Wusthof Classic vs Ikon vs Classic Ikon: Why you should consider splurging

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Like everything else German, Wusthof produces high quality knives with impressive attention to detail. The product lines Classic, Classic Ikon and Ikon are some of the best Wusthof has to offer and are all remarkably similar. You could close your eyes and pick any one of these lines at random and you’d likely be satisfied with a quality knife that will last a lifetime. Below we’ve summarized all of the minute differences of the Wusthof Classic vs Ikon vs Classic Ikon to aid you in making the most informed purchase possible.

Wusthof Classic vs Ikon vs Classic Ikon: Quick Comparison

In terms of expensiveness and exclusivity, the three product lines rank Classic then Classic Ikon then Ikon with the Classic being the least expensive of the three, the Ikon being the most expensive and the Classic Ikon sitting in between. The Classic is the best selling product line from Wusthof and might be considered its flagship. It’s already a premium knife and objectively superior to several other Wusthof lines (see our comparison of the Wusthof Classic vs Gourmet) but the Classic and Classic Ikon lines raise the bar further. Their main improvement over the classic is the double bolster on the back of the knife that gives it extra weight and better balance. The Ikon also features an African Blackwood handle while the Classic Ikon has the same synthetic POM handle as the Wusthof Classic.

Classic vs Ikon vs Classic Ikon: The differences

Handle material

The only difference between the Classic Ikon and the Ikon is that the handle material of the former is a synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (often abbreviated POM) while the Ikon is the only Wusthof product line to use African Blackwood handles. 

Polyoxymethylene is used in many Wusthof lines like the Classic, Gourmet and Pro and feels almost indistinguishable from polished wood in hand despite technically being a plastic. However, the Polyoxymethylene is formaldehyde based and can theoretically release the gas if burned. This is extremely unlikely because you shouldn’t ever need to use your knives anywhere near an open flame but it is worth thinking about if maintaining a synthetic free kitchen is important to you.

The African Blackwood handles have the benefit of being natural and more elegant in appearance than the synthetic POM. It’s one of the hardest and most dense woods in the world– so hard in fact that it can not be processed with most standard woodworking tools and instead needs to be worked at a metal shop. This wood scores well for its resistance to rot and decay. For the same reasons African Blackwood is good for knives, it’s also used to make high end woodwind instruments like oboes and clarinets.

Diagram of three Wusthof knife silhouettes side by side. One full tang, one partial tang and one narrow tang

Blade tang

Typically a blade’s tang is the thick metal junction between the handle and cutting part of the blade. A full tang means the junction extends down to the bottom of the knife where the blade begins while a half tang does not extend as far down. On a double tang knife, there is a second thick metal junction on the butt of the knife past the handle.

Both Ikon lines have a “double tang,”  and the Classic line has a full tang. For the Classic Ikon and Ikon, the double tang is also a half tang. The knuckle between the blade and handle does not extend all the way down as it does on the Classic.

A full tang is said to be safer than the half because it blocks your fingers from being cut. Proper knife skills with an emphasis on knife safety are a much better option than relying on your blade’s tang to save you from horrific kitchen injuries. Chef knife hobbyists tend to agree that the full tang is more marketing hype than a real benefit and it comes with a major downside. 

The full tang significantly complicates knife sharpening, turning what could be an easily learnable DIY skill into something that usually requires the services of an expert knife sharpener with specialized equipment. The problem is that sharpening a knife shortens the blade but doesn’t shorten the bolster. Overtime, after several sharpenings the bolster will noticeably stick out past the blade. At first it will just look unattractive but eventually the problem will be so severe and interfere with cutting. There’s no easy DIY way to handle this issue and most knife enthusiasts end up paying for a bolster reduction even if they are comfortable doing the rest of the knife sharpening themselves.

The second tang on the Classic and Classic Ikon is purely for improved balance and weight. This is personal preference, your best bet would be to try holding both and assessing the feel of the Wusthof Classic vs Ikon  or Classic Ikon in hand.

Handle shape

The two Ikon lines share a handle shape that is distinct from the one on the Classic. The handles have a more natural, flowing swell and rounded sides. The classic has more severe squared off edges, a flat top where your palm would rest and distinct finger grooves.

Price

The Wusthof Classic Ikon and Ikon are more premium lines because they are heavier and contain more metal so you should expect a premium price tag. The Ikon is even higher-end because the African Blackwood is a more desirable material than POM.

Classic vs Ikon vs Classic Ikon: The similarities

So far we’ve only highlighted the differences of the Classic vs Ikon vs Classic Ikon. However, this isn’t a complete picture as the three lines are actually quite similar. Realizing this can help with analysis paralysis when deciding between these products.

Manufacturing process

A critical attribute of a high quality knife blade is that it is manufactured through a process known as forging. Forging a blade involves banging a single piece of metal at high heat to cause the realignment of the atoms within the knife. This process dramatically increases the strength of the knife which allows a knife’s edge to be cut to a sharper angle degree and to hold that edge longer. All three of these lines have blades manufactured through Wusthof’s 40 stage forging process from a single sheet of carbon dense steel. This stands out from some other lower end Wusthof lines that use a laser cut steel stamping blade manufacturing technique which produces a weaker blade.

Edge technology

Wusthof has a proprietary method of putting an edge on blades called PEtec. It’s computer driven and laser-guided to produce an edge which is claimed to be 20% sharper and have twice the edge retention. Not all Wusthof knives use this tech but the Classic, Classic Ikon and Ikon do.

Verdict

Overall, these are three incredibly high quality knives and three different price points. Health minded buyers with less restrictive budgets will find the Ikon attractive for eschewing synthetic material for quality wood instead. Those who value an ergonomic handle but don’t mind synthetic POM material will want to check out the Classic Ikon and those who care about neither the handle design nor the material will prefer the cost savings of the Classic

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06/24/2022 12:13 am GMT
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/24/2022 12:13 am GMT
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/24/2022 12:12 am GMT

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