Calphalon vs Anolon vs Norpro...opinions?

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Assistant Cook
Feb 7, 2009
Hi, I was at Marshall's today and they have...

1. Anolon Advanced 7.5" Kyotsu
2. Calphalon 7" Santoku
3. Norpro Klever 7" Santoku

I didn't realize Anolon was making knives so I was suprised to see one on the shelf. I know Calphalon made knives. I've never heard of Norpro.

The Anolon lists their steel as German CroMo V, Ice Hardened and Glass Finished steel but it's actually made in China (steel sourced from Germany).

The Calphalon lists their steel as German steel but also made in China

The Norpro lists it's steel as X45CrMoV15 German steel, also made in China.

I'm guessing here. Is Anolon sourcing it's blades from Henckels because of the Ice Hardened marketing?

According to this source *sorry, can't post this yet due to forum restriction* the DIN shortened specification of EN X50CrMoV15, which is what Wusthof uses although the W claims their steel is 42(83?) not 4116, is X45CrMoV15. This makes me wonder about the Nordpro blades.

Calphalon? I have no idea but imagine it's one of these two.

Anyway, a little background first, I do own some Wusthof and a set of Henckels 5 star that I got years ago. I'm not THAT into knives that I want to buy Japanese steel at this point in time. I've noticed the Santoku design for awhile, I've seen and heard raves about the style and I've been curious to try it. Now, silly me, I got some cheapo Grand something or other for $5 a couple of years ago and of course I hated it but as I've had my Chef's knives I figured it was no big deal and I eventually gave it away. Today, as I was shopping at Marshall's I saw the three previously mentioned knives - the Calphalon and Analon for $20 and the Norpro for $10. The sales clerk was alright with me taking them out of the package and they all felt decent in my hand.

What I don't know, as I'm not really in the knife circle so to speak, is what grade steel I should expect from these knives? I know that German steel in general is doesn't hold it's edge like Japanese steel but there are still levels within German type steel. Looking around while searching for info many here show they are very knowledgeable.

So my question is (all that just to get to this? :LOL:): "Do the steels found in the aforementioned knives represent Wusthof or Henckels at it's finest or are they more comparable to the, what I would call, midgrade steel you find in the, for example, Henckels branded knives (the more expensive ones) at Target. It seems like Calphalon has "premium" in their literature for the Contemporary collection but not for their Everday collection which signifies to me that the former is better? I can't find anything on Norpro (not even their website) except for a few for sale listings on Amazon.

For the record, I signify midgrade steel to represent a knife that doesn't hold it edge as well as the top levels in their respective steel types (ie German sourced steel). I know $20 isn't that much in the long run but I figure it doesn't hurt to get opinions and information anyway, does it? Maybe there's a "sleeper" in the bunch which would beat shelling out more money for a tried and true brand name? Any hands on experience, advice and knowledge you can throw my way would be appreciated.

Are they the Calphalon Katana-series knives? I've seen a few of those laying around my local TJX stores. The VG-1 is reputed to be a pretty good steel. Not as good as VG-10, but it's supposed to have a fairly high carbon content.
I picked up a Calphalon Katana Honesuki on clearance at BB&B the other day. I used it to dress some chicken thighs and was very impressed with it. I don't know if the sharpness will last but for $25 I thought it was worth it.

The Wusthof knives I have are made in Germany. I think even the stamped knives I saw at Macy's were made in Germany as well. The Nordpro knives might use a similar steel at Wusthof but I doubt that they are rebranded W knives.

If you want a good cheap knife, you can get the 10" Forschner by Victorinox Chef's Knife from Amazon for less than $25. The eight inch one costs about the same. This is the knife that Cooks Illustrated recommends.

Specifics (If you don't mind my asking)?

The steel they use doesn't hold an edge that well, especially when they charge above 'rubbish' prices.

The handles are horrible. You'd need hands the size of dinnerplates in order to hold them comfortably and the non-slip grip is useless and annoying.
Do you think the Calphalon is better than the Anolon or are they too similar? Compared to Wusthof? I've been reading this forum for a good part of the day and I know some don't hold the German steel in high regard. Still, for comparison's stake, using Wusthof as one of the top rated German steels I don't think would be out of place.
The Katana knife says Japanese steel made in China. I don't know what model you are looking at so it would be hard to say if it was comparable to German Steel.

The Katana knife says Japanese steel made in China. I don't know what model you are looking at so it would be hard to say if it was comparable to German Steel.


Whoops, I thought I had said it was the Contemporary line. I noted the C. line, just not that it was the same as the knife I was looking at. Sorry.
Maybe you did say Contemporary and I just forgot.

I'm not familiar with the line but people seem to like them on Amazon.

After searching for the steel it also appears ScanPan uses X45 CrMo V15 for their knives. After a search I've seen jpaulg recommend ScanPan as medium range German knives (I'm assuming you mean the Classic line not their Damascus steel line?).

I read the Amazon reviews for several Contemporary Calphalon knives. The issues I have with those reviews is that it's hard to glimpse just how knowledgeable most of the reviewers are. Whereas here, with someone like Buzz or jpaulg, you can really tell they are knowledgeable (no, I'm not sucking up...just pointing out what I've observed after looking at many search threads.) Right now I'm down to the Norpro or the Calphalon. With so little to say about the Anolon I'm going to have to drop it from the list.
The Scanpan Damastahl range uses VG10 steel, which is a premium steel, and I'm very impressed with their performance in the kitchen. The Classic range is just another mid-range knife in the German mould, nothing wrong with them just nothing to go 'wow' over. The blades and handles are very well designed and if you want a mid-range European designed knife there are much worse options on the market (Analon for one).

I've seen Scanpan knives on runout specials around here so there might be some good bargains on them in your neck of the woods. If Scanpan stop making knives the only fly in the ointment would be if you wanted to collect some more of the same.
So I decided I wasn't going to get any of three from my first post. After doing some comparison shopping I realized that A. The $20 Calph wasn't really that good of a deal and the Norpro was just looking way too cheap. The Norpro had no contact address, no guarantee (although doesn't necessarily mean anything per se) and the blade did not list it as being forged. My guess now is that the Norpro are factory reject blades from somewhere, thrown into an "attractive" box with enough weight in it to confuse someone (like me) who doesn't know all that much about good knives from bad. IE "If it looks like a German blade is must be." And there's also another reason for my decision, I spent too much time looking around here at all the various threads. D**M YOU ALL TO...." :mad: :LOL:

I think I'm going to save up for a Shun Classic (or comparable) or (I wish) Hiroo Itou 240mm Gyuto. If you're going to do it, do it right. After hearing about the Santuko vs Chef's knife design "debate" I realize I don't really care all that much anymore. Consider me de-foodnetworked!!!!
Shuns make very good knives, hard to go wrong with their Chef or Gyotu knives.

Just a little word to the wise, a lot of the people on knife forums are very pro-Japanese. Western manufacturers still make good knives with good qualities, its just that the Western manufacturers and Japanese manufacturers have different priorities which shows up in their blade design and materials used.
Agreed. I wouldn't necessarily recommend a Japanese knife to everyone. They're less forgiving of poor handing, they require a different technique to sharpen and they're (generally) not as 'robust' as a German. A Wusthof hardened to 53-56 will have a more malleable edge than a Hattori with a hagane hardened to 65 rC. The harder knife will chip on things that would merely cause the softer knife to distort or 'bend.' If I'm going to split a lobster I'll generally use my Wusthof, not a Shun, Hattori, Kanetsune, or Tojiro.

Likewise, the ol' carbide ripper will keep a serviceable edge on a German knife, but running a Japanese thru it will tend to chip the blade very badly. The ripper (eg Accusharp) is really hard on a softer blade, too, but not as bad as it is on the really hard ones.

One thing though; the thinnes of a Japanese blade is nice. Even a dull thin blade will cut pretty well, there's just less friction.

All of that said the 'disadvantages' of Japanese-type knives is usually overstated. All but the most kitchen-skills-challenged people can use them very well.
I've go a German designed (F.A. Porsche) Japanese style 10-inch chefs knife by Chroma. The uniquely shaped metal handle blends into the blade with no bolster, or areas to trap food, and so is very easy to sanitize. I've been using this knife for 5 yars now, and have never had to sharpen it. I use it an a hard-rock maple cutting board, chopping, slicing, dicing, and have used it on every type of veggie from rutabeggas, to butternut squash. I slice tomatoes transparently thin with this knife and have used to cut rope, open cardboard boxes, cut through plastic containers, seperate bones, at the joint, and a host of other chores that your not supposed to do with your Good knife. I only run it accross my Chicago Cutlery steel that I purchased 30 years back. It's still razor sharp, lightweight, and a breeze to use. I'm very satsified with this $90 + knife.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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