View Full Version : foster bros steel?

andre s
05-11-2013, 07:45 AM
Hi Experts!
Last weekend, I couldn't help but buy a foster bros cleaver at an antique / flea market. It was hidden among other blackened (mostly carpentry) tools. It was well used. One of the scales' front half was worn off. I figured it would be a fun candidate for my first western re-handle. 10 minutes left at the market and i bought it for 10 bucks. After much elbow grease, the steel looks real good. I don't want a too polished look as i'm liking the small abrasions and pits that remain. The scales are off. Before i do the re-handle and sharpen it, i thought i'd run this by the forum. The blade says FOSTER BROS (SOLID STEEL) ... 2180. Can someone speak to this steel? I've come across people talking about 2190 without much technical info. Anybody have experience giving and keeping its edge?
It has a convex grind. From what i can tell from the pits and patina, it doesn't seem to have been sharpened in a long time. But the edge doesn't feel half bad.
and happy mother's day weekend!

05-11-2013, 09:09 AM
I believe 21xx steel is a discontinued series. It's basically a 1080 steel with 1.5% nickel. I can't speak to performance but it should perform exactly the same as 1080 steel.


05-11-2013, 09:40 AM
I have a few foster bros knives. Don't know much about the steel used, but it takes a scary sharp edge. Doesn't keep it long, but gets insane sharp. Good find! Any pictures?

05-11-2013, 10:40 AM
I have a Foster Bros chef on the way - good to know this.

andre s
05-11-2013, 02:52 PM
yeah, this is great info already!
scary sharp is good. I was planning on possibly giving it to my brother-in-law after the re-handle. He's a butcher and I'd love to see the knife get a lot of use. But...if it loses its edge quickly, it might do better with home use...and look sweet in my kitchen!:thumbsup:
I think it might be worth learning how to sharpen this big, convex grind. It feels/looks nice. Or do some of you flatten out such a grind to make it easier with subsequent sharpenings? I'm used to my Old Hickory cleaver which has an (approx) 11 degree secondary and 18 degree primary. Not much experience with sharpening as i just started, but i'm enjoying it.
here are some pics:
http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t542/ezthequeen/Foster2_zps5b0b53cd.jpg (http://s1313.photobucket.com/user/ezthequeen/media/Foster2_zps5b0b53cd.jpg.html)http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t542/ezthequeen/Foster1_zps0b38ea3b.jpg (http://s1313.photobucket.com/user/ezthequeen/media/Foster1_zps0b38ea3b.jpg.html)

the woods i have at home: cocobolo, jobillo, rosewood and yellowheart (but just used YH on my first wa re-handle, gyuto). i'm debating. opinions are very welcome of course:). leaning jobillo

05-11-2013, 03:13 PM
That's a beauty. Great find. I would lead towards rosewood. Keep it traditional looking. Removable scales would be a cook option too

05-11-2013, 10:03 PM
thanks for the info!

05-12-2013, 12:49 AM
+1 on the rosewood!
Great find. I think it would be a great present for your B.I.L., especially because he's a butcher. While it might not stay scary sharp for long, it will take well to honing on a steel.
Have fun and keep us posted on the progress of your project.

andre s
05-12-2013, 08:46 PM
Thanks all for the input
I have to agree about a more traditional/simple looking wood. Surprisingly, the jobillo looks less "exotic" to me. But, after looking at more pictures of both woods, as handles, online, i agree that the rosewood should look better. I'll probably slice a piece from both and give it a good buff before starting the work.
thanks again! I'll keep you posted
and, is it appropriate to show finished work on this forum?

andre s
05-25-2013, 06:38 PM
I didn't have more than 6" of rosewood or yellowheart (there's 7" of handle!). So, I ended up using the jobillo, brass corbys (3/16_1/4 for the ends and 1/4_5/16 for the larger center hole) and black liner material between tang and wood. Fun Fun project! (stating the obvious to y'all, but) such different strategizing than with the Wa handle process.
Here's the handle:
http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t542/ezthequeen/Foster3_zpsd7a69b4e.jpg (http://s1313.photobucket.com/user/ezthequeen/media/Foster3_zpsd7a69b4e.jpg.html)
http://i1313.photobucket.com/albums/t542/ezthequeen/Foster4_zpsc1b53f58.jpg (http://s1313.photobucket.com/user/ezthequeen/media/Foster4_zpsc1b53f58.jpg.html)

05-25-2013, 09:41 PM
Very nice rehandle. I believe the steel is 1080, or a variation thereof. Good, solid steel, with a nice carbon content (.80). Likely hardened to 58, give or take. Son, correct me if I'm wrong. Shoot...I forgot to call you back. Sorry, off topic, I know.

05-26-2013, 12:19 AM
Nice work man, that's one sexy piece of wood too. I didn't realize how large that cleaver was either.
You're screwed now, you're gonna be rehandling everything you can get your hands on.

sachem allison
05-26-2013, 12:41 AM
Foster bros went out of business in 1950 or so. The number 2180 on the blade i s the model number not the steel composition. Foster brother put all kinds of numbers on their blades. They where mainly marketed to commercial meat packing houses and butchers. People in the industry. Many of them just looked at a catalog and pointed at the picture or just said give me 2 dozen 2180's. Most manufacturers did not list what steel was used because it was a highly competitive market. Even though most of them may have been using the same stuff by the same steel mill. Remember in those days we made the steel and we knew it was made by a handful of steel mills. Detroit baby! The steel is more then like 1080 though or some other 10xx series steel.