The cutlery profession and its different branches of expertise

TB Groupe is presently showcasing its employees in a photographic series which is on show in their production factory. This series reminds us that cutlery is, above all, a human endeavour. It groups many different specialized fields and techniques which work collectively towards the same objective: bringing excellence to an internationally recognized company. The following article will focus on the different jobs that compose the cutlery profession.

The cutlery profession and its different branches of expertise

Cutlery: a passionate and meticulous activity

Human competence is at the core of the manufacturing process

The photography series being shown at TB Groupe’s production factory depicts the different jobs within the cutlery universe. The photographs that were recently taken show the different jobs and the duties performed by the cutlers.

This show allows us to discover the different branches of expertise within the company and the people that perform these duties without whom Tarrerias-Bonjean would not be the leader of cutlery in France.

This series, which TB Groupe’s staff highly values, is a beautiful homage to the employees who work towards upholding TB Groupe’s values. TB Groupe’s staff and cutlers work daily, actively participating in the company’s growing prestige which expands abroad beyond French boarders.

From R&D to the finished product

Alone in his/her workshop or employed by a company, a cutler needs to perform many operations and technical maneuvers in order to create a quality cutlery article.

Sketches and technical drawings are the foundation of the industrial design process for creating knives. The R&D and creative service departments are in charge of this stage. Several prototypes are created in order to perfect each product.

An artisanal cutler draws a sketch before cutting it out on a metal bar.

Then the cutler must work with the metal while it is hot in order to get the desired form: this step is called forging. This operation can also be carried out using lasers or presswork procedures.

The next stages in the process are as follows:

  • Quenching: consists of heating the steel then rapidly cooling it - this is what hardens the steel
  • Shaping the blade or profiling: consist of shaping and cleaning up both sides of the blade
  • Serration: consists of making serrations on one or both sides of the blade (this step is only used to create serrated knives)
  • Polishing: consists of using successively finer abrasives to achieve a matte, satin or mirror finish
  • Sharpening: gives the blade its final cutting edge
  • Washing and degreasing: consists of using alkaline solutions to clean the metal followed by the final polishing preformed with a cloth – this final touch perfects the blade
  • Assembling the knives: this final stage consists of many different procedures including riveting, bonding and welding
If the handles are made of metal they are pressed and cut. Ivory, horn or wood handles are fabricated and those made of plastic are injected.

Become an artisanal cutler at TB Groupe

Cutlery equals teamwork

Cutlery is a human adventure showcasing the knowledge used by male and female specialists in their fields. The artisanal cutlers work in teams and are guided by the shared will to create exceptional products. They unite their technical skills in order to complete all of the stages required to manufacture a knife.

An artisanal cutler knows how to assemble the parts which compose a knife, in particular fitting the blade into the handle.

How to become an artisanal cutler

In order to become a professional artisanal cutler, at TB Groupe or elsewhere, one must be manually skilful and be capable of preforming meticulous actions. This profession requires great dexterity.

Creative individuals might be more apt to working conceptually, inventing new cutlery models.

Listening to client needs is essential; this requires good interpersonal skills. Having a diploma stating that you are relatively competent in the artistic field is a plus in this line of work.

Those looking to become artisanal cutlers must also be aware of the working conditions (especially at TB Groupe) in which he/she will evolve; when working in a company one often works standing up in a hot and noisy setting.

In the cutlery field studies and professional classes are primarily completed through apprenticeships or vocational training:

  • CAP (French certificate of professional competence) in “Cutting instruments and surgery,” level V (initial training takes 2 years or can be completed through continual vocational training)
  • BM (certificate of competency) in knife repairing, level IV
  • BMS (professional qualification) in manufacturing, level III, certificate issued by the Chambers of Skilled Crafts (les chambres de metiers)

Mathieu Obert, who is presently training with the Générale de découpage, is a perfect example of someone who successfully accomplished this type of training.

Other non-credit courses giving training to become a cutler do exist. These courses are either basic introductory ones, offer a comprehensive curriculum or are for perfecting specific cutlery techniques. These courses are either long or short-term and offer introductory knowledge about forging, understanding the basic principles governing the reactivity of steel, different thermal treatments, etc.

Next week we will be featuring a class visit to TB Groupe with ninth grade students from Audembron junior high (Thiers, France) taking a class on job discovery!