One factor that many knife connoisseurs take into account when evaluating a knife is the factory of a particular brand.
Not the headquarters.
They specifically point to the location of the factory where the knives are made.
Solingen in Germany is home to many top cutlery companies such as Zwilling JA Henckels, Carl Schmidt, WKC, Diefenthal and one of the brands mentioned here – Wusthof.
But it is not the only ‘Bladesby’ in the world: Seki in Japan, Thiers in France, Ibach in Switzerland and several others have a remarkable reputation when it comes to trade fairs.
If a particular piece came from one of these places, chances are you have a great one.
So let’s talk about Calphalon first.
Calphalon: A provider of all-inclusive kitchens
In 1963, Ronald Kasperzak founded Commercial Aluminum Cookware, which produced pots and pans for cooking.
Really committed to his craft, Kasperzak invented a marvel in 1968: hard anodized aluminum based on a material used in aerospace engineering.
This made his products more durable, resistant to corrosion and all kinds of twisting.
He called this invention Calphalon.
In the following decades, they added various items to their product line: electric kitchen appliances, baking materials and cutlery.
In 1992, they renamed their brand Kasperzak’s amazing invention: Calphalon.
In 1998, Newell Brands acquired the company.
This conglomerate also owns popular brands in various industries like Sharpie, Reynolds, Crock-Pot, Cheese, Coleman, Contigo and so many others.
Formulation of the steel, craftsmanship of the knife
There is not much information about the specific designation of the steel that the company uses. They say that it is German-made stainless steel with a high carbon content, which is quite reassuring.
There is also not much information on how they manufacture the knife.
They have forged pieces – as evidenced by certain features such as full bolsters and pliers – but the details of the process are not shared either.
What they are saying is that their products can stay sharp in life; something that is a little discouraging because connoisseurs and master chefs will tell you that there is no such thing.
Even high-carbon Japanese knives will become dull and require sharpness.
The best in the Calphalon line
Perhaps the reason for their statement that their wings can stay sharp ‘forever’ is because of their SharpIN technology.
What they did was install ceramic sharpeners inside the individual openings of the knife block so that the edge is sharpened when you pull a piece out or insert it again.
Note that this is only for those with straight edges. Serrated as bread and steak knives can not be sharpened that way.
They also have only four series: Classic, Contemporary, Precision and Select.
All of these are quite similar to each other, to be honest, with only the handle materials different.
Some joints also do not have Sharp-In technology and are replaced only by a honey rod.
There are two main points that experts consider disadvantages.
• You really can not get a piece when you buy a Calphalon. They only have sets of knife blocks.
If you are looking for a whole range, this may be a good buy. But if you’re just looking for a coke knife or a Santoku, go for another brand.
• They have been having recall issues lately.
Many have pointed out that the company has outsourced its production in China. When you look at the square near the upholstery, you will see it etched there.
This should not be a problem.
However, when the company made a total recall of a particular knife due to sudden fractures that caused damage, this has undoubtedly tarnished the brand.
Wusthof: Solingen’s big shot
That was in 1814, when Johann Abraham Wusthof started making scissors in his small Solingen cottage.
He did not have a company yet, so to speak, with only one helper and got most commissioned work.
His perseverance made him think and work bigger. And his sons got the same drive.
In 1836, they made the pocket knife a cornerstone of their product line.
In 1869 they made various other knives and cutlery pieces including daggers and forks.
In 1881, they automated their factory thanks to the steam engine.
And in 1881 their goods reached New York City.
Today, they are one of the most respected brands in the industry.
And while they can relocate their factory and headquarters elsewhere, they decided to stay in historic Solingen.
Formulation of the steel, craftsmanship of the knife
One of the most important features of a Wusthof is its steel: X50CrMoV15 (58 HRC).
• X stands for stainless steel
• 50 is the 0.5% carbon content that ensures sharpness
• CR means chromium, a hard metal that is resistant to stains
• MO means molybdenum, another metal that also acts against staining
• V is for Vanadium, a malleable metal that is added due to its ability to make alloys hard, resistant to corrosion and hold the edge for a long time.
• 15 is the percentage of chromium in this alloy
They manufacture 1.7 million knives each year, and each piece undergoes a cumbersome 40-step process.
They have taken advantage of new technology such as mechanized hammers and laser-assisted grinding, but a craftsman is there to work on the knife from start to finish.
The best in the Wusthof line
Classic is the most favorite in the series – used by popular chefs like Gordon Ramsay.
It also has a 4.8 average rating on Amazon, which just means regular home cooks are in love with it.
• The knives are durable and sharp with edges of 14 degrees on each side. These do not require grinding for a long time, although the company also has tools for this.
• It has thick, strong bolsters and fully exposed pliers that ensure balance.
• The classic-looking black handle is made of durable polyoxymethylene (POM), which is triple riveted to pliers.
But if you are not interested in this, the company has five other forged magazines including Icon and four stamped as Gourmet.
Wusthof’s weakest point
This is not a weakness, though many consider this to be its disadvantage: the price.
Wusthofs is quite expensive, with a piece as high as $ 150. FYI, it’s almost an entire Calphalon set.
Aside from the recall situation that Calphalon recently had, it is not a completely bad brand.
Sure, this is not their forte (pots and pans are). But they have durable forged knives made of German steel.
In addition, their SharpIn technology is quite impressive.
But if you already have a set and just want a single well-made piece that can last you almost a lifetime, Wusthof is the must-have. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it.
Last updated on July 21, 2021 by Andy Wang