Knife construction discussions, part 1: Forged vs. stock removal
Since there has been a lot of participation on this board from knifemakers (Thanks guys!), and there are a lot of very knowledgeable people on the boards, I thought it would be cool to have a series of threads on the benefits/drawbacks of some of the different techniques used to manufacture knives, from the perspective of both the ease of the manufacturing process, the scientific/metallurgical properties of the finished knife, and the significance to the end user, as well as to the idea of what it means to be "functional art". Topics that I think would be really cool to cover include laminated vs. solid steel knives (always love a good san-mai vs. solid steel debate), the benefits/drawbacks to honyaki knives, damascus knives (where the edge is actually damascus and composed of two separate steels), the heat treatment process, and anything else you guys want to talk about.
AS A NOTE: I don't want to turn this into a bashing of one way of doing things or otherwise want to offend a maker if they make things one way or the other. This is intended for friendly, intellectual debate.
First up, I'd like to discuss the "starting point" of making knives. I know, I know, the first real thing is to decide what steel you are using and what kind of knife you are making, but IMO the first real decision when it comes to the manufacture of any knife is if the blade will be forged from stock to it's basic final dimensions or if a piece of relatively thin knife stock will "simply" be ground/cut out to the final profile the knife will have. This debate arises from the large amount of stock-removal knives that have come to the market recently. i've been interested by the fact that many makers have introduced relatively expensive knives that use the stock removal technique.
The traditional opinion is that blades generated by stock removal or stamping are inferior to forged knives. I don't know how this opinion came to be, but my guess is that stock steel was at one time simply inferior, with uneven carbon content, high impurity, etc. The forging process allows (as far as I understand) the maker to work out impurities as well as gain a more even distribution/manipulate the amount of the carbon content, etc., as well as to simply realize early on in the process if they have a bad bar of stock and abandon work earlier in the process. I don't know how much this holds true anymore, and would like to here opinions on available stock steel nowadays, etc.
So, what are the opinions out there from our members? Is the forged/stock removal dichotomy something you think about when purchasing a knife? For the makers out there, do you consider the forging process to be paramount to the final quality of the blade, or is it secondary to a good heat treat with the correct stock steel for what you want? For those of you that have used a lot of knives with high frequency (calling Chef Niloc!), have you found knives of one kind or the other to perform better from a steel standpoint (not geometry/profile) based on if they were forged or not? For those of you that have sharpened a lot of knives, do you find any difference between the two? Any metallurgists out there have any insight onto what effect forging the blade from stock has on the final structure and properties of the steel?
I have a lot of opinions on these subjects, but would like your opinions first. I've blabbed enough in this post as it is.