German Vs Japanese Knives: Which is Best for You?

Knives are used and made all over the world; however, German and Japanese styles stand apart from the rest of the world in terms of their excellent quality of knives.

And therefore, most of the world-famous brands of knives do find their origin from either of the two countries.

There are many differences in the features of German and the Japanese styles of knives and the basic difference lie in the type of steel used in making the blades.

Other differences in the two most popular styles of knives include blade shape, the weight of the knife, and bevel, etc.

We would discuss here German Vs Japanese Knives, which make the two most adorable styles of knife distinct from each other.

Type of Steel

The type of steel of a knife blade determines its hardness, brittleness, and rust or corrosion-resistant properties.

Rockwell scale rating, also termed as RC, indicates the hardness of the steel. Higher RC rating indicates the higher hardness of the steel.

The harder steel gives good edge retention property to the knife but at the same time, it is more brittle compared to the steel with a lower RC rating.

German Knives

German makers traditionally use stainless steel blades in their knives. The premium RC rating of steel is generally around 60 to 66. Mixing Chromium with the steel reduces the hardness. German knives have a Rockwell rating of around 55 to 58.

This range of hardness helps these knives to retain the cutting edge much longer. At the same time, it makes them more rust and corrosion-resistant. Besides, these blades do not chip off so easily.

However, German knives need more frequent re-sharpening of blades.

Japanese Knives

Japanese manufacturers use high-carbon steel in their knives. The RC rating of these knives is typically around 60-62.

The harder steel ensures longer edge retention as compared to the German knives. Therefore, these knives do not require sharpening as frequently as their German counterpart.

They, however, are more brittle and therefore more susceptible to chipping or breakage.

These knives are more prone to rusting. Moreover, high corrosiveness makes them more reactive to acidic food items like lemon or tomato.

The Shape of Knife Blade

There is a very visible and distinct difference between the shape of a German and a Japanese knife.

German Knives

A typical German knife is more tapered & curved. The curve begins at the bolster and extends till the tip of the knife blade. This curved design makes it very useful for more rigorous cutting activities like mincing.

Japanese Knives

Japanese knives are more straight & pointed and thus making them highly precise and fine cutting tools. So, if you want a cleaner and smooth cutting experience, Japanese knives offer you a very good alternative. 

Bevel of Knife Blade

The cutting edge of the knife blade has a slope on one or both the blade surfaces. This slope along the cutting edge is called the bevel.

The degree of bevel determines the sharpness of the blade. The narrower the angle the sharper the knife blade however a lower degree of bevel makes the blade a shade more fragile.

German Knives

The one-side bevel in a German knife is around 20-25o. It is equal to an angle of 40-50o between the two sides.

This wider angle helps in putting more pressure on the cutting object and thus makes it highly suitable for tougher food items. Moreover, the knife blade is stronger as compared to knives with narrow bevel.

Japanese Knives

Japanese knives have finer bevel angle and hence they are sharper. The acute angle of 30o between both the blade surfaces facilitates smooth, fine and precise cutting through any food item.

These knives provide a neater operation, besides, they help in protecting the delicate fabric of the food and keeping its texture intact.

However, the acute angle makes these knives a little more delicate.  

Weight

The steel used in a knife determines the weight of a knife. And it is the tang and the bolster that decide the amount of steel used in a knife.

The unsharpened part of the knife that is hidden inside its handle is called the tang. The bolster is the portion of the knife where the handle joins the blade.

Both, heavier, as well as lighter knives have their respective plus points. If a heavy knife is more stable and durable, the lighter counterpart provides better control to the user.

German Knives   

German knives mostly have a full-tang design. It means the blade material in these knives extends till the butt of the handle. The full-tang knives are more stable and durable and their handles are slightly heavier than the blade.

Apart from the full tang German knives usually also have the thick bolster. That too adds to the weight of these knives. Besides, the thick bolster also gives a better balance to these knives. It, in addition, makes them safer to operate as well. 

Japanese Knives

Japanese knives usually have partial or push tang. It means that the blade material in these knives only extends partially inside the handle. These knives provide better control as compared to the full tang knives.

In addition, Japanese knives mostly do not have a bolster and that makes them, even more, lighter than German knives. Besides, you can hold the knife much nearer to the blade and have better control during the cutting operation.

At a Glance: German Vs Japanese Knives

The below table provides you an overview of the characteristics of both the knives at a glance. 

CharacteristicGerman KnifeJapanese Knife
SteelStainless steel with a hardness of 55 to 58  at Rockwell scale High-carbon steel with a hardness of 60 to 66 Rockwell scale
ShapeTapered & curvedStraighter & pointed
BevelWider. 20 to 22oNarrower. 12 to 15o
WeightHeavyweights with full-tang and thick bolster.Lightweight with partial tang and thin bolster

Final Words

So, we discussed here German vs Japanese style knives and the major differences between them. We found out that both styles have some distinct advantages over the other.

You can select the style that best suits your purpose. You can also consider your personal comfort while selecting a particular style of knife.

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