Paring Knives - Henckels 4 Star vs Windmill

Aug 12, 1999
We've used a set of 4 star Henckels for a number of years now and have been pleased with them. I alternate between using a steel and some ceramic V sticks on them, as both seem to work well. On a recent trip to Europe I picked up a small carbon steel paring knife from a company that I hadn't heard of before; Windmill. It was attractive because it was a sheepfoot pattern, full tang with a wood slabs, and mostly because it was so thin. It seemed to be on the soft side as far temper goes judging from sharpening, but it got sharp, very sharp. I was trimming fat from some meat the other day using the Henckels paring knife, decided to try the little Windmill knife out for comparison, and I was amazed at how much better the Windmill knife cut thru the meat. I guess the thinner and thus probably sharper edge accounted for a lot of the difference, even though it only cost about $7.50. I have some thin, full tang 3 1/4 inch Mora blades that I'll try next, blades that are high carbon steel at about Rc60.
Are the Henckels 4 star line a significant improvement over the lowest grade blade they offer (international series?).

I've not used the International series but I'll guess that there isn't a big difference.
I have a paring and chef's knife from the international line. On the positive side they have nice thin edges and can be sharpened easily on a butchers steel, dmt or ceramic rod. On the negative they are fairly soft and impact readily during the hazards of normal kitchen use. If I am really carefull they can last for weeks. But if I am not, they only go a few days before large sections are flattened and will readily reflect light. The slicing ability has been greatly reduced by then. I was thinking of upgrading as they claim there is a significant difference but was wondering if this was just hype? Do your Henckels behave similar to what I described?

The 4 star will blunt easily in the kitchen when used by my mother-in-law, she thinks we're ridiculous about the rules on using knives, but she also says that they cut much better than the ones that she has. My basic rules are to always use a cutting board, hand wash only, and keep them in a knife block. They will blunt quickly on glass, china, SS pots, etc., and don't hold an edge like a typical pocket or hunting knife. I've noticed that the 4 star 3in paring knife is often available for around $15 to $20, which is an easy way to try out the line.

I'm looking around for thin 3in to 4in knives of good steel that would serve as paring knives. We also use some of the Victorinox 3in paring knives, they're great for the $4 that I paid for them as they're thin (about 0.05 in) and cut well, but they're even softer than the Henckels and need to be touched up often. Mora carbon steel looks good, I wish such knives were available in Carbon V, and some of the fillet knives look like good candidates to try out as they also tend to be thin. I'd like to look at some of the Japanese knives too as the traditional ones seem to laminated.
My wife and I have used Henckels (4 star and international). We liked them ok. However, they are currently in a box. About a month ago, I asked my wife to try out my Rapala (Marttiini) 6" filet knife in the kitchen. Now she won't use anything else. We use it for everything - cubing steak for shish-kabobs, slicing brisket for sandwiches, cutting fruit, chopping veggies, slicing turkey breast. It blows every kitchen knife we've ever had away. And, I can have 10 of these for one Henckel. Don't get me wrong, the Henckels are fine knives, I just can't see using anything else now that we've gotten used to the rapala.

I just got a Kellum M571 based on Cliff's review. It's a bit thick for kitchen work, so it's now my general utility knife. Gonna order some Frosts of Sweden clippers for use as short paring type kitchen knives to complement the rapala...

Heck, I'm even thinking of ordering some mora blades and make my own handles for some fancy steak knives!
I use a fillet blade for kitchen work as well (Phil Wilson). Nice acute edge and thin stock, won't chop, but does everything else excellently.

One site stated that the 4 star Henckels were supposed to be Rc 58 +/- 2, which is a decent spec. They're cryo treated too.
Check out George Tichbourne's site if you're in the market for kitchen cutlery.
Or check out the Spyderco plain-edge 4.5" utility knife - their MBS26 stainless is harder than most anybody else's commercial kitchen knives.

Of course, a ceramic plate or countertop will defeat any steel.

For a working (not razor) edge that stays sharp almost indefinitely, there's the Kyocera zirconium oxide ceramic line (3" paring knife or 4" fruit knife), but they're not cheap, and if you pry with it even a little you're likely to have a shorter knife than you started with.

AKTI Member # SA00001
I have tried a ceramic blade for kitchen use, an Operator from McClung. It was not tough enough and would chip out during use. The edge was also really thick and it would cut poorly. Of course if I avoided hard contacts and just let it hit food it was fine, but then the Henckels will last weeks like that as well.