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Knife contruction questions

Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:01 pm

Hi all,

I have some questions regarding knife construction. In my culinary training I'm hearing a lot of conflicting information regarding quality of construction, edge quality etc. So I'm beginning to think a lot of it is just preference, not necessarily the reality.

1. Bolster vs Bolsterless
This quote from a "culinary" website appears to be referring more to a traditional western style knife: "A bolster indicates that a knife has been forged from a single chunk of steel, as opposed to being stamped out of a roll of sheet metal…The thickness of a bolster shows how thick the original chunk of steel was — and the thicker, the better."
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So when I look at this image I understand that it's referring the the thick area between the blade and tang. Whats confusing to me is the knife below is considered bolsterless by the manufacturer since the edge of the blade continues all the way to the heel. Yes there is still a significantly thick portion of metal between the blade and tang.
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Can any help clarify these terms?

2. Forged vs Stamped
I also hear a lot of talk about forged knives being far superior to stamped. However, when reading over descriptions of extremely expensive Japanese style knives I don't see the term forged being used. I only see the term being used with Western style knives. For example, Japanese knives, in my limited knowledge of cutlery terminology, don't typically specify whether they are forged or stamped blades, but they are obviously very good knives.

So what's the truth in the difference currently?

3. Wooden vs Synthetic handles
I'm currently considering purchasing a [url =http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riar21.html url]Richmond Artifex 201mm Gyuto[/url] with a Pakka Wood handle. If my research is correct, Pakka wood is a hybrid of hardwood veneers and resins that is approved for use in commercial kitchens.

My concern is that I'm currently receiving culinary training in a volunteer setting in California. I haven't been able to find any specifics for CA on whether I can use a knife with a Pakka wood handle. I'm also concerned because I volunteer for disaster relief work which could take me anywhere in the US or Internationally. I want to make sure I could bring my knives with me. Can anyone provide any input on this for me?

Thanks for any and all input!

Jerry R

Re: Knife contruction questions

Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:58 pm

Oh man....that first one "Bolster vs Bolsterless" is just sillyness. There is zero truth to that.

2. All steel is forged. This is actually a lengthy debate. I'll try to keep it short...others can add on...and feel free to ask any further questions.

Typically, when a knife today is marketed as "Forged" it's saying that the maker took a bar of steel and pounded it out to rough shape and then ground to final shape.

A "Stamped" knife takes a piece of forged steel sheet essentially the thickness of the thickest part of the blade and the knife is "stamped" or cut out of the sheet. A bolster can be added by soldering/brazing, welding, or mechanical means if the maker so chooses.

Many Japanese knives are forged from bars by makers.....others are stamped/cut from sheet and ground.

The truth of the matter is that today there are really great steels that makers can buy in sheet format. Some are the same steels that others use in their forge. 52100 is a prime example....I use 52100 in sheet while others buy bars and pound it out. There are advantages to being able to forge from bar....integral bolsters being the one that makes me dream of owning a forge. But at the end of the day, if you can find a knife made from 52100 that you like, it will perform equally as well whether it was made from a bar or a sheet.

3. I'm sorry, but I can't answer this one. I don't know the laws everywhere. :)

Re: Knife contruction questions

Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:02 pm

BTW, I want to go back to this:

"A bolster indicates that a knife has been forged from a single chunk of steel, as opposed to being stamped out of a roll of sheet metal..."

That is pure crap. I could buy a sheet of 3/4" 52100, cut out the shape I wanted, grind the blade to shape leaving a bolster and I would have never forged a thing in my shop.

These old, worthless statements need to be systematically removed from the World Wide Web. :)

Re: Knife contruction questions

Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:43 pm

Thanks Adam for the great responses. I was beginning to think a lot of the info I was finding was incorrect. It seemed more realistic that the quality of the materials was what is most important. Not how the material ends up at its final shape. Forging to me has always implied a lot if labor, it has to take time to pound on metal to shape it!

Thanks again for the clear information.

Re: Knife contruction questions

Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:27 pm

No problem!! :)
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