Yes and no... i've seen a lot of heat treatments done from many people... both in large quantity and in smaller. This is not always the case. I think you would be surprised to see the attention to detail and lack of time-lag that can occur in places doing more than just a knife or two at a time. I know i was surprised when i first saw some of the more talented people do larger quantity heat treatments with the same kind of attention to detail that people doing one or two at a time can do.
Originally Posted by Marko Tsourkan
Also, the 60-61 range you see from Japan often is not necessarily a function of this... i would wager (based on what i have seen and the people i have talked to here), that this rockwell hardness is more about what they think will be best for the knife than a function of their ability to do more complex heat treatments (which many of them actually do, even though we dont see or talk about it here).
At the same time, there are also large factories that do things more in the way you might be thinking, but even then, they can still use very complex processes. I know the first time i went to seki (where factory production is more common), i was shocked to see that they can incorporate cryo treatments in a very quick time with no trouble. Some companies even use machines that do the entire process of annealing, heat treating, cryo, and quenching.
I didn't have any particular commercial heat treatment operation in mind. I doubt that US commercial HT for knives is much different than anywhere else, but I might be mistaken.
Originally Posted by JBroida
I am sure automating processes is possible as well as additional steps like cryo, or molted salts furnaces, but it costs money and there has to be a market for knives, in which price you can factor a cost of production and still make profit if you are maker and do HT in house. If you are a commercial HT operation, then it has to get enough volume, and pay per service, to justify investment into expensive HT equipment. This kind of stuff is more likely to see at placed that do HT for Boeing.
If you could recommend knives from Seki brands that have HT automated, to test for performance, it would be an interesting study.
This is all are correct in parts... Rockwell hardness is only part of the equation, the method to get to a desired hardness is equally, or more important than the final number a tester spits out. Oven vs salts, higher vs lower temps both in the initial HT, and temper draws, cryo or no cryo all effect the toughness, hardness, edge holding of a given steel, and its up to the individual maker to make the determination of what his goal is. It will not make every end user happy, nor will it be the same method used by every maker for a given steel. This is a great line of discussion. Its interesting to read others thoughts on theory, and how they feel the final product is improved or potentially stalled. Is there a "perfect" method? Maybe... That's what makes this all so much fun. Every maker has their opinion of what makes the best HT for a given steel. Others think they can improve upon it, and they likely can. Some can not. It doesn't make the process wrong, its just simply that makers method. At the end of the day, 90% of end users will say WOW!! Thats one heck of a knife! The anal few out there may be able to detect differences, but may not be able to tell exactly what that difference is. Its these few that push the makers to squeeze that extra bit from their process, and will rave that Mr. "A" is better than Mr. "B" Awesome! Mr. "C" will come along, and emulate one or the other, and as I said, it makes for a great read. It will never be agreed upon to everyone's satisfaction. Buy a knife, use it. If you like it great! If you don't, sell it buy another.
The automation on the HT process is more than possible, and is done on a very regular basis in the US as well as other parts of the world. Google Paul Bos and read a while. Its been his business for 50+ years. Working for Buck knives, "bulk" was a necessity. Also the shear number of custom makers using his services is a testament to the process. But again, its a process. Is it perfect? A lot will say yes, some will say no.
pierre... a very well put statement. I agree wholeheartedly.
Marko, there are a few out there... however, the vast majority that make it to america are on the softer side and probably wouldnt be to your liking. For example, glestain uses cryo, but i would wager that you dont care much for their steel or HT. Anyways, the point is many things are possible, and making general blanket statements without sufficient knowledge, will get this conversation nowhere.
You guys are funny, you have to quench in the urine of a red headed holy man to obtain the best results.
clearly, but their population has declined in recent years and the results from genetically modified red-headed holy men urine are not the same :P
*thanks Devin for brightening up the conversation :)
I just think you guys enjoying the smell when you do it :groucho: :)
Actually, urine was used for quenching in the ancient times (and brine is used today), so yes, whoever discovered that method, thought it discovered a holy grail, except it was long before Christianity took hold.
Anything can be automated at a cost. I am pretty sure German makers have state of art HT facilities, but their choice of steel and hardness results in a product that can't stand up to some custom heat treated products.
Even though I agree in principle that it is possible for commercial HT to do better than custom, if I were to bet on say DT AEB-L (heat treated in a small workshop) vs commercial HT of AEB-L heat treated in modern, automated facility in US or outside, I would not hesitate to bet on DT, and am not a betting man. DT HT is likely to result in a harder blade but there would be other notable differences that stem directly from the custom HT. Face it, if he can jack up the wear resistance in a steel that only has .6% of the carbon, he got to do something that a commercial HT doesn't.
Commercial HT makes sense when one is an upcoming maker and doesn't have the room/facility/means/knowledge to do HT himself or when one does a production and outsourcing some steps is just a part of the model.
If one is anal, a control freak of sorts, outsourcing HT is out of question. This is the most important part of the process if you ask me, and you want to have 100% control over the outcome. It's like outsourcing a preparation of the most important component of a dish to a third party. How many chefs do that?
Many of the very best Chefs rarely make the food in their restaurants. Thomas Keller comes to mind. At certain point the need for the growth of the business necessitates a shift in responsibilities from production to training and quality control. It definitely requires taking a leap of faith. 'You are only as good as the people that work for you' is an adage that applies just as well to Chefs as knife makers. How many people work for you depends on how many you want to serve. Wolfgang Puck vs. Jiro dreams of sushi.
I guess my small-maker mentality prevents me from giving up control over certain things, but there are limits on my output that are related to this decision, so in that sense, outsourcing is a part of business growth if growth is in plans.