Forging VS Stock Removal Knives

So what is the difference/big deal between forged and stock removal knives? My answer, while controversial, is this. There is no appreciable difference in the performance of the finished products. I am going to outline some of the essential differences. 


Forged steel compresses the grain near the edge supposedly leading to a tougher tight grained edge. While this makes sense, other factors such as edge geometry, heat treating, and steel type have much more to do with performance. 

http://www.cblade.it/why-forging-is-better.html

http://www.cblade.it/why-forging-is-better.html

Some say that slag inclusions or alloy imperfections will be cleaned up by forging, but this really only applies to rough steel blooms and is virtually eliminated in commercially available knife steels. The hardening and drawing (or tempering) has perhaps the most dramatic affect on knife performance. Steel type is also a very important factor. There are many mild steel types that will not make a suitable blade no matter how well crafted. 

Quenched high-carbon steel, polished, etched and viewed at 100 magnifications. This structure is called martensite and is desired when maximum hardness is essential. Photograph by H. S. Rawdon.

Quenched high-carbon steel, polished, etched and viewed at 100 magnifications. This structure is called martensite and is desired when maximum hardness is essential. Photograph by H. S. Rawdon.

     Finally, all cutlery is made by stock removal. Even when knives are forged as close as possible to their final shape, they are ground or filed considerably. If there is a true advantage to compressing the grain of a knife's edge, it may be ground away in the final shaping process. Furthermore, the added "Nth" degree of toughness or hardness would only be noticed under extreme abuse, in which case the knife will be ruined even if forged in the fires of Mordor. Knives are cutting tools only and any attempt to use them as pry bars or hammers is abuse. 

     I love watching blacksmiths at their craft and have the highest respect for the art. It is simply a different art from pure Cutlery. I can guarantee one thing: a well made knife made by hammering or grinding will serve a lifetime of use when well cared for and that is the most important consideration.