Blade metallurgy

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Fogducker
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Blade metallurgy

Post by Fogducker » Mon Mar 01, 2021 10:56 am

It's common to see the companies specify the blades as 440 Stainless. I don't think this is the best steel for knife blades. What other metallurgies are offered besides stainless and "high carbon" which is a catch-all also? Like many others, I want a good "easy to sharpen" edge holding blade. Maybe this is a oxymoron.

Fog

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cody6268
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by cody6268 » Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:17 pm

With lots of companies, it varies widely, usually due to differing (often proprietary) heat treating methods, and quality of work. I've had what was said to be the same steel perform completely "440 Stainless" can be a problem. But, I've also seen it on American-made knives. United Cutlery once licensed the Stanley name, and had knives produced in the US by Camillus and in China as well. All had a "440 Stainless" stamp on the back. My single Trapper, the SL-12, is 440A, as that's what Camillus used in the late '90s. But, I also have a "440 Stainless" knife from Pakistan, and it is soft as aluminum. Not hard at all.

"Solingen Steel" and "German Stainless". Usually used to give an impression of quality on a crap knife--often seen on low-end knives, usually from China or Pakistan. There are lots of different German grades of stainless steel, from unsuitable to blades to very high-end stuff like Bohler N690CO, so this means nothing.

"Surgical Stainless". Usually seen on Japan-made knives in the '70s and '80s, sometimes Chinese as well. It is usually said to be AUS-6 when used on quality Japanese blades, but is often crap used on Pakistani and Chinese knives.


For me, my favorite steel is most of the carbon steels--they all hold an edge well, are highly resistant to chipping, and are easy to sharpen when the time comes. And I own some knives in incredibly high-end steels like CPM-S35VN as well. Those are good as you pretty much never have to sharpen them--maybe once a year.

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Mumbleypeg
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by Mumbleypeg » Mon Mar 01, 2021 3:29 pm

“440 stainless” is most likely 440A which is a lower grade, less expensive stainless steel. There are also 440B and 440C. 440C is an excellent steel often used for higher-end knives. A knife blade made from 440C, properly tempered, will be an excellent blade.

Having said that, my EDC pocket knives are carbon steel. It holds an edge well, sharpens easily, and performance is everything I need. Mine have developed a nice “patina” with use, which looks good and serves to retard rust. My knives having 440C blades are custom fixed blades, which don’t get carried and used as often. They’re not cheap knives, and none have the type of steel marked on them anywhere. I only know what steel they have because the maker told me so.

Here’s a link to an extensive treatise on knife steels by a well known maker of custom knives. https://www.jayfisher.com/Blades.htm#440C Warning, it’s a “rabbit warren” - once entered you may never get out! :lol:

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btrwtr
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by btrwtr » Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:01 pm

Welcome to AAPK!

As pointed out there are a lot of generic terms used for knife blade steels. High carbon, surgical stainless, Solingen steel and the like are all quite meaningless. Even saying 440 is not specific because of the many different grades of 440 steel. Then taking into account what heat treating was used on the steel you have so many variables it's hard to say what the quality is or how it will perform for you. Also take into account if whatever the specifics are, are they actually true?

There are many different grades of superior steel out there being used by custom makers, some touted as "super steels" but these steels are seldom if ever used in mass production knives due to the cost and expense involved with tooling wear.

Trial and error and word of mouth can be the best measure of what might work best for you.

Here is the AAPK link for blade steels. https://www.allaboutpocketknives.com/co ... ade-steel/
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edge213
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by edge213 » Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:13 pm

There is an app called "Knife Steel Composition". It has thousands of knife steel descriptions.
I downloaded it to my phone and tablet from Google Pkay Store.
David
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Reverand
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by Reverand » Tue Mar 02, 2021 2:26 am

As others have said, heat treatment of any steel is equally as important as the metal content. New super-steels are not very good for blades at all if they are improperly heat treated.
I too prefer carbon steel, and typically you can get good results from them. 1095 and similar steels are much easier to heat treat, and therefore are typically very consistent. Get any old $5 used Imperial shell-handled knife and sharpen it - they keep a wicked edge!
That being said I did sharpen a newer CRKT for a friend that had CRMOV steel, and it required a diamond stone to sharpen. GREAT steel!
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Madmarco
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by Madmarco » Tue Mar 02, 2021 2:32 am

Fogducker wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 10:56 am
It's common to see the companies specify the blades as 440 Stainless. I don't think this is the best steel for knife blades. What other metallurgies are offered besides stainless and "high carbon" which is a catch-all also? Like many others, I want a good "easy to sharpen" edge holding blade. Maybe this is a oxymoron.

Fog
Hey Fog! I'm not terribly knowledgeable regarding knife steels, ::shrug:: but as you have likely read above many are, ::nod:: so sit back and read their answers, and, ::welcome:: to AAPK! ::handshake:: 8)
8)

Fogducker
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by Fogducker » Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:16 pm

Some OUTSTANDING sources and replies to my sorry little inquiry! Thank a lot guys!

Fog

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terryl308
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Re: Blade metallurgy

Post by terryl308 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:07 am

I have made over 700 knives and I like the old standbys, O-1 or 1095, they are both high carbon steels, not stainless. If I use stainless I like cpm154. ::tu:: Terry
If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

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