Forged vs Flatware Knives
Forged and Flatwear Knives Explained
You may hear knife experts talk about forged knives, though in the modern day of mass-production, chances are that we are much more accustomed to the flatware variety.
Lets explore how the two differ from each other, and help you spot the difference to better decide on the best knife for your needs when purchasing the next kitchen or outdoor knife for your collection.
The difference is the manufacturing techniques, and both have their pros and cons.
In this video Bill the Knife man explains and shows examples of how the two types are made
The more traditional method of knife making is forging, and historically this was done by a blacksmith, with a red-hot heated bar and a hammer. However nowadays there is of course a machine that heats the bar of steel and then squeezes and compresses it under enormous pressure, at which point the knife is formed out of the steel. The blade is then driven through a honing and grinding procedure to form its final shape and edge. This process is of course more time consuming and labour intensive, thus creating the perception that forged knives are a more premium product to the flatware alternative, however these days both good and bad quality options are on the market for both categories.
One of the benefits of forged knives is their strength, as the forging process actually makes the metal stronger at molecular level. Each knife also comes with a bolster, - the bolster being the mound of metal you can find between the knife’s handle and blade. The bolster offers an added layer of protection for your fingers, and strengthens and protects where the handle joins the blade. Because of their strength forged knives can be expected to last longer than the flatware.
Flatware, though generally considered by traditionalists as inferior to forged knives, also have their own benefits. Firstly, it is cheaper. The mass production technique has become the common way to manufacture knives and cutlery, making it a lot more affordable. Flatware knives are typically created when a hydraulic machine presses a blade out of a flat piece of steel, like a cookie cutter. The technique is often referred to as stamping. The blade blanks are then refined over a multi-step honing and grinding process. Modern technology has enabled this process to be done by a laser machine. The quality of the steel used varies enormously, but the better quality steel used is comparable to that of forged knives.
Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers use inferior quality steel, therefore the flatware knife becomes blunt more quickly and then is more difficult to sharpen. It is wise to stick to well-known brands or for knives made from top-quality steel (usually sourced from Sweden, France, Germany or Japan)
At the end of the day a knife is a knife, and both will deliver a sharp cut if maintained correctly. In making your choice between the two types of knives, make it a point to consider not only the look, but also how long you would like to use it, and how it feels in your hand. It should be well balanced and should have the right weight for you and for its intended use.
Considerations when selecting your knife:
• Quality – (brand, what steel is it made from)
• Sharpening technique
• Intended use