Up until 2009 I haven't really heard of Calphalon knives. I've seen their cookware on websites and that was pretty much it. Then, one day friend of mine asked to sharpen a few kitchen knives for him, and as usual I view that as an opportunity to a) practice my sharpening skills; b) evaluate and play with the knives I wouldn't buy myself and review them. So, that's how the very first Calphalon knife ended up in my hands. On the side not I can mention Calphalon 115mm paring knife that I got as a present and will be subject to Calphalon Experiment. Anyway, the first one was the 207mm(8") slicer and I've had it for about two weeks, sharpened, used, sharpened again and finally returned to its rightful owner.
General- Like many, or should I say, most of the loaner knives arrived to me, this slicer was really beat up. There was not much of the edge left on it, and as far as the sharpness went, in my estimation the back of the knife was slightly duller than the place where the edge used to be. Well, that's no biggie, the steel is soft, and unless it's too soft, it's real easy and fast to regrind a new bevel and put it back into shape. However, this poor blade had a bigger problem, the tip was bent. And the bend wasn't in a single place, at least two bends, creating a little wavy shape on the tip. By the way, this one was a good illustration of the differences between Japanese and Western knives. Simply put, should one try to bend the tip of the knife like that on Japanese knife, it'd break. Arguably, broken the tip is better than the bent one but, not everyone agrees. At any rate, I couldn't really sharpen the knife with a bent tip, so I had to fix that somehow. I didn't have blacksmith equipment, since I am just a programmer after all, so I did the best I could with the hammer and a metal plate. I can't commend myself for an excellent job, but the knife was more or less sharpenable.
As far as general characteristics of the Calphalon slicer go, it's a medium size slicer from Calphalon's Contemporary series. 207mm(8") blade may not seem so medium to a lot of people, but for a slicer it is either small or at best medium length. Fit and finish are pretty good for 45$ knife, well to be precise for 45$ you get that slicer and a carving fork. Judging from another Calphalon knife, that parer I mentioned above, Calphalon is your typical western low budget kitchen knife. The initial edge is around 40° total. Full tang blade, with polyresin handle and a bolster for whatever reason. Being a slicer, it's just 3mm thick. I'd consider that as a thick one for the slicer, especially 207mm(8") long. For comparison, Watanabe Pro Sujihiki or Watanabe Kintaro Ame Sujihiki are respectively 2.5mm and 3mm thick, both being 300mm(12") long. Therefore, it's also quite heavy, 224g(7.57oz). On the other hand, compared to 4-5mm thick western chefs knives of the same length, this slicer can be characterized as slim and slander.
Blade- As mentioned above, the blade on Calphalon slicer is 207.00mm(8") long. Blade geometry is simple, and very symmetrical drop point. Being a slicer, this knife is designed for rather specific tasks, and as such if doesn't need wide blade, so, not surprisingly the width of the blade at its widest point (the heel) is only 30mm. I've discussed its 3mm thickness in the paragraph above, so we can skip that part here. The steel used in this knife isn't exactly specified. As Calphalon states it is - «High-carbon German steel with Molybdenum and Vanadium». So, doing a little scientific guessing, and knowing that German steels start with the letter X and they use Mo and V to indicate the presence of Molybdenum and Vanadium respectively in the alloy I run the following query - X*Mo*V* on the Knife Steel Chart. Query returned 7 different alloys, and from what I can tell it's either X45CrMoV15 or X50CrMoV15. Either one is very similar to 440A steel, which isn't anything to be excited about. Still, for the price, it's not that bad, and most certainly beats the hell out of Cutco, which is the same 440A steel, except sold for few times the price. Hardness isn't specified, but judging from the knife sharpening experience and other kitchen knives from that material, and a knife size it's pretty accurate to say that the hardness for the knife of this size, from 440A or similar steel would be around 54-56HRC. Actually for larger knives it's very much likely to be on 54HRC side, or even 52-54HRC range. Smaller knives get heat treated to higher Rockwell Hardness, because they're less likely to receive the abuse larger knives would. So, in the end, summary is 440A class steel, around 54HRC.
Handle- As Calphalon proudly tells us, the slicer knife sports full tang handle with a buttcap, which is wrapped in a fiberglass polyresin, complete with bolster. So, in other words it has all three features the hypothetical good kitchen knife must have according to knife marketing. In reality, neither one makes a good kitchen knife, nor any of that is required to make a truly good kitchen knife, and you can read more about that in the How To Choose Kitchen Knife article, particularly, in the Don't Fall For the Marketing Hype section. Anyway, whatever that handle is, it is a pretty good handle. I did quite a bit of slicing and dicing with this knife while I had it and I felt it was doing ok. It's a little bulky compared to what I am used to, but nothing unmanageable. One more good thing about the handle is that it doesn't have all sorts of weird curves and protrusions in the name of ergonomics. Relatively simple handle and quite solid. I've used buttcap few times as a garlic crusher, and it did pretty good with that. Since the handle is polyresin, the grip security is high. It was never slippery, at least for the carving and slicing I did. Obviously, if you put it in a dishwasher the resin will deteriorate, despite of the fiberglass reinforcement. Heat and chemicals will take care of that. So, you've been warned ;)
Last updated - 09/01/11