Three useful prep knives and a matching sharpening steel make up this set of starter cutlery from J.A. Henckels of Solingen, Germany. Modern manufacturing processes at Henckels build in quality you won’t suspect on first sight.
The smallest knife in the set — the Four Star Paring Knife — is fully forged from one uniform piece of high carbon stainless steel alloy. With a rat tail tang firmly embedded in the formed polypropylene handle and a solid steel forged bolster, this paring knife is strong enough to take considerable abuse. The two larger knives — a six-inch utility knife and an eight-inch chef’s knife — were built with a more complex method.
For each of the larger knives in the Four Star series, Henckels welds a bar of three different types of stainless steel. These alloys are chosen because of qualities especially suited to their positions in blade, bolster, and handle tang. After forging the bolster, the remainder of the shape is laser-cut, not stamped. That shapes the pattern of the knife without introducing stress points or altering the composition of the alloy. A complex tempering process includes Friodur ice-hardening during which the knife blanks are chilled to a drastic -70 degrees C.
These three durable and comfortable knives are enough to handle most basic kitchen prep, although chefs will certainly find reason to acquire more. Build on these three as a practical foundation for more complicated work. The Four Star knives are easily maintained with tough cutting edges that hone quickly with the sharpening steel. Henckels recommends hand washing and drying — machine washing could gradually erode the steel.
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