When shopping for a knife, the aim is always to get the right type and brand that can serve certain purposes. Some buyers don’t care about the type of knife, whether forged or stamped – they just want a knife that can get the job done. But professional chefs are usually concerned about this because they understand that both knife types are different and often serve different purposes.
Forged knives are made from a single bar of steel and are first heat-treated before being hammered to get into shape. Stamped knives, on the other hand, are made from a large sheet of steel. They’re also heat-treated to achieve higher durability.
So, forged vs stamped knives, which is better? This is a dicey question that we will help you answer. In this article, we will address the difference between the two types of knives and help you know everything about them.
How Forged Knives And Stamped Knives Are Made?
Traditionally, skilled craftsmen forge knives using a technique called “hot drop” forging. This technique requires craftsmen to heat a piece of steel and hammer it into the shape of a knife. After this process, the knife is subjected to various rounds of sharpening. The “hot drop” forging used to be quite tedious, but nowadays, thanks to modern technology, there are machines used to help with heavy labor.
Regardless of this intervention, the core principles of the forging process remain unchanged. Forged knives are heat-treated (for corrosion resistance and strength), pounded or hammered, and case-hardened into their final shape. Meanwhile, stamped knives are cut out from a sheet of steel. Most makers cut blanks out of a sheet of steel with the help of lasers. A machine then stamps out the shape of a knife. After, they are tempered, hardened, and finished.
Moreover, stamped knives are usually subjected to less intense heat treatment compared to forged knives.
Typically, forged knives are heavier and thicker than stamped knives. Thanks to their manufacturing process, they get bolsters that increase their weight. Apart from that, the bolsters also protect your fingers to a large extent by providing a natural stop to the movement of your fingers. The weight usually ensures a well-balanced blade for seamless cutting exercises, even during heavy cuts.
Besides, forged knives have a rigid and strong structure that ensures exceptional precision when cutting through hard foods. Also, they generally have full tangs that allow the blades’ metal to run through the handles.
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When it comes to sharpening forged knives, it’s usually an easy process because they aren’t very flexible. This means the blades don’t twist while you’re holding them firmly against sharpening steel or a whetstone. But their low flexibility can be a problem in some cases. For instance, if you want to fillet a red snapper, you will have to consider the more flexible stamped knives.
As mentioned earlier, stamped knives are cut from a sheet of steel, making them thinner, lighter, and more flexible compared to forged knives. As a professional chef, you might favor stamped knives because their lighter frame means less fatigue during use. Also, their thinner blade helps them cut through foods easier. You can count on them for smooth slicing of foods.
Moreover, stamped knives typically have no bolster, so they’re easier and more convenient to sharpen from the tip to the heel. They come either in a partial tang or a full tang. You can know the length of the tang by looking at the bottom and top of the knife handle. If you can see metal on its top, but not its bottom, it may be a partial tang.
Although there’s a general belief that “forged knives are better”, stamped knives surely have their advantages. When compared to forged knives, stamped knives are relatively cheap, which can be a great advantage if you are on a budget.
However, stamped knives are weaker than forged knives because they do not go through the forging process. This makes them more flexible and they tend to keep an edge for a shorter period. Due to their flexibility, you may find it slightly difficult to sharpen stamped knives on a whetstone.
Forged Knives Vs Stamped Knives: How They Are Different
Some people find it difficult to tell the differences between forged and stamped knives. This is quite understandable because they share a few similarities. Below, we will discuss the factors that separate both types of knives.
Forged and stamped knives are often made from different materials. The popular materials used in making these knives include stainless steel, carbon steel, and high-carbon stainless steel. Forged knives are often made from high-carbon stainless steel and carbon steel. Stamped knives, on the other hand, are often made from stainless steel due to its affordability. Besides, they’re not hardened or heat-treated to forged knives’ levels.
Forged knives, which are made from a single piece of steel, generally have harder and thicker blades. The thickness of these blades makes them more durable and creates great stability when cutting. The combination of the blades’ thickness and weight make it easier to chop or cut through vegetables and thick meats. Stamped knives, on the other hand, are typically thinner and more flexible/bendable.
A tang is a part of the blade that runs through the knife handle. The tang offers strength and balance and also ensures that the blade does not detach from the handle. Therefore, the more tang, the more strength and balance a knife has.
Forged knives generally boast a full tang running through their handle. This helps provide them greater stability and balance. Most stamped knives, on the other hand, sport a partial tang. This can cause the blades to get loose and detach from the handle after a period. But many top brands offer stamped knives with a full tang.
While both knife types can have a full tang handle, it is less common in stamped knives.
A bolster, also known as a finger guard, is a thick piece of metal located between the handle and the blade. It serves the twin purpose of strengthening the knife and preventing slipping. Forged knives often feature a bolster but their counterparts, stamped knives, rarely feature one because they’re obtained by cutting a sheet of steel with equal thickness.
Weight is another factor that separates forged and stamped knives. Several factors such as blade thickness, tang style, handle material, and bolster, determine a knife’s weight.
Forged knives are usually heavier than stamped knives of the same width and length. This weight helps cut through thick foods more easily because gravity is in your favor. However, forged knives are not always comfortable for people with weak fingers or wrists. Stamped knives, on the other hand, are lightweight and allow them to work for extended periods without getting fatigued.
Forged Vs Stamped Knives: Which Is Better?
After dissecting forged and stamped knives, the big question is, which is better? You can’t exactly choose a winner because they both have their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll have to make a choice based on your preference and needs. If you need a flexible and lightweight knife, you’ll have to go for a stamped knife. But if you want a thick and heavy knife, a forged knife will serve you well.
Forged and stamped knives are very impressive cutting and chopping tools that get the job done. But when they’re pitted against one another: forged vs stamped knives, people want to know which is better for them. As mentioned above, there’s no clear winner between both types of knives. Before buying either of the two, you should ensure you choose the type better suited to your needs.