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Henckels 31021-20 Twin Professional S 8in Chef's
Kitchen Knife Review

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Henckels 31021-20 Twin Professional S 200.00mm(7.87") Chef's Knife

One more loaner knife which ended up with me for repairs, sharpening and as a positive side effect - testing. Typical western kitchen knife, I've had quite a few of them during my kitchen knives research years and I can say, I'm quite familiar with them. Still, one more new specimen, different series, different details, therefore, a chance to discover something new, slim chance though. Anyway, I had the knife and it was really used, rather abused by my standards. Obviously, before I did any testing, I had to restore the edge, which was fairly easy, even though the blade had numerous chips and rolls. On this occasion, I got a single knife, which is less frequent, as usual I get several of the loaners for sharpening, at least when it comes to kitchen knives. Well, one knife was fine too. More time to test and pay attention to details, except there was not that much to discover about Henckels Twin Professional S series chef's knife, but I proceeded with due diligence ;)

General

- As I said above, the knife came to me used, so there was no packaging, and I can't comment on NIB condition. Although, I suppose there is nothing extraordinary with Twin Professional S series knives. Very traditional western kitchen knife, by geometry and construction. At least, as far as mainstream kitchen knives go these days. By description the Twin pro S has all the features high quality kitchen knives require. It is a full tang knife, with triple rivet handle and on top of all those goodies it also features full bolster to protect your fingers! What more could you ask for. In reality, none of it really matters, or is necessary for a high quality knife, kitchen or outside of the kitchen, I wrote about all that in greater details in the article How To Choose Kitchen Knives. I don't mind triple rivets, and full tang, but that damn bolster is really annoying, especially when you are sharpening, and it on the chef's knife it doesn't at anything to finger protection, there is sufficient difference between the blade and handle heights to prevent slippage and cutting your fingers. As for the balance, I dunno, if you are that sensitive to the balance and feel the bolster is one thing that makes it right, then go for it, but I doubt that. Other than that, there is not much to make this knife stand out, in fact, I have Wusthof chef's knife, also 8" long and if I'd cover the markings on both knives, I'd be hard pressed to tell one knife from the other.

Blade

- The blade on the Henckels 31021-20 Twin Professional S Chef's knife is 200.00mm(7.87") long. At the heel it is 4mm thick, and 46.40mm wide. Blade geometry is quite characteristic for the German style chef's knives, in that the belly curve is very prominent. In fact, the curve starts somewhere at the first inch or so from the heel. Because of that the blade looks more like a big triangle. Can't say I see that as a big advantage over more traditional German chef's knives or French style, which I prefer. The original edge was long gone, but initial angle was about 40° inclusive. Based on Henckels own info, I know Henckel finishes the edges with 120 grit belt, which is way too rough to my taste, but that's how it is. Later, when I've sharpened it, I've sharpened it all the way to 100K finish, ending with 0.25µ diamond crystal charged leather strop. Whether or not that is the best decision for the 56HRC-ish (56-58HRC officially, but larger knives are on the lower end of the official hardness rage, at least for mainstream western makers) blade is debatable, depending on the user sharpening skills and preferences. To be clear, my opinion is that high polished, thin edges work much better in the kitchen, and in many other uses as well. However, maintaining those edges is more time consuming, especially when the steel is as soft as typically used in western kitchen knives. It's easier to maintain rough edge, simply because there are less steps involved in maintaining it, but you'd be giving up cutting performance, especially with push cutting technique. And couple words about the alloy used in the knife, good old X50CrMoV15 stainless steel. Stain resistant alloy, quite stain resistant I might add. Never the less, with enough neglect, it rusts just fine. I did do an experiment on X50CrMoV15 steel knife, details are in the Stainless Steel Knives In A Dishwasher, Why You Should Avoid It, but in short, the stainless steel did develop rust after few wash/dry cycles in the dishwasher. Same will happen to your knife if you are not careful, and at any rate, avoiding dishwasher is a good idea.

Handle

- Henckels Twin Professional S series knives feature identical handles, that is in materials and construction. Handle material is POM, which is quite durable and resists water and food acids quite well. However, repeated cycles in a dishwasher, especially followed with dry cycles. This particular knife had no signs of deterioration, but I've seen others, on which the handle slabs started separating, corners crumbling and so on. In short, heat is not the best friend of the POM handles, but then again, for most of the handle materials excessive heat, like during the dry cycle in the dishwasher is nothing to be desired. Other than that there isn't much to say about the handle on the Twin Pro series, average in short. However, I'd have to say it is more secure than the smooth stainless steel handles on the Henckels Twin Select Stainless series, at least compared to Henckels Twin Select 30441-200 Chef's knife the handle on Twin Pro series was more stable for the same tasks, when I got avocado on my hands.

Usage

- After using and testing so many western kitchen knives, made from the same X50CrMoV15 steel, there isn't much to discover about that alloy, not in the kitchen at least. Therefore, I skip long tests, mainly because compared to high performance Japanese Kitchen knives, soft western knives don't fare too well, ergo, using them is not exactly a pleasant experience, I have to use extra caution and effort to do the work. Besides, long term use doesn't provide new information about the steel, it does the same in all knives. To compare, and ensure things are the same, I use standard sharpness test, i.e. cutting a cherry tomato using just the knife weight. I've described the test in details in Nenohi Nenox S1 Honyaki Gyuto review and in Henckels 34313-270 Miyabi 600D Fusion 255mm(10") Gyuto review. While those two knives get through about the half of the vegetables before they loose their ability to cut the tomato using their weight, average chef's knife made out of the X50CrMoV15 lasts less, as usual the test fails right after processing Brussels sprouts. May be, as I start Broccoli, but so far none of them lasted through those two ingredients. As for the Japanese kitchen knives I own, they go through the entire set of 15-17 lbs of 20 vegetables 3-4 times before they fail the test.

And now, the obligatory cutting test results. Even though I didn't cut all 15-17lbs with Henckel's Twin Professional S series chef's knife, I did cut every single ingredient and a piece of meat I had for testing. No grand discoveries. As usual, main hindrance was the thick edge which is typical for western knives, about 40° inclusive, but very thick compared to Japanese kitchen knives I am used to, which are anywhere from 10° to 20° inclusive. Anyhow, comparing western knife in this review with Japanese knives isn't fair and makes little sense, Japanese knives cut a lot better and stay sharp for much longer. On the other hand, comparing with other western chef's knives isn't all that interesting, because their performance is so similar. There are differences of course, if and when the blade geometries differ, and when handles are different, e.g. Twin Select stainless series handles. In this particular case more triangular edge was not of a significant importance. Using the knife in rocking motion was easier and more efficient, obviously so, since there is not much of a straight edge. If you want my opinion, German chef's knives, that is more standard German style, work even better for rocking motion, the blade on this particular knife is sortta weird, curve is very long and not as pronounced as on more typical German chef's knives. As for the specifics, chopping green onions, Italian Parsley, asparagus and celery was ok for a western kitchen knife. Compared with Japanese knives, it's nothing much to speak of. Mincing Brussels sprouts and Broccoli was more challenging, because of the thick edge, but on par with other, similar knives from Wusthof, Henckel, etc. I still had to use slicing motion for those ingredients, since push cutting with 40° edge angle, even with 100K finish is no fun. Besides, because of the continuous curve I had to hold my hand slightly downwards, which after some time became quite irritating. Carrots were also relatively problematic, but slicing solved the problem. Chiffonade from Basil and Collard greens was, how to say, not impressive. The knife lost some of the initial sharpness by then, even though I wasn't using it to cut all the veggies. However, 20° edge isn't the best for chiffonade. People do manage, but whether I want or not, I kept comparing things with my Nakiris and gyutos and Twin Pro S was pretty pale comparison with those. Still, it's doable, just the strips won't be as thin as with thin edged knives, that's all.

Conclusion

- Well, it's easy :) Twin Pro series chef's knife is just like so many other western mainstream knives, and as such, it represents pretty neutral or even easy choice, in that, it is easy to decide for or against it. Based on performance, construction, materials, etc, there are plenty of similar offerings from Wusthof, Henckels themselves, Victorinox, Messermeister and tons of rebrands and clones of those knives. As long as the price and design fit you, that's all you really need to care about. Performance wise, it is identical with all the other knives I've just listed. There isn't much that stands out about this knife, neither in a good nor in a bad way. Messermeisters in general are slightly better quality and with better initial edges as well, but initial edge is just that, initial edge, and soon it will need sharpening. If you are gonna neglect the edge, then it doesn't matter anyway, the original edge will be gone very soon, depends on your use, at least the edge that makes difference between Henckels and Messermeisters. After that they will be the same dull and that's all. If you are gonna sharpen, then NIB edge won't matter, because it's just for a short time. So, like I said, consider the budget and the design, the rest is of little importance.

    Specs:
  • Blade - 200.00mm(7.87")
  • Thickness - 4.00mm
  • Width - 46.40mm
  • OAL - 330.00mm(12.99")
  • Steel - X50CrMoV15 steel at 54-56HRC
  • Handle - POM
  • Weight - 263.00g(8.89oz)
  • Acquired - 05/2008 Price - 140.00$

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Last updated - 08/26/13