The Wüsthof Classic 7 Pc. Knife Block set is a great starter piece featuring quality knives that should stay relevant for a decade or more in your kitchen. The wood block is nice and compact, but offers extra slots that will allow your collection to grow.
The sharpening steel is too short.
This is a great set with key knives you'll use all the time, at a fair price.
Wüsthof is an old-school German cutlery-maker with name recognition that’s as good as the quality of its knives. The Classic series is Wüsthof's best known: These are the riveted, black-handled knives you’re still most likely to see in the knife kits of culinary students and in the knife blocks of American home cooks willing to invest in even moderately good kitchen tools. Knife sets are popular buys, via wedding registries or as a gift you give yourself when setting up a household. There are a lot of sets out there, from budget to blowout, but this seven-piece set has the virtue of being compact and relatively affordable.
Wüsthof’s Classic series #7417 set includes seven pieces: an 8-inch chef’s knife, 6-inch utility knife, 3.5-inch paring knife, 8-inch bread knife, 8-inch kitchen shears, 9-inch sharpening steel, and 13-slot block.
Classic series knives are forged from a single bar of alloyed carbon steel with full-tang design (i.e., the metal extends the whole length of the knife, from blade tip to the handle’s end). Handles are made up of two halves of black synthetic material riveted to the blade in three places. Blades are honed with what Wüsthof calls PEtec technology, a process of laser honing that reduces the angle to 14 degrees (down from 19), and then polished by robots on a whetstone—all of this is supposed to yield a finer edge, with blades that stay sharp significantly longer. The knife block itself—pale maple with nice wood grains—measures 4.5 inches across, so it fits on the average kitchen counter without crowding. After you put the six pieces in the block, there are nine additional slots to add knives as your collection grows: six smaller slots, one medium, and one relatively large. This is a set with room for expansion, and since we think a knife block should be a one-time purchase, we give that a thumbs-up.
The thing to determine with a set like this is whether all the individual elements work well and if they add up to a useful collection. We considered the pieces separately.
Chef’s knife (8 inches): The widest part of the blade measures 1.8 inches, and has a nice, gentle curve. The edge isn’t the thinnest we’ve seen, but the knife feels reasonably light and has the right weight to be good for rhythmic chopping (we tested it on onions). It’ll perform some very fine dicing and chopping over a pretty long life, if you’re good about keeping it sharp. This is primed to become any cook’s workhorse, the perfect marquee knife for a basic set. We score this knife an A.
Paring knife (3.5 inches): This is a good basic parer. We score this an A.
Utility knife (6 inches): The narrow, tapered blade makes this a knife you probably won’t use every day, but it’ll come in handy when you need something nimble, like when you have to take the meat off a chicken breast or fillet small fish. We tested it on a whole tai snapper that measured about 9 inches long and it did a great job breaking it down. We score this knife a B+.
Bread knife (8 inches): The blade is pretty thin, only 1 inch across. We assumed the small size would make this appropriate for baguettes and nothing else. But we tried it on a large round loaf and it did surprisingly well, thanks to the rigidity of the blade and the depth of the teeth. Also surprisingly, it didn’t take a huge amount of hand strength to zoom through a whole loaf. We score this knife a B.
Kitchen shears (8 inches): These shears are designed for snipping herbs and performing all sorts of tasks, from cutting twine to slicing parchment. The come-apart mechanism looks weak, but even after breaking down a chicken with these shears (a task they’re not even designed to do), they stayed together. We score these a B.
Sharpening steel (9 inches): The weakest part of this set. The steel’s length is fine for quickly putting the edge back on the smaller blades, but it’s a bit awkward with the chef’s knife. We score this a C.
Photos by Chris Rochelle