Shopping for knives is a complex endeavor. You have to worry about the steel shape, handle, and cutting-edge style, among other things. However, none of these features are often as confusing as forged and stamped builds. Brands often promote their knives as stamped and forged knives, but what does it mean? And, will it affect your performance if your knife is forged or stamped?
A forged knife is crafted from a single steel bar by hand. This steel goes through different procedures, such as heat treatment and pounding to adapt the desired blade shape. This manufacturing procedure creates stronger, harder, and more durable knives.
On the other hand, knifemakers produce stamped knives via machines. These machines have a knife design programmed into the system. Then, the cutters cut out the shaped blade from a steel sheet. Later, the blade goes through tempering. This procedure creates knives with thinner and lightweight blades.
Whether you get a forged or stamped knife makes a significant difference in your performance. So, you must buy one according to your needs and cooking habits. Here, you will learn more about forged and stamped knives to know which one is the better option for you.
What Is a Forged Knife?
A forged knife is a knife produced from a single steel piece. Knifemakers heat and hammer this steel to turn it into the desired shape. The forging process is complex. It rearranges and compresses the steel molecules to produce strong and hard blades. The intense hardening process also allows forged blades to retain an edge for a longer time.
Popular brands offer forged knives made with quality materials. For instance:
- Mercer Renaissance 8-Inch Chef’s Knife.
- Wusthof IKON 6-Inch Chef’s knife.
- Shun 8-Inch Chef’s Knife.
- Dalstrong Gladiator Series 8-Inch Chef’s Knife.
Shaping: Knifemakers heat a piece of steel alloy to higher temperatures. While the steel is hot, they pound it to achieve the desired shape. This procedure is all by hand.
Hardening: The shaped blade goes through to temperatures above its critical point. Then, the appropriate liquid quenches the steel. Lastly, the tempering procedure seals the hardness.
Hammering: Commercial forged knives may receive a blow during each die. This step allows knifemakers to create features like the bolster.
Polishing and Sharpening: The knife is then polished and sharpened after forging and heat treatment.
How Can You Tell If a Knife is Forged?
Determine if you have a forged knife by paying close attention to these details.
Bolster: The easiest way to identify a forged knife is by checking if it has a bolster, which is a wide lip found where the blade meets the handle. The purpose of the bolster is to provide more balance by adding weight to the middle section of the knife. The knife bolster also improves comfort while using the knife.
Full Tang: Additionally, forged knives usually have a full tang. A tang is an extension of the blade that runs through the length of the handle. You can check if the knife has a tang by looking at the handle scales, which shall have metal rivets. Some metal along the sides of the handle also indicates the existence of a tang.
Thick Spine: A forged knife usually has a thick spine that tapers down to the cutting edge. Thus, the spine of the blade is thicker, whereas the cutting edge is thinner.
Pros and Cons
Pros of Forged Knives:
- A fully forged knife is durable and resistant.
- The blade of a forged knife is rigid and won’t bend.
- Stiffer forged knives retain an edge and are easy to sharpen.
- Forged knives are heavy and thick, ideal for hard-skinned or hefty produce.
- This type of knife has a bolster, adding more balance and providing safety.
- A forged blade usually has a full tang, offering more control over the knife.
Cons of Forged Knives:
- A forged knife is usually expensive for all the manual labor it requires.
- Stiffer forged knives are not ideal for filleting fish or precision work around joints.
What Is a Stamped Knife?
A stamped knife is a knife cut out from a large steel sheet. A machine is responsible for this procedure and is similar to how you use a cookie cutter to create shaped cookies from the dough. Knifemakers employ this method to manufacture knives in mass. Therefore, these knives are usually more affordable.
Some quality stamped knives are available from the following brands:
- HENCKELS 8-Inch Chef’s Knife.
- Mercer Culinary M21079 9-Inch Chef’s Knife.
- Dalstrong 8-Inch Chef Knife.
- Wusthof Gourmet 6-Inch Chef’s Knife.
Shaping: Knifemakers program the design of the knife in a machine. Then, a cutter cuts out the knife blade from a large sheet of cold-rolled steel.
Heat Treatment: The steel goes through heat treatment to gain strength. Then, the hardening improves the durability of the blade.
Honing: Honing the blade realigns the cutting edge. Shortly after, the blade goes through sharpening. This procedure includes grinding.
Finish: The last step of the process includes cleaning, polishing, and inspecting the knife.
How Can You Tell If a Knife is Stamped?
You can usually identify stamped knives because they don’t have bolsters. Plus, the blade is often uniform in thickness. The spine and middle section of the blade have the same width. This is because the steel of the blade comes from a large sheet of metal with the same dimensions.
Pros and Cons
Pros of Stamped Knives:
- Most stamped knives are lightweight, allowing you to use them for a longer time without fatigue.
- The stamped blade is thinner and can slice veggies into paper-thin layers.
- Stamped blades are usually flexible. A blade that can bend will cut closer to the bones of meat and fish, saving more meat.
- The price of a stamped knife is low, making it a good entry-level knife for home cooks.
Cons of Stamped Knives:
- The flexible blade of the stamped knife is hard to sharpen.
- A stamped knife is thin and not rigid enough for cutting dense meat or bones.
Difference Between Forged and Stamped Knife
|Partial and Full Tang
|Usually Half Tang
A forged knife is generally more durable than a stamped knife. This is because the process to forge a knife is more intense. Knifemakers reshape the steel at a molecular level, making the blade stronger and harder. Manufacturing a stamped knife is not as intense or complex as producing forged knives. Forged knives may be more expensive, but the quality of the steel and work makes it worth it.
The spine of a forged knife is thick and tapers down to a thinner cutting edge. On the other hand, a stamped knife has the same thickness from the spine to the edge.
A thicker spine makes the knife feel sturdier, which you need for heavy-duty work. You can apply pressure over the blade to chop through dense meat or bones and trust it won’t snap.
Alternatively, thinner stamped knives are more fragile but better for slicing veggies in thin layers.
Forged knives are usually stiff, whereas stamped knives are more flexible. A rigid blade provides many benefits whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook. Primarily, you can force the blade through thick meat without losing control. Attempting to do the same with a flexible knife will cause the blade to go off course and mess up the cut.
Flexible stamped kitchen knives are better for other tasks. For instance, you can bend the blade to cut around fish bones and save more meat. You can also accommodate the blade around the contours of round-shaped poultry bones to separate the meat in clean cuts.
Forged knives have higher edge retention than stamped knives. The forging procedure involves heat extreme and tempering. These two steps produce harder blades, allowing them to hold an edge for a longer time. Stamped knives have softer blades and get dull faster. If you don’t have time to care for kitchen knives, consider buying a forged knife.
Forged knives have bolsters, whereas stamped knives don’t have one. Bolsters add more balance to the knife. This feature also puts up a barrier and keeps your fingers from sliding to the blade. As a result, you can push-cut and chop food with fewer accident risks.
Forged knives have more metal and are heavier than stamped knives. The heavier blades allow you to use gravity in your favor. If you’re chopping meat or poultry, you can swing the knife and let the weight do the job.
Stamped knives are lighter, allowing you to use them for a longer time without feeling fatigued. This is beneficial if you work at a restaurant slicing vegetables for hours. Lighter stamped knives are also easier to maneuver if you debone poultry and meat frequently.
Forged knives usually have a full tang, whereas stamped knives are more likely to feature a partial tang. In this case, a full tang is the more beneficial design choice. The knife feels more balanced and you get total control of the blade. This allows you to be precise and make cleaner cuts.
You will also have the opportunity to maneuver the tip and heel of the blade comfortably. Full tang knives are also safer. You can apply pressure on the knife to cut meat or hard-skinned fruit without the blade detaching.
A forged knife is often easier to sharpen than a stamped knife. The reason is simple: forged knives have rigid blades. This feature makes it easier to pass the length of the blade over the whetstone. Stamped knives have flexible blades, which can bend and are harder to sharpen. Regularly, people sharpen flexible blades in sections, starting from the tip, then the cutting edge, and ending in the heel.
Forged knives are more expensive than stamped knives. The process required to produce a forged knife is complex and involves manual labor. Thus, the prices are higher, usually around $70-$500. On the other hand, knifemakers mass produce stamped knives by machine. This process requires less work and provides more affordable prices, often between the $15-$50 range.
Are Forged Knives Better Than Stamped?
Forged knives are generally better than stamped knives. The steel quality is good, and the edge retention ensures long-lasting sharpness. The weight is heavier, but forged knives feel better balanced. Therefore, you have more control over the blade using different gripping styles and cutting techniques.
Still, brands like Wusthof have produced quality stamped knives that also perform well. Deciding which one is better between stamped vs forged kitchen knife will depend heavily on personal preferences and cooking habits.
Forged or Stamped Knives – Which One Should You Buy?
Choosing between a forged vs stamped kitchen knife will depend on the task at hand.
If you need a heavy-duty knife, consider a forged knife. These knives are heavy, thick, and wide to put up with the abuse. You can use it for tasks like cutting, chopping, and slicing. The strength of the blade will cut through produce like thick chunks of beef, lamb, and poultry. A forged knife will also chop dense vegetables like winter squash, cabbage, pumpkins, potatoes, and more.
On the other hand, a stamped knife is preferable for delicate and precise work. The usually thin and flexible blades can bend and adapt to different products. As a result, stamped knives are ideal for filleting fish or preparing dishes like sushi or sashimi. This type of knife can also slice vegetables like onions into paper-thin layers. You will also enjoy stamped knives if you often include mushrooms or cherry tomatoes in your dishes. The blade will treat these delicate ingredients gently without bruising them.
Weight is another factor to consider. If you work for hours, heavy forged knives may be tiring. In this case, you could benefit more from a lighter stamped knife. Alternatively, the higher edge retention of forged knives guarantees you don’t have to worry about frequent sharpening.
These are all considerations you should keep in mind while choosing between a forged and stamped knife. Consider your cooking habits and preferences to pick the knife type that most suits your needs.