What Makes German Knives Different From Other Knives?
Most of the world’s top class pocket, hunting and different kinds of speciality knives are manufactured by German companies. Though many German knife manufacturers have subcontracted some of the models to other countries, it’s quite difficult to exactly pin down the reasons for which top quality German knives have been fascinating the world since their inception. One thing that every German knife user will probably agree on is the precise, careful craftsmanship of the top German knife manufacturers, resulting in knives which are distinctive and perhaps almost completely flawless. For instance, consider a fixed blade German knife with glimmering stag or perfect wood handle scales seamlessly fitted, without any gap between the tang and scales, or a brass or nickel silver finger guard perfectly shaped and greatly polished with no filing, sanding or grinding marks visible, coupled with a pristine Solingen steel blade for a precise shave that has no accidental score visible anywhere on it. And this is not a deceiving extension of the truth. It’s actually what you’ll experience when you pick up a top quality German knife in your hands. An elite quality German knife is actually a work of art, manufactured by adept professionals who feel extremely proud of the work they perform and the knives they develop. The famous Solingen city in Germany boasts of the longest history associated with the production of top class knives and cutlery. Choosing knives is perhaps one of the most crucial decisions that an avid chef needs to make. Knives are among the most utilised tools in a kitchen and thus a wrong decision can easily make the life of the buyer quite miserable. Because when it comes to knives, price isn’t always synonymous with quality. Here, we’ve outlined a detailed list of expert tips that would help you to get educated about what sets German knives apart from their counterparts and why they’re recommended by renowned chefs across the world.
Stainless steel is a widely preferred material used for knives’ blades due to its corrosion resistance ability and easy maintenance. However, it’s not impermeable to rust or corrosion. A steel must have a minimum 13% of chromium content to be considered as stainless steel. The key principle of stainless steel remains in the fact that the oxide (chromium, nickel and other metal oxides) has to be stable in an oxidizing chemical environment and in a reducing (lack of oxygen) environment, one metal has to be stable, at the least. Here’re the key stainless steels used to manufacture the blades of German knives.
- CPM SxxV series: The SxxV series stainless steels are produced by using CPM process. The categories of this series are CPM S30V, CPM S35VN, CPM S60V, CPM S90V, CPM S110V and CPM S125V.
- DSR series: This series is used for producing scissors and kitchen knives. The categories include DSR1K6, DSR7F, DSR1K7, DSR1K8, DSR1K9, DSR10UA and DSR1K11.
Carbon steel is another popular choice for knives that are subject to a rough use. This steel is usually much more durable, much tougher and easier to sharpen compared to stainless steel. However, they lack the chromium content available in their stainless steel counterparts, making them prone to corrosion. Though carbon steels contain less amount of carbon than general stainless steels, the alloy element remains much higher. They’re more similar to other types of high alloy and stainless steels and consist of carbide in a very small quantity in the iron. Due to more hardness of the bulk material, carbon steels are capable of holding more acute and sharper edge without bending over when coming in contact with tough materials. However, carbon steels are more susceptible to abrasion. Here’re the major types of carbon steels used in German knives.
- 10xx series: This series is very durable and most sought after choice for manufacturing German knives. The categories of the series include 1095, 1084, 1070, 1060 and 1055.
- Kigami/Yellow series: This series is used in mid/low class kitchen knives and other high-end tools.
CPM or Crucible Particle Metallurgy steels are specialty steels manufactured by Crucible Industries – an American company that manufactures stainless and tools steels for cutlery, machine tools, automotive and aerospace industries. The company has been producing high-end steels since its inception in 1900 when 13 crucible steel companies merged to form a single company.
Traditional CPM steel making process starts with smelting ore into steel with the help of electric arc furnaces. Then it gets refined by eliminating some amount of carbon and sulphur. Further refining process may include use of argon oxygen decarburization which is an implementation of the powder metallurgy. The conventional process includes distribution and pouring of steel into ingot molds. Then the steel solidifies slowly, allowing the components to isolate into non-uniform structures at microscopic level.
The CPM process pushes molten steel via a tiny nozzle. Then high-pressure gas is applied to atomize the liquid into a spray that quickly cools down the steel, making it a uniform powder. Then the powder goes into high-pressure containers and is heated using forged temperatures to squeeze the powder into ingots – this process is called HIP or hot isostatic pressing, which leads to the production of uniform metal.
Hot or cold rolling processes is used in both methods to toughen the steel and granulate it into the final products.
An alloy is an amalgamation of metals or a merger of metal and another element. It may be a single solution of metal elements or an amalgamation of two or more metallic solutions. Alloys are utilized in a diverse range of applications. In some cases, a merger of metals may lower the overall price of a material while preserving the key properties. In other cases, the merger of metals transmits synergistic characteristics to the constituent elements such as mechanical strength or corrosion resistance. Here’s a list of widely used alloying elements.
- Meteoric iron: Meteoric iron was the first and a naturally developing alloy of iron and nickel. It was used to manufacture objects such as weapons, tools and nails.
- Bronze and brass: This is another alloy of the ancient times that goes back to around 2500 BC. Ancient civilization took the mixture of copper and zinc to develop brass because of its various characteristics like toughness, melting point, among others.
- Amalgams: Amalgams, which is an alloy in liquid or soft paste form, were produced by dissolving metals like gold, silver, tin etc with the help of mercury.
- Precious-metal alloys: In ancient times, precious-metal alloys were produced solely for aesthetic purposes. One instance could be alloying gold with copper to manufacture red-gold.
- Pewter: This term entails a variety of alloys that primarily consist of tin. The resulting metals were usually antimony, lead, copper or bismuth.
- Steel and pig iron: Mangalloy or manganese steel, which was one of the first alloy steels, were produced by alloying manganese and steel to provide the resulting element with extreme toughness. Pig iron is an alloy of carbon and iron.
- Precipitation-hardening alloys: These are heat-treatable alloys that become softened when cooled quickly and harden over time. Some instances of these alloys include aluminum, copper and titanium.
When you’re looking for a new knife, most likely you’ll come across different kinds of knives including the German ones. However, as German knives are one of the most prevalent ones, it’s wise to clearly understand the key features of them. Whether you’re a professional or beginner chef, a German knife is perhaps your best bet in the kitchen. In addition, if you’re purchasing your knife from a renowned manufacturer, chances of going wrong is quite less. However, remember that a knife that’s best-suited for somebody else may not be easier for you to handle. A German knife may seem to have a shape similar to other knives but it caters to different purposes in the kitchen because of its characteristics as described below.
- German knives usually come with a full length tang and a bolster.
- The steel used in German knives usually has ratings between 56 and 58 on the Rockwell hardness scale.
- The blade grind of a German knife is symmetrical.
- The thick piece of steel or the bolster of the knife is located right before its handle.
- A German knife comes with an angle of 20 to 22 degrees.
- Though weight differs from blade to blade, a German knife tends to be heavyweight. For instance, a Wusthof 8 inch chef’s knife weighs around 9.6 ounces.
- Thicker, heavier German knives empower you to perform robust chores more conveniently.
- Don’t require regular maintenance such as weekly cleaning or annual sharpening.
- Dishwater safe.
German knife producers have been manufacturing premium knives since the 19th century and these unique features are perhaps the key reasons why chefs across the world prefer German knives.
Available in sizes varying from 6" to 10", these bread knives with slightly curved or straight blades with a serrated edge offer great balance and strength to cut through any kind of bread. While the smaller knives are ideal for slicing bagels (and even tomatoes), the longer ones with 10” blades can cut through boule, ciabatta, or any other category of artisan bread. Many consider the 9” blade to be one for all-around use, which can be used to cut a small tomato or a large loaf of bread with equal ease. Made of the German 1.4116 stainless carbon alloy, the blades of these knives are resistant to corrosion and stains, exhibit durability, retain their edge much longer (30% in case of Wusthof knives) than the other knives, and are easy to re-sharpen to get a razor-like edge. With excellent fit and finish, these knives are good for decades of service.
With a fine edged blade measuring 4.5” made of the finest German steel alloy, these carving knives can cut through steaks with minimal effort. Being expertly crafted to have a fine edge slicing blade that comes with an upward curved tip, these knives are at home on any table. Offering the user a great feel, fit and balance, these knives can just glide through just about anything they encounter. With sharp and durable blades, these elegant looking knives can last you almost a lifetime despite serious abuse. Forget getting your steak ripped and torn in a messy manner because with German steak knives, you can now get clean, efficient cuts.
Available in sizes varying from 3.5" (boning paring knife) and 4" (petite chef’s knife) to 7" stealth chef’s knife, 8" carving knives and 10" scalloped baker’s bread knives, these knives are forged from a solitary billet of premium German stainless steel alloy that can stand the test of time. Made available with the most robust, industrial strength, ergonomic handle, these knives can be used for various tasks – from cleaning small sized fish or deboning poultry, to coring or making precise cuts on vegetables and fruits. Thanks to the bolsterless heel, you can use the whole blade from heel to tip, which simplifies your honing, cutting and sharpening tasks.
From the petite chef’s knives with 4" blades to the stealth chef’s knives with blades of varying sizes from 8" to 10", these knives have the finest German stainless carbon alloy blades that are stain- and corrosion-resistant. Since the blades are more deeply and continuously curved along the entire cutting edge, you can perform various tasks with them – from mincing herbs to chopping onions and working through chicken ribs and fish pin bones. Apart from being tough and durable, these knives can hold their edge retention, and are easy to re-sharpen back to their earlier razor-sharp edge.
Usually 3" to 6" in length, these knives have a narrow blade and sharp point, which make them ideal for removing the bones of fish, meat and poultry. Unlike other “thick” kitchen knives, the narrow blade of these German boning knives make precision boning easy, especially where you need to make deep holes or cuts. Being made of the finest German stainless steel alloy, these knives can resist stains and corrosion. Coming fitted with ergonomic handles, these knives give you a flexible and great fit that’s required for boning tasks.
Available in sizes varying from 6" to 8", these wide bladed knives have a razor-sharp blade that’s created to tackle both precision and heavy-duty cutting. Precision forged from a solitary piece of robust high-carbon steel, these knives resist corrosion and stains. With superior edge retention and sharper blades than many other similar products available in the market, these knives work equally well for mincing and chopping tough ingredients – be it breaking down larger portions of meat, or cutting through the bones. Most of these German cleavers have blades triple riveted to the handle, thus offering exceptional durability. With ergonomic handles contoured for a comfortable grip, you can handle heavier cleaving and lighter cutting with equal ease.
Crafted from a solitary blank of high carbon stainless steel, the two pronged forks are available in 6" and 7" that are tempered to 57-58⁰ Rockwell. These knives help in slicing large roasts efficiently while guiding the carving knife away from your hands. While serving or slicing, you can even use the meat forks to hold the piece of meat in place. These knives have their full tang riveted to an extremely durable and comfortable polyoxymethylene (POM) handle for precise control. With blades that are durable, stain- and corrosion-resistant, hold their edge retention, and can be easily re-sharpened to a razor-like edge, these German forks that can also resist discoloration and fading can be precious to have in your kitchen.
Available in sizes varying from 2.5" to 4", these knives have a fine edge blade that tapers to a point. Crafted from a solitary billet of premium German stainless steel alloy and coming fitted with the most robust industrial strength, ergonomic handle, these German pairing knives are designed to be all-purpose knives – somewhat similar to a chef's knife, the only difference being their smaller size. With a compact blade fitted atop a molded handle, you can use such knives for peeling, trimming and slicing of a variety of produce. The sharp, corrosion- and stain-resistant blades of these knives are heat treated and cooled to get a Rockwell of 57-58.
Available in sizes of 4.5", 5" and 6", these are your everyday go-to knife with a scalloped edge and compact blade size. From mincing onions, shallots and herbs to cutting vegetables and small meats, carving slice hams, roasted chickens, cheeses, soft skinned vegetables and fruits, you can handle a wide variety of tasks with them. You may even use them for cutting small cakes, bagels and pastries. Forged from a solitary blank of high carbon stainless steel, the robust corrosion- and stain-resistant blade of these knives are riveted on the handle to give you a great fit and precise control.
Having stood the test of time, these fine German knives are a treasure to have in every kitchen. With 57-58 Rockwell rating in hardness, the blades of these knives forged from a single billet of premium German stainless steel alloy offer durability, unmatched sharpness with better edge retention than other varieties as well as resistance to stains and corrosion, among others. Since you can easily re-sharpen them back to their lost glory, you can continue using these knives and they will last you a lifetime. With ergonomic handles and blades that are riveted to the handles to offer a great feel and fit, your chopping, dicing, boning and other kitchen tasks are bound to become easier and more efficient with these German knives. Handcrafted in Germany’s Solingen - the historic cutlery capital, these knives come equipped with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing and material defects, making it yet another reason to invest in them as they offer complete value for money.
- Abe Bars