As usual western kitchen knives are not part of my collection, but I get plenty of those as loaners. Henckels twin select chef's knife was one of those knives that I got for sharpening and testing. Actually, I got a whole bunch of various twin select series knives for the same reason and overall it took about a month to test them all. Normally, if wouldn't take that long, but I have to tell the truth, it was no joy, using those knives, not necessarily because they are very bad, rather typical western kitchen knives, but I am so used to high performance cutters that it is becoming a real nuisance to use average western kitchen knife with its thick edge. It takes time to get used to thick edges, again and again. Well, still interesting at some level. At least I have to work with the new knives.
General- Well, generally speaking, Henckels Twin Select chef's knife is a typical representative of traditional western(German to be precise) cook's knives. I got the knife in a used(really well used) condition, so comments on packaging and in the box condition will be omitted. The edge was all but gone. Even though the twin select stainless series knives are made using one of the most stain resistant alloys used in kitchen cutlery, specifically X50CrMoV15 stainless steel, the blade still showed signs of rusting and I've found couple discolorations on the handle as well, which is even more stain resistant alloy than the one used in the blade. As I've said in many other kitchen knives reviews, neglect the knife bad enough, and any steel will rust. Ok, enough about the rust. Twin select series knives feature all stainless construction, and the handle is one of the main distinctive features. I'll discuss the details in the handle section, but overall, it is fairly comfortable and user friendly, albeit not very secure. And one of the highlights, as any knife salesman would be happy to inform you, the full bolster to protect your fingers(not really, it's the handle/blade height difference that does it). That bolster did make me cringe few times while I was sharpening the knife. Twin select chef's knife isn't very light for its size, 297.00g(10.04oz) to be precise. That's thanks to all metallic construction, and 4mm thick blade. it's a pretty well made knife, I didn't have too many complaints about its quality, although that bolster was a definite negative in my opinion, however there a lot of people who feel happy and safer with bolsters. Another not so positive feature was the visible seam between the handle and blade. Can't say it was too rough or irritating for the palm, but I'd rather have seamless connection, or more refined connection, invisible. Either way, that doesn't affect knife performance.
Blade- The blade on Henckels Twin Select 30441-200 Chef's knife is 200.00mm(7.87") long, 4mm thick at the heel and 47mm wide at the same spot. Fairly standard dimensions, including hefty 4mm thickness :) The blade geometry is that of a typical German chef's knife, in that the belly curve starts somewhere mid blade, even closer to the handle. As far as my tastes go, I prefer French or gyuto style more, with longer straight section and smaller belly, but obviously German style chef's knives have their fans, and it's a very personal choice in the end. Even though the blade was very dull, it was easy to see that the original edge was standard V type edge, quite coarse finish, from what I know it's about 120 grit or so. I think that's unnecessarily rough, especially for a kitchen knife. Well, factory edges are very rough most of the times, and the knife needed sharpening anyway. But, generally speaking, when you get a new knife it is as usual justified to sharpen it, even though those rough edges feel sharp and aggressive, they are not necessarily sharper and cutting performance isn't really improved, especially when you need to cut thin slices, or simply make clean cuts. However, when the steel doesn't have high hardness and edge retention, coarse edges can work alright, especially if you are not in the mood of frequent sharpenings. For the record, there is a difference between sharp and polished edges, and one doesn't necessarily mean the other and vice versa. 120 grit is too rough to achieve high sharpness, but then again, lots of people do not have very high demands regarding their knives sharpness either. Edge angle was ~20° per side, perhaps a bit higher, may be couple degrees, but that didn't change much, it's a very thick edge for a kitchen knife, but that's not really new, all western kitchen knives are like that. Even the thin blades of Robert Herder kitchen knives have the same 20° per side edge. Other than that, there isn't much to say about the blade, bunch of markings on the left side, including Henckels logo, model, Friodur(indicates cryogenic heat treatment of the blade) and barcode which shows knife making plant, lot and time.
Handle- As described above, the handle on Twin Select series knives is made of stainless steel, most likely something along the lines of AISI 420 stainless steel or perhaps even 410 class. The handle appears to be hollow, which is one way to reduce the overall weight. Solid piece of steel of that size as a handle would be too much and change the balance towards the handle way too much. Besides the balance, swinging a heavy knife for hours can be tiresome. The handle geometry and ergonomics are quite user friendly, I give it that much, however, handle security is something to be desired. To be more precise, it's alright while the handle and your hands are dry, but one either of them gets wet or oily, things become complicated, unnecessarily complicated if you ask me. Smooth stainless steel doesn't provide much to hold on once the traction is lost. I'm not in the favor of rectangular and blocky handles, but on the other hand, round handles with smooth surface are rather a disaster with wet/oily hands, and in the kitchen it's pretty hard to keep your hands dry and clean. I'm not into messy cooking, but never the less it's not easy. In short, to me it was an issue, lack of grip security with a smooth stainless steel handle, and I did get similar feedback form at least one other user of the Twin Select series knives. The rest is up to you I guess.
Usage- Considering that I know X50CrMoV15 steel very well, there was no real reason to conduct full scale testing. I've already tested number of kitchen knives in that alloy, from Henckels and from other makers too. Very similar performance, not stellar either. Main interest with Twin Select Chef's knife was to evaluate its behavior with various ingredients. I had plenty of vegetables, the usual set, about 20 different types, 15-16lbs. Plus some meat, since it's a general cooking knife :) Like I said above, it was no fun to use it, but you have to keep in mine(and I kept reminding myself) that comparing Twin Select chef's knife with Japanese knives with edges twice as thin was not fair. So, fun or not, I'll try to be objective. In short, if you are used to Japanese knives with thin edges, you can skip the rest and this knife as well. If you are looking for the western kitchen knives and are ok using them, then it is a fairly good representative. I went through variety of vegetables, and overall performance was alright comparing with mainstream western kitchen knives. Chopping Italian Parsley, green onions and baby spinach mix was fairly easy, as easy as it can be with 40° inclusive angle. However, because of the long belly, rocking motion is quite natural with German chef's knives and that part helps. Long curve also increases length of the cutting edge, so as far as slicing is concerned, the Twin Select chef's knife performs quite well. Again, thanks to its long curve. Mincing broccoli crowns was fairly easy, using slicing motion, push cutting was much worse, again because of the 40° edge, but that's what it is. If you are using other knives with a similar edges, then this is no different :) When I did run into problems, that was avocados. First I cut them into 4 pieces, removed the seed and then skinned the slices. By the time I was done with all that, my hands and the knife were already quite slippery because of the Avocados and that's where I got to fully appreciate slippery handle on the twin select chef's knife. Not good. I figure, working on other products, like processing a chicken(chef's knife being not the best choice for the task) will result in the same problem. Slicing meat is alright, however, if you are attempting to clean the meat from fat and tendons, you're risking slippery hands and handle again. That's pretty much all there was to this knife.
Conclusions- Being objective I have to say, for a western knife, Henckels Twin Select is a good knife. Main drawback being the handle which becomes difficult to hold onto, once your hands, or the handle are wet or oily. Other than that, typical midrange(price-wise) German style chef's knife. No specific advantages or disadvantages over comparable offerings from other makers, or Henckels themselves, save for the smooth stainless handle, about which I've already said enough. All metal construction might hold certain aesthetical appeal for some users, but practically, I don't see it as a positive, for the reasons discussed above. Keep in mind, even though the knife is all stainless steel, it is still not a good idea to put it in a dishwasher.
- Blade - 200.00mm(7.87")
- Thickness - 4.00mm
- Width - 47.00mm
- OAL - 347.00mm(13.66")
- Steel - X50CrMoV15 54-56HRC
- Handle - Stainless Steel
- Weight - 297.00g(10.04oz)
- Acquired - 06/2007 Price - 100.00$
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Last updated - 08/26/13