Wusthof is, without a doubt, one of the best manufacturers of kitchen knives in the whole world.
They have been around for over 200 years and are headquartered, up to this day, in the historic hub for metalcrafts in all of Europe – Solingen, Germany.
There are several reasons why they are considered to be the best, but one that truly stands out is their products’ incredible sharpness.
With the staggering edge angle of 14 degrees (for their Western-style blades), Wusthofs are sharper than its Solingen competitor Zwilling JA Henckels.
It would seem that they have perfected their craft, especially when it comes to how they construct their knives, particularly the beveled belly.
The Three Basic Blade Edges
For efficiency in the kitchen, whether you’re working in a professional setting or just a home cook who wants to make good meals, it’s important to have a better understanding of your knife.
And it all starts with the whetted belly of your blade.
This is the most common type, found in a whole lot of knives from small paring ones to large cleavers.
It is usually the most incisive of all, great for most slicing and dicing chores.
This has oblong-shaped indentations or divots right on top of the bevel.
The small pockets prevent friction in between the blade and the food, allowing the sliced item to just fall off the knife and onto the chopping board. Some people call blades with indentations Granton Slicers.
This refers to small, saw-like teeth that are used to slice through items with rough or hard exteriors and soft interiors like bread, watermelon, pineapple, and even tomatoes. A variation of this type is the reverse scallop.
Although this isn’t exactly part of the conversation, it’s good that you have an idea about this particular type.
Are Hollow Edges a New Thing?
Most people are familiar with this type when the Santoku came into being.
When TV chef Rachel Ray lauded the Japanese piece in her show, she specified two points: the gently sloping tip which has become a safety feature, and the divots along the bevel which made chopping board chores more efficient.
However, the idea of preventing food adhesion while slicing has been taken into account for decades, way before it was pointed out by Rachel Ray.
The Hollow Side of the Single-Beveled Japanese Knife
Most traditional Japanese pieces are single beveled.
Shinogi is the angled grind and the Urasuki is the slightly concave surface at the back of the blade. The Shinogi cuts and the Urasuki push the sliced part away from the uncut ingredient.
The trouble with creating the Urasuki is that the bevel is made too thin and susceptible to breaking; that is why they have added the Uraoshi, a rim that surrounds the concave side, strengthening the vulnerable steel.
Early 1900s European Design
Although this came at a later time compared to the centuries of Japanese bladesmithing technique, the Granton style that was developed by Wm. Grant and Sons Ltd (probably where the name comes from) is the actual precursor of the Hollow Edge most people are familiar with today.
Here, the oval scalloped parts are positioned right above the bevel on both sides (European styles are double-beveled) so that the edge is not hammered dangerously thin.
Also, these slicers are made from thicker and softer metal than usual so that they won’t be at risk of chipping or breaking.
Is This the Same as Hollow Grind?
Many home cooks and non-experts often mistake Hollow Edges for Grinds. These two are completely different.
Both the bevels of the straight-edged blades, indented ones, and even serrated types are ground at a linear angle. As aforementioned, Wusthofs are given 14 degrees on each side while Zwillings have 15 degrees.
True hollow grinds have concaved bevels. This is what straight razors have that’s why they are incredibly sharp.
Unfortunately, that won’t last long and will need either replacement or professional sharpening. It is difficult to maintain the concaveness of this piece with the usual honing tools.
The Right Way to Hone Your Wusthof
The only maintenance work that knives need is honing. Do this before and after use and you would not have any blunting problems any time soon.
Re-grinding this into its factory-level sharpness may be needed once a year or even more if you’re not working in a professional kitchen.
Straight-edged bevels are quite easy to hone. You can use rods, pull-throughs, and even a whetstone for this.
Do take note that using those rectangular stone blocks requires a bit of skill and is time-consuming. However, the results are all worth it.
Granton slicers aren’t that hard to work on either – rods and pull-throughs are just as effective for this.
However, using a whetstone is not advisable, especially if you haven’t practiced using this, because it might damage the bevel and the indentations.
The good news is that Wusthof is made incredibly sharp, to begin with.
As long as you hone your tools religiously, re-sharpening won’t be an issue.
The company also has a line of great sharpeners like diamond and ceramic honing rods, two or three-stage manual sharpeners, and a super-effective electric sharpener.
The On-going Argument
This has been a point of contention by many connoisseurs in forums all over the internet: because a whole lot of knife styles now feature the oval dents – even Chef’s, paring, and utility knives – is it a good idea to get this or just the regular kind?
Some will say that the only good thing about the indentations is that it prevents food adhesion.
These people will also tell you that it’s a non-issue. If the sliced ingredient gets stuck on the steel, push it down or peel it off with your hand.
The Japanese have already seen the challenge with creating the ‘air pocket’ in their single-beveled pieces that’s why they have strengthened their Urasuki with the Uraoshi.
Modern double-beveled tools do not have that which means thinner steel that can break easily.
Some also complain about constant resharpening with hollow-edged blades compared to the straight ones.
And if you don’t know yet, manual sharpening is a skill that is quite difficult to learn.
All Things Considered, Which of the Two Works Better?
To be perfectly honest, the best tool in the kitchen is the most basic one.
If you’re choosing between a regular Chef’s knife and the one with hollow edges, go for the former.
A well-honed piece won’t create too much of that drag that some people complain about.
If you’re getting a Santoku, get the one with the divots. It’s already an accepted part of the design and it’s not exactly a handicap.
Last Updated on July 19, 2021 by Andy Wang