There are two places in the world considered to be the repository of the best: Germany and Japan.
And our two featured knives – Wusthof and Tojiro – come from those countries, respectively.
Wusthof is a German brand that has been making high-quality knives for over 200 years. Tojiro is a relatively new Japanese company that produces both Western and traditional blades. The former is a bit pricey at over $100 a piece. The latter is way cheaper but matches the German brand in quality.
|Headquarters||Niigata, Tsubame-Sanjo||Solingen, Germany|
|Steel Used||VG 10, Powdered High Speed,
Nickel Damascus, etc.
|Knife Construction||Forged||Mostly forged, a few stamped|
|Premier Series||Flash, Shippu Black||Classic|
|Best Asset||Wide variety of knives,
including traditional Japanese blades
Incredibly long history
|Price Point||Fairly priced||A bit pricey|
Both are highly acclaimed for their superior qualities, the only question that should be asked is: which of these two should be the workhorse of your kitchen?
Let’s Take A Quick Comparison
|Wusthof (specifically Classic)||Tojiro (specifically Shippu Black)|
|Factory & Headquarters||Solingen, Germany||Tsubame, Niigata, Japan|
|Steel and Formula||X50CrMoV15||VG10 with Damascus cladding|
|Edges and Beveling||Straight, double||Straight, double|
|Edge Angles||14 degrees on each side||Not indicated|
|Bolster Style||Full bolsters||No bolster, has resin collar|
|Handle||Black POM western-style||Black ‘Wa’ Handle|
Wusthof: Solingen’s Pride
Johann Abraham Wusthof started to manufacture shears in 1814, a subcontractor from a bigger metal crafting company in Solingen, Germany’s City of Blades.
But his sons wanted something bigger.
• 1836 – One of his sons created pocketknives and made this a headliner in their product line.
• 1869 – They added more cutleries and designed new blades.
• 1880 – They started to use the steam engine to power their factory which required them to transfer to a bigger location
• 1881 – Another one of Abraham’s sons looked for partner vendors in New York City.
Since then, they continued to grow, branching out to more countries on different continents. But for the past 200 years, they have called Solingen their home.
Formulating the Steel, Crafting the Knife
Many steel blends have been formulated over the years but when X50CrMoV15 was invented, Wusthof knew that this will be their go-to material for construction.
This stainless steel has 0.5% carbon content for sharpness, 15% Chromium and Molybdenum for durability and stain resistance, and Vanadium for corrosion resistance and long-lasting edge.
They follow a rigorous 40-step process which includes forging to polishing.
And while they have utilized the newest technology such as mechanical drop hammers and laser-assisted quality assurance, the human touch is integral in their business.
And they have made sure to keep it that way.
The Wusthof Line and Its Best Series
Because forging is still their forte, most of the series in the Wusthof line is forged.
But they also know that they have clientele who may not be able to shell out hundreds of dollars for just one piece that’s why some collections are stamped.
The Classic is still the best, hands down, according to connoisseurs and/or master chefs.
Their basic Chef’s knife, for instance, has a pointy tip, a wide profile with a slight curve on the sturdy spine, and a deep convex belly, full and thick bolster, and full and exposed tang. The durable POM handle is triple riveted to the tang.
Functionality, elegance, and durability – these are what make Wusthof amazing.
A Short Backgrounder on Tojiro
Compared to Wusthof with a single person at the helm since its founding, no one person is credited for establishing Tojiro.
But their history is just as remarkable.
• 1953 – The Fujitora Farm Equipment, makers of blades, gears, and other spare farm machine parts, was founded.
• 1955 – The company started shifting its focus to manufacturing blades, particularly kitchen knives.
• 1960s to 1970s – They started expanding, building three new factories in Tsubame. They also started to refine their products – finding the right steel and creating new designs.
• 1980 – The company is given local awards for its superb knife designs.
• 2000s – Tojiro held an exhibit in Frankfurt Messe to introduce their products. Soon, they started getting international awards and, more importantly, popularity in the Western market.
Formulating the Steel, Crafting the Knife
Forging is still the best way to go when manufacturing knives.
But while many top companies all over the world have succumbed to the ease and increased productivity that machinery provides, Tojiro has stuck to the traditional Japanese methods.
Yes, they have high-tech ovens and drop hammers as well, but a craftsman is still present – either supervising or directly working on every single piece that they put out there.
This is one of the things which make this Japanese brand truly awesome.
Here are the different steel blends that they use, depending on the variant offered:
• Nickel Damascus
• Molybdenum Vanadium
• Powdered High Speed
• High Carbon Stainless
• Aogami (Blue Steel)
• Shirogami (White Steel)
The Most Highly Acclaimed Series in the Tojiro Line
There are over two dozen different series in their product line. Some of these have been around since they shifted to cutlery making in the mid-1950s.
The most notable is the DP (and DP Damascus), Pro (with sub-variants: Nickel Damascus, Meister, Japanese Style), and the MV (with sub-variants: Double Bevel, Elastomer Handle).
However, one of the most striking is the Shippu Black. As the name implies, these knives have black handles and blades.
Place it in a magnet with other blades and you’ll go for this every time.
To give a clear description of this particular style, let’s use the 7-inch Chef’s knife as an example:
• This is made of VG10 steel that underwent a chemical conversion coating to give it the oxide black color and the Damascus ripple pattern on the blade’s face.
• It has a double-beveled straight edge.
The edge’s angle is not specified.
• Instead of a bolster, it is given a polypropylene resin collar that is colored black too.
• It has a full tang.
The specifics about its construction are not mentioned.
• The ‘Wa’ handle is made of fire-treated black chestnut wood.
Wusthof is one of the best, there is no doubt about that. But that fact is also the reason why it is also one of the priciest in the market. A single piece can go as high as $200.
Tojiro, on the other hand, has been dubbed ‘The Cheapest Japanese Knife’.
Their basic Gyuto that is loaded with the same great features as a Wusthof Chef’s knife is less than a hundred bucks – or half that if you get it on sale.
As it has been cited several times, these two are great buys. Getting either one will do so much for you while you’re laboring on various chopping board chores.
It all boils down to two things: the general style of the piece and the price.
Wusthof is all-Western and a bit expensive.
Tojiro is a Japanese piece through and through (even if you get triple-riveted gyuto’s) and is very affordable.
But if you’re finding it hard to choose still, take one and hold it in your hand and choose that which is more comfortable in your grip. You can’t go wrong with that.
Last Updated on September 3, 2021