FORGED VS STAMPED KNIVES: THE DISTINCTIONS
Every piece of commercial cutlery is constructed using one of two methods, forging or stamping. They can be difficult to distinguish from each other by just looking at pictures of them on a computer.
Forged blade knives are formed when heated bar steel is roughly shaped under a drop hammer, which compresses the steel under immense pressure. After the basic knife shape is formed, the blade goes through a grinding and honing process to form its final shape and edge. A forged knife is usually made from one single piece of steel. It is heat treated, and hammered/pound into its shape.
Traditionally, forged knives are made with a technique called hot drop forging. Basically, the maker puts a piece of steel into a furnace until it’s red hot, before pulling it out and beating it into a knife, all manually.
Shaping the hot steel is an important part of forging because it strengthens the metal by aligning the molecules into a useful shape. One thing is definitely certain about forged knives – they are strong. Currently, very little cutlery is hot drop forged.
Nowadays, the forged knife starts as a steel blank. It is heat-treated and pounds before being cut into its final shape.
Stamped blade knives are formed when a hydraulic press, or die, cut the desired blade shape out of a flat sheet of steel, like a cookie cutter. The blade is then tempered, hardened, and next, the blade blanks are sharpened through a multi-step grinding and honing process.
The remarkable price difference between forged knives and stamped knives usually leads to the assumption that forged knives, the more expensive ones, are of superior quality. And that can be true. Just not always.
Some people prefer forged knives because they like the weight in their hands, as well as the firm, sturdy feeling when doing heavy-duty cuts. The heaviness also means you don’t have to apply so much force to cut something firm. The thickness and the weight of a forged knife also make it easier to rock it on a cutting surface. That is why many prefer it for the mincing job.
Many chefs and cooks find that the light weightiness of stamped knives can help reduce fatigue after long hours of kitchen work. As they’re generally thinner, they cut through things more easily. They’re particularly better for slicing than forged knives.
Since they usually don’t come with a bolster, stamped knives are easier to sharpen. While many claims that stamped knives don’t hold their edges as well as forged knives, it has more to do with the material (and the maintenance!) than how the knives are made.
The verdict? While I won’t go as far as stating forged knives are more expensive because you pay for the extra steel, if you’re a casual home cook, branded stamp knives should be good enough.
Which kind of knives do you have, stamped or forged? How is your experience with the knives? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.