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Which Series is Right for You?
Solingen, Germany is famously known, at least in some circles, as the knife-making capital of the world.
Several of the planet’s most well-known kitchen knife makers got their start in this medieval town and still call the city home today.
Wusthof is no exception. This company began manufacturing their products in Solingen in 1814, and the 200-year-old family-run enterprise is still in operation there today, by the seventh generation of the same Wusthof family.
The company produces seven different models.
To understand what makes this brand so popular, even among professional chefs, we need to have a brief lesson on knives in general.
Stamped vs. Forged
There are two kinds of knives: forged and stamped.
Forged models are made from individual pieces of steel, heated and hammered repeatedly as they are shaped into blades. The heating process literally changes the molecular composition of the metal, making it harder and stronger.
Wusthof’s forged models include the:
Stamped versions are quite literally stamped out of a sheet of stainless steel, with heat treatment and tempering occuring afterwards. The less-involved manufacturing procedure results in lower prices for stamped blades over forged ones.
Wusthof’s stamped models include the:
Technological advancements in the manufacturing of the stamped blades means there is less difference in the durability between forged and stamped versions now. But Wusthof’s forging process is so good that there is still an appreciable difference between the two, making their forged options worth the extra expense.
Types of Metal
Let’s move on to materials. Stainless steel is the preferred metal to use when making kitchen knives.
The chromium added to regular carbon steel is what makes it “stainless,” or less likely to corrode when exposed to acids in the food it is used to cut and chop.
Wusthof takes this a step further, using high-grade X50CrMoV15 stainless steel – a type that also has molybdenum and vanadium added for increased strength, durability, and rust-resistance. This makes for a utensil that will last for a very long time.
Parts of a Knife
Wusthof blades are made of one solid piece of steel from the tip of the knife to the bottom of the handle, also known as being “full tang.” If a knife isn’t full tang, the blade is a separate piece that has been soldered onto the handle.
You know those fancy carving sets that folks sometimes register for when they’re getting married? I have actually witnessed the blade of the one of those knives falling off the handle while my brother-in-law was trying to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.
The moral of this story? Definitely go for full tang when shopping for knives, so they won’t decide to fall to pieces when company comes over for dinner!
All Wusthof pieces are sharpened to an angle of 14°, with the exception of certain types of Japanese knives like the santoku, which are sharpened to 10°. All of the available styles have a hardness of 58 HRC (Rockwell Scale).
The bolster is the chunkier bit of metal below the blade and above the handle. This thicker area is meant to serve as a buffer between your hand and the sharp edge of the blade, keeping your knuckles from sliding too far up the handle when you’re chopping or slicing.
Traditional chef’s knives have a nice, thick bolster that’s very noticeable. Modern versions have thinner or narrower bolsters, or may have no bolster at all.
This may be aesthetically appealing, but I’d much rather have a barrier between my clumsy fingers and any sort of cutting implement.
The least expensive options in the stamped line (the Pro) are made with a different synthetic material that doesn’t look or feel like wood, but the ergonomic design makes up for this.
Seven different product lines are currently available from Wusthof in both complete kitchen knife sets as well as individual pieces.
The biggest difference among tthese pertains to the handles, but I’ll go over all of the varying options with you so you can get a good idea of what’s offered, and which might be the best choice for you.
The Classic line is just that: a line of knives that are totally classic in design.
The black handle is made of triple-riveted polyoxymethylene that has that real-wood appearance and texture. These knives also feature full-size bolsters for protection.
Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Cook’s Knife, available on Amazon
This is the most popular line of products carried by Wusthof. It also offers the largest selection of knives, making it perfect for both home and professional kitchens.
The Classic line has around 70 different knives available. The most utilitarian implement in the kitchen, the cook’s knife, comes in 8, 9, 10, 12, and 14-inch sizes. For most uses, the 8-inch version will suffice.
Then you have several different kinds of cheese knives to choose from, including a 5-inch for soft cheese, an etched blade for harder cheese, and a short wedge-shape blade uniquely designed for chipping away at hard cheeses like Parmesan. I love to entertain, so for me, this boxed set of all three Classic cheese knives is perfect.
Wusthof Classic 7-Piece Cutlery Set with Storage Block, available on Amazon
The Classic collection also has options for slicing, boning, paring, and even a few extra-wide cook’s knives, like this 8-inch version, for breaking down those larger pieces of meat. For some serious butchering, you can get this mean-looking 7 ½-inch cleaver.
For those looking to purchase a set, the Classic is available in a ton of different options. All of the block sets include kitchen shears and most also have a 9-inch sharpening steel tool.
If you want a broader selection of implements, you can also find 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, and even 36-piece sets.
Don’t have the counter space for a knife block? No problem! This 9-piece set comes with an in-drawer storage tray so you can keep the collection organized and out of sight.
As you can see, with the Classic product line, there is an option available for every single kitchen need.
A step up from the Classic is the Classic Ikon. These products feature the same realistic synthetic handles as the Classic line.
The biggest difference between these two is the double bolster styling, with one bolster below the blade and one bolster on the bottom of the handle.
The cross-section in the middle of the knife is only a half bolster. This still offers some protection from knuckle slippage, but also allows you to more easily sharpen the blade all the way to the end.
A second bolster was added to the butt of the knife to give added balance. It also gives a certain visual symmetry with that little bit of steel on the end to match the steel above the handle.
This series is also available with a cream-colored handle that’s made from the same synthetic material, so you can get the same feel with a slightly different look.
This is a medium-sized collection, with 28 different styles and sizes available. Available in a 6, 8, 9, or a 10-inch cook’s knife, as well as a 7-inch santoku, there’s a decent selection to choose from.
You can also find utility, boning, paring, filleting, and serrated bread knives.
As far as sets go, there are several different two-knife sets available, as well as multiple block sets with 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, or 26 pieces.
Aesthetically, this is my favorite line of knives offered by Wusthof. It’s the handle that really makes this option so appealing to me.
The handle is made from Richlite, a composite material made of sustainably grown and recycled wood fibers. This is environmentally friendly, and it also has a rich, warm brown color that I love.
The shape of the handle is different from those in the other product lines. It’s not as thick, and the slightly rounded shape makes for a really comfortable fit in the hand. Plus, it’s a tad longer than other handles, so larger hands won’t feel constricted.
The Epicure line was actually custom designed for the upscale cooking and dining retailer Sur la Table, in corroboration with Epicurean, the cutting board manufacturer. Epicurean’s cutting boards are made from the same beautiful Richlite material.
The blade of these knives is also slightly different from the other lines. Rather than having a straight spine, the backs of these have a very subtle outward curve. The blade itself is slightly wider, to handle larger cuts of meat easily.
Finally, the Epicure blades even get a special ceramic coating to help prevent food from sticking. This
Epicure line really has it all!
One caveat is that there are notably fewer options available in this line. As far as the cook’s knives go, in the Epicure line you can get a 6, 8, or 9-inch blade.
They have a 7-inch santoku, a paring knife, a prep set of two blades, and a serrated bread option available. And they offer just one block set that includes 7 pieces with an acacia wood block for storage.
If you’re not looking for a huge variety in your kitchen, and you like the look of these as much as I do, one or two of these blades or the block set would be a great choice.
This is Wusthof’s higher-end stamped line, laser-cut stamped from specially tempered, high-carbon stainless steel. These stamped knives look just like the Classic line of products, with the only difference being that these aren’t forged knives.
They feature the same full tang and wood look polypropylene handles. If you’re not worried about needing the extra durable strength of forge-tempered steel, the Gourmet line is a great option for those cooks looking to save a little money.
With almost as many pieces as the Classic line, the Gourmet range of products offers a lot of different options for your kitchen. In the cook’s knife category alone you can get a 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10-inch option.
You can find several different kinds of cheese knives, several sets of steak knives, a few types of Asian-style blades, and lots of other specialized options, like a 10-inch roast beef carver.
If a block set is what you’re after, you have a good selection to choose from with the Gourmet line. They have 7, 10, 12, 14, 18, 23, and 36-piece sets available.
Grand Prix II
This collection is the best buy out of all of the forged lines available. They feature the same blade width and full-size bolster of the Classic line, but their synthetic handle looks and feels synthetic as opposed to having a wood-like appearance.
The slight curviness of the handle is ergonomically designed, offering more comfort and control for busy hands. That curviness in the handle is more reminiscent of the Classic Ikon than the Classic design, but the different material makes for a less weighty and less balanced product than either of those.
If you’re looking for the quality of the Wusthof forging process at a lower price point, Grand Prix II is a great choice – especially if having a real wood handle or the look of wood isn’t that important to you.
This line is a good bit more condensed than the Classic series, though. Wusthof offers about 30 options in this category.
You can get a 6, 8, 9, or 10-inch cook’s knife. They offer two santokus, a 7-inch and a 5-inch, and also bread, utility, and paring options.
If you’re looking to buy a good variety for your kitchen, you can also get a 7, 8, 10, or 22-piece block set.
The Ikon line is the cream of the crop for Wusthof knives. This is the only line that comes with a pure, real wood handle. Made from sustainable African Blackwood, the handle is a rich, dark brown and really makes for a beautiful kitchen tool.
Other than the real wood handle, the Ikon and the Classic Ikon are identical in every other way. The Ikon has the same half-bolster below the blade and the added bolster on the butt of the knife.
The Ikon series is a smaller collection, with only about 20 different options available. You can still get your basics, like a 6, 8, or 9-inch cook’s knife, or a 5 or 7-inch santoku.
For more specialized uses, the Ikon line offers options for filleting, paring, carving, or slicing bread.
For a larger collection, you can get a 5, 7, or 8-piece block set. All three of these sets come with a walnut block that goes beautifully with the blackwood handles.
The Pro line is the only other category available right now that is of the stamped variety, rather than being forged. This is the least expensive category of knives offered by Wusthof.
The Pro features an ergonomically designed and slip-resistant handle that is specially designed for comfort and control. It is made from, and looks like, a soft polypropylene.
If you are looking for the quality of Wusthof at a lower price, the Pro is definitely a good choice for you, especially if you know you won’t be needing the extra strength that forging provides.
The Pro series is a more condensed version than the Gourmet line of stamped blades, but it still offers a good selection of the basics.
You can get an 8, 9, 10, or 12-inch cook’s knife. For fans of the Asian style, the Pro comes in a 7-inch santoku. They also offer filleting, boning, peeling, paring, and utility options.
The one thing the Pro series doesn’t offer is a block set. They do have a 5-piece starter set that comes with 3 1/2-inch paring, 9-inch bread, and 10-inch cook’s knives, as well as a 9-inch sharpening steel and an 8-pocket knife roll for storage.
Which Series Is Right For You?
As you can see, there are a lot of options available, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed. But there are a couple of questions that you can ask yourself to help narrow things down.
First, how important is it to you to have a super-strong blade? If you know you’ll be using these utensils a lot over the years, and using them on hard-to-cut foods, then you may want to go with one of the forged collections.
If you don’t anticipate giving your tools a beating over the years, or you think you would be okay without that tempering process, then one of the less-expensive stamped collections would be just fine.
If you decide to go with a stamped variety, you have just two collections to choose between. If you don’t really care what the handle looks like, the Pro series is great because it’s very cost-conscious.
If you’d rather have something that looks like wood, the Gourmet line is the choice for you.
Now, if having a forged blade is really important to you and you have the money to spend on those more expensive options, then you have a few more choices to decide between.
For classic styling and age-old appeal, you can’t go wrong with the Classic collection. For a little bit of a more modern look, with that curvy handle, the Classic Ikon is a great choice.
If it’s important to you to have a real wooden handle, then you know you have to go with the Ikon series and that beautiful African Blackwood handle.
If you have big hands or you just like the look of it, like I do, then the Epicure line would be the way to go. This is also a great choice for anyone who is environmentally-minded.
Finally, if you really want the extra durability of a forged blade but you can’t see yourself paying quite as much as you would for an Ikon or a Classic, the Grand Prix II series would be perfect. You get the same high-quality forged blade at a lower price point, which is a win-win in my book.
There’s No Wrong Choice!
No matter which one you buy, just know that when you buy a Wusthof knife, you are buying really high quality and something that you will be able to use for years and years to come.
So, do we have any readers who have a Wusthof knife? How does it compare to other knives you have had in the past? Let us know in the comment section!
And if you’re still shopping for your pefect blade, don’t forget to check out all of our kichen knife buying guides.
Product photos courtesy of Wusthof.
About Ashley Martell
Ashley has enjoyed creative writing since she was six years old, when she wrote her first short story. She majored in English literature at the University of Montevallo. After years of professional work, she is now a stay-at-home mom of three, who uses her craft to write about her life and adventures in and out of the kitchen.