Beware of forgeries - Become a well-informed connoisseur.
Important fact to consider: Only two manufacturers produce hand made Laguiole knives for exports in the village of Laguiole, France. They are La Coutellerie de Laguiole aka "Laguiole de L’Artisan" and "Les Forge de Laguiole" (the forges of Laguiole). One needs to beware that a large number of "Laguiole" manufacturers in France and sadly in other countries are producing "cookie cutter" Laguiole cutlery that are mass produced and cheaply made. Other very small shops make knives in the village, but most of their business is from tourisms and they do not export.
Ask for the manufacturer's name and address.
Find out if this Laguiole manufacturer is situated in the village of Laguiole, another city in France or even in a different country.
ASK QUESTIONS! A retailer that does not know the answers of your questions or is not willing to find out what they are does not deserve your business.
What is this name and how can you tell a real "Laguiole" knife from a fake?
Laguiole" is not a company, it is the name of a small village in the Aveyron region of France which shares its name with a traditional style of knife. The Laguiole knife was first created in the small village of Laguiole; this is a FACT, not a legend, a myth, or a coincidence as many manufacturers and resellers alike would like you to believe. To this day anyone can use the name "Laguiole" and place it on cutlery regardless if the objects are made in France or have a non 'Laguiole" design / style.
Note: Some manufacturers use hard-sell terms like "the genuine Laguiole", but do not give any details about the real background and quality of the product they are trying to sell, or indeed whether or not they have even made it themselves! Saying " we’re making / selling genuine Laguiole knives, because they print on the blade i.e.: a bull, a bird or any word is a lie.
Great manufacturers use horn tip. Horn tip comes from the massive noblest part of the horn: the tip. Small bars are cut from the horn and then fixed and worked directly on the handle. It does not undergo heating constraint like pressed horn does (cheap Laguiole knives). Horn tip is the tougher part of the horn. Note: Only one knife can be made from one horn tip.
Thickness and curves of the handles: Hand-made handle. Thicker, larger curves and thus, more materials for a better grip.
Bolster: Massive brass or stainless steel bolsters. Available Brushed Stainless steel finish.
Spring and bee: Massive bee forged in one piece with the spring AND hand-chiseled spring for all 10, 11cm and 12cm one-piece knives.
The Cutler chooses the chiseling. The massive bee has a blade stop to prevent the knife edge from being damaged when closing the knife (except for the three pieces knives). Shiny spring inside polished.
Careful finishing: Precise and made-to-measure fitting of the handle with the plates and bolster. High-performance mechanism (interaction of the spring with the blade). Blade stop (the blade top does not contact with the spring).
How can you tell a well-made knife from one of poor quality?
A particular brand-name engraved into the knife is no guarantee of quality, nor is an expensive-looking style of packaging! Examine your purchase carefully and ask the vendor about its qualities. If your vendor knows his/her stuff, you'll find out all you want to know…
Genuine Laguiole knives are handcrafted in the small village of Laguiole and it takes a long time to handcraft each article. That is why the price of each Laguiole is high. If you see a Laguiole sold for a low price, that means that it is industrially made in France or some other countries. Fact: There are more knockoffs on the market then truly French handmade Laguiole knives.
A good cutlery maker generally signs the knife with his/her name or company logo.
This marking is on the blade of the knife: it may also come with a certificate, or will at least clearly show the name of the cutler and the place where it was made. An anonymous piece is not generally a good sign of quality.
Remember! - Labels like "genuine", "best quality" etc. are not necessarily a sign of quality!
More technical tips...
Judging the technical quality of the knife is harder if you're not used to it, but checking it over carefully is a good idea anyway:
If the knife has a pleasing aesthetic appearance (without any plastic embellishments!), "weighs" in the hand and has a nice feel to the grip, you're on the way to buying a decent product. Look for the thickness and solidity of all metal components including massive, and not hollow, bolsters at the tips of the handle. Next, check that the blade opens easily and that it is perpendicular to the spring (hold it up in front of you and squint upwards along the length - you should see a straight line).
When you close the blade again, it should not knock or catch against the base of the spring and should slide easily back into place.
The plates covering the sleeve of the knife should be well-fitted. Check that there aren't any little spaces between the plates and the bolsters corners (the metal edges at the top and tail of the knife), which are a sign of a bad fit. The decorated part of the spring should be well embedded in the crux of the blade so that your finger doesn't catch on it when the knife is open. The decoration of the spring should be slightly different on each knife, even if they are of the same design - these small irregularities are a good sign that the knife is hand-made. It doesn't necessarily mean that the knife you want to buy is not a good one if it doesn't check out against any of the above: but it does mean that the knife isn't of the highest quality.
And a few more tips...
The knife should open and close with a nice "click" - this shows that the calibration of the mechanism has been fine-tuned.
There should not be any sign of a sideways "shift" in the plane of the blade. The "fly" or "bee" motif should form an integral part of a spring which has been "fly forged" and should be hand-chased , without any welding process.
Note that the "fly forged" knife is no longer a sign of the highest quality manufacture because this method has been appropriated by foreign mass manufacturers as a marketing technique. Look carefully for the other signs we've mentioned here.
The logo of the manufacturer will be engraved on the blade of traditional Laguiole folding knives and straight-bladed table crafts.
The Shepherd's Cross!
The Shepherd's Cross-, a legend in itself, must appear on the handle of the knife for all materials. The Cross is composed of six small brass rivets inserted into the handle and laid out in the shape of a cross. This applies to all traditional Standard and Prestige Laguiole knives. And, guess what? They haven't found a machine capable of reproducing the Cross. It is time consuming and is done by hand only. Please note: Some handle materials such as stag, mammoth ivory, barrel wood and a few others cannot support the shepherd's cross.
One man, one knife!
Our Laguiole knives workmanship respects the ancestral tradition of the original Laguiole knives. It takes over 100 operations for a Laguiole knife with blade only to be completed.
All "Laguiole" knives sold by Laguiole Imports are manufactured from A to Z by the same cutler.
When a set of knives are finished, the foreman controls its quality and erases the imperfections. The knives are then polished and labeled. In mass production, man's role is reduced to the lowest degree. Factory tasks are fragmented, the knife goes from one unskilled-worker to the other, each of whom does one operation before he / she passes the knife on to the next worker resulting in the nonexistence of ownership and pride for the finish product. Mass-production goes along with outputs and thus the cutler's skill is replaced by numerically controlled machines. Some "bargain" Laguiole knives are manufactured in Asia or Pakistan in sweatshop conditions and by Children.
Last but not least!
The country of origin must be engraved on the blade, right above the upper tip of the handle. Request a complete guarantee allowing you to exchange the product or obtain a full refund. Do business with people that are able and available to answer all of your questions.