Although there is no real universal standard, flatware is generally categorized in the following categories. The dinner fork generally sets the standard for a pattern. Typically the place spoon and the salad fork will be one gauge lighter and the teaspoon will be one or two steps down from the dinner fork. Here is our take on what that means in terms of thickness or weight:
|Extra light weight||Less than .080” (2mm)||Low (Budget)|
|Light weight||.087” (2.2mm)||Good|
|Medium weight||.105” (2.5mm)||Better|
|Heavy weight||.120”/.135” (3-3.5mm)||High/Luxury (Best)|
|Super heavy weight||greater than .165” (4mm plus)||Forged/Specialty|
Knives: Rolled vs Forged vs Hollow handle?
There are three basic types of knife construction including: rolled, forged and hollow handle.
Rolled knives tend to be of lower quality. They are made from one piece of steel, usually 18-0, are fairly flat and normally thinner than other type knives. The advantage they have is that the 18-0 material is not forged and is less likely to rust. The disadvantage is that they tend to have a non-descript shape, are usually light weight and are normally a low quality in terms of manufacture and finish. Rolled knives are inexpensive to manufacture and are typically sold with low quality or budget flatware sets.
Forged knives are the most common knives found in today’s marketplace. They are almost always made from a relatively inexpensive, yet hardenable, grade of stainless steel, either 410 or 420 material. Forged knives range from good to super heavy in terms of weight. They generally have nicely tapered thin blades that allow them to cut food easily. These knives will appeal to those who like extremely heavy flatware. The disadvantage of forged knives is their propensity to pit stain and rust over time. It is critical to make sure that the forge scale from the forming process is completely removed, that they are fully hardened and then polished to a total mirror finish. This is difficult to ascertain at the time of purchase. If the pattern you are looking at has lots of detail, make sure that the knife handles are fully polished in the grooves. Avoid any forged knives that have rough areas on the handle or blade as they are prone to rust problems.
Hollow Handle knives are generally reserved for high end flatware patterns. They are manufactured in the tradition of historic sterling patterns, but today are made using stainless steel, which will not need polishing. Like forged knives, they are large in stature but due to their hollow handle construction, are not as heavy. The blades are typically forged using the same hardenable grade of stainless steel used in forged knives. This ensures that they will not deform or loose their edge over time. Handles are typically made with 18-10 stainless steel. The advantage here is that, even if there is intricate pattern detail in the handle, you will never have to worry about them rusting or pitting. The disadvantage of hollow handle knives is that, if not properly made, they can separate over time. Quality manufacturers will offer a minimum 20 year warranty, which should cover any concerns here.
Congratulations! You now probably know more about flatware than you ever wanted to know. The good news is that you will now be able to make an informed decision about a product that will, and should, last you a lifetime!