When buying a kitchen knife, it is often seen in the feature description that the blade is made in a “forged” or “stamped” method. You may don’t know what those two words mean and which one is better.
Don’t worry, here I will explain in detail the comparative differences between “forged” and “stamped” knives and this knowledge will help you choose the best one that suits you.
What Is a Forged Knife?
When a piece of steel is repeatedly heated and hammered by a craftsman or machine to form a blade shape, and the knife made with that blade is called a forged knife.
What Is a Stamped Knife?
When a press machine cuts many pieces in the shape of a knife from a large flat metal sheet and the knives made with those single pieces are called stamped knives.
What Is the Difference Between Stamped and Forged Knives?
One question that has been asked more often now with the rise of food being raised at your home rather than being bought from the store is, are forged knives better than stamped knives for kitchen use?
In the next paragraphs, I will explain the major differences between the two knives. Then I will give my opinion on which one is better.
- Manufacturing Process
- Edge Retention
1. History Comparison
Forged Knife History
For most of history, people have used forged Knives because they were the only type of knife they could get. Also, because they knew the knives would last for a long time before needing to be replaced.
And many items in the past were judged by if the item was to be used a lot, then it would be wise to get one of better quality.
Plus, once the blade was too far gone to resharpen you could trade it to the blacksmith and he could melt the blade and recast it.
Stamped Knife History
Stamped knives only became relevant when the industrial revolution was taking place and mass manufacturing goods became more popular than the style of handcrafting the tools. It was cheaper to make ten decent knives than one excellent knife.
And with the space age and the rise of the precut food dealers, the need for sharp sturdy knives faded away. People didn’t need to cut up meat from the butcher or cut the meat from their own livestock.
2. Manufacturing Comparison
Forged Knife Manufacturing Process
The forged knife is made of tempered stainless steel or carbon steel, or high carbon steel and is handmade by a craftsman.
The process of making the knife is not a quick process because the knife’s blade must be heated, shaped, flattened, and many other steps must be completed till the blade is finally done.
Some blades are formed in the Damascus or Japanese style by hammering a piece of metal over itself until the blade is really formed of many layers of steel and finishing it in almost the same manner.
The forged Knife is made to be used for a long time so they are easily sharped and made of good materials overall so that the knife is of good use.
Another part that makes forged knives unique is that the blades are different from one another. Some blades could be slim while others have a bulge near the point and narrows close to the hilt.
Stamped Knife Manufacturing Process
A stamped knife is normally made of stainless steel, though some are made of porcelain and are usually made in a factory by a line of workers.
The steel is placed under a press that will cut out the shape of the knife and then sharpened. The steel is usually of inferior quality to that of a forged knife and is not made with the same care as its counterpart.
But stamped knives are made significantly faster than forged knives are. But with that quickness of completion, the knives are not heated to.
Since the knives are not as well made the blades don’t last as long as a forged knife and some are not well suited for sharpening.
Most stamped knives are made for a distinct purpose, some are large and long meant for cutting large fruit. While others are slim but sharp with small serrations are used to cut through the meat.
3. Durability Comparison
Forged Knife Durability
A forged Knife is of great durability because of the better grade steel used and the time a craftsman uses to fold the steel over itself. With the steel folded over, the blade is much stronger than most blades as it has more mass in a smaller area.
With that strong of a blade, the knife is good for use for many years as long as the blade is kept sharp. But one thing that forged knives lack is they are not as good to wash in a dishwasher.
Stamped Knife Durability
The durability of a stamped knife can vary, some knives are not that good and are only useful until it is dull. While others are good for a good amount of time, but they will not have the same lifespan as a forged Knife.
However, if the stamped knife is of better making than most other stamped knives it could last almost as long as a forged knife.
But on the flip side, if the stamped knife is of the worst quality, it may not be able to be sharpened and have to be discarded after the knife gets dull. But stamped knives are dishwasher safe.
4. Weight Comparison
Forged Knife Weight
Forged knives usually have full tangs and bolsters and are thicker, which is why forged knives are heavier and stronger than stamped knives.
Because of the full tang, the knives have a good balance and weight distribution. Also, a bit heavier, making it easier to cut hard food items as well as dense and soft meats.
However, using heavy knives for long periods of time in general work causes fatigue as well as strain on the hands and neck.
Stamped Knife Weight
Stamped knives are made from a flat and relatively thin metal sheet and usually do not have a bolster but have a partial tang which makes them slightly lighter than forged knives.
Due to their lightweight, they can be easily used for cutting or slicing vegetables and fruits for a long time without any fatigue.
However, for the same reason, stamped knives are not very suitable for the purpose of cutting or chopping heavy food items.
5. Styles Comparison
Forged Knife Styles
There are many styles that a forged knife can become. With the benefit of being hand made a craftsman can form the knife to anything within their imagination.
They could make one that is like a normal knife or one that is more like a dagger, or make a butcher’s knife look more like a machete and why not make a small vegetable knife into a mini katana.
The possibilities are endless. But with this crazy number of possible knives that also means that some knives could be for the same purpose but look totally different.
Stamped Knife Styles
With stamped knives, the possible styles are limited to the molds used to shape the blades, but the different styles are all made with a purpose.
The large knives with points are used for vegetables, while your smaller thinner blades can be used for finer work like cleaning seeds or slicing smaller vegetables. Or knives with serrated edges can be used for cutting tougher meat like steak.
So even though you lose out on the creativity you have a more ordered set of knives.
6. Uses Comparison
Forged Knife Uses
Forged knives are not as common in home cooking but are seen extensively in areas like Butcher shops, gourmet restaurants, and other places that deal with large amounts of food and need knives to last for a long time.
Otherwise, the business would be spending more money on getting new knives than they need to when they could be hiring or improving the store.
But one thing that people can do is make their own forged knife, it may not be as polished, or sturdy as one made by a craftsman but it can still be of good quality.
And that is one thing that the forged knife is better at is that it can be made by anyone so long as they know what they are doing or have someone teaching them.
Stamped Knife Uses
The most common place to find stamped knives is in-home kitchens. Because of the cheaper cost or the larger variety of knives, it is very useful to people who don’t have the money to spend on better-grade knives.
And frankly, most people don’t need the best-grade knife to do a small amount of cutting. Plus, with the large variety that they usually come in you can get many knives that can be used for various cuts and kinds of food.
7. Sharpening Comparison
Forged Knife Sharpening
Most of the forged knives are made of carbon, Damascus, or high-carbon stainless steel.
Frequent heating and hammering process increases the molecular hardness and density of these metals which allows them very fast and easily sharpened.
Stamped Knife Sharpening
Most stamped knives are made of stainless steel which is slightly thinner and more flexible than its counterparts.
Since the hardness of stainless steel is extremely high and the blades are flexible, sharpening stamped knives is a laborious and time-consuming task.
If you want to avoid the hassle of regular sharpening, buy the best self-sharpening kitchen knife set today.
8. Edge Retention Comparison
Forged Knife Edge Retention
The forging process increases the hardness of the forged blades, which makes their edge retention capacity much better.
Stamped Knife Edge Retention
Since stamped knives are made from lower-grade steel and do not have to go through any forging process, their edge retention capacity is relatively low.
9. Maintenance Comparison
Forged Knife Maintenance
Most forged knives are made of high carbon steel so that they can be sharpened quickly but on the other hand, their stain and corrosion resistance is somewhat reduced due to which they need regular maintenance.
For all these reasons, the maintenance of forged knives is a little higher than forged ones.
Stamped Knife Maintenance
Most stamped knives are made from stainless steel plates so they are more resistant to stain and corrosion than forged knives which makes them much easier to clean.
Considering these issues, it can be seen that the maintenance of stamped Knives is much lesser than forged.
10. Cost Comparison
Forged Knife Cost
Forged knives are more expensive because of the better steel and the labor involved in a single knife is significantly longer than that of a stamped knife.
So, the normal cost of a forged knife can be from $80 and up. And with the price, you are usually getting one very sturdy knife that will be easy to sharpen and not so easy to break.
Stamped Knife Cost
Stamped knives are not as expensive as forged knives because the materials are of inferior quality to that of a forged knife and are made much faster. Not as much care is put into the knives as they are assembled in a factory.
But that also means that they are more popular because they can come in larger sets with different knives for the same rough price as a forged knife.
Which Is Better Forged or Stamped Knives?
My thoughts on the best knife are that the forged knife is the best. With the better grade steel and time put in by a craftsman, it is obvious that a forged knife will have a longer lifespan and cut more efficiently.
Even though stamped knives come in a larger variety for the same price, they may only work for a decade if the company was making good knives.
The forged knives are more expensive for fewer knives but, they are sure to keep their edge and keep cutting for a longer amount of time. Though they are not always dishwasher safe and may require you to hand wash them.
So, in summary, the forged knife is best overall but that doesn’t mean that you should not buy a stamped knife.
But take a look at what you are doing in regards to food and chose if you need more of a variety of knives that clean with less on your part or more robust knives that are not cheap, but are not going to wear out for many years that need you to wash them?
Now maybe in the future people could figure out how to make stamped knives as good as forged knives, and if that ever happens the stamped knife would be better than forged knives because they would be faster to make.
But I don’t think any machine could replicate the work done by knife smiths do.