Wusthof Grand Prix series paring knife was one of those knives that end up with me for sharpening. As a positive side effect, I use the time to evaluate and test the knife. Although, sometimes I am pressed for time. I get few knives for sharpening, and time I have is about a week or so. However, more often it's better than that, since I try not to pick up too many knives at the same time, and hence have sufficient time to evaluate the knife properly. So, this time I've had several knives to sharpen and review as well, including another Wusthof - Grand Prix 4189 Santoku, several Chroma Cutlery kitchen knives, and a Furi vegetable cleaver. However, I've had few months to do all the testing I wanted, no real time constraints really. I just sharpened, tested and returned them as I had time.
As for the Wusthof itself, it is one of the best known western kitchen knife brands and Grand Prix is one of their more popular lines of the kitchen knives. Although, looking at their current catalog, I can't find Grand Prix series anymore, apparently Grand Prix was replaced with Grand Prix II. Wusthof website doesn't list any specific features of the Grand Prix line, except that it is a forged knife made out of the specially tampered high carbon steel to ensure outstanding strength. Interesting approach to the kitchen cutlery :) I personally, prefer kitchen knives built for cutting performance and edge holding. Although, majority of the western knives are built for strength, not for cutting performance, and that is a sad picture, although I wouldn't blame squarely the knife makers for that, abusive users are part of the equation too. I don't know which one caused it first though, chicken and the egg problem.
General- Since the knife came to me in used condition, I have no idea how it was originally packaged, or what was its original condition out of the box, although I can guess that it was ok :) In fact, when I got the knife it was in a pretty good condition. I'd say 95% condition. The knife had no visible problems, except strangely enough, there were couple rust spots on the bolster. By the way, this serves as a good reminder for those who consider so called stainless steels to be truly stainless, no they are not, and makers started calling them stain resistant for a reason. Wusthof paring knife confirms to most of the knife marketing myths, it is a fully forged knife, it has a bolster, full one at that, which on this knife servers a little purpose, and to complete the picture it has a full tang too. What's missing is the triple riveting to make it fully compliant to common knife marketing mythology. Well, I'm quite ironical about all those fully forged, full tang, triple riveted mantra knife sales brochures brag about, but as usual those do no harm, unlike those bolsters needlessly installed on most of the western knives. Although, none of those features guarantee a good knife either, well you can read about those and why to ignore all that in the Don't fall for the marketing hype chapter of the Kitchen Knife Buying Guide.
Blade- Wusthof Grand Prix 4005 Paring knife has a 80mm(3.15"), double grind, long blade, which is 18mm wide and just a hair above 1mm thick. All that is pretty typical dimensions of a paring knife. What is not so usual is the blade geometry. The edge is straight and the tip is rounded. This type of the knife blade is called sheepsfoot. Because of the rounded tip it's less likely to cause accidental stabbing, and that is why it was popular on sailing boats. For certain cutting works the straight section is more convenient, but lack of the pointy tip can be a problem too, more on its performance in the usage section. For the record, Wusthof also makes beards beak type knife, which is classified as a peeling knife, not that paring knives can't be used for peeling. Anyway, point is, it is a thin, short blade and that fits very good for paring knife tasks. The blade steel, described by Wusthof as a high carbon steel, is clearly stamped on the blade of the knife(thank you Wusthof!), it is the same X50CrMoV15 steel that Wusthof uses in most of their knives. The X50CrMoV15 steel(W-Nr 1.4116) is widely used by various manufacturers of kitchen knives and it was a pretty decent steel long ago. I wouldn't consider it as a premium cutlery steel today, but for majority of the western knives that's pretty much as good as it gets. Another sad fact BTW. Messermeister uses slightly better X55CrMoV15 steel for the record, which has slightly higher Carbon content. For the curious folks, X50CrMoV15 vs. X55CrMoV15 steel composition comparison. Japanese makers use much better steels for comparison, VG-10 steel for example is quite popular. As for the special tempering the steel receives, I have no information about that, at best that probably means cryogenic treatment as part of the overall heat treatment process. Other than that, all steels used in knives are tempered, so the statement gives us nothing specific. The blade had about 40° edge ground on it, and that was the factory edge, since the owner has never sharpened it. 40° is way too thick for a paring knife, well unless you use it to split open the lobsters with it, but that edge is standard type edge for virtually all of the western kitchen knives, not that it is a compliment though. I've resharpened the edge to slightly lower, 36° angle, that'd be 18° per side. It's not my knife, so I didn't lower it any further, but the edge was in a good shape, it's not a hard use knife and based on that I've lowered the edge slightly. If next time it is still in good shape, I'll lower it down to 30°, we'll see.
Sharpening- Overall, Grand Prix paring knife is pretty easy to sharpen. The edge wasn't damaged, but I was thinning it down. Given X50CrMoV15 steel and its hardness, I've picked Bester 700 grit Japanese waterstone to grind the new bevel, and it was more than sufficient for the job. New bevels were ready in just under 5 minutes. Next was the 1200 grit King whetstone, then the 3000 grit synthetic (blue) aoto waterstone and, few strokes per side on the 5000 grit Naniwa Chosera waterstone, followed by probably 5 minutes on a 8000-12000 grit Kitayama waterstone. To finish the process I've stropped the knife consequently on 0.5µm diamond crystal loaded leather strop, 0.25µm diamond crystal strop, and a plain leather strop. Few steps in the process could've been skipped, e.g. 3000 or 5000 grit stones, or even both, but I did it anyway. Practice makes it perfect ;)
One interesting detail worth mentioning, I was sharpening two Wusthof Grand Prix knives simultaneously, the 4005 paring knife and its bigger brother, Grand Prix 4189 Santoku. The paring knife was definitely harder steel, which was especially visible in the high grit stone like 8000-12000 grit Kitayama waterstone. Using the same pressure(as much as I could), each stroke of the Grand Prix Santoku left considerably more metal on the stone than the paring knife. Now, this is not exactly scientific test, but given the fact that both blades are made from the same, X50CrMoV15 steel, the only reason one knife would resist abrasive action of the waterstone better than the other, is its hardness. it's quite simple actually. I was using identical waterstones for each step during the sharpening, and I could notice that paring knife was taking more strokes for the same length of the edge to get sharp. Just on the high grit stone it is also visible, especially on the light color waterstone like Kitayama. This was another confirmation of the "street wisdom" that western knife manufacturers heat treat the same steel at lower hardness for the longer knives while the specification stays the same 54-56 or 56-58HRC. In other words, you are much more likely to end up with 54HRC longer knife(6" and above) than the short one. Although, I personally wouldn't consider neither 56HRC nor 58HRC a high hardness for the paring knife. I've got Japanese paring knives in the rage of 62-65HRC and they're doing just fine. Watanabe Ko-Deba and Tojiro Paring knife would be good examples of high hardness paring knives.
Handle- The handle on the Wusthof Grand Prix paring knife is actually longer than the blade, which is understandable given the 80mm length of the blade. As for the handle material, Wusthof catalog doesn't list handle material, that goes for both, their marketing brochure and their website. All I have is that the handle is synthetic, duh? I figure it's either polypropylene which is very popular in kitchen knifes or something similar to it. The handles on all Grand Prix and Grand Prix II series knives are black color. If you want something more cheerful, then Wusthof also makes Grand Prix II colour series knives which have colored handles, each color indicating the designed purpose of the knife, red - meat, green - vegetables, etc. As far as handle ergonomics go, I was pretty happy with it. Not too many curves, relatively simple handle, providing good working comfort and quite secure grip. I was peeling bunch of avocados and cutting them with this paring knife, so you can guess, my hands soon were covered in oily substance, while the handle did became more slippery, it was still controllable. Bolster/Handle transition was pretty smooth, which is both, build quality indicator and since paring knives are often held in a specific way, i.e. bolster ends up somewhere in the middle of your palm, it's important not to have any protrusions in the area. Last feature of the handle, round metal badge embedded into it, where the lanyard hole would be, with Wusthof logo on it. Lanyard holes don't really serve any purpose in kitchen knives, although I can't say this badge serves any purpose other than decorative.
Usage - 36° Edge- Occasionally, I try to use the loaner knives in their original condition, as is. That so far never proved to be a good idea. With the Wusthof Grand Prix paring knife I didn't even try that, the blade was too dull and 40° thick edge wasn't anywhere near the optimum for the small knife designed for rather delicate cutting chores. After sharpening the knives I had perfectly polished, very sharp edge, which was slightly lower than the factory edge. It still makes a difference, if your knife is sharp. To have at least some base for performance comparison I've picked couple of the paring knives I have, more or less similar to the Wusthof's - first one was the Global GS-40 paring knife, and a second one was Tojiro Flash paring knife. Unfortunately, both of the competitors have longer blades, and the only other paring knife, with similar blade length to the Wusthof's - Global GSF-15 paring knife is way too different, very slim and narrow at that to be a good comparison, so I've decided on the Tojiro and Global GS-40.
Considering that the application of a paring knife is somewhat limited, I've proceeded with peeling a mundane apple. Handle comfort, or grip comfort since I had half of the blade in my grip as well, was good. Mainly I was interested in the point of this paring knife, as you can see on the photo, it is less pointy than other types of the paring knives, and that rounded point doesn't really do a good job with pointy tip works, i.e. in this case cutting out apple seeds. It works, but a little more troublesome than the more traditional, more narrow tip on majority of the paring knives.
next up, was rather unusual cutting task, but it is a pretty good test for any peeling/paring knife and your cutting skills as well. I am talking about cutting a red radish into very thin sheets. Normally that is done on a daikon and it's called Katsura Muki. If you are up to the challenge, you can do that not only with daikon, but radish, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers and few other vegetables as well. Generally double bevel knives are not really good for that, but the straight edge makes katsura muki process easier, so I went for it. Besides, I was experimenting with the knife and testing its comfort/performance, so why not. The end result was not great, obviously Usuba is a lot better than the peeling knife, despite its smaller size, which seems to be better because it's smaller, Wusthof peeling knife has thicker and double ground edge, hence worse performance compared to usubas. However, compared to Tojiro it was slightly easier, thanks to its straight edge, even if Tojiro paring knife had sharper edge. Still, if you don't have single grind edge knife, and you have to do something like that, straight edge is definitely handy.
I did some more cutting, with small items again, part of it was Brussels sprouts. Cutting the ends and in general cleaning them was quite good, although Tojiro won this round, obviously thanks to its thinner and sharper edge. Besides, for purely paring works, Tojiro handle was a lot more convenient. Shredding the same sprouts was a real pain, since I had to place the sprouts on the board and the knife with no knuckle clearance is no good for that work. Although, I've seen enough people do just that, with boning knives, with utility knives. it's inconvenient, it's slow. Anyway, that part, can not be blamed on a paring knife, it is not designed to work for those types of cutting.
Conclusions- Overall, it's an ok. knife for its price. Especially if you need a sheepsfoot knife. I'm no big fan of that blade geometry, but I can see its benefits on the boat. Anyhow, the steel is alright, definitely better than nameless junk from many makers, including 440A stainless steel. Nothing revolutionary or grand, but the price isn't grand either. 25$ MSRP probably isn't exactly cheap for 3" paring knife. On the other hand, it's still better quality knife than many others. I wouldn't buy it, but my criteria are different from your probably ;)
- Blade - 80.00mm(3.15")
- Thickness - 1.07mm
- Width - 18.00mm
- OAL - 185.00mm(7.28")
- Steel - X50CrMoV15 54-56HRC
- Handle - Polypropylene
- Weight - 53.00g(1.79oz)
- Acquired - 06/2007 Price - 25.00$
- Watanabe Ko-Deba Knife Review
- Tojiro Flash Paring Knife Review
- Shun Classic Paring Knife Review
- Global GS-40 Paring Knife Review
- Global GSF-15 Paring Knife Review
- Henckels Twin Select Paring Knife Review
Last updated - 09/01/11