Forged and Stamped Cutlery

What Are The Differences?

Forged and stamped kitchen knives have both their own advantages and disadvantages.  It usually takes an expert to be able to differentiate forged from stamped cutlery based just on pictures.  This article will discuss the differences between the two kinds of cutlery.

Forged Knives: A Quick Note On Hot-Drop Forging & Modern Forging

Hot-drop forging is the old-fashioned technique of forging.  This process is similar to what you might see in movies, when a blacksmith pulls a sword from a blazing furnace and uses a hammer to beat it into shape.  The beginning piece of metal, the raw material, is in a rough way shaped like a knife already and is very “old” looking.  The crucial part of forging involves shaping and smashing the hot steel as this builds and strengthens the metal by “forging” the molecules into a useful shape.  One characteristic of forged knives is their unequaled strength.

It is rare to find hot-drop forged cutlery these days, however.

Modern forging is very similar except the raw material that begins the process is just a rectangular piece of metal and is hammered with machines.  From this rectangular piece, a piece is cut in the shape of the knife.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Forged Knives

The first advantage is that the steel is made stronger by forging.  The blade is made less flexible, though, due to the forging process which compresses the molecules together.   This does however make the knives keep their edge alot longer as a result of the increase strength and hardness.

A bolster is created for each knife during the forging process.  The mound of metal between the blade and the handle is the bolster.  This provides hand protection and offers a safe location for the fingers to rest during the use of the knife.  A bolster is one identification mark of a forged knife. One can be certain that a bolster signifies a forged knife.

The lower flexibility of forged cutlery makes it easier sharpen them.  There will be no problems when you hold it the blade firmly against a sharpening steel because the blade does not twist.  However, this characteristic makes it a drawback for when one needs a super flexible knife to fillet fish.

There are really no too many drawbacks of forged cutlery.  One of these is the expensive price scale that this has though.  However, buying forged knives are definitely worth the investment as they will last for a longer period of time.  Check out the Wusthof Classic knives to see an example of a great set of forged knives.

How Stamped Knives Are Made

Large, continuous sheets of stainless steel are used to make stamped knives.  This process works by cutting piece of the sheets of steel in the shape of a knife, just like when you use a cookie-cutter.   The knife finished by adding a handle and then sharpened and polished.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Stamped Knives

Stamped cutlery does not have the glorious reputation of forged cutlery.  Chefs and cooks almost always prefer the latter than the former.  However, despite this wide opinion, stamped knives have their own benefits.

Stamped cutlery is cheaper compared to forged cutlery.  This fits best for people who do not want to spend alot of cutlery or do not have the budget for it, yet still want a good set of knives.  The same kind of steel is used with stamped cutlery.  So if do cook alot and need quite a few different knives for different jobs, stamped is a great option if your budget is lower.

The first disadvantage with stamped knives is that they do not have the strength that forged knives have because they have not undergone the forging process.  They are much more flexible and do not last as long as forged.

Stamped knives also do not have bolster.  Bolsters are one thing that you can use to distinguish forged knives from stamped knives, although there are some forged knives (like some Japanese knives) that do not have bolsters.  It is easier to cut yourself when you handle a knife that doesn’t have a bolster, but there are quite a few people that actually prefer knives without bolsters.

Personally, I don’t care either way.  I have knives with a bolster and some without and I don’t have a preference.

The flexibility of stamped knives makes sharpening on a whetstone very difficult.  It can be done but it requires more skill.  An electric sharpener however works great when it is used with either forged or stamped knives.

Stamped knives certainly have their use and potential, especially if you prefer a flexible boning knife or you are on a budget.  There are plenty of good quality knives you can purchase that are stamped that you will be very happy with, like the Wusfhof Gourmet knives for example.

Conclusion

Forged knives and stamped knives can be differentiated generally by the presence of a bolster.  Forged knives have a bolster while stamped knives do not.  Forged knives are generally more dependable as they are stronger and easier to sharpen.

Stamped knives are cheaper compared to forged knives, and they work best when an electric sharpener is used for sharpening.

That’s pretty much all there is for the most part.  There are plenty of reasons to choose either type.  Just make sure whatever you choose that it is from a reputable company.

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