san-mai vs monosteel
So this came up in another thread and I am curious as to the benefits of either monosteel or sanmai knives. I own a few of each and while they are different, I am not so sure what is related to the individual knife and what is related to the construction.
I've used lasers made of both and thicker knives made of both. I enjoy the sound of the monosteel when flicked while the sanmai seems to kind of thud. :clown:
In the end, the best cutters I've used have been of both types. In trying to figure out the specifics before ordering a full custom knife, I would enjoy being schooled on the practical (or other) differences.
I'm not nearly as sophisticated as a lot of the folks here but....I love having stainless cladding and carbon core.
Thanks, but no stainless for me (though I have owned a Carter as described); again, my interest is more in grasping the technical/performance differences.
Originally Posted by Zwiefel
San Mai is easier to thin, softer cladding is easier to abrade than hardened mono steel, but is more easily scratched. I've heard people say San Mai feels "muted" but I don't agree. I like the difference between jigane & hagane when polished on naturals. My preference is for San Mai
Thanks, makes perfect sense (though it seems I wind up scratching all my blades, sometimes less from sharpening than just handling/use). Is that the only real difference and the main reason people would choose sanmai?
Originally Posted by Von blewitt
I will be darned if I could tell a difference in cutting or sound in a blindfolded test.
from my understanding, in general speaking, San Mai is upgrade from mono-steel knife(Honyaki is exception)in Japan cutlery! San-Mai construction needs more finishing processes & work to accomplished! the soft iron/stainless out layer add ductility to hard and brittle carbon steel(hagane); moreover, kept "Hagane" free of corrosion while maintaining strength and durability!! my vote goes to San-Mai.....:knife:
As of now I have 3 knives with different SanMai blades. But I am still not clear about the toughness of the blade - my naive understanding is that the cladding is mostly not harden-able and so it does not add much to the toughness of the blade. I do understand that with some high hrc steels the caldding with softer steel may make the knife less susceptible to breaking.
In some cases cladding seems the way to actually save the costs as some cutting steels are quite expensive.
But I do have the impression that my Shun which has VG-10 core clad with stainless damascus is simply too weak (or easy to bend and and soft) - possibly because the core is too thin. The Yoshikane knives that I have just bought are much stronger (although slightly thicker).
So - I would also like to know what is there beyond look (love the look of the knives by Burt Foster), sharpening and (with carbon core) staining protection the advantage of SanMai.
BTW, for stainless/PM steel I do prefer Mono-steel construction!! the San-Mai out-layer for stainless/PM steel blade mostly for Aesthetics look only!!
For what its worth....from a Maker point of view.......
San mai is pretty and made in an interesting and more artful way than grinding a piece of mono steel, though that is artful too of course......... I tend to think the joy of creating something is reflected in the beauty of the object.
The Metallurgy becomes exciting visually and practically.
Using stainless clad and high carbon core, you will loose a percentage of carbon to the soft stainless cladding. You can either make the core a bit thicker so you have a certain amount as sacrificial carbon...Use a steel which could work well with slightly less carbon......Or add a layer of pure nickel to keep the carbon in the core. Of course that way you have a crisp weld line without the frosty hamon-esc effect. Either way you get something pretty special and unique.
Structurally, the blade does feel different. For example a soft clad san mai can be straightened with relative ease with hammer and stump with the core 62 hrc plus. Mono would demand far more care if you were working out a warp post heat treatment. This should tell you something about the feel and toughness of the blade. Though it will have relatively little effect in supporting the very edge it could help stop a huge chip in a very extreme situation. Though realistically this can all be optimized with good heat treatment in mono steel for our practical uses.
To me using different materials in a knife either in san mai or a composite construction is like having a differential heat treatment. You can have the spine or cladding softer than the the core or edge weld. And it might not be completely soft, I often use steels that temper differentially, looking for a core which is 60 plus while the cladding or spine is less than 58 hrc. Or medium carbon steel less than 55 hrc.
But these are not for use as swords granted where the extra toughness and flex would be a great advantage, so its largely a joy of the art in doing it thing. And the knowledge that you blade has an optimal construction.
Soft or softer clad knives are easier to grind and sharpen or at least thin, though also easier to mark the cladding in use.
You can use a combination of stainless clad and carbon core, thats probably one of the nicest advantages in practical use.
Umm and it look purty....did I mention that:D