I personally don't really like traditional, German style Henckel Knives that much. Not that they're all that bad, not at all. In fact, they are much better than most of the mass production kitchen knives out there. But in my opinion, Wusthof knives are a little better, in terms of edge holding, although the designs are practically the same, and Globals are even better. That is designs, and the steel, which translates into better edge holding ability. Anyway, this 180mm(7") long blade, santoku knife was a remarkable piece in Henckel's line-up. And for that matter, have to note, there were not too many Granton edge santokus out there at all, back when it just came out. It was strange that so few knives had the scalloped edge, but later pretty much everyone caught on. Nova days, there is hardly a kitchen knife manufacturer that won't use granton edge on all kinds of knives in their lineup.
For the record, Granton edge refers to the edge with grooves on the blade, just above the edge. You can see them on the picture. I don't know about others, but a lot of times I did wish those grooves for my Fallkniven White Whale Santoku :) IMHO, those would be more useful on vegetable knives than on slicers. At least the meat I cut is less sticky than onion or cheese. Either way, reducing the drag on the edge is always a good thing, be it a slicer or a santoku knife. Also, for the stats, I have to add, this knife isn't mine. Sort of an occasional loaner. Therefore I don't use it on permanent basis, but on several occasions, I did use and sharpened it. That was enough to get the idea and compare to my Fallkniven santoku knife.
Blade- 180mm(7") long, typical santoku style blade. Rounded tip, wide, straight blade, very slight upward curve towards the tip. Major feature on the blade, of course the Granton edge. Can't say anything negative about Granton feature itself. It is indeed helpful, especially with sticky mediums. Well, it was designed to help with those. However, compared to other Granton edge knives, Henckel did manage to get something wrong anyway :( The grooves are way too low, and too close to the edge. This particular knife I've sharpened 3 or 4 times, and I was using extra caution not to remove too much metal, because it was clear from the day one, grooves were too low. Nevertheless, the edge, 80mm-100mm from the tip, is less than 1 mm from the grooves already. And that's with only 1000 and 2000 grit sandpaper used for sharpening.
If you decide to sharpen that edge with something harsher, like one of those kitchen knife sharpness sold in many stores, I'm sure, you'll manage to get to the grooves in no time. Bear in mind, western knives in general, and Henckels in particular, are made of a lot softer steels compared to quality Japanese kitchen knives. Thus, sharpening is more frequent, whether you want it or not. That's if you want a sharp knife.
To be honest, that's the only Henckel's Granton Santoku I've ever handled, so this one might be a lemon. On most of other knives, the grooves are located few millimeters higher than on the Henckel, providing more than sufficient metal to use a sharp knife for years, not being worried about sharpening.
Steel- Initially, I had no idea what was the steel used in this knife. I suspected either 440C, or 440A. Former being more wear resistant, and later being tougher and more stain resistant. Though, both are considered stainless steels. I think, for the everyday use kitchen knife, with minimal care the difference in stain resistance is negligible. I'd rather go for better edge holding. Again, Henckel may have different opinion. Well, they did have a different opinion ;) The actual steel was somewhere in between the two I was guessing about. It's the good old, German 1.4116 steel, also known as X50CrMoV15. Actually, the later, quite cryptic name is used by knife marketing pretty much all in 100% of the cases, while steel manufacturers and metallurgists use 1.4116 predominantly. Terminology aside, it is a pretty decent steel, and very stain resistant. Rather low on Carbon content - 0.5%, but it's somehow still referred as high carbon, even though high carbon steels in the industry are those with ~1% carbon content. Marketing guys, you know ;) My guess about its hardness was also correct, back then I wrote: «Either way most likely both steels would be hardened close to 55HRC at best». I found out later the hardness was 55-57HRC.
Officially, Henckel used their proprietary FRIODUR ice-hardening process. The best to my understanding that is some form of cryo quenching. Probably not liquid Nitrogen though, and not below -100. Although, judging by the cost of those knives it's not that unimaginable. In general cryo treatment does improve metal properties, including crystal structure, wear resistance, etc. Although, it is arguable how big of an improvement that is, but, definitely positive.
These days, at least since 2008 they use their All New SIGMAFORGE standard. So, it's safe to assume, FRIODUR is gone.
The rest of Henckel's advertisement regarding the benefits of their FRIODUR treatment was a little bit far fetched, IMHO. I am not sure I can imagine how ice or any other treatment can increase the edge density for example. Or what is that process doing so it provides a sharper initial edge for easier maintenance over time? I thought sharpening was meant for providing initial and follow-up sharp edges, and steeling for ease of maintenance, but what would I know. Anyway, seriously I don't see how even the most sophisticated and expensive heat or cryo treatment can sharpen the edge for you. Those processes can improve and in may aspects define knife steel properties such as toughness, wear resistance, edge holding, metal structure, but not sharpen it. Sounds like typical marketing hype to me. Nothing to get upset though. Bunch of other makers do the same, making wonder knives from super steels, slicing wises and tomatoes with equal ease ;) Just don't try that at home.
Handle- One of the best parts of this knife. Very comfy. And designed in such way that with forward grip push cutting is real easy. By the way this handle is longer than the handles on most of the kitchen knives I've handled so far. That's not the negative comment though. Longer or not, it is one of the most comfortable handles on the santokus I've seen. Handle is made of polypropylene, and is molded. Juncture blade/handle point has a bolster, so overall I wouldn't be worried about this handle falling apart, granted that the bolster was made and installed properly. Of course single piece knives are stringer in that regard, but this one is no weakling either.
Usage- Like I mentioned above, my use of this knife was rather limited. Main point of interest was the Granton grooves. Major testing materials were whatever I've had at home at the right time, and I knew was a problem with conventional edge. For all sticky materials, Granton edge does perform well. I mean, compared to flat blades. For some materials it performs better, for others worse, but overall preferable to have Granton edge vs. flat on sticky stuff. The only substance the granton edge clearly made no difference was the cheese. The damn thing will stick to anything and everything with sharp edge.
Interestingly enough, Granton grooves performed well during push cutting too. So, it's not only slicing that they can help you with. That is to the point, when most of the manufacturers produce only various slicers with this type of the edge, and not santokus. There used to be 3 or 4 Granton santokus out there, now there's plenty to choose from, plus granton chef's knives, slicers and whatever else.
- Blade - 177.80mm(7")
- Thickness - 3.17mm
- OAL - 304.80mm(12")
- Steel - X50CrMoV15 54-57HRC
- Handle - Molded Polypropylene
- Acquired - 06/2003 Price - 80.00$
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Last updated - 09/01/11