Hand forged knives from Japan
Asking yourself what is a hand-forged knife and are hand-forged knives better, can be quite useful in the selection process for finding a new knife. Especially because hand-forged knives are usually more expensive and have to be due to the complex manufacturing process.
A knife is said to be hand-forged when the majority or a significant portion of the forging process involves manual labor on the part of the blacksmith. Some blacksmiths do all the steps from steel to grinding themselves, while others use steel blanks and bring their experience to bear during the rest of the forging process.
In the end, the final product must be the basis for evaluation and everyone must decide for themselves whether the hand-forged knife justifies the price tag.
Buying hand forged knives - is it worth it?
Forging a knife is not easy, and we often hear from our Japanese knife makers how many attempts it takes for a forging process to work. Factors must be considered such as forging temperature of the steel, steel combinations with expansion behavior, forging duration and much more.
All these factors must be brought into harmony, because only then can a knife with exceptional properties be created.
Besides the outstanding performance of Japanese hand-forged blades, the design and craftsmanship are essential arguments for buying a knife of this category. This has its price, but with proper care, you will be able to use such a chef's knife for a lifetime.
Companies specializing in hand-forged Japanese knives with a high level of added value have usually been active in this field for a very long time and have managed to ensure economic survival with hand-forged chef's knives for decades or even centuries. This shows that there are many people who value these products and honor this craftsmanship.
A hand-forged knife offers precision, quality and passion in cooking
The details which must be observed by hand by a cutler in the manufacture of the blade, make the difference in the end. Knife forging is a very old craft. Thus, some blacksmiths knowledge gained over generations was passed on. Good knifemakers are probably constantly asking themselves how the products can be even better and which unique piece the customers would buy.
Tradition and big names are often found in Japanese forges
High-quality chef's knives do not necessarily have to come from Japanese production, but there is a discernible trend. In and around Sakai, a prosperous knife industry has developed. There you can find many brands such as Kai Shun. So if you are looking for a wide range of knives which are forged by hand, you should start in Japan. Whether you are looking for Damascus steel or the classic steel for Japanese knives, you will find everything your heart desires.
The quality of a blade you can recognize in doubt only when cutting. Damascus blade or Kurouchi surface say little about the product. The product kitchen knife lives from the feel and you can feel that when you cut meat, fish or vegetables.
Difference German chef's knife vs. Japanese chef's knife
Very few knives today are still forged by hand. Even the handles are mostly not worked by hand but are mass-produced. It is logical that a cutler can only increase the output of a product to a certain extent and therefore industrial products from the factory must be resorted to, for the greatest demand of the markets.
Very few German manufacturers still produce entirely in Germany, but import Damascus steel blades and handles from abroad. Cities like Solingen are still a guarantee for quality in the minds of many customers, but as a customer you should look closely. On the one hand, enormous quantities are produced, which can only be realized with simpler industrial processes, and at the same time the product should be among the best. This is where conflicts of interest arise.
In Japan, there are also industrially produced chef's knives, such as the products of the Tojiro brand. However, the comparatively high number of cutlers in Japan stands out. There, the goal is to manufacture the best product and this for several generations. The chef's knife in Japan has evolved greatly over time. While vegetables and fish made up the bulk of the diet in the past, meat has also become more relevant over time. Japanese knifemakers embrace such trends and thus continue to develop the forging tradition. The gyuto knife is a good example here.
Do expensive kitchen knives make sense? What price is justified?
Cooking knives can be divided into the categories of hand-forged and industrial production. Now you can ask yourself whether a hand-forged product is really worth up to several hundred euros. It is clear that a hand-forged knife can be a great pleasure to use and at the same time, with its traditional look, it is always an eye-catcher.
A hand forged Japanese knife can start at a price of 80€ but also cost several hundred euros. As a rule, the price reflects the amount of work of the blacksmith.