When you come upon anything as passionate as the knifemaking community, you will inevitably find a divide in opinion on at least one contentious topic. Many people advocate for one side, while many the other. There will also be people who are indifferent and accept both sides. In knifemaking, one of those topics is making knives via stock removal or forging. Is one “better” than the other? Is there a difference in the end result? Let’s take an overview of this topic for beginners in the knife world.
Knife Forging Technique
In our last blog, we talked about Bill Moran—the founding father of the ABS and his love for forged blades. At the time, the number of practicing bladesmiths using forging techniques was much lower and stock removal was growing in popularity.
Forging a knife is what people imagine creating swords and knives are like. Hot iron, hammering away and molding the item to your choice. Of course, the tools to do so have changed as technology has advanced but the fundamental principle is the same. When you forge a knife, you’re molding the shape yourself.
Stock Removal Knife Making
Stock removal is different than forging. Whereas forging is bending the steel to your desired shape, stock removal is as it sounds, removing material until you get a knife. It is much like carving a statue, you have a hunk of granite or whichever material you use, and inside that large block is your statue.
Stock Removal vs Forging: Which One is Better?
Forging is a tradition as old as time and as such carries a certain amount of elitism with it. Stock removal is a newer technique that has been made feasible with time and invention. Forging wastes little if any material in the knife-making process. Stock removal would have wasted too much precious steel in older times. Nowadays, you not only have advanced grinding wheels that can make material removal much easier, but it is much more possible to find materials of the size that you need so that the amount of material needing to be removed is much lesser.
As we mentioned above, there are advocates for both sides and advocates for all sides. Forging can yield blades with impressive strength and durability, but the catch is that such masterwork is difficult to come by and requires a great deal of skill. Many things can go wrong during the forging process, and so when an extremely high-quality blade is yielded through forging, it is a thing to admire. A work of pure craftsmanship.
However, this does not mean that stock removal is easy either. It requires a lot of patience and precision to carve out a great knife using a grinder. However, many would agree that producing a passable knife through stock removal is much easier, making it a superior choice for manufacturers who wish to consistently put out knives or knife makers who are more interested in creating art-knives (that’s not to say you can’t make quality forged art knives).
Most would agree the primary difference is the amount of strength that forging retains out of the steel. This is because the milling process creates a “grain” in which the metal is structured. Stock removal keeps this grain uniform regardless of shape, which lends it a slightly weaker strength. Since forging is warping the actual shape of the material, the grain follows whichever bends and turns it makes.
Some would argue that a knife should never undergo such abuse as a cutting tool, however many hunting knives are used in a rough manner and could stand to benefit from this type of durability.
Rare Custom Knives Online
As you can see, this argument about proper use, use cases, and required skill are enough to keep this argument going for a long time. So which one is better? Whichever one you like! We at Exquisite Knives are fans of all things that involve custom knifemaking. Stock removal, forging, why choose when you can have both? Some of the most wonderful and coveted art knives are created using stock removal. If stock removal method was all it took to make a knife that people drool over, then everyone would be an expert by now! Similarly, just because a knife is forged doesn’t make it magically superior.
Instead, what we honor on this site is the art of the craft. Whatever method you choose, it’s evident the worth of the knifemaker by the end result. What materials they chose, how they assembled them together, their attention to detail. These are the things that make or break the allure of custom knives.
If you want examples of knives of both forging and stock removal done right, check out our shop today! If you have any questions about our knives, contact us here today. We look forward to hearing from you!