And more importantly, what's better: a fully forged vs stamped knives?
What is knife forging?
Knife forging is the process of heating and hammering out a knife from a single rod of steel. Forging makes steel cutlery stronger. The shaping of the steel molecules during the forging process results in a knife blade that is less flexible. As a result, these knives keep a sharp edge for longer. The knives are also more balanced and comfortable due to the existence of a bolster from the forging process and have metal that runs the length of the blade through the handle, which gives your knife further balance and structural integrity. Lastly, forged cutlery is easier to sharpen as they have less flexible blades that won’t twist during the sharpening process. As you learn how to sharpen kitchen knives, this is an easy way to tell the difference between forged vs. stamped.
What is a stamped knife?
So what is the manufacturing process of a stamped vs forged knife, you may ask?Stamped knives are a cut out from a flat sheet of metal like a cookie cutter. Since they are not forged, their blades are less hard, durable, and sharp. When comparing forged vs stamped knifes, a stamped blade doesn’t have real bolsters, which makes them less balanced and lighter.
How do you produce a forged knife?
To produce a real quality knife, whether it's a chef's knife, serrated knife, or santoku knife, you need to do these steps correctly. If any of these are compromised, you will not have a good kitchen knife.
- Start with a single rod of metal
- Cut the size of the rod that you need for the length of the knife handle and blade
- First forging – heat just the steel in the middle and press the rod together to create a ball in the center that will become the bolster. Use induction heat to make sure it is perfect every time
- Now reheat the full piece of metal and use a hammer with very high pressure to hammer a flat shape that resembles a knife. This takes 7 shocks of the hammer to accomplish and aids in compacting the knife metal, making the knife stronger and harder.
- Cut out the final shape of the knife from this single rod and punch the holes that will be used for the rivets later
- The cut-out shape is then transferred to our finishing manufacturer where It goes through multiple rounds of grinding and polishing. We start with a sandpaper grit and gradually increase the fineness of the paper. This is done both by hand and robot
- The blade is then polished through buffer two wheels
- We then make sure the spine is completely flat with additional grinding
- The sharpening takes place
- Afterward, a sharp edge knife should be hand inspected, hand polished, lasered with a logo, and packaged.
This is different from what knife makers do in most factories in the world. Often times, they start with two already flat pieces of metal (one for the knife blade, and mainly recycled material for the handle and knife bolster). Then they forge just the bolster by heating just the recycled piece of metal up to create a bolster. Lastly, they weld the two pieces together and then polish it to make it appear as if it was made from one single rod. This is problematic for two reasons because:
- The most important part of a quality knife – the blade – is never actually forged in this method. Forging (heating and hammering the metal) strengthens the actual structure of the metal on the inside. Since this process is skipped, the manufacturer is compromising the integrity of the process and the long-term hardness of the blade. Their process, however, is much cheaper.
- When you heat and hammer a blade using the authentic process, it compacts the blade metal and makes it more uniform across the blade. For this cheaper method of “forging” that our overseas competitors use, you will get a wider variety of quality, durability, and hardness from knife to knife because a step in the process was skipped.
The end product, because they cover the welding with grinding and polishing, looks the same as a fully forged knife, but in reality, is not.
The verdict: a fully forged blade is best!