Forged Kitchen Knives Vs Stamped Kitchen Knives

Rob Ruark asked:

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.

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A Brief Guide to Buying Kitchen Knives

Deevan Aw asked:

When you are looking for a great kitchen knife set, you want to take into consideration cost, the material of the knives, the types of knives that come with the set, and the maintenance of the knives.

Cost is something that cannot be helped, in other words, your budget is your budget. However, keep in mind that a high quality knife set will last longer, maybe a decade, while a less expensive knife set will need replacement after maybe two years. A set will cost between fifty US dollars, and up to a thousand dollars or more for a top of the line set.

kitchen knives are generally made of one of the four following materials: stainless steel, carbon steel, laminated (combination of carbon steel and stainless steel), and ceramic.

The carbon steel knife is 99% iron, and 1% carbon. These knives are prone to rusting, though, and are higher maintenance than stainless steel knives. They are generally sharper though, than stainless steel, though also more brittle. Famous top manufacturers of carbon steel kitchen knives are Sabatier, Kikuichi, and Forshner but these knives are being discontinued and less common. Hardness on the C scale for Carbon Steel knives is between 60 and 62.

Stainless steel contains around 11% chromium, and is very well known as a material used for cutlery manufacturing. Type 420 and 440 stainless steel is used for cutlery, 440 being harder. 440 has a hardness on the C scale of 55. Within 440, there are three grades of steel used in cutlery. Going from more less carbon, and softer, they are A, B, and C.The famous stainless steel manufacturers include Global and Kasumi among the Japanese makers, and European makers like Wusthof.

Laminated knife blades will try to create a balance of the properties of carbon steel, and stainless steep by having a sandwich of the knife materials. Ceramic knives are even sharper than normal knives, but they are more brittle. Kyocera and Yoshi knives are among the ceramic knives available on the market.

Chef’s knife – This is the most important knife in the knife set and will be used for most general kitchen tasks.

Cleaver – This is used to chop and pound food. This is a heavy knife.

Bread knife- This is a special knife that is useful to cut tomatos, and bread without crushing it.

Fillet knife – This is used to fillet fish with a thin and flexible blade.

Paring knife – This is used to cut or peel small fruits and vegetables.

Steak knife – This comes either serrated or straight and is used on the dinner table for serving steak.

Maintaining carbon steel knives is more time consuming than stainless steel. After cleaning carbon steel knives, it is recommended to coat them with some vegetable oil, lightly, to prevent oxidization. Avoid putting professional knives in the dishwashing machine, with a high variability in temperatures and strong detergents, the steel blade and even the handle can get affected.

The sharpness of the blade may decrease if the knife is dropped in the dishwasher.

Once you are done using the knife, clean it immediately so that the quality of the blade is maintained. Once the knife is clean, it should be stored in a knife block made of polyurethane, or wood. Make sure to use a cutting board of the same material to protect the blade.

Knives can be sharpened with a sharpening steel which looks like a circular rod, or a block of stone called a sharpening stone. Modern electric sharpeners are safe to use on quality knives. When using an electric sharpener, make sure not to grind away too much of the knife. You need to sharpen your knives every three to six months.

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High Quality Knives Are the Foundation of the Kitchen

Steve Dolan asked:

A good set of knives is the foundation for any serious kitchen. It is simply not possible to be a serious cook, to produce superior meals that will impress and delight your friends, without a set of kitchen knives that work with you, not against you. If you use ill-suited knives, or just poor quality knives, you are only making things harder for you in the kitchen. If you are an aspiring cook, or an accomplished cook who is just simply tired of making things more difficult than they need to be, this article will help you put together a set of quality kitchen knives.

Your First Kitchen Knives: The Basics

The single most important knife in your kitchen, and the starting point for any collection, is the Chef’s knife, sometimes known as the Cook’s knife. As the name suggests, this is your general all-purpose knife, able to do everything from mincing to chopping to slicing and to dicing. The Chef’s knife has a gently slopping blade and is usually around 8 inches long. The next knife you should invest in is the little brother to the Chef’s knife, the paring knife. The paring knife is basically just a smaller version of the Chef’s knife. The paring knife is designed for more detailed or intricate jobs than the Chef’s knife. A paring knife usually measures around 4 inches long or shorter. The third knife you should purchase to complete your basic set of kitchen knives is a bread knife. The bread knife should ideally be about the same size as your Chef’s knife, but instead of a straight blade, the bread knife will have a serrated edge. A knife with a serrated edge resembles a saw blade, with the blade having a series of u-shaped cuts into it. The bread knife is obviously great for slicing bread. It is also useful however, for cutting food that would be squashed from the pressure of a straight blade.

After you have established your basic collection, the possible additions to your collection are endless. You could buy a myriad of larger knives such as cleavers (large rectangular knives designed for cutting through bones and joints) or smaller knives such as tomato knives, utility knives or even grapefruit knives.

Caring For Your Knives

Even if you have purchased only moderately priced knives, you should be interested in learning how to preserve your investment. Knives will become dull over time as they are used. Fortunately, you can take a number of easy steps to help prolong the life of your blades. The most important step is to never put your knives in the dishwasher; you kitchen knives should always be washed by hand with a mild detergent and then hand dried. The second step is to always use a cutting board; other surfaces can damage your knife blade. The third step is to have your blades sharpened by a professional. And finally, do not keep your knives in a draw with all your other junk – the knives should be keep out of contact with any other metal in a knife block.

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Keeping Kitchen Knives Sharp

Tony Grimes asked:

USING A SHARPENING STEEL

With a little practice, anyone can master the art of using the steel to keep your knives sharp.
The sharpening steel is a metal rod that consists of a slightly softer hardness factor than the knife blade. Sharpness is maintained by stroking the blade, at a 10 degree angle, over the rod on a regular basis. It is best to use the same brand of steel as your knives to avoid using the wrong steel.

When a knife is looked at under a microscope, the edge, even the edge of a fine edged knife, is made up of thousands of small teeth. After constant use, these are bent out of line and the blades become less effective for cutting properly. Stroking the knife on a sharpening steel does not put a new edge on a knife; it simply realigns the existing edge, increasing sharpness.
After a lot of use the steel becomes ineffective and some type of hone, or stone, is needed to put a new edge on a knife. After this is done the steel fine tunes the blade.

Easiest Method of Steeling for home using “Cutting Motion” and followed by “Reverse Cutting Motion”

Sharpening with “Cutting Motion”

Hold the sharpening steel in your left hand with the point of the steel firmly placed on a cutting board or table, the steel should now be vertical to the surface.

Hold the knife in your right hand , as if you were going to cut

Place the section of the blade closest to the knife handle against the sharpening steel just under the steel handle.

Angle the knife about 10 degrees from the sharpening rod.

With even pressure pull the knife handle toward you as you travel DOWN the steel, stroke the entire blade edge ending at the tip as you near the bottom of the steel.

Alternate from left to right sides of the steel rod about six times.

Sharpening with “Reverse Cutting Motion”

Put the point of the sharpening steel on a cutting board, or table, surface at a 90-degree angle.

Push the blade flat across the sharpening steel, moving in the opposite direction of normal cutting.

Place tip of knife on steel close to table, with even pressure push blade of knife as you move UP the steel.

Stroke the whole blade to the blade handle, you should end up near handle of steel.

Repeat the process on the other side of the knife-edge.

The sharpening steel should be used every time a knife is used. A professional meat cutter carries a steel at his side and uses it every few minutes to keep his knives sharp.

Use a scouring powder pad to clean and remove metal particles from the steel, do not use steel wool. Use even pressure with the scouring pad fro handle to tip. Rinse with clear water, dry the steel well and store in a dry place.

THE HONE

I recommend using a ceramic hone for home use, electric sharpeners and stones are a little more tricky to use.

Handle the hone with care, unlike a steel, it can break if dropped, or banged against a hard surface.

Any method for creating a new edge also increases wear on a knife,

A ceramic hone creates a new edge on a knife by removing metal from the knife blade.

After honing the knife, use a steel in order to realign the cutting teeth and provide a razor sharp edge.

If a knife is steeled regularly it should not need to be honed too often.

Clean your hone after each use with scouring cleanser and a sponge or cloth….No Soap of any kind!

Rinse with clear water and a wipe dry.

Caring for you knives, steels and hones pays dividends, dull knives cause accidents

Knives should be used only for cutting boneless meat, it should not be used as a chopper, this plays havoc with the edge, requiring frequent honing which reduces the life of the blade.

If you do a lot of chopping, buy a small cleaver.

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The Care and Cleaning of Kitchen Knives

Mary Kenkel asked:

The best thing you can do to keep your knives sharp and to avoid wear and tear on the blade’s edge is to make sure to use it on the proper cutting surface. Using a cutting board made of glass, stone, stainless steel or ceramic will quickly dull your knife. For this reason, it’s advisable to avoid using your good kitchen knives to cut food directly on ceramic or porcelain dinnerware or on granite or marble countertops. The better option is using cutting boards made of wood, bamboo, plastic or synthetic because they won’t dull your blades.

It’s also important to keep your knives clean. Ask any professional chef how to wash a good knife and I would wager that 99 times out of 100 you will get the same answer and a stern one at that: A kitchen knife should always be washed by hand after each use using a mild liquid detergent and then dried thoroughly with a towel. And, then that same chef will tell you, and with great emphasis, that a good knife should NEVER be washed in a dishwasher because the heat and steam will ruin wood handles and the knife can be easily nicked by being tossed around in the dishwasher.

All this being said, I have to admit (and I realize that I may be about to incur the disdain of many amazing chefs by doing so), that I sometimes wash my knives in the dishwasher, because, due to safety reasons, I don’t like handling a sharp blade with wet hands. For this reason, I only buy plastic-or composite-handled knives because wooden handled knives really shouldn’t go into the dishwasher. And I’ve never had a problem with my knives getting nicked in there, although I’m very careful about how I load them.

If you choose to wash your knives in the dishwasher, make sure to place them securely in the top shelf of your dishwasher so that they won’t move around during the washing cycle and don’t use the heated dry cycle. For safety sake, be careful unloading the dishwasher. And, remove the knives from the dishwasher immediately after the washing cycle is complete.

In addition to keeping your knives clean, it’s a good idea to keep them sharpened and in alignment. A honing steel is an essential piece of equipment if you want to keep your knives in tip-top shape. The honing steel is not a sharpener, but is used to re-align and straighten the blade’s edge. By pulling the knife’s edge along the length of the honing steel, the blade can be brought back to the correct angle. Manufacturers recommend using a honing steel every time you work with your knives.

As far as sharpening your knives, there are a number of home knife sharpeners on the market today and many of them do a good job at returning a reasonably sharp edge to your blades. The manual sharpeners are significantly less expensive than their electric counterparts, but just don’t seem to be able to manage a blade that is pretty dull. If you keep up with your knives and the blades are only modestly dull, the manual knife sharpener is probably fine for you. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to invest in an electric sharpener. When shopping for an electric knife sharpener, you may want to consider getting one that includes a non-motorized slot that can be used like a honing steel. This will save you having to buy the steel in addition to the sharpener. In addition, the honing mechanism on the electric sharpeners is much easier to use than the traditional honing steel.

The other option for sharpening your knives is to take them to a professional knife sharpener. This choice is certainly less convenient than running the blade through a sharpener at home, but nothing can give your blades a sharper edge than an experienced professional can. In fact, many professional chefs say that having your knives sharpened by a professional knife sharpener is the only way to go.

If you’re interested, most good kitchenware shops can direct you to a qualified person. Or, you can also look under ‘Sharpening Services’ in your local Yellow Pages.

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