When people hear the words ‘handmade’ or ‘hand-forged,’ they imagine a big hairy sooted guy, sweating and hammering away on steel in front of a furnace. On the other hand, ‘machine made’ has a more modern, technologically advanced, and cleaner persona.
Also, when people need to rank ‘handmade’ versus ‘machine-made’ knives, they will probably rank and respect machine-made items higher. Machines can perform precision actions at high speeds that humans can’t compare. That is why cellphones, microchips, cars, etc., are machine-made and not handmade.
But would you consider art or jewelry to be of higher quality and more precious when made by machines? On the contrary, such items are considered more valuable due to the fact that they were made by hand and not machines. Why then are knives seen differently?
This article will explore the differences between handmade knives and machine-made knives and provide sufficient information so that you can make an informed decision when making your next knife purchase.
Handmade knives: Manufacturing Process
Many people suggest that a handmade knife is a knife that was blasted in a furnace and then hammered by a blacksmith to become the masterpiece it was intended to be. Although this could be the case, there are also other manufacturing techniques.
This is a streamlined process involving some machinery and intensive manual labor. Instead of smashing the steal over a long period of time into a thin blade, the hot metal is placed between two heavy rolling rollers. This is how the metal is flattened into the desired thickness faster than by hitting it with a hammer.
Next, the flattened piece of steel is then pressed out of the steel with a huge cutting machine. Once the desired shape and thickness is achieved, it is time for the manual artistry to commence.
The sharpening, engraving, handle-fitting, and finishing are all done by hand, and quality control is consistently applied through this process. Although the initial forging process is streamlined by the use of machinery, the rest is still done by hand.
The manufacturer would usually buy the sheets of metal in their desired thickness which cuts off some of the processing time. Similarly, as is the case in the roller forging process, the blades are then cut out using the cutting press machine.
Next, the blades are heated up by a machine and then drastically cooled down again. Afterward, it is time for the manual magicians to do their magic again with the sharpening, engraving, stamping, handle-fitting, and finishing.
The final manual leg of the manufacturing process is very labor-intensive, and because of that and due to the presence of humans, quality control is applied through every stage, for every knife.
Machine-made knives: Manufacturing
Machine-made knives are made through a fully automated process. Sheets of metal are cut into shapes, sharpened, polished, and finished mechanically by machines. Even the handles are attached by machines. The quality of the knife depends entirely on the grade of the materials used.
This process is not labor-intensive and is therefore much faster. Because of that, machine-made knives are, in general, much cheaper than handmade knives. That is why more of them are sold globally than handmade knives.
But why not rather buy a machine-made knife instead of a handmade knife if you are almost guaranteed to save a few bucks?
Let’s look at the qualities or differences between machine-made knives and handmade knives.
Handmade knives vs. Machine-made knives: Qualities
When buying a knife, make sure to check that it is made of high-carbon steel. Many handmade knives are made with this type of material, and it is the most sought-after quality chefs worldwide are looking for.
If the forging process was done correctly, it may also ensure that the knife would never rust in its life. If it does, it could be easily removed without breaking a sweat and without compromising the integrity of the blade. Check out our guide to knife maintenance here to understand more about removing rust from knives.
Many cheaper machine-made knives use the words ‘stainless steel’ to promote their products, but the validity of these statements could be questioned. You could end up with a knife that constantly develops rust and becomes a nightmare to maintain.
Durability is the most significant selling point of a handmade knife. Because they are not as flexible, they won’t easily break easily under extreme pressure. That’s why you are almost guaranteed that your handmade knife will last you a lifetime.
As long as you are disciplined when it comes to maintaining your knife, you’ll have the perfect culinary buddy for life. Check out our article about knife maintenance here for elaborate instructions on maintaining handmade knives.
Because machine-made knives are usually more flexible, they tend to snap under pressure. Not only could this be dangerous, but it means that you’ll also have to go and buy another one to replace the broken knife. Over time, this could lead to old age that goes: Buying cheap is buying expensive.
Designs, shapes, and sizes
Handmade knives could offer specialized designs and tailor-made specifications to suit the need of each individual, which includes the hardness, thickness, and length of the knife. Handmade knives also offer unique traits that machine-made knives can’t.
Because of the vigorous manual process that handmade knives go through, each knife will have its own little trademarks that differ from the next. Making every knife unique in its own way. Machine knives are basically copied and pasted duplicates of one another.
When it comes to long-lasting sharpness, handmade knives are the way to go. Due to its thickness and construction, forged steel knives remain sharper for longer than their machine-made competitors.
Another attribute, thanks to the construction and rigidness of the knives, is the fact that it is easier to sharpen a handmade knife versus a machine-made knife. As we mentioned before, machine-made knives are more flexible than their handmade counterparts and, therefore, are more difficult to sharpen when using a whetstone, for instance.
Check out our article for step-by-step instructions on how to sharpen knives using a whetstone.
Sadly, our buying decisions are usually determined by our budgets. That is why machine-made knives are more sold more often than handmade knives. Consumers also have a short-term mentality and neglect to include the fact that machine-made knives simply do not last that long. This may lead to them having to replace knives over the years, which in turn, could lead to the same amount spent had they bought a quality hand-forged knife in the beginning.
If you exclude the price and quality is what you are looking for, then handmade knives are the way to go. There are more designs available, the materials used are better, the durability is superior, and the sharpening of the knives is easier too. They will also remain sharper for longer than their machine-made competitors.
Sikkina offers the highest grade of material and value for each knife. Each design is crafted with care and precision. It underwent the most stringent form of quality control from the beginning, right to where we close the parcel to send it to you.