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 What's your favorite knife steel?

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Blackhorse

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Age : 69
Location : Oregon City
Registration date : 2010-10-23

PostSubject: What's your favorite knife steel?   Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:42 pm

What's your favorite knife steel...and what makes it so? I mean, property wise. There's a huge list of steels used in blades. Some are cheap, others very expensive. Some are tough and resist wear. Some are anti corrosion and resist tarnish and rust. Some take an exceptional edge. Some are far easier to sharpen. Some are old school like O1 and 1095. Others are new and recently developed like the CPM cruciable steels...CPM154 being one example. Then there's Hitachi Super Blue and White Paper Steels...so called because that's the color of paper Hitachi wraps the billets in. Kinda funny, that. The Blue steel is what the really fine Higonokami knives are made from. A dangerous knife in careless hands but a deadly fine cutter.

If I had to pick one, it would be from among A2, 5160 or D2. Obviously, since none of these are stainless in character, I don't mind taking care of a blade. Either that or I don't mind it if the steel darkens or stains. What I want is toughness...along with the ability to come to a keen edge and quickly. The A2 I'm used to is that used by Bark River and cryo treated by them. It ends up stunningly tough. They grind most of their knives to a convex edge profile, which just adds to its strength. The only tools with which I have direct experience that come close to A2 cryo toughness are the machete pieces made of simple 5160 spring steel in Thailand and sold by Aranyik out of Hawaii. I think of D2 as being a "gentlemanly A2". It has excellent properties. But when push comes to shove...I'd pick A2 cryo over all others. I have a Golock made by Bark River. It will chop hard Fir and Spruce branches all day and not dull even a little. Insanely tough. My Aranyik eNep and Cane Machete will do nearly as well. Anyway...sorry, short story made long. But that's me.

Bark River Golock




Aranyik eNep


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Zeno Marx

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Registration date : 2010-06-26

PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:34 pm

I was just reading an interview with Bob Dozier today about D2. Good authority? No clue. Another thread I'm grateful to you for starting. The learning process never ceases being fun and interesting. People who don't care to continue to learn, who are you?
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Blackhorse

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Age : 69
Location : Oregon City
Registration date : 2010-10-23

PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:47 pm

Yes, BoB Dozier is a good...make that nearly supreme...authority.

But truth is not necessarily universal. Everyone, even or especially, at his level has preferences. BoB likes D2. Mike Stuart of Bark River likes A2. I understand that ol' AGRussel like A2 as well. Often the application makes a big difference, I would say most pocket knives should really be stainless...but then one sacrifices toughness and ease of sharpening. I would guess that most guys would at least allow that a fillet knife should be stainless. Maybe 440C for that.

Sidebar: there is an excellent PBS TV show on the "Ulfberht" Viking sword. Very few have been found, and are about 1000 years ahead of the technology of their time. They used some form of crucible made steel for purity that was unheard of. A very interesting show. Then there's the one about making the Japanese Katana.

I've made carving knives using a proprietary ultra high carbon steel from Finland by Roselli. It's so hard (Rockwell 66) that you have to constantly keep at it even though it holds an edge like forever. Figure THAT out.

Balance...that's the ticket.

And the beat goes on.
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Zeno Marx

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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:16 pm

I caught the final 10-15 minutes of "Ulfberht" Viking. I believe it was part of the NOVA series. Cool stuff.
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Carlos
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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:29 am

Zeno Marx wrote:
I caught the final 10-15 minutes of "Ulfberht" Viking.  I believe it was part of the NOVA series.  Cool stuff.

Wasn't that also talking about Damascus steels? At least I seem to remember them tracing on maps how the technology of working with steels may have spread between the two cultures.

_________________


"Never turn your back on a Breen".
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Blackhorse

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Age : 69
Location : Oregon City
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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:26 am

Yes, Damascus steel was discussed. Somewhat. But it really focused on: Trade route from Scandinavia inland via rivers, lakes, etc all the way to Middle East region shown. Method of smelting iron in a closed cruciable at about 3000F to minimize impurities was also presented and resulting steel compared to modern steels... declared as equivalent and thus FAR stronger than other European steel. In the end it was thought that the Vikings traded for steel ingots or billets and took these back home and forged swords there instead of learning the smelting techniques themselves. Method of smelting and forging was replicated and a sword was created proclaimed to be equivalent to Viking original pieces.

It was a good presentation.

I remember one about a guy in England with a metal detector that found a HUGE Viking or early English treasure trove in a field...tons of gold, jewels, horse and armor fittings, etc.

And of course the one about making Samurai swords. Very good.
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GeoffC

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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:24 pm

I've enjoyed my pocket knife VG-10 steel. It has Cr in it so it is stainless but the 1% carbon allows me to put a great edge on it without worrying about the rusting.
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Blackhorse

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Age : 69
Location : Oregon City
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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:33 pm

I love VG10 steel. Absolutely excellent, especially for my kitchen knives.

Copied from Knifeup.com site...

"VG 10 stainless steel is also a high carbon steel, even though carbon only makes up a relatively small amount of the total material of the blade. VG 10 stainless steel is a mixture that contains roughly 1% carbon, 1% molybednum, 15% chromium, .2% vanadium and 1.5% cobalt. All of these relatively small amounts of other metals give the VG 10 steel its unusual properties, such as its ability to hold an edge, and the sheer durability of the steel in question. It is one reason why the VG 10 label has been so highly prized among so many people, ranging from chefs to knife collectors."

VG10, however, tends to being brittle and is not known for being flexible. So it would not be good for, say...a machete or sword, where shock is encountered. Wouldn't be an ideal bushcraft blade either, I'm guessing, if you wanted to use it for batoning. But for EDC or the kitchen...perfect.
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Blackhorse

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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:40 pm

I should have said way back at the start...

Steel is steel. But of equal importance are the other two sides of the triangle...tempering and the edge grind.

It takes all three to make a stellar knife blade. I guess you could add "overall geometry" to the pile. Turns the trio into a quartet...whatever.
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Richard Burley

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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:05 am

A Henckels Four-Star (I think that's what it's called) 10-inch chef's knife I once had was the best steel I ever encountered, as far as ease of sharpening and holding an edge. No idea what it was, except it was stainless. Made other stainless steel knives of mine seem like crap.

Not germane to this discussion, but what the hell: I once became disenchanted with a Buck 119 hunting knife. Slippery handle, p.i.t.a. to sharpen, etc. Decided to see if I could break it, so I clamped it in a well-mounted vise and started pulling. By pulling, I mean really putting my 220 pounds into it, with one foot up on the work bench or whatever. I almost couldn't do it. It was really borderline. But the blade suddenly snapped. I flew into a pile of scrap wood, and the blade broke into three pieces: the handle, the piece clamped in the vise, and a middle piece about an inch or so long. You would not have wanted to be hit by that middle piece! Thing was like a bullet. Left a mark about a quarter-inch deep in a cinder-block wall. Having proved once again that I can be a complete ass, I tossed the remnants of the experiment into the trash and looked for a celebratory beer.
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Blackhorse

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Age : 69
Location : Oregon City
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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:04 am

Quick lookup...

Apparently the 4-star line has been, and still is, exactly the same as when started 40 years ago. I've got a couple and love 'em. I do admit I reach for my Misono UX10 chef's knifes more often though. My Henckels bread knife, however, might just be the most used knife in the rack...for bread only.

From Henckels: "Four Star® knives are precision forged from a single piece of exclusive-formula, high-carbon, no-stain steel under the all-new Sigmaforge standard. As a result, Four Star® knives have improved quality consistency, lasting sharpness, and perfect geometry. Sigmaforge one-piece construction also provides high precision and improved stability of the blade and steel structure, thus improving cutting-edge retention for lasting sharpness. In addition, Four Star® knives use J.A. Henckels’ Friodur ice hardening for corrosion resistance, a process that also contributes to cutting-edge retention."

So it's like a SECRET! Coooooool! Secret Steel! If its been the same for 40 years it must be a basic steel...beautifully tempered no doubt.




Last edited by Blackhorse on Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:49 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Zeno Marx

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PostSubject: Re: What's your favorite knife steel?   Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:55 am

I've heard nothing but great things about those 4-star Henkels.
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