This gift selection from J.A. Henckels offers three useful knives of excellent quality but with an old-fashioned build — plus a practical sharpening steel and a handsome hardwood storage block with plenty of slots for expansion. As a starter set it meets the needs of a small kitchen well, without committing new chefs to an old-school design.
Some years ago, these strong forged knives with full bolsters and full tang handles might have competed for top honors. Today, there are more economical and lighter choices. Forschner’s Victorinox cutlery, made from modern stamped blades, could match the performance of these heavier knives. Higher up on the scale are high tech brands like Global which definitely outperform this traditional build. However, these Henckels blades are still good knives, and an advantage to this particular set is that it provides basic prep blades while allowing room for other choices.
Chef’s knife, utility knife, and paring knife will always be standard tools in the kitchen, and these strong full-bolster knives could provide a lifetime of heavy use. Unlike lighter builds, the construction of the handles is seamless and nearly permanent, protected from flexing damage by the strong forged bolster. The flat taper grind of the blades is mid-range in quality, well above the cheap bevel of bargain cutlery but not so efficient as the slender hollow ground blade of modern Japanese knives.
For beginning chefs, these Henckels knives will be easy to handle and easy to maintain. A quick honing with the sharpening steel keeps the edge in good shape and more serious refurbishing only requires an ordinary flat whetstone. Use them without worrying about chipping the cutting edge or snapping the blade — this old style of knife is tempered tough.
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