Wusthof Canada: All I Wanted Was A Sharp Knife

2018, Jul 12    

Wusthof 2909-7 Handheld Knife Sharpener with Shears

It all began with this…

Wusthof 2909-7 Handheld Knife Sharpener with Shears.

This sharpener never really worked as it should and in my opinion actually made my Wusthof knives worse.

I decided to test out the customer service quality of Wusthof Canada on this lower value item as I’ve never had any issues with the quality of their knives.

I am wanting to sharpen the following equipment:

  • 4175/17cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Santoku With Hollow Edge
  • 4585/20cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Cook’s Knife
  • 4165/23cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Bread Knife With Serrated Edge
  • 4040/9cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Paring Knife
  • 4625/18cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Fillet Knife
  • 4417/16cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Meat Fork
  • 4525/16cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Utility Knife
  • 4525/20cm Wusthof Grand Prix II Carving Knife

I’m going to try to keep this concise as this has been an ongoing ordeal for some time now.

Friday June 22, 2018:

  • Initial email stating issues with knife sharpener (Wusthof 2909-7)
  • Added url to pictures of all Wusthof equipment owned

Monday June 25, 2018:

  • There is no one there who can address my issues at the present
  • I may contact this individual the week of July 3, 2018
  • Responder indicates that url doesn’t work
  • Odd I must say
  • Response sent by me
  • Replacement of the sharpener requested by myself
  • Response from Wusthof
  • Boilerplate warranty along with a pdf of how to return the item at my expense and replacement at their discretion
  • Response from me
  • Asking about prepaid shipping and how I’m not pleased in the slightest

Tuesday June 26, 2018:

  • Response from Wusthof
  • Asking for my mailing address to send a new sharpener
  • Response from me
  • I provide my mailing address to Wusthof

Later that week

  • I receive the replacement sharpener
  • The model I’m sent is a Wusthof 4348 and it’s missing the shear sharpener
  • Upon reading the back description of the product I see this:
  • “The blade is guided precisely thanks to the pre-set angle (34 degrees) of the diamant and ceramic slats. Sharpening is easy even if you are not used to it. The ergonomic shape of the handle and the non-slip base ensure comfortable and safe handling.”
  • The short of it is that most Wusthof knives have an edge angle of 14 degrees and the Asian knives have an edge angle of 10 degrees
  • The 34 degree angle mentioned on the packaging is divided by 2 to obtain an edge angle of 17 degrees
  • My simple yet seemingly hard to answer question is as follows
  • Why does Wusthof sell a sharpener that sharpens 14 degree factory made knives at 17 degrees on their official sharpener product?
  • I end up calling the customer support line of Wusthof USA as I know contacting the Canadian branch will no doubt disappoint
  • The US wing of Wusthof had a hard time finding this product and eventually got back to me in regards to the seemingly off sharpening angles
  • They mentioned that they “messed up” and that I should NOT be using this on my knives
  • To boot, the customer support representative said that the “higher ups” would be contacting Germany to determine why they’re selling such a product
  • Very interesting indeed

Monday July 2, 2018:

  • I send another email to Wusthof Canada support in regards to this sharpener asking about the incorrect set angles and why it’s not the same model of sharpener (missing shear sharpening)

Tuesday July 3, 2018:

  • I receive a response telling me that my old sharpener has been discontinued and there is no model with shears sharpening
  • It is confirmed that the sharpener has a 17 degree edge angle
  • I’m severely annoyed at this point
  • I’m not sharpening a 14 degree edge angle knife on a 17 degree edge angle set sharpener
  • I call the number of the “knife guy” who can answer all my questions as given in the email
  • I end up having a conversation regarding several different aspects in this 30 minute call
  • The main takeaway from this call is that the so called “pull” sharpeners produce a subpar edge and that are discouraged as there are better options from Wusthof
  • Angles are also not important in the grand scheme of things
  • The conversation finishes with a request for the photos again and model numbers
  • I send the requested information along with my thoughts about the service and information provided by Wusthof
  • I am told that a resolution will be forthcoming within two days of my reply
  • This is the most lengthy section as the information put out by Wusthof is poor at best with numerous contradictions and hidden information

I was quite shocked to hear a company openly admit such faults in their product line as they are currently selling six variations of the sharpeners at this point in time.

Wusthof Canada Pull Sharpeners offerings

The Wusthof USA site simply doesn’t want to give out any information.

Wusthof USA 4348 Sharpener

The most pertinent information comes directly from the Wusthof FAQ

Q: How do I keep my knives sharp?

A: WUSTHOF knives can be honed and sharpened using a hand-held sharpener, an electric sharpener, a sharpening or honing steel, or a whetstone. We recommend using the same brand sharpener as your knife collection, to ensure that the material used is the correct hardness for the steel on your knives. Our sharpening angle for standard blades is 14 degrees per side, and for Asian-style blades (Santokus, Nakiris, Chai Daos) is 10 degree per side. We offer a variety of sharpening products with pre-set angles. WUSTHOF also offers a low-cost professional mail-in sharpening service. See below for sharpening service instructions.

Thursday July 5, 2018:

  • I receive a response from my new contact at Wusthof Canada explaining that they would prefer to have a third party come to my residence and sharpen my knives
  • This would be preferable for Wusthof
  • I will be receiving a response by end of day on Friday July 6, 2018

Friday July 6, 2018:

  • No response from Wusthof

Monday July 9, 2018:

  • I receive a response that I should contact a third party to have my knives conditioned.

This is where things start to really go off the rails. I notice that my entire email chain with the Wusthof representative has been cc’d to this new third party without my permission. Now this third party has the entire debacle dumped detailing every little problem when it’s simply not required as you supposedly contacted this entity yourself. This is extremely offensive and unprofessional.

The actual previous email from myself to Wusthof was completely ignored as I detailed the issues with the company as a whole and proposed a solution. This has never been addressed. The knife sharpening is a nice gesture but still does not solve the issues I have. I must also mention that it is never referred to as complementary, I am making an assumption here. I must also contact this third party myself which I find out of place. These type of details are usually handled by the company the customer contacted initially, not the customer initiating contact with a third party. This way you don’t add further issues to the problem by involving an outside entity.

Wednesday July 11, 2018:

  • After setting an appointment window of 10AM to 1PM, the sharpener arrived around noon
  • Knives were sharpened in about 15 minutes and I’m quite pleased with the outcome
  • I sent an email that night addressing more of my concerns in the way things were handled in my last received email

Thursday July 12, 2018:

  • I received a response from Wusthof
  • Some issues were addressed; most were not
  • A complimentary package will be sent through the mail on Friday July 13, 2018

Monday July 16, 2018:

  • Received a package containing the following:
  • Wusthof 4477 Grand Prix II Sharpening Steel / 26 cm (10”)
  • Wusthof 4456 Ceramic Sharpener - 4456 / 26 cm (10”)
  • A personal note explaining that the usage of the tools was also included for clarification
  • The 4477 is to be used as a daily maintenance tool (honing)
  • The 4456 is to be used when the knives require sharpening
  • I’m glad to say that I can now maintain my knives with proper tools
  • Thank you Wusthof

The difference between honing and sharpening steel as explained by Wusthof Canada.

Honing Steel

To ensure that your knives stay beautifully sharp, a honing steel should be used regularly. Over time, knives will deteriorate and lose their edge. Honing re-aligns the microscopic teeth in the blade that can’t be seen with the naked eye. By regularly honing your knives, you will maximize the time in between sharpening.

WUSTHOF honing steels are made from hard chromium plated steel with a hardness of 65 Rockwell. All honing steels are produced from an alloy tool steel (material no. 2210) with 1.15%C (carbon) content, .6% chromium and .03% vanadium.

Sharpening Steel

When a knife’s edge becomes dull, you can reset the edge with a diamond steel or ceramic steel. The difference between a diamond steel or ceramic steel and honing steel, is that a diamond steel and ceramic steel will actually grind away material from the knife, allowing it to reset the edge.

The shape of a diamond sharpening steel produces an optimum edge when sharpening knives. The diamond sharpening steels have a solid stainless steel core and the surface is covered in diamond grains. Depending on the size of the sharpening steel, up to 2 million diamond grains are applied to the surface. Diamond sharpening steels have an extremely fine grit that guarantees a smooth, sharp finished edge.

A ceramic sharpening steel, much like a diamond sharpening steel, will reset the edge of a dull knife. Ceramic sharpening steels are slightly less abrasive and will gently sharpen knives in comparison to a diamond sharpening steel resulting in a finer edge. Ceramic knives are offered in two different grits, 300 or 1,000. Although ceramic is harder than steel, it is brittle and will break if it is dropped.