Wood, brass, and steel combine to form this six-piece Walnut Tradition Knife Block Set from Chicago Cutlery. Full tang high carbon stainless steel knives with simple walnut hardwood handle slabs have a frontier look and basic serviceability. The brass rivets holding handles to tangs are the only decoration.
How good this set will be depends on whether — as the new owner — you’re willing to work on it a bit. The bevel of the edges is a little too wide for easy slicing. That makes the edge strong, but you’ll feel resistance as you cut even if you hone the blades razor sharp with the honing steel — also provided. The 420 stainless steel hasn’t been state of the art for many years but still finds frequent use in the cutlery industry. Tough and strong as well as resistant to chemicals and rust, this high carbon alloy tends to deform if abused and is easily reset with the steel. Grinding the edge thinner improves the action but weakens the edge. Finding the perfect balance takes time, but even ordinary knives can improve with the years.
The set offers a good range of knives with no redundancy — paring knife, utility or boning knife, an eight-inch carving knife for poultry and roasts, and a strong eight-inch chef’s knife. Together, the knives in the set cover most work in the kitchen including light chopping. Handles are comfortable and practical but not unusual. There’s no fancy ergonomically puzzling handle — just clean hardwood and the small problems that come along with natural materials. These knives should be washed and dried by hand, not run through the dishwasher. Heat and steam could warp the walnut slabs and open up gaps.
The space-saving hardwood block allows storage of all four Walnut Tradition knives plus the honing steel and several of the good knives you may already own. The block set carries a lifetime warranty.
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