Handmade Knives VS Factory-made: Which are better?
Before talking about which knife is better, you need to understand that any knife is a tool focused on performing certain functions. Using a chopping knife, you can peel the potatoes, and cut the carcass with a vegetable knife, but this will probably be very inconvenient. Therefore, when choosing a knife to perform certain actions, we must first of all remember its purpose and choose a tool that is maximally focused on performing the actions we need.
By purpose, all knives can be roughly divided into the following groups:
- hunting and fishing;
- special purpose;
- survival knife.
Kitchens – for working in the kitchen. Usually three types are enough: A chef knife designed for cutting meat and cutting vegetables with a blade longer than 20 cm. The purpose is to cut meat and vegetables. Vegetable peeling knife. Blade no more than 10 cm long. Sharp tip for cutting out eyes from potatoes and other operations for peeling vegetables and fruits. Bread cutting knife. Has a serrated – special notches. Suitable for slicing thin slices of bread. There are many more varieties of knives for performing certain operations in the kitchen – cutting pizza, cutting fish, slicing cheese, etc.
Combat – not sold in the store as they are considered melee weapons. There are also many varieties of them – scout knife, paratrooper, sling cutter, daggers, daggers,dirks etc.
- Double-sided or one-and-a-half sharpening;
- Length with a handle – 20-30 cm;
- Designed for one-handed retrieval;
- May have a developed guard;
- The blade is often coated with a dark anti-reflective coating.
Hunting and fishing, by type of application, should be comfortable and practical. The steel must be strong. The handle is usually made of wood (warm). For fishermen, knives are convenient for cutting fish and working with nets and ropes. For hunters, they often make a skinning hook on the butt.
Folding – for use in the city. Lightweight so as not to tear the pockets (therefore the handles are often cut-out). Purpose – to carry out small works (cut something, unscrew, plan) in the city.
Multitools – folding knives that include a whole set of tools. “Classic” is a Swiss knife.
Special purpose – designed to perform one operation and focused on performing a narrow type of work.
- scalpels of surgeons;
- for divers;
- for an electrician.
There are many more specialized types (for example, misericordia for finishing off fallen knights in the joints of armor).
Tourist – light in weight and use, steel is easy to sharpen and straighten. The plastic handle is practical and lightweight. They cut food, cut up fowl or fish, open cans if necessary.
Canteens – various types for table setting. Various shapes and purposes.
Sports – throwing knives. They have a special shape for throwing, often with a lace tail to stabilize the flight.
Survival knife – multipurpose, with additional features: Container for small but necessary things (needle and thread, fishing equipment), compass, lighter, etc.
Materials for making
Various types of steel and ceramics are used to make the blade. Pottery is mainly used for kitchen knives. Steel of various qualities is used for blades. Starting from carbon – a knife from which sharpens well and remains sharp for a long time, but such steel quickly rusts. Stainless steels do not rust, but do not hold hardened well. Various types of damask steel are known. For handles are used, wood, bark, plastic, bone, leather, metal.
Which knife is better
Just about steel for blades, there are many different stereotypes and prejudices which knife is better, the one that is made at the factory or in the forge of the master.
Sellers and manufacturers rain down on us streams of words that simply fascinate and lead us into a stupor: “damask, powder, rolled, forged, simple.” In fact, all these words do not in any way speak about the properties of the knife, but only about the technology for making the shape of the workpiece.
The properties of steel depend on the amount of additives in it, in particular carbon. It is he who gives the steel hardness and the possibility of quenching. Carbon with iron forms carbides – hard grains when cooled sharply. If the steel is slowly cooled after heating, carbon manages to come out of the crystal lattice structure. Quenching after heating (the workpiece is immersed in water, oil, or cooled with a jet of air) is called quenching. Carbon steel can be quenching and made very hard, but then it will be very brittle. Unhardened steel is usually tough and soft. To make steel hard and not brittle, various alloying additives are added to it during cooking – chromium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, vanadium, silicon. These additives make the steel stainless and contribute to the hardening hardening.
Our ancestors repeatedly reforged the blank during the manufacture of weapons. Japanese katana has 5-7 thousand layers, which were obtained by reforging workpieces from high-carbon steel with a carbon content of 0.6 to 1.6%. Layers with different carbon contents worked for the overall result. With a lower carbon content after quenching, they were soft and tough. High carbon content was hard and cut well.
A saber made of Damascus steel was made from seven bundles of wire and each bundle had 7 wires. The wires were made from quality high-carbon steel which was obtained from India, where it was obtained by melting steel in pots by mixing ore with carbon. The result was a workpiece the size of a washer. It was from these washers that the wire was pulled.
The saber itself was also quenched many times. All these tricks made it possible to obtain an even distribution of carbon. Later it was hardened and etched to create a beautiful mesh pattern.
In the Caucasus, weapons were made differently. Handmade blades for daggers were forged from high quality steel. And then they sprinkled the red-hot blade with crumbs of cast iron (cast iron has at least 2.14% carbon), flattening and driving the cast iron into the upper layer of the workpiece. It turns out that the top layer of the workpiece is very hard, while the inner layer is soft and viscous. The upper hard layer cuts, and the inner one prevents the dagger or saber from being fragile.
Wootz was obtained by fusing ore with crushed graphite. But the ore had to have few impurities and not less than 85%. With this technology, not only pure carbon, but also its oxides got into the steel, which gives the damask a peculiar pattern.
Modern craftsmen for the manufacture of blanks take alloy steel bar, or old bearings, valves, files, drills. That is, high quality carbon alloy steel. The heated metal is flattened by forging and the workpiece is shaped. Moreover, if an industrial hammer is used, incorrect shock loads can greatly degrade the quality of the workpiece. Forging of a workpiece, subsequent quenching and normalizing tempering require the most accurate observance of time and temperature parameters. Strength is imparted as a result of quenching. The quality of custom knife depends on the skill and experience of the master. Every time he has to carry out all technological processes very accurately.
All technological processes of sheet rolling or powder billet sintering during manufacturing at the plant are automated. Technology in large production is easier to follow and control.
Quality control department checks the quality using sophisticated instruments, spectroscopes, microscopes. It is possible to check for destruction of several blanks from a large batch. Accordingly, factory and manual blades with the desired quality are easier to obtain in mass production. Accordingly, hardening and normalizing tempering will also be carried out and tested much better.
By purchasing handmade knives from a private master, we participate in a lottery. Most of them care about their reputation and try not to sell bad copies of their products. But internal flaws that can be revealed after a long period of time may simply not be found.