German, Japanese, or French Knives?  

When it comes to procuring the best quality knives in the world, you need only look to three nations. The cutlery of Germany, Japan, and France has historically reigned supreme.

German, Japanese, or French Knives?  

Continued dedication to fine craftsmanship has kept these knives at the top. There are, however, important differences in the characteristics of these tools that are worth considering. If you’re in the market for a new trusted companion in the kitchen, then knowing what sets German, Japanese, and French knives apart will ensure you make the right choice for your needs.  

German Knives

Germany has a long history of knife-making, dating back centuries. But the quintessential German knife as we know it today was created by Zwilling J.A. Henckels in 1731. German-style knives are functional responses to the typical diet of meat and hearty vegetables. They are known for their strength and durability.

Aesthetic: The typical German knife features a large, steel-hued blade with a sturdy black synthetic handle. Compared to their French and Japanese counterparts, they appear bulkier and heavier.

Blade: German knives feature a thick blade and a smooth stainless steel finish. The curved edge is helpful for chopping in rhythmic, rocking motions on a cutting board. This means you don’t need to apply quite as much pressure. The blade is soft steel, rating around 57 on the Rockwell Scale. The average cut angle is 14 to 15 degrees per side, making it comfortable for both left and right-handed users.

Handle: The large black handle tends to be made from polyoxymethylene or polypropylene. Handles contain a bolster, distinguishing the end of the blade from the beginning of the handle.

Weight: On average, these knives weigh approximately 9 oz. This heaviness helps when you’re cutting through tough root vegetables and big chunks of meat. Since German knives are full tang, their weight provides a secure and balanced handling experience.

Best Uses: Tough and loyal companions, these are great all-purpose knives. Their thick blades lack precision, but thanks to their sturdiness, they are built to last. These utilitarian workhorses will easily cut through tough meat, bones, and raw root vegetables. Because they’re built with symmetry in mind, they are comfortable whether you’re right-handed or left-handed.

Pros: Durable, hefty, designed for rocking, the thicker blade makes them safe and easy to use, designed for right and left-handed users

Cons: Dulls faster, bulky, not as sharp, needs regular honing

Japanese Knives

The Japanese culinary knife industry began in the 1850s. Their appearance is decidedly more artistic than German knives. They often feature elaborately designed wooden handles and elegant, yet functional, patterns along the blade.

Aesthetic: These elaborate designs are inspired by samurai swords, have a more cylindrical shape, the blade is built in layers, and more craftsmanship is involved, sharpened at a much steeper angle

Blade: Forged from carbon steel, Japanese blades are thin and famously sharp with an acute tip for puncturing. Rated 60-63 on the Rockwell Scale, this hard metal tends to have a straight edge that supports up-and-down motion and clean cuts. The face of the blade can be smooth, but you’re more likely to see a hammered finish or Damascus patterning. This added texture helps with speed, reducing drag by releasing friction when chopping. Japanese knives are bolster-free, so the thickness of the blade remains uniform.

Handle: Handles are small and constructed using natural materials, often PakkaWood. With ease in mind, the knife angle ranges from 9 to 16 degrees per side.

Weight: Much smaller than a German-made knife, Japanese knives average around 7oz. Since the blade will usually taper inside the handle, this puts the bulk of the weight toward the front of the knife for better control.

Best Uses: Japanese knives are made for precision work, a historical feature of Japanese cuisine. They are sharp and light, making them perfect for fish dishes like sushi and sashimi. They also work well for slicing fruit and cutting vegetables paper-thin.

Pros: Sharp, lightweight, aesthetically unique, ideal for precision cutting, strong steel will hold an edge

Cons: Expensive, carbon-steel makes them prone to chipping, less durable, can be difficult to sharpen, designed primarily for right-handed users

French Knives

Since the mid-1400s, there has been a thriving cutlery industry in the French village of Thiers. Brands like 32 Dumas have been producing high-end knives of superior craftsmanship since 1532. With almost 5 centuries of knife manufacturing under its belt, the quality and precision of these knives have yet to be rivaled by industries in Germany or Japan.

Aesthetic: Natural elegance and quality are the marks of French-made knives. They are made with olive wood handles and the blades are sharpened at a sleek, shallow angle, which makes them durable and resistant to chipping. They are thinner than German knives which helps with precision. Their straight edge and curved blade lend a unique triangular shape.

Blade: Nitrogen-strengthened stainless steel is a softer, more flexible stainless steel that’s more durable than a Japanese knife. The hallmark feature of French-made knives, like those of 32 Dumas, is that they’re often fully forged from a single piece of steel, requiring specially trained craftsmen to construct. With double-beveled blades, this material is resistant to rust and corrosion.

Handle: The balanced olive wood handle is as beautiful as it is comfortable. Featuring a 50:50 edge, the balanced weight and fully forged build give you greater control. The edge dimension makes them easy to sharpen and an excellent tool for both right and left-handed users.

Weight: On average, French knives weigh about 5.7 oz, lighter than German and Japanese knives. A single rod of steel extends from the tip of the blade through the handle, allowing for a comfortable, balanced weight.

Best Uses: French knives possess the sharpness necessary for making powerful and precise knife cuts, with the strength and durability of nitrogen-strengthened stainless steel. You get precision without too much effort, and their use reduces the surface area needed for chopping. Use a French knife for cutting meat, slicing fruits and vegetables, and finely chopping herbs.

Pros: Elegant, precise and powerful, durable, thin and light, balanced feel, rust and corrosion resistant, designed for right and left-handed users,

Cons: Can be an investment, durability ensures a long life, best when honed regularly


Investing in a fully forged knife, rather than a stamped knife, means you are investing in the highest-quality, extremely durable, comfortable, and efficient knives. Stamped or partially forged knives have less balance, which makes them more unsafe. The lack of balance is made worse by the lack of bolsters; only fully forged knives have a true bolster. These stamped or partially forged knives also have lower durability, due to the softness of the metal. Stamped knives cannot hold their sharpened edges for as long as fully forged knife, which means they must be sharpened more frequently.

32 Dumas knives are the only true and fully forged knives available on the market, that are made from one piece of steel. For nearly five hundred years, 32 Dumas knives have prioritized precision and efficiency to deliver reliable knives that will last a lifetime. Designed and made in France, these knives only leave the factory in Thiers after careful forging and meticulous testing by premier craftsmen. 32 Dumas knives are truly fully forged and have yet to be rivaled in their fully forged construction.