A new Wusthof knife or knife set can be an intimidating purchase. Prices run into the hundreds of dollars and there’s an endless amount of technical jargon to wade through. But a quality chef’s knife can be a once in a lifetime purchase if done right.
In the end, it really comes down to a few things: is this knife going to perform well in the kitchen and is it going to last a long time– everything else is secondary. As an owner and daily user of a Wusthof knife set, I’ve given my breakdown of some of the most commonly asked questions.
How long do Wusthof knives last?
With proper care a Wusthof knife can last several lifetimes. The largest factor aside from care is the frequency of use and the style of bolster. Some Wusthof lines like the Classic have a thick full bolster joining the blade with the handle. While some people prefer the balance of a full bolster knife blade, it also makes sharpening much more challenging.
Over time, as your knife is sharpened and more and more of the blade is shaved away, the bolster will begin to stick out. Eventually, if you’d like to continue using your knife effectively you’ll need professional bolster reduction. A half bolster knife will never require this specialty service and is therefore a better choice if it’s important that your knife will last a long time. The Wusthof Ikon is their most popular half bolstered knife, see how it compares to the flagship Wusthof Classic model.
Do Wusthof knives come sharpened?
All Wusthof knives come factory sharpened with their proprietary computer-assisted PEtec technology. German knife styles are sharpened to an angle of 28 degrees (14 degrees per side), while Asian knife styles like the Santoku, Nakiri and Chai Dao are sharpened to 20 degrees (10 degrees per side).
There’s therefore no reason to sharpen a Wusthof knife before your first use. Like any blade however, repeated use will dull it and eventually require sharpening. Knives should be sharpened every 6 months to a year with regular use. Either take it to a professional or learn to sharpen yourself.
Although, you won’t have to worry about sharpening for at least 6 months, you will need to do what is known as “honing” much more frequently. Honing a knife is how you keep your knife sharp in between full blade sharpenings. Tiny burrs and other imperfections will develop along the blade which make your knife feel less sharp even though the actual blade is still in good condition. The honing process is how these tiny imperfections are stripped off to restore the knife to the condition it was in immediately after it’s last sharpening.
To hone a knife, you’ll need a honing rod like this one. It’s a long cylindrical piece of metal with a lightly knurled surface. Begin by holding the knife blade at roughly the same angle the knife was sharpened at (this can be eyeballed), then slide the honing along the edge of the knife 10 times on each side.
Can Wusthof knife handles be replaced?
If the knife handle is damaged due to a manufacturing defect then the easiest solution is to take advantage of Wusthof’s generous lifetime warranty. Otherwise, a handle that’s been cracked, chipped or burnt there is no easy way to replace the entire handle. Although it may look like the handle is simply riveted onto the blade, it’s actually factory molded around the blade with the rivets added after.
Why are Wusthof knives so expensive?
There’s a number of factors that influence the price of a knife. Brand name is certainly one reason– it’s true that because of their reputation Wusthof knives likely cost more than equivalent unbranded ones would. But the cost to manufacture is another factor that drives the price up.
All Wusthof knives are made on site in their factory in Solingen, Germany. The company employs over 400 craftsmen who operate the manufacturing equipment and maintain the machinery. Germany’s higher cost of living and more stringent labor laws relative to China (the site where many other knives are manufactured) causes their labor costs to be higher. Higher labor costs and better working conditions also means the craftsmanship and attention to detail is higher.
Most Wusthof product lines have a full tang blade (although the Wusthof Pro only has a partial), meaning the blade extends into the handle and matches its shape. This means there’s a lot more steel used than in cheaper knives that have partial or stick tang blades. With the blade being the most expensive part of a knife, this added steel dramatically changes the cost to manufacture.
Do Wusthof knives rust?
All Wusthof knives lines use a X50CrMoV15 stainless steel that is fairly resistant to rusting. However, it’s called stainLESS steel and not stainNEVER for a reason. Even a high quality knife like Wusthof will begin to show signs of rust with enough neglect.
To keep your knife from rusting here’s what you should do: Avoid leaving your knife in the kitchen sink for any length of knife– high end kitchen knives do not belong there. Backsplash from the running faucet will start to corrode your knife much more quickly than you might think. When not in use your knife should be cleaned with a mild dish detergent then dried thoroughly with a soft towel before being stored in a knife block or on a magnetic knife strip. Never store your good knives in a drawer because they will bounce around and potentially damage the blade.
It’s unlikely you’ll have issues with rusting if you follow best practices but if you notice rust forming it’s not the end of the world. You can polish it out with some barkeepers friend and a paper towel. Take care to be polish gently using back and forth motion and minimal pressure. The rust should not require significant force to clean away.