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Laguiole - Learn How to Recognize a Good Pocket Knife
How to Recognize a Good Pocket Knife
How to Recognize a Good Laguiole Pocket Knife
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 2019 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.
SHOULD I PURCHASE A KNIFE THAT HAS A PRESSED HORN HANDLE?
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.
BEWARE OF FORGERIES - BECOME A WELL-INFORMED CONNOISSEUR
Only a hand full of manufacturers produce handmade Laguiole knives for exports in the village of Laguiole, France. The most noticeable by far is "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 shops make knives in the village, but most of their business is from local tourism.
CAN YOU RETURN YOUR KNIFE IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT?
We offer free 30 day return on non engraved items. Yes, most U.S. retailer have policies that allows you to return a knife within a certain amount of days if you are not satisfied. However, be worries about shopping oversea, including in France for several reason.
1) They will most likely require you to pay for shipping back ($20/50 USD)
2) Because the product 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)
3) Laguiole Imports do not offer French knives that were not 100% made in France. We offer free no questions asked returns within 30 days on non engraved goods.
4) 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
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 FOR THE MANUFACTURER'S NAME AND EXACT MANUFACTURING ADDRESS/LOCATION
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.
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. Note that 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.
Laguiole Knife Blades
Forge de Laguiole pocket knife blades are not made of stainless steel, they are made of a unique blend of metal alloy that is French made and called "T12". This forged alloy was developed exclusively by Forge de Laguiole, it will not rust. The result is a blade that has the qualities of stainless steel (will not rust or stain) and the near sharpening qualities of a carbon blade. More details about forged blades here.
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.
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!
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).
A FEW MORE TIPS!
The Laguiole 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 on most 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 Forge de Laguiole standard and collector series Laguiole knives and corkscrews. Creating the cross is time-consuming and is done by hand only, most mass-produced Laguiole knives do not have it.Note that some handle material such has stag, ram horn and a few others cannot support the cross due to the uneven nature of the material. Note:Some handle materials such as stag, mammoth ivory, barrel wood and a few others cannot support the shepherd's cross due to the uneven nature of such materials.
ONE CRAFTSPERSON, ONE KNIFE!
Forge de Laguiole knives workmanship 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).
When a Laguiole knife is finished, the foreman controls its quality and erases any imperfections. The knife is then polished and labeled. In mass production, men'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 or she passes the knife onto the next worker resulting in the nonexistence of ownership and pride for the finished product. Mass-production goes along with outputs and thus the cutler's skill is replaced by numerically controlled machines. Some "bargain" Laguiole knives are mass-produced in Asia or Pakistan in sweatshop conditions and, yes sometimes by children. Note that such knives - usually steak knives with very colorful plastic handle - are easily found in very reputable department stores; most of the time the buyer of such store know less than you do (after reading this article of course) about the Laguiole cutlery business. Ignorance is to blame here not the retailers as we are convinced that if "Mr. or Mrs. department store owner" was aware of some of the above fact they would immediately stop retailing the items in questions.
WHAT IS THIS NAME AND HOW CAN YOU TELL A REAL FRENCH POCKET KNIFE FROM AN ASIAN FAKE?
It is important to be aware that Laguiole is not a 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 style of cutlery we know today first appear - more about Laguiole history here. The style of knives first appeared in the small village but unfortunately the name was never registered and, as a result became 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 have a 'Laguiole" design/style.
As of January 2019 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.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST - THE "MADE IN FRANCE" DILEMMA!
As long as 45% of the added value from the making of the product comes from French territory, it can be considered made in France.
Without going deep into this messy legislation we would like to add that the packaging of such item is included in the "added value". In other words, if the wooden box that comes with an item is made in France then it counts towards the "45%" of the added value. With that in mind one could only wonder why so many inexpensive Laguiole cutlery items that are supposedly "made in France" comes in very attractive wooden boxes 🤔.
Many French manufacturers are taking full advantage of the law by simply having 55% of the parts needed for the final product made in Asia or Pakistan and still (legally) stamp or and label the final product with "Made in France".
IMPORTANT FACT! Except for some exotic wood handles types (i.e. ebony, rosewood, etc.) Forge de Laguiole and Fontenille Pataud do not outsource any suppliers outside of France to make their knives.
Forge de Laguiole's factory is located in Laguiole, France and Fontenille Pataud's shopis located in Thiers, France.