PDA

View Full Version : History on Forgecraft knives; please educate me



DevinT
03-04-2013, 06:18 PM
I have a sudden interest in forgecraft knives and would like to know more about their history. I can remember them from when I was a kid. I think that they may have been sold at K-Mart and other retailers in the '70's.

If I were a bettin' man I'd say they were made in Japan. The simplicity of the handle and the profile of the blade along with the kurouchi finish and the blade ground only half way up seems like it was designed and built in Japan.

Any help is appreciated.

Hoss

Jmadams13
03-04-2013, 06:34 PM
Read through the ODC thread. Some really go info. American made, from old sawmill blades I think. It all in that thread. Son really explain it well

DevinT
03-04-2013, 06:47 PM
Do you have a link for that thread?

DevinT
03-04-2013, 07:05 PM
I found the thread, thanks.

After reading through it, I think the knives sold at K-mart were Old Hickory.

Hoss

PierreRodrigue
03-04-2013, 07:06 PM
Here you go Hoss!
http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/7924-ODC-%28Old-Dirty-Carbon%29

EDIT: Yer pertty darned quick for 10 gallon hat wearin' kinda feller... :D

Jmadams13
03-04-2013, 07:16 PM
Not that all Old Hickory were that bad. Some were just as good as Fordgecraft. I think at some point, there were made by the same company. Ill has to look into that or... Son... Steeley... I'm sure you'll both put us to shame with your knowledge

DevinT
03-04-2013, 07:25 PM
Thanks

I tested one for hardness and was impressed that it was 59rc. The one I have is a little thicker at the edge than I thought it should be, it measures .028 inches.

Hoss

sachem allison
03-04-2013, 07:29 PM
different companies, I think old hickory was made by Ontario knife works and Forgecraft was made by Washington Forge. The Forgecraft line was discontinued in 1968. However, Old hickory did have the label forgecraft on their boxes. It was more for marketing then anything. The forgecraft Hicarbon was the actual name of the washington forge line. Even though the company went defunct in 1968 there was a lot old stock in warehouses and restaurant supply places and the knives were still being sold throughout the 80's and every once in a while you can hit a restaurant supply place and they will still sell them to you. Any one who thinks that they still make them is incorrect, They have not been made since 68. The best ones were made in the 50"s and very early 60"s. You can tell there age by very slight changes in the Forgecraft Hi Carbon stamp. It is strongly believed that the steel is 1095. No one left around who knows exactly for sure. It is a highly reactive simple carbonsteel until it develops a patina and settles down. It is 100% American made and designed. I sold Lefty a pre- Forgecraft from the 20's before the company was bought by Washington Forge and the profile is pretty much the same. Large diameter wheels used to hollow ground it, Thin behind the edge and those cold rolled forge markings on the top half of the blade. Case made similar knives, Winchester, Old Hickory, Wards, Shapliegh and a bunch of others but, I think Forgecraft gut it right. When you find a really good one they are amazing and a not so, good one is alright too. It's a work horse, Nothing other than that.

sachem allison
03-04-2013, 07:45 PM
.I like it because that 1095 can take a razor edge and is easy to maintain. It doesn't have the best edge retention, but that is mainly do to the fact that they are not heat treated to their full potential. The blade geometry is pretty sweet. The knife is fairly thin under 2mm I believe , so you have a potential laser here. Fully one half of the height of the blade is hollow ground on a very large diameter wheel and the remaining half of the blade is flat ground and contains divots formed during the cold rolled forge process. This combination on a properly polished and maintained blade actually provides exceptional food release. It is the exact opposite of the convex grind that everyone is playing with now. They both get the job done, but go about it in different ways. This is the old school way of doing it. On This grind the food pushes itself into the concave surface of the blade, as it travels up the face and reaches the outward facing edge of the curve the food naturally falls away from the blade. Anything that gets past this will hit the divots which provide an air break to weaken the surface tension caused by the moisture in the food. The key to all of this working properly is the use of large diameter wheels. Most of today's hollow ground kitchen knives do not perform as well because small diameter wheels are used, mostly by guys who sharpen on grinders in the back of trucks.( sorry , Dave) ( I said "mostly"). The small diameter wheel gives you a hollow ground that is too small and a radius that is too tight. The food wants to curl up on itself and a lot of wedging occurs or because of the small hollow the food just bypasses it all together and gets stuck on the flat ground face of the blade.

Plus these are very comfortable to use. I prep about 4 to 8 hours of solid knife work everyday, 7 days a week with my forgecraft, no problems. a few strokes on the 1k king and I'm back in business.

sachem allison
03-04-2013, 07:45 PM
The story was that the original pattern was from Band saw blades used in lumber mills. The cold rolled forge allowed long continuous sheets of steel to be made and the ridges left over from the rollers actually proved to be beneficial in that they allowed the blade to run cooler by reducing friction from contact with the wood. Like many early knife makers, they were always looking for cheap sources of steel. When the band saw blades would snap or dull they would throw them on a scrap pile. In the early days they would just give the stuff away to get it out of there space. The knife makers found out it was good steel and they could make good inexpensive blades and sell them at a reasonably affordable price. During the Depression, There were a lot of public work projects and a lot of lumber mills were set up an a lot of surplus and used steel laying around. In the twenties all the way up to WW2 you see a lot of companies using this type of steel. During the War that sort of stopped as all that scrap went to the war effort. When the war ended you again had a surplus of steel lying around and this pattern went on for about 20 more years. Old Hickory continues with thie pattern today more for nostalgia's stake than anything else. Old Hickory really made their company what it is today. Unfortunately The origi8nal Forgecraft was bought up by Washington Forge and the brand was retired in 1968. Washington forge had over 40 plus individual brands and lines of cutlery and just over extended them selves and then The Japanese came to knife prominence in the 70's and things have never been the same for the American knife industry.

Jmadams13
03-04-2013, 07:58 PM
Wow! Thanks Son. Makes me appreciate mine even more now. You the man!

Benuser
03-04-2013, 07:59 PM
Thank you Son, especially for explaining the food release with a concave face!

DevinT
03-04-2013, 08:01 PM
Thanks Son, lots of great stuff. It's interesting that the profile is closer to a Japanese knife than a European knife, which is where most of the early American cutlery got it's influence.

It would be cool to find some of that old band saw material.

Hoss

DevinT
03-04-2013, 08:05 PM
Son, do you have any pics of the different markings/name stamps?

Hoss

sachem allison
03-04-2013, 08:18 PM
unfortunately Devin, I don't. There aren't any books or references I can find with the different markings, It's more something that I have noticed and picked up over the years. subtle differences in printing size and shape and slightly different placement within the little plaque. I have four or five of them here, I'll see if they match up and I can take some pics.

Benuser
03-04-2013, 08:32 PM
Thanks Son, lots of great stuff. It's interesting that the profile is closer to a Japanese knife than a European knife, which is where most of the early American cutlery got it's influence.

I guess you mean German where you write European. To me it's quite obvious the Japanese took the French profile as a model. Is it unthinkable the Forgecraft guys did the same?

DevinT
03-04-2013, 09:31 PM
Good point. Sabatier's have a different profile though.

I did the math on the Forgecraft and it is the same as many Japanese knives. The handle reminds me of a wa handle except for the full tang and rounded scales.

Hoss

Marko Tsourkan
03-04-2013, 10:48 PM
The story was that the original pattern was from Band saw blades used in lumber mills. The cold rolled forge allowed long continuous sheets of steel to be made and the ridges left over from the rollers actually proved to be beneficial in that they allowed the blade to run cooler by reducing friction from contact with the wood. Like many early knife makers, they were always looking for cheap sources of steel. When the band saw blades would snap or dull they would throw them on a scrap pile. In the early days they would just give the stuff away to get it out of there space. The knife makers found out it was good steel and they could make good inexpensive blades and sell them at a reasonably affordable price. During the Depression, There were a lot of public work projects and a lot of lumber mills were set up an a lot of surplus and used steel laying around. In the twenties all the way up to WW2 you see a lot of companies using this type of steel. During the War that sort of stopped as all that scrap went to the war effort. When the war ended you again had a surplus of steel lying around and this pattern went on for about 20 more years. Old Hickory continues with thie pattern today more for nostalgia's stake than anything else. Old Hickory really made their company what it is today. Unfortunately The origi8nal Forgecraft was bought up by Washington Forge and the brand was retired in 1968. Washington forge had over 40 plus individual brands and lines of cutlery and just over extended them selves and then The Japanese came to knife prominence in the 70's and things have never been the same for the American knife industry.

Now that's damn impressive.

don
03-05-2013, 01:13 AM
Thank you for sharing, Son. Really interesting read.

sachem allison
03-05-2013, 01:49 AM
here you go Devin

sachem allison
03-05-2013, 02:08 AM
from top to bottom
1. this is and 8in late 60's towards end of production flowing thin script with pronounced full curly tail on the g. larger copyright r. thick behind the edge and not as well ground.

2. this is a 10" early 60's flowing thin script slightly smaller Hi carbon print and smaller copyright r, g tail missing( at first I thought this was just a poor strike or the g wore away but, I have seen this a lot and it is always consistent with this batch.) thin behind the edge and beautifully ground

3. this is from a mid 50's cleaver the stamp is bolder the script slightly different and about 20% smaller then other logos, better quality strike and a different full curly tail on the g. thin behind the edge and beautifully ground.

4. This one is from a 10 in early 1950's The stamp is deeply struck, much crisper and of a better quality it is about 20% smaller then the later model ones and has a distinctive tail on the g. Thin behind the edge and the best ground.

The olde ones are better struck and better ground in my opinion. I contribute the loss of quality to an aging work force and modernization. As the company got closer to its end they let the highly skilled more experienced workers go and just sorta phoned in the rest with the newbs.

DevinT
03-05-2013, 08:51 PM
A very big THANK YOU to you Son and the forum members for all the help and info.

Hoss

Jmadams13
03-05-2013, 09:00 PM
Yeah Son, thanks a bunch. I've actually copied and pasted your replies Sony could save them for reverence later. You the man, man..

jayhay
03-06-2013, 12:51 PM
Son, thanks so much for the info and pics on forgecraft. I've recently piced up a couple, and just love 'em. I tried to find some history on the brand, but came up empty handed. Thanks again.

One of mine came incredibly thick behind the edge, and looks completely flat ground on both sides. The second is much thinner behind the edge, almost like it has thinned out over the years. I'll check for the differences in logo, as you posted. Both 10" chefs.

sachem allison
03-06-2013, 03:42 PM
There was a batch I want to say around the late 60's towards the end of production that was relatively thick and flat sided usually 8 in. size. I suspect that this actually was one specific person who was grinding out the blades and just either wasn't trained properly or just didn't care. you can actually tell knives ground by the same person over the years. I have had some from the 40's to the mid 60's that was ground by the same person, you can tell by the grind, the way the tip is shaped or the heel is ground, little fingerprints so, to speak. I instantly can tell because it is so much better than the others. I'm sending 2 to Devin to look at and I think they may be from the same person or someone he trained. Over the years I have come across about a dozen that were very thick almost slab sided and usually over ground, they all look fairly identical and may very well have been made by the same guy or gal. THey usually date within the last 5 years of production. Now keep in mind many of the nos that is being found out there was not necessarily made on the 60's. The knives could have been sitting in the warehouses for decades before it was sold and then sat in the restaurant supply house for decades more. Things would have gotten mixed up and turned around so, its a crap shoot. These are rough guess estimates only based on years of experience.

Mike9
03-06-2013, 08:31 PM
Thank you son for that - I had three 10" Forgecrafts and two look to be ground by the same guy. They each have a certain mark in the exact same place. Great knives really and so much fun to convert.

RoanRoks29
03-06-2013, 11:38 PM
Thank you for this fountain of knowledge !! Very Interesting story behind these knives!!!

Lefty
03-07-2013, 02:04 PM
Son's last post is especially true. The one that I sold to Huw is one of the finest vintage grinds I've seen/used. Karring's is my all-time favourite, though.

Sorry I missed this thread. I'm sitting in Starbucks, trying to cram for a classification exam and here I am reading through this. Haha. As for Old Hickory, I have two bullnoses by them that are maybe, just maybe superior to Forgecraft. Beautiful, heavy nosed knives. Man, I love vintage carbon.

brainsausage
03-07-2013, 09:51 PM
I just checked eBay for the first time in a about 3 weeks. Only found one lot with a questionable 10 inch chefs. Last fall there was somewhere around 15-20 at any given time. And they were CHEAP- $20-40. I looked again sometime in the middle of January they were averaging $60-70!

Maybe I won't sell that Stefan handled Forge after all...

apicius9
03-08-2013, 01:06 AM
Time I get a handle on my own which was a generous gift by Mike H. Just wondering, what is the wood on these oldies, does anybody know? I want to rehandle mine but I want to stay with the American theme - had some old wormy American chestnut stabilized, and when done it may look just as it does right now... Maybe I'll throw a touch of redwood in there.

Stefan

sachem allison
03-08-2013, 01:13 AM
hickory

kalaeb
03-08-2013, 01:52 AM
hickory

Your probably right, looks an very close to oak too.

Von blewitt
03-08-2013, 06:41 AM
Son's last post is especially true. The one that I sold to Huw is one of the finest vintage grinds I've seen/used. Karring's is my all-time favourite, though.

Man, I love vintage carbon.

Cheers Tom. I'm certainly enjoying it! I was über impressed with the grind also. Although I have very little experience to compare it with. I'm glad I started out with a great example

Jmadams13
03-08-2013, 10:54 AM
Son's last post is especially true. The one that I sold to Huw is one of the finest vintage grinds I've seen/used. Karring's is my all-time favourite, though.

Sorry I missed this thread. I'm sitting in Starbucks, trying to cram for a classification exam and here I am reading through this. Haha. As for Old Hickory, I have two bullnoses by them that are maybe, just maybe superior to Forgecraft. Beautiful, heavy nosed knives. Man, I love vintage carbon.

Are they fordgecraft or old hickory that's coming my way?

stopbarking
05-01-2013, 02:25 AM
Thread rehash for you experts. I want to roughly date this Forgecraft. I bought two off of Ebay and one was workable though I have now sent it to Dave for an expert thinning. I put an edge on it that I could deal with but it really needed a full thinning where I would lose a lot of the marking character. I used this knife for a while but it was wedging so bad I decided it was time for a rehab. I love the edge potential of this knife.

The other knife has an edge with up to 1mm of waviness in a couple spots. It's going to have to become a suji/yuto to become workable. I'm waiting to have some extra funds to have somebody professionally work on it.

The handle is in surprisingly good shape and the little bit of rust that was on it was really easy to remove with BKF only scrubbed off with a cork. The black striations look great but I fear with the slightly thick looking geometry it would lose a lot of that character with a full rehab. This and insufficient funds have kept me from having this project tackled.

The coolest thing about this blade is that it looks like it's double struck. This makes it difficult to date in comparison. I'd love one of you experts to see if you could put an approximate date on it.

http://i757.photobucket.com/albums/xx217/bastopbarking/photo.jpg

sachem allison
05-01-2013, 12:41 PM
It has been double struck , is it a 8in or 10in version. It looks like it may have jumped out of the slot when it was struck and placed back in and restruck. I'm going to say late 60's judging by the full tail on the G., thicker larger r trade mark and poor thick grind. It's very classic late sixties.

Lefty
05-02-2013, 08:10 PM
My immediate thought was mid-sixties, but Son knows much more about them than I do. In fact, he got me started on Forgecraft. Until then, I was chasing old Lamsons, Dexters and Sabs.

nerologic
05-13-2014, 02:06 AM
Adding another stamp shot to the Forgecraft library. It looks deeply struck as well:

http://i.imgur.com/TrgbRK5.png

Do you reckon this is one of the earlier ones? I'd be glad to describe it better once it arrives in the mail, but the guy who done sold it took a good shot.

sachem allison
05-13-2014, 02:13 AM
I want to say fifties, It looks similar to the one I posted but, just a little bit different in the ft on the end. Very nice mark though.

sachem allison
05-13-2014, 02:39 AM
I want to say fifties, It looks similar to the one I posted but, just a little bit different in the ft on the end. Very nice mark though.

larrybard
05-13-2014, 10:43 AM
23480

Don't know if this image will upload properly, but it doesn't seem to resemble any of the others posted -- in particular the registered mark seems positioned differently.

nerologic
05-13-2014, 11:04 AM
It seems to have uploaded properly. I see what you're saying, that the ® is more above the "t". Soon we'll have to start seeking out and collecting their stamping dies. Wouldn't be surprised if Son already has cufflinks made out of them.

sachem allison
05-13-2014, 11:58 AM
Looks like everything is bunched together. Is that a chef knife or something smaller like a boning knife or carving knife?

larrybard
05-13-2014, 04:01 PM
If this link works it has additional pictures. I purchased the knife a few days ago so I could have a non-stainless knife to practice sharpening (other than the few better knives I've recently acquired that I don't want to sacrifice to my sharpening education).

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Forgecraft-knife-high-carbon-steel-better-than-Wusthof-or-Henckels-/111345305554?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=CZpELCRDjHDCysT3qOKuckqQXio%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

sachem allison
05-14-2014, 01:18 AM
Carving knife. I haven't really done as much research on the smaller knife as I never use them. I know the markings are definitely smaller and different than the chef knives.

Joelgarza1
05-15-2014, 07:21 PM
https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203827903408941&id=1560679093&set=a.1683589900516.2092528.1560679093&source=46

just got these from the shop

nerologic
05-15-2014, 07:40 PM
That link doesn't appear to work for me.

Umberto
05-25-2014, 02:19 AM
I got mine for 3 bucks at the thrift store...it's been poorly sharpened by myself in my learning days, now it is still a fun knife that I like to pull out for fun. It's got decent edge retention and with a fat convexed edge I can hack through whole chicken bones. It's probably upper 50's in the rockwell and maintains it's edge longer than Shun or Wustoff. They are a helluva lot of fun but the ebay prices and false inflation are a bit absurd.

Joelgarza1
05-26-2014, 01:57 PM
854.JPG sorry better?

larrybard
05-26-2014, 01:58 PM
854.JPG sorry better?

Not for me.

Joelgarza1
05-26-2014, 02:01 PM
Sorry i would like to add picyures but the sites 1980 technology wont let me.

Benuser
05-26-2014, 04:05 PM
Upload your image to an image host like postimage.org. You get a link you may post here.
Like this:
http://s19.postimg.org/oyh6ji9sv/06092012164.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/oyh6ji9sv/)

Pensacola Tiger
05-26-2014, 04:32 PM
Sorry i would like to add picyures but the sites 1980 technology wont let me.

Meh. Learn how to do things rather than complain that you can't.

Start with Matus' post here:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/18313-Uploading-pictures?p=301479&viewfull=1#post301479

Sharp As A Spoon
08-01-2014, 02:13 AM
Just picked up a 10" forgecraft chef knife at a thrift store for 20 bucks! It needs a little polish, but I'm putting it to work in the kitchen already