This article will aid you with the pivotal decision of whether you want forged blades or stamped blades for your kitchen knives. There is a lot of misinformation going around when you’re shopping for a new set of knives and it can be really confusing when all you want to do is slice or dice in style while preparing your food.
The myth all starts with the idea that forged blades are inherently better than stamped blades. The idea behind this is that forged blades steel molecules are aligned better and therefore give them much better cutting properties. The fact is this used to be true, but no longer is due to updated manufacturing processes. In the old days the only way to make steel was to forge it, now days knife manufacturers just go down and buy the steel pre-made.
This is where the pivotal differences between kitchen knives start to form. The forged blades are heated up again pounded into the shape of a knife, and then ground and sharpened. The stamped or machined blades are cut or ground into the shape of a knife, and then heat treated twice to align the steel structure. The first heat treatment starts at 1400-1900 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving the steel brittle but very hard. The second heat treatment hits the blades at 400-700 degrees reducing both the brittleness and the hardness, but in turn making more durable blades.
As you can see the manufacturing processes are just different which leads to different knives. The forged blades tend to be much softer than the stamped or machined blades, because of the lack of high heat treatment. The benefits to this are that it’s much easier to sharpen at home, the knife will have a weightier feel, and you’ll have a bolster. The drawbacks are that it won’t be quite as sharp as a comparable stamped blade, and it won’t hold a comparable edge as long. The Germans who are the primary manufacturers using the forged method rectify this by sharpening to a 22 degree angle instead of a 16 degree used by most stamped manufacturers.
The stamped or machined blade benefits and drawbacks are in reverse of the forged. You’ll have a much lighter knife with no bolster, unless welded on, that’s extremely sharp, and durable. You may also have a harder time sharpening it at home.
In the end it all comes down to you the consumer, and which knife fits you the best. If you’re going to be slicing a lot of heavy vegetables and meats you may find the German forged Wusthof knives to your preference. On the other hand if you do a lot of Asian style cooking the high end stamped Global knives or Shun knives may fit you best.