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Laguiole Knife Guidelines

HOW DO I RECOGNIZE A GOOD LAGUIOLE POCKET KNIFE?

First it is important to be aware that Laguiole is not a single manufacturer or a brand of knives but rather the name of a small village in the department of Aveyron in France. The village of Laguiole is where the famous Laguiole style of cutlery we know today was created.
Thank you for sharing our guidelines page with anyone that care about ethically made products.

The Laguiole style of knives first appeared in the small village of Laguiole but unfortunately the name was never registered and, as a result the name is now part of the public domain. It is a fact that anyone can use the name "Laguiole" and place it on cutlery related items regardless if the objects are made in France or even have a 'Laguiole" design/style.

As of 2020 there are still no regulations associated with Laguiole cutlery. The name "Laguiole" is free to use on cutlery items by anyone, including you and it can be manufactured anywhere in the world. Now that you know more about it you probably understand why this style of cutlery is available in many not so glamours big box stores at ridiculously cheap prices. Remember the saying? "You get what you pay for". We are getting calls or emails about knives self destructing after a few months of use. Those knives are mass produced in Asia or in France. Laguiole Imports does not support any of those manufacturer, all Laguiole knives offered on our site are carefully hand made using traditions that are almost 200 years old.

Polishing a Laguiole handle knife

Cutting a horn tip in half

SHOULD I PURCHASE A KNIFE THAT HAS A PRESSED HORN HANDLE?

We are usually not the ones pressing anyone from making a bad choice but this is the exception! Please do not purchase a pressed horn handle Laguiole pocket knife, especially if you are planning on keeping it for a long time. Regardless of where you buy your knife you must be absolutely certain that the handle material is made of HORN TIP, not PRESSED HORN.
Why? Only the last 4 or 5 inches of a horn is solid like a piece of wood or metal, the rest is hollow. In order to use the hollow part the horn it must be cut in half, steamed and compressed to make it flat. The issue with such process is that the horn has "shape memory" and, over time the horn will try to warp back to its original rounded shape. This will cause the knife's handle to loose its shape and show gaps. Pressed horn is cheap to buy, this is why bargain laguiole knives use such material. Retailers that offers such knife are uninformed or do not care about your long term satisfaction with your knife.

Why are handle made from horn tip better?

Horn tip comes from the massive noblest last 4 or 5 inches of the horn. Small bars are cut from the horn and then fixed and worked directly on the handle. Horn tip does not undergo heating constraint like pressed horn does (cheap Laguiole knives). Horn tip is the tougher, densest part of the horn. Only two knives can be made from one horn tip.

It is important to note that France's most renowned cutler such as Forge de Laguiole and Fontenille Pataud do not offer pressed horn handle. Why? Simple, they care more about their reputation for excellence than making additional sales offering poor knives. Laguiole Imports does not offer any knives made from pressed horn.


CAN YOU RETURN A KNIFE YOU BOUGHT IN FRANCE?

We really hope so! However, the retailer will most likely require you to pay for shipping back ($20/50 USD). Also consider that because a French knife was purchased in France it doesn't necessarily means that the knife will be of high quality or even fully made in France. (more on this here).

 

Several "Laguiole" website hosted in France offer Laguiole items such as Garden tools, scissors, barbecue accessories, etc.. Placing a "bee" on such items is not subjective to origins or qualities. The items in question are most-likely mass produced in China, India or Pakistan.

 

Laguiole Imports only offers knives that are 100% made in France. In addition, we offer free no questions asked Free returns within 30 days on non engraved goods. Additionally, we offer 100s of *individually pictured knives in order for you to actually see what you are going to receive before you make a purchase. * select collections

Laguiole corkscrew knife on bench

Laguiole knife forged bee and spring in the making

SHOULD IT BE INSCRIBED WITH "FRANCE" OR "MADE IN FRANCE"?

Any of the 2 versions must be inscribed on a Laguiole knife if it is purchased from a retailer in the United-States or Canada. This is a customs requirement that was implemented years ago to help prevent miss representation of the country of origin on pocket knives.

If you just purchased a Laguiole pocket knife from a U.S retailer and it does not have "France or Made in France" inscribed on it and you care for its origin contact the retailer for an explanation or just send it back for a refund. Additionally, although it is not a custom requirement one should expect any other cutlery items such as corkscrews, spoon, forks, etc.. to be inscribed with the country of origin "France."

 

All Forge de Laguiole cutlery items sold by U.S. retailers will be discreetly engraved with "France" and are made in the village of Laguiole. However, if the same item was purchased from a retailer or website that is located outside of the U.S or Canada it may not be inscribed with the country of origin. Please contact us if you have any doubts regarding a "Laguiole" product, we will gladly provide you with an unbiased opinion.


ASK QUESTIONS TO THE RETAILER!

Find out where the Laguiole manufacturer is located.A retailer that does not know the answers to your questions or is not willing to find out the answers from the manufacturer does not deserve your business. Please email or call us at 860-245-2211 with any "Laguiole" questions.  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 "Laguiole" on the blade does not guaranty the origin of the knife.

A good knife maker will include 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 a good sign of quality. Remember! - Labels like "genuine," "best quality" etc. are not necessarily a sign of quality!

a work bench in the forge de laguiole shop

laguiole blades coming out of the  forge

FORGER BLADES - WHAT'S THE CATCH?

Some manufacturers use terms or place stickers that say "Acier Forge" (forged metal) while referring to their knives. The catch is that most of them refer to some parts of the knife, usually the bolsters but place the "forged" sticker on the blade. They use the word "forged" in a general term and do not try to be specific as to let you know that the blade (the most important part of a knife) is not forged but made from stamped sheet metal - usually stainless steel (12c27 if it is a high-end manufacturer). With this say stamped blades made from high quality stainless steel are perfectly suited to manufacture blades. However, one needs to know that forge blades are far better and cost more to manufacture.

Forge de Laguiole is the only Laguiole manufacturer in France that forge all pocket knife blades "in house". They own and operate the forge: thus, the name "Forge de Laguiole". If you happen to drive in the south-west of France on a Thursday stop by the forge and see for your self. Why Thursday? FDL forges blades one day a week, on Thursdays. Of course you can stop any day of the week for a free guided visit but forging day is the best.


HOW CAN YOU TELL A WELL-MADE LAGUIOLE 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 need to know.
The most genuine Laguiole knives are of course made in Laguiole and it takes a long time to handcraft each knife. If you see a Laguiole sold for a low price, that means that it is "mass produced" in France or sadly some other countries. There are more knockoffs on the market than truly French handmade Laguiole knives.

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 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.

Careful finishing: Precise and made-to-measure fitting of the handle with the plates and bolster. The high-performance mechanism (interaction of the spring with the blade). Blade stop (the blade top does not contact with the spring).  

ONE CRAFTSPERSON, ONE KNIFE!

Only the best Laguiole manufacturers respects the ancestral tradition of the original Laguiole knives. It takes over 100 operations for a "1 piece" Laguiole knife to be complete. Note that when a manufacturer makes the claim that each knife is "hand made" by the same crafts person it should be understood as " assembled, shaped and finished". The individual does not forge his or her own blade or bolsters nor does he or she stamp the liners. In fact, the crafts person gathers all "raw" parts needed for the knife project and carefully assemble them and shape the handle material. For the "collector" series the spring and bee will be entirely hand chiseled (around one hour for those two tasks).


the art of filing and chiseling a laguiole knife spring

WHAT IS A "FORGED BEE & SPRING"?

You can recognize a forged bee when you look just below it, where it meet the decorated spring. If you do not see any gaps its a good sign that the bee and spring were forged from the same piece of metal. You can also recognize a soldered bee by noticing a straight gap where the bee meet the to of the spring.

 

Most Laguiole pocket knives from all makers including Forge de Laguiole feature "soldered bees" models. The process of adding the bee to the spring by soldering it saves time and money, this is why the cost of soldered bee knives can be substantially less.

Fact! The original Laguiole knives had forged bees.