Four good knives plus a sharpening steel and a hardwood storage block, the Calphalon Traditional 6-Piece Block Set keeps to the basics. Some of the features you’d see in the German-made Calphalon knives have been trimmed out of this Chinese version of an old German pattern, but the results are functional and reliable and still backed up by a ten-year warranty. The hardwood knife block include a slot for kitchen shears and an extra knife slot, as well as a four-slot row for steak knives.
The full tang high carbon stainless steel blades include forged bolsters and are accurately fitted with triple riveted resin handle slabs, reinforced with embedded fiberglass. The construction survives heavy work as well as dishwashing machines, but as with most cutlery-grade stainless steel, the knives hold up better to handwashing than machine cleaning. Blades are flat ground with the same type of edge bevel you’d get from most countertop sharpening machines. While that’s good enough for many people, the rest of us would need to do some work on these knives to bring them up to useful cutting standards. Even with a razor edge, an abrupt bevel shows a lot of drag in use.
There are no innovations in this set — just an economical reworking of a once-popular old German design. While it could be a practical starter set, the knives certainly are out performed by other more modern builds. Providing two utility blades — one with a five-inch serrated edge and another with a six-inch plain edge — oversupplies the middle range that actually sees the least use. Without some elbow grease and time on a sharpening stone the eight-inch chef’s knife will be much better at chopping than slicing, and the paring knife as it is also adds no joy to the work. The last time I worked with knives like this was in an Army mess hall where we never had time to sharpen anything anyway.
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