French knives are one of our favorites here at World Knives. We carry knives from Fontenille-Pataud, Coutellerie Chambriard, Laguiole Artisan, Laguiole R. David, Nontron, Forge de Laguiole and more.French Knives
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Knife making has been a long tradition in France. Probably the best known center of the cutler's craft in France is the town of Thiers.
Knife making has been an economic and creative staple in Thiers for more than 400 years. But the roots of the most famous French knife, the Laguiole (pronounced "Lie-yole") comes from the Thiers neighboring namesake town, Laguiole.
Laguiole is a small mountain town of 1500 residents and lies about 600 kilometers South of Paris. It is known for it's agraculture and cattle, but predominantly for it's cutlery.
At it's beggining the town was built around a small rescue chapel. In fact the origin of the name Laguiole is translated as "La Gleisola" which means little church.
Laguiole is in the Aubrac region in Southern France that is made up of 3 departments: Aveyron, Cantal and Lozre. These departments meet at a junction marked by a cross called The three Bishops Cross. It was said that sheppards would stick thier knives in the ground at this spot and pray.
The knife that we have come to know as the "Laguiole" was developed starting sometime in the early 1800's. It is said to be inspired by the Spanish Navaja knife which had a distictive pistol grip handle, and was also probably influenced by a French dagger called a capuchado.
The great majority of good quality Laguiole knives are made in Laguiole or the neighboring town of Thiers.
Often people think that Laguiole is the name of a specific knife company. But it refers only to the style of the knife developed in this small town. There are many mediocre or poor quality knife companies (many that are not even French!) who use the name Laguiole only to capitalize on the name and the history. But a knife bearing the Laguiole name should be made in France by hand and be constructed of high quality materials.
There is some disagreement about what constitutes an "authentic" Laguiole knife. But experts do agree a knife bearing the Laguiole name should be made in France by hand and be constructed of high quality materials. There are also some aestetic features that are traditional to this style of knife.
The Laguiole "bee" or "fly"is a small decoration on the spring head which the base of the knife blade folds into in the open position. In the knife makers trade this decoration this part of the spring is called a "fly". So, there is some debate about wether this is a "fly" or a "bee". Either way, it is one of the elements that defines a Laguiole knife. The fly or bee is a more modern aspect of or interprotation of the simple triangle that adorned the original Laguiole knives.
One of the important aspects of a traditional Laguiole knife is what is called the Sheppard's cross, a cross design made with rivets in the handle of the knife honoring the cross mentioned above, marking the junction of the three departments of the Aubrac region.
Look for a knife that has the makers name proudly stamped on the blade. Many of the lower quality knives don't have their name on the blade. Also check that the country of origin is on the blade. If it is not France or absent of a country name it is likely a lower quality knife.
Look for the thickness and solidity of all metal components including massive, and not hollow, bolsters at the tips of the handle. Make sure the manufacturer is using the best possible steel for the blade.
440 steel is widely used and is a good quality steel. Traditionally, though, the most common and preffered steel is Swedish "Sandvik" steel. This is an excellent steel that can attain a razor sharp edge but is not so hard it can't be sharpened. Some producers will also use damascus, a beautifully textured blade material made from numerous layers of steel. This is a very expensive blade material and very desirable among collectors.
Request a complete guarantee allowing you to exchange the product or obtain a full refund. Do business with people that are able and available to answer all of your questions.
These words from one of my distributors of authentic Lagiole knifes are important to consider:
"An interesting, but sorrowful fact, in my opinion, is that in order to fill production quotas based on ever increasing demand, many manufacturers have gone from handcrafting to machine manufacturing. But there is still hope since a small number of dedicated craftshops have resisted this trend and persisted in the purest form of tradition......where a human hand is involved! And, at the same time, not hesitating in using the highest quality materials available in a modern society."
We represent a growing number of Laguiole knives. We guarantee that our Forge de Laguiole and Cottellerie Chambriard are all handmade and of the highest quality.
In addition the knives of Cottellerie Chambriard are a modern twist on traditional French style. They are highlighted by modern lines and form. They have an elegant simplicity. There "compact" model is the perfect size and shape to disappear into your pocket. And it is sure to be the center of attention when you pull it out of your pocket!
Laguiole is one of the the finest knife styles France has to offer. They are like no others and will always have a special place on our web site. We love French knives.
If you have any questions please contact us at:
WORLD KNIVES, LTD.
2103 HARRISON AVE. NW, STE. 2-646
OLYMPIA WA 98502-2607
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