappointed but I will have to take your advise and go with the Classic one.

  2. First of all, let me thank you for your super review.
    I am interested in Classic Icon Chef knife. Do you know if there’s an extra wide blade chef knife in the Classic Icon line?

    1. Hi Rudolf,

      I just double-checked. In the Classic Ikon line, Wusthof only offers the six-inch chef knife in an extra-wide model, not in the standard eight-inch model. Which is rather odd, because the eight-inch chef is the most popular knife model ever. And you would think they would start there, no? Tis’ a pity. . .

      I don’t know if this has always been the case or if this is a recent development. But if you really love the extra-wide size and need it in an eight-inch knife, I would simply buy the Classic. If it doesn’t match your set, that’s OK. My knives are a total mish-mash and I think it’s fun!

  3. Again, thank you for the comprehensive reviews! After much reading online I have come to like the Crafter Series, particularly the chefs Knife, but I could not find any Info on your site about them. Is that because you see an issue with them? Could you recommend them? I could only find that some people thought it to be too light for a “workhorse” chef knife. I wont be handling gigantic cuts of meat but I’d like to butcher a chicken or cut through squash without thinking I´ll abuse the knife somehow. Thank you in advance for your opinion!


  4. Thanks for the wonderful review. There’s a lot to absorb!

    I have $250 to spend and need the three basic kitchen knives (and apparently a ceramic hone). I cook for myself and husband 6-7 nights a week and am vegan. I chop a lot of veggies, and obviously, I don’t cook meat. I bake artisan bread, but we rarely have bagels or pastries.

    I’m pretty sure I want to go with a Wusthof for the chef knife, but beyond that I’m uncertain. Even though I cook a lot, my knife skills aren’t great. We have terrible knives, and I’ve never learned proper technique. I hope to study some videos on knife skills (we live in the middle of nowhere, so no in-person classes) once I have decent tools!

    Any recommendations you could give would be greatly appreciated. Since we are socially isolating, I’ve spent the day reading about knives. My head is spinning!


    1. Hi Beth!

      Welcome to a new universe of cooking with sharp, high-quality knives. They will rock your world. . .but you will need to take good care of them.

      Even though you lean towards Wusthof, I can’t help but feeling that you would thrive with a Japanese blade. Because of the amount of cooking you do and the amount of veggies you must prep—a Japanese blade would allow you to soar. (Thin, sharp blades chopping and slicing.)

      There are only two reasons why you wouldn’t want to go this route: 1) if you peeled a lot of acorn squash or other hard-skinned vegetables, OR tended to treat your tools roughly and didn’t want to have to worry about the brittleness of Japanese steel, OR 2) you just hated the feel of a Japanese blade and didn’t think you could ever acclimate to it (you could).

      At any rate, I have listed two possible plans below with some recommended current deals.

      I can’t recommend more strongly the importance of learning how to hone and doing it.

      Yes, please teach yourself some knife skills. You don’t have to be a whiz, but a little technique can go a long way. You can use the same techniques for different foods and adapt them. The main thing to understand is that it is the horizontal sliding motion that does the cutting, NOT vertical pressing straight down. Check out two of my videos as a start:

      How to Chop an Onion. . .
      How to Cut a Pineapple. . .

      PLAN #1
      Wusthof Classic 8-inch Chef w/paring: $170
      Wüsthof – Two Piece Starter Set – 3.5″ Pairing Knife and 8″ Cooks Knife (9755)
      Mercer OR Dexter-Russell Bread knife: $ 15
      Mercer Culinary M23210 Millennia Wide Wavy Edge Bread Knife, 10-Inch
      Dexter-Russell Basics P94804B 10″ Scalloped Slicer/Bread Knife

      Subtotal: $185 / $65 leftover
      Messermeister ceramic hone: $25
      Messermeister Ceramic Rod Knife Sharpener, 12-Inch
      OR, MAC ceramic hone: $55
      Mac Knife Ceramic Honing Rod, 10-1/2-Inch

      Subtotal: $25 or $55
      TOTAL: $205 OR $240

      PLAN #2
      Henckels Four Star, 4-inch paring: $30
      Zwilling J.A. Henckels 31070-103 Twin Four Star, 4-Inch Paring Knife
      Mercer OR Dexter-Russell bread knife: $15 [see link above]

      Subtotal: $45 / $205 left for Japanese knife like MAC or Shun

      MAC MTH-80 chef: $145
      Mac Knife MTH-80 Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife, 8 Inch
      MAC ceramic hone: $55 [see link above]
      Subtotal: $200
      TOTAL: $245


      A terrific chef-knife deal at the moment:

      Global G2 chef knife, 8-inch: $87
      Global 8″ Chef’s Knife

      That’s all for now! Please let me know if I can help some more. . .

      Best, KKG

    1. Legende came out right after I’d posted (what I thought was) my definitive article on the Wusthof brand and I did have gumption to dive back in and update. Especially since it was a WS exclusive.

      Here’s my long-distance take (having never seen or felt one in the flesh): It’s not stamped like the Gourmet, so it’s higher quality like the the Classic, Classic Ikon, or Grand Prix II. I think there are three things that differentiate it: 1) the handle–different texture and shape, 2) the shape of the blade–more of a continual curve with not much flat area, perfect for rocking, and it might be wider, 3) the thickness of the blade–this is just a wild guess. But it might be thinner than those other three mentioned above. And then again, it might be much like a Classic Ikon with a different handle.

      Hope this helps!


  5. Do you know if the Wustoff Classic 9 inch carving knife will fit in the Wusthoff knife block without hitting the bottom thereby damaging the tip?

    1. Hi Sue,

      Yes, yes, yes! That’s one reason why I love it. There’s a 9-inch Wusthof Classic Ikon resting in my 22-slot Wusthof knife block as I write. And I just tested it out in my slightly smaller 17-slot block and it fits fine as well. As far as any smaller blocks, I cannot guarantee. But my best guess is that if you use the top slot, the tip should clear.

      The only possibly problem I can forsee is that the top slot (as many of the upper slots) is designed to handle the width of a chef knife. So your narrow slicer will be looser and more wobbly than necessary. But it will still work :)


  6. Great read!

    I have now been led down the path to quality knife ownership. I started off with 4″ extra wide paring, 4-1/2″ cooks knife, and the 8″ extra wide cooks knife all in the Classic line. I was able to get a great deal from a local brick-and-mortar store for $200! I shopped online for a week prior to going in and the best deal I found was $295 for those three. Armed with this knowledge, I went in to the store and found that they were able to beat the best online deal I found without even asking. The store have been around since 1959, and I will buy every knife I need from them for life.

    1. Hey Delta! Thanks for sharing your story. Glad KKG was able to lead you down the path. Yes, you never know how competitive a store might be willing to be.

      Have fun cooking with your new knives!

      Best, KKG

  7. I’m researching quality knives of multiple lifetime durability to add to my wedding registry and your analysis here is absolutely comprehensive. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your expertise!

  8. I am a fuss-pot and research everything before buying. When it came to choosing home kitchen knives though, I have been overwhelmed by all the brand choices. I live in Ontario Canada and not conveniently close to a large city. So other than Bed-Bath-Beyond, few stores carry top-of-the-line knife brands.

    Then I stumbled on the Wusthof line after watching a couple of chefs on YouTube. So I started researching but again, was confused by the large selection from their various lines (Classic, Grande Prix, Creme, etc). No sites clarified the differences. And, then…I found this website and it has answered all my questions—even about sharpening! I can’t thank you enough for all your expertise!

    I still haven’t chosen which of the Wusthof lines I will purchase, but being drawn to the Creme colour, I may choose my basic 3-4 pieces from that line. Just wondering, however, since the handles are a lighter wood colour, would staining ever be a possibility?

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for sharing your journey. . .I don’t think you’re alone. There are soooo many knife brands and models out there that it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in a ocean of knives :)

      Regarding the Wusthof Classic Ikon Creme:
      Remember that, like the Classic and Classic Ikon, the handle is not actually wood. So it will be easier to clean and should resist staining much better than wood. Nonetheless, even plastic—especially in light colors—can stain. So if you let it soak in raspberry juice it might not survive scot-free. But let me query one of my sources at Wusthof and see if I can confirm.

      In the meanwhile, let me also remind you that the Classic Ikon Creme is one of the smaller collections. . .although it does pretty much have the basics, around 18 knives :)

      Best, KKG

    2. I heard back from my contact at Wusthof who said she has owned a set of Cremes for nine years and has experienced “zero staining.” So it looks like it’s not something to worry about :)

  9. Hi, I want to say your article is extremely thorough and written in a very clear, easy to read language. Thanks!

    I have owned a set of Classic knives for 8 years or so and I’ve used a “wild game” set they make which came with Gourmet knives at the time.

    I want to get my brother a starter knife set for his first apartment, but the $350 I paid for my Classic set is out of reach. Currently, there are sales on a 12-piece Gourmet set (with the stamped knives) for $150, including a block and steak knives. Have your thoughts changed on the Gourmet line?

    I considered getting him a 3-piece set of Classic, however the utility of a complete knife set will likely outweigh the benefits of a quality knife set for him at this point in his life. So if I would be wasting my money with the Gourmet set, I will get him a Henckels or Chicago cutlery set for half the price to tide him over until he will appreciate finer knives.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Michael,

      1) Whatever you do, please don’t buy Chicago Cutlery. Buy a lesser line Wusthof or Henckels first. BTW. . .there is NO difference in quality between Wusthof and Henckels. They are the same steel and very, very similar manufacturing process. But you must compare comparable lines. . .apples to apples.

      2) Since finishing my definitive article on Wusthof, I’ve heard conflicting reports from the manufacturer about how much difference there really is between the stamped and forged lines. So the Gourmet might wear pretty well. They definitely will feel lighter than any forged line though.

      3) I’m still a big believer in quality over quantity. (For example, your brother doesn’t need steak knives to start with. You can give him some next year if you want.) Sooo, its it were me, I’d build on the core three:

      But you know your brother best. If you think his needs would be better served by quantity over quality, then go for it!

      Here are some other quality ideas I would consider (some require stretching your budget):

      Global 3-piece

      Probably my first pick as far a quality and sharpitude are concerned.

      Henckels Four Star 12-piece

      Yes, there are steak knives. But the quality of the blades should be higher than the Wusthof Gourmet.

      Wusthof Classic 6-piece

      Less is more ;)

      Henckels Four Star 3-piece

      Fantastic deal. . .

      Please feel free to ask more questions! Also, consider a high-quality two-piece set—chef and paring knife—and supplement with an inexpensive bread knife (now or later).

      Best, KKG

  10. Any thoughts on finding discontinued Wusthof patterns? We have a ton of the Grand Prix pieces (before the Grand Prix II came out) and recently a well-meaning house guest accidentally melted the handle of one of the steak knives in the dishwasher. The smell was horrible and it’s been ridiculous trying to find a replacement. Plus, any online searches always point me to the Grand Priz II.

    Thanks for your expertise in advance!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Wow, what an annoying house guest. You should charge them :)

      All kidding aside. . .no, I’m sorry I’m not aware of any secret, insider’s websites where you could find a single, original Grand Prix steak knife—or even a set of originals. They’ve been discontinued for much too looooong.

      So, if it were me, I offer two solutions:
      1) Buy 4-piece set of Gran Prix II steak knives and mix and match. You could get them on Amazon, or even cheaper (and still new), on eBay.

      OR. . .

      2) Take a step down and buy a box of the Wusthof stainless steel steak knives. They won’t perform as well as the Gran Prix, but will probably be more than respectable (they get great reviews). Plus, IMHO, they look just as nice or nicer.

      Best, KKG

    1. Hi Steve,

      Although I own a Sabatier carving knife, I have no personal experience with the K Sabatier brand. Sabatier is a particularily odd brand in that it never was properly trademarked. So there are numerous companies that are allowed to operate under the “Sabatier” name.

      This said, my research tells me that the Wusthof and K Sabatier should be similar, but have some subtle differences:

      – They are both forged. But the Wusthof’s steel has an HRC of 58 while K Sabatier’s is 54-56 which is a bit softer. Thus, the Wusthof should have slightly better edge retention, but not be quite as quick to hone or sharpen.

      – The shape of the blades will differ slightly. The K Sabatier should be thinner, shorter, and pointier than the Wusthof. The belly of the Sabatier will have less curve (making it not as easy to rock) and the width will be narrower allowing less knuckle room. On the other hand, the K Sabatier should feel a touch nimbler and lighter. Which features do you prefer?

      – And, finally, Wusthof prides itself for being on the cusp of technology and its brand name carries more weight than K Sabatier. For example: Wusthof has its PEtec patented sharpening system which helps ensure knives come from the factory as consistently sharp as possible.

      – Oh, and Wusthof will cost you more.

      Remember: 1) there is no, one perfect chef, and 2) if you’re finicky about feel and design, you should probably try your future chef knife out, hold it in your hand.

      Hope this helps. Happy shopping!

      Best, KKG

  11. I purchased a small serrated Wusthof from Williams and Sonoma. I noticed the little red label starting to peel off of the handle and became concerned that maybe I was sold a fake. A little research and I found that that is normal and nothing to worry about. But what I then noticed is that all the Wusthof knives I see have their logo engraved or marked on the blade and mine does not. There is no marking whatsoever on the knife. Should I be concerned? Should I contact Williams and Sonoma about this knife?

    1. Hi Steve,

      I don’t think you have anything to worry about. If you’d bought it from Amazon online, that might be a different story—Wusthof has had some complaints about piracy from Amazon customers (nothing rampant). Did you buy it from a bricks-and-mortar store or from the W&S website?

      I have a number of Wusthof knives. My chef knife, santoku, and large bread knife all have the red logo/name embossed on the blade. But my small, super-narrow bread knife and my paring knife do not. They have a black, monotone logo/name printed on the blade. My guess is that it depends mostly on the size of the knife blade.

      Best, KKG

  12. I am from Slovakia, I am 56 years old and I like to cook and your site was fascinated by the most practical advice. Thank you again for all the answers. I decide between 9 cm and 12 cm because I want this knife to use universal as a paring, pricking and boning knife

  13. Good day! Thank you for your response.

    I chose the 9-inch Classic Ikon because it has finger protection for only half of the blade height. I do not want to protect my fingers from the entire blade because when sharpening on a stone, the protection (the bolster) will make it harder to sharpen the blade.

    I still have one question: How long should the Wusthof Classic Ikon paring knife be? 9 cm or 12 cm?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Ivan,

      First off: 9 cm = 3.5 inches; 12cm = 4.75 inches

      Most paring knives come with either 3.5-inch or 4-inch blades. 4.75 inches is really long for a paring knife blade and the knife becomes more of a short utility knife.

      My understanding is that the Wusthof Classic Ikon line is no exception and the paring knives are either 3.5-inch or 4-inch. Wusthof calls the 4-inch a “wide” paring knife, but, to my eyes, the blade pretty much looks the size and shape of your average 4-inch paring knife.

      Hope this helps :)

      Best, KKG

      P.S. By the way, where are you from. . .I’m curious.

      1. I’m just going through the agony of choosing a fixed set (for economy) and individual pieces (for utility). I think 3.5 inches is the sweet spot for paring knives. I’m considering a 3.5-inch—half bolster. My 3-inch with full bolster sees a lot of action so it gets sharpened a lot. Between size and sharpening issues of the full bolster, it’s starting to look more like a baby boning knife.

        Instead of a larger paring knife I’ll go with the 4.5-inch kitchen surfer (aka Asian utility knife). That pairing (…sorry) will work well for me.

  14. Good day. First of all, I apologize for the fact that this text is translated by Google translators because I cannot speak English. Now the question. . .

    A year ago I bought a 9-inch chef knife recommended by this article—for a good price I chose Wusthof Cordon Bleu. But I was not happy with it because it was thin and did not even have basic finger protection. I sold it and now want to buy a 9-inch Classic Ikon chef knife. But I’m worried about it being as thin as the Cordon Bleu because I’ve read that it’s thinner than the Wusthof Classic. Can you please confirm or refute this information?

    And one more question: What three basic knives should I have in my household as a fan of cooking?

    Thank you for the fantastic article and for the advice. Have a nice day.

    1. Hi Ivan,
      Sorry the Wusthof Cordon Bleu didn’t work out for you. But there are so many excellent chef knives out there, I’m sure you’ll fine the right one(s) for your needs. To your question. . .

      1) I own a Wusthof Classic Ikon and just measured (with a caliper) the thickness of the spine near the heel. It’s 3.0 mm.

      2) I do not own a Wusthof Classic, but I do own a Henckels Pro S which is very very similar to the Wusthof. It’s thickness is 3.0 mm.

      3) I seriously doubt that the Wusthof Classic Ikon is any thinner than the Classic. I bet they are both 3.0 mm.

      4) I do not own a Wusthof Cordon Bleu chef knife, but I know it’s designed to weigh 30 percent less than the Wusthof Classic. The Cordon Bleu lacks a bolster (that extra hunk of metal at the heel of the blade that protects your fingers from slipping onto the blade) which makes it weigh less than the Classic. But the absence of a bolster cannot, alone, account for 30 percent less weight. Thus, the blades on the Wusthof Classic and the Classic Ikon must both be thicker than the Cordon Bleu. I’m sure of it.

      5) If you miss not have the finger protection of the bolster, then I don’t understand why you would want to buy the Classic Ikon. Because the Classic Ikon, like the Cordon Bleu, does NOT have a bolster. Of the three knife lines in this discussion, only the Classic line has a bolster.

      Also, please be aware, a thin blade is not necessarily your enemy. . .it offers less resistance as it cuts, and therefore, can be your friend.

      To your second question, What are the most essential knives to have in your kitchen? They are: A chef knife (8-inch minimum), a paring knife, and a bread knife. Next on my list would be a 6-inch chef and a boning knife. See How Many Kitchen Knives Do You Really Need? for more info :)

      Best, KKG

  15. Thank you for the article. I’ve been going back and forth between Wusthof and Henckels… and can’t decide. Why do you like Wusthof over Henckels?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Clay,

      Actually, I don’t categorically prefer Wusthof over Henckels. In my article, Best Chef Knives—Six Recommendations, I say that some people do, but I don’t mean to imply I’m one of those people.

      I think that Wusthof and Henckels are pretty comparable. As long as you’re comparing similar lines—very important. So, for example, you’d need to compare the Henckels Pro S to Wusthof’s Classic or Classic Ikon for an even comparison.

      I inherited a Henckels Pros S chef knife that I love and have used for years. After being sharpened by Seattle Knife Sharpening (and honed regularly), it used to be my go-to knife. It still has an amazingly sharp edge on it that can slice tomatoes cleanly without having to saw back and forth.

      I also currently own a Wusthof Classic Ikon chef and santoku, both of which I like. The santoku came from the factory much sharper than the chef knife, but after getting the chef knife professionally sharpened, they both now perform similarly.

      I really wouldn’t sweat the details of brands so much. What’s more important is to buy a quality line from a quality brand and then don’t abuse the edge and hone regularly. And when it gets too dull, get it sharpened by a quality professional sharpening service. Done!

      You should also check my article Quality Kitchen Knives on Sale for more ideas. . .

  16. Love this article. Just outstanding.

    I’m wanting to put together my own set of Wusthof Classic knives because the sets are indeed pricey and sometimes overly redundant. I also want to include knives that don’t show up in their sets. If I buy a Wusthof knife block to house their knives, I realize I need to make sure the slots are wide enough and long enough to accommodate the size of each knife.

    Any idea where I can find this information on Wusthof’s knife blocks? Or are the lengths inside the blocks all the same?

    Thank you for any help or insight you can provide.


    1. Hi Tom,

      You know I have to laugh. . .I’ve been meaning to publish a blog post on knife blocks for four or five years. I did all the research and never have found time to finish it.

      In the meanwhile, I think you’re just going to have do some trial and error and buy more than one block until you find the right fit. (Or fits.)

      OK, I’m going to just dump some core research right here in this comments section. Please understand it’s my rough notes and I cannot be responsible for any inaccuracies or anachronisms. I might need to delete it later if I ever publish the post so that Google doesn’t punish me for duplicate content. But here you go. . .


      Large and Large Knives Solutions

      Wüsthof 22-Slot Knife Block
      Beechwood block has room for three cook’s knives (including wides) up to 10″ long. [SurLaTable website is incorrect. The top three slots can handle a 10-inch blade.] Eight steak knife slots in base. Ten remaining slots allow you to mix and match knives and accessories for a customized knife set. Wipe clean. 12″ x 5½” x 9″. Made in Germany.
      Pros: Solves all knife needs, especially large chef’s
      Cons: Quality of wood might not be as nice as some; pretty massive.

      The dimensions are as follows are the same as our Sur La Table 22-slot Knife Block.
      There are 12 smaller slots on this block that measure approx 1″ long X 1/8″ wide. These are set aside for your smaller knives such as your steak knives, utility and paring knives as well.
      The slot for the scissors measures approximately 1 1/4″ L X 1/4″ W
      The slot for the honing steel measures approximately 3/4″ X 3/4″
      The remaining slots measure as follows:
      2 1/2″ X 1/4″ [10″ deep]
      1 1/8″ X 1/8″ [10″ deep]
      2 1/8″ X 1/4″ (X2) [10″ deep]
      1 3/4″ X 1/16″
      1 1/4″ X 1/16″ (2)
      3 1/8″ X 1/4″ (mini-cleaver slot)

      Sur La Table 22-Slot Knife Block
      “Safely store your knives within arm’s reach on your countertop or shelf. Block has slots for 22 knives, including three chef’s knives, eight steak knives, a wide cleaver and shears. Mix and match your favorite, most-used knives and create your own perfect set that neatly tucks away in this beautiful wood block.”

      Beechwood block has exact same specs as the Wusthof—but more nicely-finished.

      The dimensions are as follows:

      There are 12 smaller slots on this block that measure approx 1″ long X 1/8″ wide. These are set aside for your smaller knives such as your steak knives, utility and paring knives as well.

      The slot for the scissors measures approximately 1 1/4″ L X 1/4″ W
      The slot for the honing steel measures approximately 3/4″ X 3/4″
      The remaining slots measure as follows:
      2 1/2″ X 1/4″ [10″ deep]
      1 1/8″ X 1/8″ [10″ deep]
      2 1/8″ X 1/4″ (X2) [10″ deep]
      1 3/4″ X 1/16″
      1 1/4″ X 1/16″ (2)
      3 1/8″ X 1/4″ (mini-cleaver slot)

      Shun 22-Slot Bamboo Knife Storage Block
      Bamboo block slots are not quite as large as the above blocks from Sur La Table. But it does have a cleaver slot.
      “This Shun Bamboo Knife Block has 22 knife slots, which includes slots for shears and a sharpening steel. Also includes a slot for a cleaver and 6 slots for steak knives. Here are some specific stats on the block:Size: 13″ D x 9″ H x 6″ W. Weight: 8.75 lbs”

      2″ Slots 5
      1 1/2″ Slots 3
      1 1/8″ Slots 5
      Cleaver Slot 1 (4 inches wide)
      Steel Slot 1
      Shears Slot 1
      Under the face there are 6 Steak Knives Slots.9 lbs
      4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)


      Wusthof Hardwood 35-Slot Knife Block

      Comment:“I did notice that the 12″ roast carver knife when installed in the longest slot (on top) was touching my granite counter top. So that knife had to go into a drawer. I suppose if I had bought the swivel version, that extra raised space would have helped. Still, the block is actually about 11-1/2″ at its longest, and my 12″ roast slicer blade is more like 12-1/2″. So beware on your extra long blades if you don’t have the swivel base.”

      There are 9 horizontal rows, and I’m calling the top row “1” and the lowest (vertical) row “9”. All slots are slightly over 3/16″ high (thick?) except as stated. All measurements are in inches so when I err – it’s understating the slot size. I suspect the damn thing has metric dimensions, which is an abomination of a different color. I’m knocking it down from 5 to 4 stars because of the kinda narrow slots on rows 2, 3, and 4. They could provide more variety here.

      1. 9/16 square; 2 9/16; 2 9/16
      2. 2 1/16; 2 1/16; 2 1/16
      3. 2 1/16; 2 1/16; 2 1/16
      4. 2 1/16; 2 1/16; 2 1/16
      5. 1 1/2; 1 1/2; 1 1/2; 1 1/2
      6. 3 9/16; 1 5/16 X 1/2
      7. 1 5/16 X 3/8; 1; 1 1/2; 2 1/16
      8. 1; 1; 1; 1 5/16; 1 7/16
      9. All 8 slots are 1″ high and on 27/32 centers.

      Sur La Table 35-Slot Knife Block, Cherry
      Cherry knife block: The 35 slot knife block has a knife slot area that is 7 1/2″ wide by 7″ tall. Overall, it is 10″ tall by 13″ wide.
      The top two slots can handle 12” blades. The 9 slots below can all handle 10” blades.


      Let me know if this helps any. . .I’d really like to know :)


      1. I hope you will publish something on your thoughts about knife blocks. In various discussions there is much discussion about dulling or damaging the blade—a valid concern, but one I have a solution to via sharpening. What I’ve found is that no matter how careful I am, it is way too easy to hit the tip of the knife into the block on occasion, so, over time, the tip becomes rounded. I’m not sure if one block is better than another for this problem. I will likely research magnetic blocks and look for those less prone to scratch the knives. I’d appreciate your thoughts/recommendations (I’d love to design and build my own).

        1. Hi Alan,

          Personally, I think knife blocks are just fine for storing kitchen knives, even those with super-fine edges. Most of my knives are stored in blocks. But it does matter how you use the wooden block. If you are constantly shoving your Shun chef knife into a snug-fitting slot and grazing the cutting edge against the wood, then that’s dumb. You are gradually dulling the edge for no good reason. All my knives are ALWAYS at least a 1/4-inch narrower than the width of the slot they’re stored in to give them plenty of clearance. Plus, I ALWAYS make a point of gently pushing the spine of the knife against the side of the slot as I insert the blade into the block, so that I can be certain the cutting edge is not rubbing against the wood. This kind of care protects knife edges.

          As far as the tips are concerned, I don’t think any of my knives touch the base of the slot they’re in, so there’s never any contact to wear the tip down. And it doesn’t seem that hard to get a knife into a slot without bumping the tip. Are you sure you’re not rounding your knife tips through incorrect honing? If, when you hone, you put too much pressure on the tip as you finish your stroke, you can gradually round it. Instead, you should consciously reduce pressure at the end of your stroke and allow the knife tip to lightly slide away from (and off) the steel/hone.

          Magnetic bars have their own set of problems. Wooden bars that do NOT allow the knives to touch metal on metal are fine. The magnets are hidden and protected by wood. But magnetic strips that allow knife edges to slap up against the metal magnetic strip seem like a very bad idea. Even if you are super careful, the magnets have a tendency to grab and slap the knife edge up against the magnet. Every time you do this you are lightly dinging the super-thin cutting edge of the knife. And the same thing goes when you pull it away from the metal magnetic bar. You constantly run the risk of allowing the cutting edge to press into the metal before you pull it away. You are adding unnecessary dings to your knife blade edges which tend to slow cutting down.

          That’s my two cents at least!

          Below are links to some magnetic wood bars that should not damage knives. I cannot personally vouch for their quality because I have not used any of them. (Please beware that sometimes the magnets are not strong enough.) But I can say that they appear to be correctly designed in order to not damage knife edges.

          Powerful Magnetic Knife Strip, Solid Wall Mount Wooden Knife Rack, Bar. (Walnut, 20″)

          Eco friendly Bamboo wood magnetic knife holder, 17 inch knife strip or bar in gift box

          Schmidt Brothers – Acacia 24″ Magnetic Knife Wall Bar, Universal Cutlery Storage Fits 12 – 16 Knives

          Magnetic Wooden Knife Bar Holder: 12 INCH WALNUT, Danish Design Inspired

          Walnut Magnetic Knife Holder

          Coninx Magnetic Knife Holder with Powerful Magnet – Bamboo Wood Magnetic Knife Guard Holder


  17. I have enjoyed reading all the comments here.

    What is your opinion of the hand held knife sharpener? I have never used a steel or a ceramic sharpener and would that do the same job?

    1. Hi Lori,

      Excellent question!

      I’m not big on handheld knife sharpeners. Although they are handy, most often:
      1) they’re designed to work at low grits and, thus, remove more metal than necessary
      2) they’re unable to refine or polish the edge any
      3) they’re created with one standardized bevel which cannot properly adapt to the ever-changing landscape of knife blades and the special needs of individual knives
      4) they cannot thin down a knife blade when necessary—which ALL knives eventually need as the cutting edge gradually wears down.

      For all of the above reasons and more, my solution is to use a top-notch professional knife sharpening service, and then hone regularly. For more about this, read:
      Why Use a Professional Knife Sharpening Service?
      Finding a Professional Sharpening Service
      Reviews of Professional Knife Sharpening Services

      RE steels/hones and sharpeners and their differences
      If you read these articles, they will help bring you out of your knife-edges darkness and into the light :)

      What’s a Honing Steel?
      The Sharpening Cycle
      Knife Edges 101


      1. Hi, KKG,

        I just read about your recommended professionals for knife sharpening and also your video on how to hone a knife.

        Wusthof knives are either 14 degree edge for their regular styles or 10 degree for their Asian styles. From what I understand, it is important to hone and sharpen to the factory degree edge, or one is creating a different edge.

        I called Wusthof and spoke briefly to their knife sharpening dept., they said they sharpen to the correct edge for the German or Asian style knife.

        I also saw on at least one of the professional knife sharpeners website, they do a standard 20 degree sharpening. So I don’t know how that would work for Wusthof knives that have either 14 or 10.

        1. Hi Kay,

          First off, if you haven’t already, please read my article on How to Hone a Knife (especially the section titled “Honing Angle”). I think it’s more up-to-date than my video (sorry!). Sometimes info online is either wrong or out of date.

          Secondly, don’t stress–sometimes you need to guesstimate and use trial and error. As long as you’re not pushing too hard with a lot of weight, you’ll be fine. Hone some at what you think is the correct angle and feel the edge. Has it improved? Does it feel sharper? Test it out on a tomato or a red pepper, etc. If not sharp, correct the angle some. You will get the hang of it.

          For a 14-degree, or 10-degree edge, you can’t use my folding paper trick. . . because that’s only 25 degrees. But you can give that same paper an extra fold and bring it down to 12.5 degrees. You can also use a pack of matches. . .they will be closer to the angle. And. . .you can simply visualize, that’s where you want to end up.

          Honing, and sharpening, are both crafts and arts. They aren’t quite scientific and exact. Mainly because you’re dealing with something you can’t actually see with the naked eye. That’s what’s kind of cool about it.

          Does this help? Please let me know and feel free to ask more questions :)


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