Perform well in professional tests. The chef's knife, paring knife and santoku all stand up well against a variety of foods. Owners who review these knives at Amazon.com and Epinions.com say the knives are sharp and fairly well balanced. Most users say the edges hold up well over time, but some claim that the knives need frequent sharpening.
Several users say that this knife set is a great value. Not only does it include seven pieces for the price of one high-end knife, but most of those pieces are genuinely useful, with little dead weight (a common problem with block knife sets, according to the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine). One Amazon.com user says the set contains "all but two of the most fundamental cooking knives." While it doesn't include a slicing/carving knife or a serrated bread knife, the user notes that those can be added and the total cost will still be very reasonable. The knife block includes several empty slots to grow your collection.
All the knives are forged, rather than stamped. This means that each knife is fashioned by hand from a single piece of steel, rather than having the blade stamped out of a steel sheet. Although forged knives do not necessarily outperform stamped knives in professional tests, they are considered to be more durable. Forged knives also tend to be more expensive, so users consider this set a particularly good value for its type. Each knife has a full tang (meaning the handle extends throughout the blade) and a bolster, which adds heft to the knives and improves balance. The handles are made of molded polypropylene, which is bonded to the blade. Although these handles are dishwasher-safe, Henckels recommends hand washing.
These knives are pretty utilitarian. With their plain steel blades (marked with the Henckels logo) and plastic handles, they won't win any beauty contests. However, there's nothing objectionable about their looks either. Users who mentioned their appearance at all generally described it as "nice."
We didn't find any other knife set in our sources that comes close to the J.A. Henckels Four Star 7-piece knife set for overall utility, quality and value. Considering that some high quality knives cost $170 each, a complete set of forged-steel knives at that price is a pretty great deal. We have no reservations about naming this set as our top pick.
Report Credibility: Very Good ConsumerReports.org is one of the few sources we found that evaluates knife sets rather than individual knives. The main knives in each set -- chef's, slicing, paring and santoku (when included) -- are evaluated on their cutting performance, handle comfort and balance. Each set's overall score also factors in features such as sharpness and corrosion resistance. ConsumerReports.org lists results for more than 50 knife sets on its website. The J.A. Henckels Four Star 7-piece set is just one of several Henckels sets tested. Other knives in the lineup include high-end brands like Wüsthof and budget brands like Ginsu and Chicago Cutlery.
Review: Kitchen Knives, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Report Credibility: Good About 40 owners at Epinions.com give the J.A. Henckels Four Star 7-piece set a perfect 5-star rating. Owners say these knives are built to last; one claims that her set is still going strong after 25 years. Users say the knives have a comfortable grip and a sharp edge that lasts a long time; when the knives do start to dull, they say, sharpening is pretty easy. Aside from their cost, users' main quibble with the Henckels knives is that they require hand washing.
Review: Henckels Four Star Knife Set, Contributors to Epinions.com, As of October 2012
Report Credibility: Good The J.A. Henckels Four Star 7-piece set receives around 20 reviews at Amazon.com, earning an overall rating of 4.7 stars out of 5. Owners generally consider these knives a great value: durable, sharp, well balanced and comfortable for both small and large hands. One review points out that the selection of knives is useful with nearly all of the essential pieces included. Several users caution that to last, these knives must be treated with respect: hand washed, properly stored and honed regularly.
Review: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Four Star 7-Piece Block Set, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012