Knife review : Wiltshire Carving Knife

Knives :

This review consists of :


Marketing copy :

Specifications :

Misc :

Initial impressions :

Stock testing : main

The initial sharpness was low to moderate :

The edge could not shave and only barely could slice newsprint. As shown in the pictures to the right (50X magnification) the edge has all possible types of damage :

The edge is also clearly over buffed and likely was sharpened in the common manner of low grit belt + power stropping and buffing. This not only produces the lack of slicing aggression it also usually damages the edge from over heating and very likely will cause premature edge degreation and thus a very quick initial blunting rate.

Some numbers to benchmark cutting ability :

Note the extremely low performance (high force) almost three times as much force required as the same cutting with the K08.

Initial Use

It is immediately obvious even after just light use that as-boxed the performance is fairly low due to the :

In fact the XM-18 (sharpened) is actually far easier to use in regards to force, control, speed and over all efficiency and that is a folder designed for heavy utility vs cutting ability.

In terms of raw force, comparing it to the Henckels Twinmaster the Wiltshire carving knife required more than 50% more force to slice up a small potato. Now this is only 3-4 lbs vs 6-7 lbs, but when you move to larger vegetables and just doing a lot of cutting it is pretty obvious.

The cutting ability is that low in general that the K08 is actually more productive for utility work even though the blade itself is far less suitable, however the raw cutting ability more than compensates. Of course on softer foods like breads and fruits like melons the carving knife does well as those foods are not binding and thus cross section thickness is not nearly as significant and the more narrow blade on the carving knife is much easier to use than a chef's knife or santoku.

As an extreme example moving onto meat cutting :

The carving knife is actually surpassed by a gigantic cleaver from Aranyik which was freshly sharpened showing just how critical sharpness alone is to meat cutting.

In regards to corrosion resistance, the carving knife was left wet and also not immediately rinsed/dried after cutting acidic fruits and vegetables and showed no rusting, not even any spotting after a week of use.

In short the low initial sharpness and fairly thick edge with a high edge angle means the carving knife is of fairly poor performance in the kitchen and is even out performed by non-kitchen knives which are much sharper and/or thinner at the edge and by kitchen knives which are not intended for caving and slicing type work.

Stock Evaluations II

With a quick shaving edge from a 1000 grit waterstone with the edge also reset to 15 dps :

As expected there was a large increase in performance from the as-boxed edge, almost a 2:1 gain in cutting ability due to the greater sharpness and slightly reduced edge angle.


Ergonomics : the handle has a number of positive feature ergonomic wise

However there are also a few issues :

These make the blade fairly uncomfortable in forward grips with the thumb on the spine as there are hot spots against both the thumb and the index finger. These issues are not however impossible to resolve.

Care does have to be taken though when working on the handle as the tang of the blade can be exposed so a decent sand-able epoxy would want to be on hand in case too much material was removed.

The grip also has a fairly interesting shape in that the front of the handle is very thin, less than half the thickness of the grip in the center swell (0.4" vs 0.9"). This makes the handle very comfortable in forward grips, in side and pinch grips as shown on the image to the right.

However the same aspect also it makes it very loose/uncomfortable in a traditional hammer grip as there isn't enough of the grip to fill the hand. In general though the only time when the grip was uncomfortable in that way was when the knife was not being used for carving type work. It was is really prominent in a hammer grip when the stock cutting was done on wood. Again though, these are not the type of work that this knife is generally designed to do.

Security : this is one of the low point of the grip and likely the reason why the blade has a short unsharpened section. The grip does not have an overly textured surface and has only a minimal guard and thus there is little to prevent the hand from ramping forward until the blade

Durability : the grip is the now common soft and compressible material which isn't overly scratch or abrasion resistant. However it is fairly heat resistant and takes four seconds when exposed to direct flame (regular bic lighter) before it ignites.

Miscellaneous : the handle was fairly easy to clean and did not absorb fluids and take on any scent from the materials it was exposed to during the first week of kitchen use.


The steel is soft enough to be machined and can be readily filed. In general filing can be a useful way to keep knives sharp and a butcher steel is a common sharpening tool in the kitchen, however the rate of metal removal is quite high due to the large amount of metal these remove, especially when a lot of force us used and thus a knife can show significant wear even after a few years.

The edge was reset with a 24 grit waterstone to an even 15 dps bevel at which point it would readily slice newsprint. However some checks on the edge retention showed it to be quite poor. When the edge was checked under magnification (50X) as shown in the image on the right the edge was fracturing during the sharpening and parts of the edge were broken away far more coarse than the scratch pattern.

This problem was removed by sharpening with softer cutting stones

The edge was then set with a micro-bevel with the fine side of a BRICO benchstone and it had no problem cutting a pile of cardboard without irregular degradation.

The other concern likely to cause problems is that the initial edge angle had significant variance as parts of the edge was higher than others and thus it would not be possible to maintain the initial edge angle without complication and thus the first sharpening had to be a regrinding to an appropriate edge angle. In this case it was reground to 15 degrees per side, mainly as that is just a common sharpening angle and was fairly close to the as-boxed state.

However this edge angle does produce a fairly wide bevel due to the low primary grind. This does have a pretty significant downside though as the wider bevel really slows down sharpening. The solution to that is pretty simple just regrind the primary and reduce the angle making it a much higher grind and thus thinning out the edge bevel. A regrind would however take a lot of patience without power equipment and thus the best solution is to just maintain the edge with a very coarse stone to keep it at the proper shape and remove all visible damage and then just micro-bevel with the finishing stones.

For general sharpening, a cheap benchstone works readily but the grindability while high enough to allow such work is much slower than knives such as the Mainstays Santoku which is ground so readily that a faster cutting stone isn't required. The Wiltshire doesn't require a faster cutting stone, however it is easy to see the benefit when one is used.

Edge Retention

With the initial edge sharpness as-boxed, edge retention in kitchen use was rather poor. The Wiltshire Carving knife was put into use on Dec. 23, 2012 and lasted one week before it could no longer cut a tomato without multiple dead passes. This is among the lowest performance seen to date on entry level kitchen knives.

As a very basic check on edge retention, with a 1000 waterstone grit finish, the carving knife was used to make 500 slices through pine. The force used was both light (10-20 lbs) and on occasion very heavy (50-70 lbs). There were no issues with :

The knife still readily sliced newsprint at the end of the cutting and thus is likely to be capable of extended work in the kitchen without excessive concerns about edge retention problems..


Overview :

Comments and references

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Most of the pictures in the above are in the PhotoBucket album.

Last updated :
Originally written: 27/12/2012