The Laguiole knife is made using time honoured traditional manufacturing techniques to produce one of the most recognisable, elegant and comfortable knifes in the world - a truly French classic.
Here we will walk you through the manufacturing process for a Laguiole knife. Below is a chart showing the nine stages of manufacture with a explanation underneath. In many of the processes, special equipment has been designed by Jean Dubost especially to make sure the highest standards are maintained and is unique to their factory.
1 Cutting of the blade
The process begins by cutting the blades from rolls of 420 and 430 steel. 420 and 430 refer to the grade of steel used which give Jean Dubost Laguiole knives their high quality finish, the durability for a long life, combined with ability to hold the cutting edge in use. To ensure only the correct standard of steel is used the steel is constantly monitored by an independent SGS laboratory so you know the knife is safe to use with food too.
2 Polishing the blade edge and guilloching
The top edge of the blade is then polished to to give it the smooth comfortable edge when you are using the knife.
Laguiole knife blades that are 2.5mm thick have an additional guilloch pattern applied to the part of the blade that goes through the handle (the tang) to give the knife strength. This guilloch pattern comes from when each craftsman would sign their knives with their own unique pattern as a signature of the workmanship they had put into the making of that knife.
3 Drilling of the tang
The tang (the part of the blade that runs through the handle) is then drilled so the handles can be attached firmly to the blade to product a elegant, durable knife.
4 Heat Treatment
After being drilled the blade is heat treated to give the knife hardness and enable it to keep it's cutting edge as long as possible. Heat treatment is a balance between maintaining the strength of the blade and give it a hardness for formign the cutting edge, a process that has to be delicately controlled in ovens that reach 1050oC.
5 Grinding of the blade
Grinding is the first stage of giving the blade an exceptional cutting ability. The blade is ground to give a bevel by removing fine quantities of metal from both sides of the blade.
The blade is polished to give a satin appearance to the metal using further special grinders. For knives with mirror polished blades, the satin finish is then enhanced to become a mirror finish by further polishing the steel using rolls of cotton. The top edge of the knife is also polished to remove any final abberations fromt he grinding process to give you a beautiful top edge that is comfortable to use.
Polishing is a difficult skill to master and although many of the blades at Jean Dubost are polished by hand, Jean Dubost have also developed specific machines to automate the process while still giving the quality of finish you would expect from hand polishing.
7 Adding the Laguiole Bee
The signature Laguiole Bee is welded to the top of the blade at the point where the handle ends and the cutting blade starts.
8 Assembly of the handle
From traditional woods to modern acrylics, ABS and soft touch materials technology, Jean Dubost make one of the largest varieties of handles for knives you can get. Their expertise means which ever handle type you choose, you can be confident it has been manufactured to the highest standards, giving you a knife that will last keeping it's good looks.
The handles are nailed or riveted on depending on the knife either by hand or again by specially developed machine riveters. Knives will have either three or four rivets depending on the design and rivet size on the use; a kitchen knife uses larger rivets than a steak knife.
After the knife has been fully assembled, their is one last finishing process to buff up the handle /blade ready for you. The knife is then inspected for quality before being packaged into the packaging chosen.
I have read through the process and when is it sharpened?
The knife is sharpened somewhere between the grinding and final finishing process. This is dependent on the style of knife, whether the blade is smooth, micro-serrated or serrated, and whether the blade needs to be hand sharpened or can sharpened in another specially designed machine.
One last thought. Every Laguiole knife is made to order, an amazing feat when you think about all the stages a blade has to go through to become the distinctive Laguiole knife.