Laguiole knife: manufacturing and materials
The handmade manufacture of Laguiole knife: the different steps of production
To begin with, we’ll introduce you the different steps which make Laguiole ARBALETE G.DAVID’s knives. Here are the main stages of the production that we’re going to detail:
– cutting and production of blades
– forge of bolsters
– cutting and shaping of handles
– assembly and fitting
– control and wiping
1- Cutting and production of blades
It’s the first stage of manufacturing: here craftsmen start to design the pieces that are part of the knife.
In cutlery jargon these pieces are called “supplies”.
The cutting is carried on thanks to punches activated manually by one of our companions.
At Arbalète, the production is manual.
The different shapes come from molds. Cutting workshop allows us to transform raw materials of high quality: 12C27 Sandvik stainless steel (Sweden), brass carbon steel, nickel (upmarket alloy in stainless steel).
During this first step, we obtain the beginnings of blades, bolsters, platinums, spring and bees.
After cutting, the handmade manufacture of our pieces requires a great number of steps. A closing laguiole knife totals up more than 20 stages of production.
2- Heat treatment
Blades and springs are heated up in a oven to 1652°F, as it left the oven pieces are quenched in a cold oil bath.
The subtle mix between fire, air and oil offers a great resistance and elasticity to steels.
3- Forge of bolsters
4- Handles cutting and shaping
Arbalète Genès David has its own workshop of horn shaping.
Hence, he’s one of the last defenders of this ancestral know-how.
We work from raw horn sawed carefully by our cacheur masters according to the handles’ length requested.
A cacheur is a craftsman specialized in the work of horn.
Then, plaquettes of horn are heated up in a charcoal oven which soften the horn. This latter is then pressed in a mold which shapes the handle.
The handle is routed and at least leveled by a grindstone.
The result of this work is a handle with pressed horn, ready to be assemble.
The precious woods and noble materials such as horn’s tip, ivory or giraffe’s bone are shaped by our cutlery makers during the assembly.
5- Assembly and fitting
Traditional and handmade fitting and assembly of your knife are made by a unique and only person, on the opposite of an industrial knife, which stages are repeated on an assembly-line or by a machine.
Each piece is unique since it’s made by hand by our craftsman.
For instance, a 3 pieces laguiole (blade, punch and corkscrew) requires more than 186 operations.
Platinums and springs are drilled manually with a great fineness.
With a view to get a precise fitting for each knife, our specialized companions prepare platinums and springs with a file and a mold.
For a piece with forged spring, our guilloche companion puts all his know-how for shaping the spring, the bee, the blade with the file making, creating a special work.
The handles chosen for their quality and their aesthetic are then shaped, drilled and adjusted.
Our cutlery master will made with a high precision fitting and nailing. Your Genès David’s knife is assemble in the traditional way with pins and not with industrial screws.
The blade’s back is decorated either with a bench grinder or with a file.
The mechanism of your knife is controlled but also its aesthetic (assembly, fitting and finishing stage).
Polishing is the last finishing stage of your knife for the blades: mat brushing, “glossy” polishing.
Our new process brushing/polishing gives a half-matt particularly aesthetic to the blade.
It’s the same thing for the bolsters. The handles are polished or made shiny depending on the materials used or the final finish planned.
Your knife’s blade is cut and sharpen with a mold by a specialized craftsman.
9- Control and wiping
Your knife is controlled once again, cleaned up and wiped before being packed.
II- Description of the different pieces making laguiole Arbalète G. David’s knife.
Besides, we’re going to introduce you the different “supplies” (cutlery term used to name the metallic pieces which constitute the handmade knife) which makes the laguiole Arbalète Genès David’s knife:
– the blade
– the spring
– the bee (also called “fly” in cutlery industry vocabulary)
– the bolsters
– the platinums
– the corkscrew
– the hallmark
1- The blade
The G. David’s factory develops a wide range of steel and finishing for its blade.
-Stainless 12C27 steel blade is a steel for common ranges of laguiole Le Pocket (the Swedish high quality stainless 12C27 developed by Sandvik). Its quality of sharpening is superior to 440 steel. Every stainless steel blades of Arbalète G. David pocket-sized knives are made with stainless 12C27 steel either for laguiole, Le Thiers or regional knives.
-Carbon steel bladeCarbon steel blades are traditional ultimate blades. The historical ranges of Arbalète knife were integrally made with carbon steel. Carbon steel blades keep longer their cutting edge than a stainless steel blade for the same use. At least but not last, this kind of steel blackens over time.
– Raw blade of forge is a hammered carbon steel blade. With its authentic aspect this one is really appreciated by its collectors. It has the same characteristics as the thin steel blades.
-The old-style blade is an aged carbon steel blade. ARBALETE G. DAVID factory develops this exclusivity which will pleased the great amateurs of authentic laguiole knives. The old-style blade has the same characteristics as the carbon steel blade.
Photo of Damas blade
-The Damas blade
Article in progress. Thanks for your understanding.
2- The spring
There are a large variety of guillochages. The spring can also be totally smooth. This kind of variety of spring doesn’t apply to laguiole knives only, but also to folding knives: Le Thiers, Laguiole, Pradel, Aurillac,… etc.
–the smooth springs are initially traditional models. The ARBALETE GENES DAVID factory developed smooth springs when they develop the manufacture of laguiole knife substantially, at the beginnings of the 1950s producing by subcontracting the stamped knives with cutlery shops’ names of Laguiole village.
For your information, today, Arbalete G. David factory still produces with subcontracts for cutlery makers and cutlery from Laguiole village in Aveyron.
At this time, this kind of model was going with a bee, entirely smooth.
–the decorated springs by a machine go with the laguiole knives of the classic range with a welded bee. The decoration machine is applied to the spring from a mold fitted on a press. This method allows to make a decoration with a controlled production cost. However, the springs are decorated pieces by pieces by a craftsman dedicated to supplies production.
–the handmade decorated springs are an upmarket range finishing that we find for Laguiole Forgé and Laguiole Prestige collections. Decoration is hence made manually helped by a file and a bench grind. Each fitter-assembler has its own signature, its own decoration. Likewise, this latter being made by hand, the Arbalete G. David handmade knives are unique as they’re made and signed by the craftsman’s hand.
–the handmade chiseled springs are the excellence finishing of Arbalète Genès David knives. The chiselling is a thinner finishing stage. It’s applied on Prestige and Excellence ranges. Each chiselled knife is unique since this latter is delicately made by the man’s hand.
3- The bee (or fly)
A popular legend tells that Napoléon would give the right to people from Aveyron to use the bee, imperial emblem, on their laguiole knives to award them for their bravery on the battlefields. This is, of course, a popular legend, and today, nothing attests the veracity of this legend.
The bee or “fly” exists under two distinct versions: the welded bee and the forged one.
-The welded bee is like its name suggests: basically a spare part different from the spring’s knife. Then, this bee is welded on the spring. Generally, the spring with the welded bee goes with a machine decoration on the spring.
-The forged bee constitutes an only and same piece with its spring. In general, the spring with the forged bee goes with finishing, made by hand such as decoration or chiselling.
The forged bees match with upmarket pieces of Arbalète G. David handmade laguiole folding knives production.
-The forged shamrock had a highly traditional model developed by Arbalète G. David for decades.
4- The bolsters
Bolsters are the metallics pieces which are situated to the handle’s ends. There can be one or two bolsters on the platinum.
The bolsters exist with different kind of steel: brass, stainless steel, nickel silver. It’s at the same time pieces of ornaments and a solidity guarantee.
Photo brass bolster
Photo stainless steel bolster
Photo nickel silver bolster
5- the platinums
Platinums are two pieces which are situated on both sides of the spring. Besides, they held the handles.
There’re different variations, the simple platinum models and double platinum models. Likewise, the platinums can be smoothed or decorated.
Photo a a simple platinum model
Photo of a double platinum model
Photo of a decorated platinum
6- The hallmark
We find the hallmark on the 2 pieces Laguiole Hallmark and on the 3 pieces (hallmark and corkscrew).
The hallmark appeared on the straight laguiole in 1840. This is Pierre-Jean Calmels who improved Laguiole knife. The hallmark appearance answered the shepherds request. It was used to pierce bovines’ and ovines’ rumen when they blew up because they ate too much.
Photo of 2 pieces Laguiole, pressed horn hallmark
Photo of 3 pieces Laguiole (hallmark and corkscrew)
7- The corkscrew
We find the corkscrew on the 2 pieces, 3 pieces laguiole and on the Grande Nature range. There’s also Laguiole sommelier model.
In the 1880s, Laguiole knife gained a 3rd piece: the corkscrew. The native of Auvergne who wanted to conquer parisians cafés are surely the cause of this evolution.
Photo of 2 pieces Laguiole corkscrew