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Thread: Hello, just a few questions

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Ceruleanveritas View Post
    Hi Dave,
    I think I'm leaning toward carbon steel, as they're supposed to be harder, but I do have a quick question regarding steels.

    If carbon steel just means higher percentages of Carbon in the blade composition, would not a High Carbon stainless steel blade share the benefits of a Carbon steel blade while having additional benefits of edge retention, corrosion resistance, etc. that is afforded by the addition of other elements such as Chromium, Molybdenum, Tungsten, Vanadium, etc?

    Are pure Carbon steel blades really that much harder and sharper than stainless? I think the Rockwell scale grades are fairly close, but I also suppose just a couple of points can be a huge and significant difference. I would also note that ceramic knives are supposedly much harder than even the hardest carbon steel, but I have read many people say that even the Kyocera Revolution series black blade is not that sharp.
    Metallurgy is a whole field of its own, far beyond the scope of kitchen knives. Added to that, hardness is only one factor when it comes to sharpness and edge retention...with grain size, carbide size, and the overall heat treat procedure used to manipulate those things being of far greater importance. Basically, any remotely high end kitchen knife made from stainless is going to be 'high carbon' stainless. So that's kind of a given. I don't have a lot of experience with higher end stainless knives (read: none), so I can only comment based on my second hand understanding in that field...which indicates that carbon steel is superior in both edge retention and overall sharpness (some stainless advocates maintain that if you're cutting acidic foods stainless will maintain an edge longer due to its corrosion resistance not allowing the edge to break down. I don't know how much this affects things overall, but felt obligated to mention it). I do have some experience with high end carbon steel kitchen knives, and a more than comprehensive first hand understanding of the metallurgy involved in those blades. First, most of even the 'simple' carbon steel blade materials carry alloying agents in them. My two favorites contain significant amounts of vanadium in one instance, and both tungsten and vanadium in the other...and not much else. The more complex (read: high alloy) carbon steel blade materials contain significant amounts of any number of the alloys you mentioned above, with the exception of chromium. When you combine these alloys with simple iron and a level of carbon over .8%...with proper thermal cycling and a thorough heat treat procedure...you get an incredibly refined grain structure (which means your final edge thickness can be 'narrower'..i.e. 'sharper'), and all that excess (over .8%) carbon combines with the alloys to form incredibly small, incredibly well dispersed, and incredibly hard carbides (which means that thin final edge thickness will stay that way longer). Again, this is all assuming a proper thermal cycle history and heat treat...but that goes for all steels, including stainless. Now...I haven't researched into stainless much, but my 'general' understanding is that the alloying agents that make it able to resist corrosion, are by nature softer and have a larger grain structure. You can increase the carbon, and play with alloy composition as much as you want...but if you want corrosion resistance, in general you're going to have to compromise overall hardness, among other things.

    I tried to explain that in a way that's generally understandable to someone without any previous metallurgical experience...so some things might be lost in translation...but overall I think it'll give you a good basic grasp of the concepts involved.

  2. #12
    If you want stain resistance with durable and sharp edge, you might want to take a look at some PM (Powder metallurgy) steels, like R2/SG2, Cowry-X or ZDP189, at some point. They usually run at elevated prices, so not the best choice for your current budget, but might be something you can consider for the future.
    If you will take extra care of your purchase - carbon knife is a good option, but if you know that the knife will get some abuse I would go with stainless (lots of choices at any price range) or Semi-Stainless (less choices and usually at higher prices).

  3. #13
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Fujiwara fkm 210mm gyuto. Number 9 on this page http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/FKMSeries.html
    Starting this harvest I'm a starving startling artist/
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  4. #14
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    For an all around knife, the gyuto or santoku are your best bets. However, since you don't a pointy knife, then a nakiri or a chinese cleaver would work too.

    For a nice looking stainless nakiri, I'd go with the gonbei 165mm hammered damascus:
    http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/...us-nakiri.html

  5. #15
    Wow, thanks Cris, that's a lot of great information.

    I think I got most of it.

    And thanks for clarifying how to answer the "Which knife to Buy" questionnaire above as well.

    I'll guess I'll post that next and see what people have to say.


    Well, gotta go.


    Cheers,

    Lee

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