JA Henckels Knives – forged to last a generation
JA Henckels Zwilling was founded in Solingen, Germany in 1731 and is still recognized worldwide as a symbol of fine cutlery. Henckels is the largest kitchen knife manufacturer in the world and they made their reputation by forging quality knives that last a generation or more.
Henckels currently offers 12 different lines of kitchen knives. Here’s a brief comparison of a range of these in terms of quality, fit, finish and value and a comparison of costs.
Henckels Twin Cermax
The Henckels Twin Cermax line was developed in the last few years ago to compete with the explosion of popularity in high end Japanese kitchen knives. In fact, Henckels bought one of Japan’s leading manufacturers of quality knives in 2004 and produce these knives there. The blade is as sharp as a scalpel and the wood-like appearance of the Micarta handle offers excellent ergonomics. The fit and finish overall gets the highest mark.
Unfortunately, these knives are also the most expensive considered here and the number of styles is limited. However, if you want a great knife from Henckels this is the line to choose.
The Henckels Twin Cermax Chefs Knife can be bought from Amazon UK for around £215.
Henckels Twin Select
The Henckels Twin Select line has an all stainless steel look and have comfortable, ergonomic, stainless steel handles. The blade edge is very sharp but not as sharp out of the box as the Henckels Twin Cermax. These knives have a large bolster which is common among many German knives which can make the knives difficult to sharpen at the base of the blade.
The Henckels Twin Select Chefs Knife can be bought from Amazon UK for around £80.
Henckels Pro S
The Pro S range is Henckels best selling line. It features their famous 3 rivet handle design along with their premium forged blades and full tang. Some have criticized Henckels for welding the blade to the handle instead of the more traditional method of forging the entire knife at once. This is a cost saving method but we have never heard of anyone breaking a knife at the weld which is invisible to the user. Again the Pro S out of the box is a little less sharp than the Twin Cermax and Twin Select but the edge they provide lasts a long time before you need to re-sharpen.
The Henckels Pro S Chefs Knife can be bought from Amazon UK for around £80.
Henckels Four Star II
The Henckels Twin Four Star II replaces the Four Star line and offers the same blade with a handles that has a metal cap. The extra metal in the handle moves the balance point back to the handle and this makes them feel perhaps a little clunky in your hand. You tend to fight the weight instead of feeling that the knife is an extension of your hand which is the case with well balanced knives. There’s a good amount of clearance between the blade and the handle so your hands don’t hit the cutting board.
Henckels Twin Cuisine
The Henckels Twin Cuisine Line replaces the Five Star line and offers the same blade with a another similar heavyweight handle as the Four Star II. The extra metal in the handle moves the balance point back to the handle and like the Four Star II this makes them feel clunky in the hand.
The Henchels Twin Cuisine Chef Knife can be bought from a number of UK shops and Amazon UK from around £70.
Some Words Of Caution
Be careful when you buy Henckels knives that sport the “International” name in the brand. If they say made in China we would avoid them. Stick with the Twin Cermax, Pro S, Twin Select, 4 Star II and Twin Cuisine lines which are all high quality knives made in Germany.
Knives should feel good in your hand. They should not be lightweight and the blades should not bend easily. The best knives are forged, but stamped knives, which are cut out of a sheet of steel, can take an edge well and are more reasonably priced.
Avoid large sets of knives, particularly one with 12 or more pieces. Consider what your needs are. The knives you need are the ones you’ll use daily or weekly. By buying fewer knives, you can invest in better-quality ones.