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Thread: what steels and why

  1. #1

    what steels and why

    I've had many members ask me about steels that are used in knives so I've decided to start a thread that will explain why we use what we do.

    Wear resistance, toughness, sharpenability, edge stablity, stain resistance are some of the main subjects that we will cover.

    We've made knives out of O-1, 1065, 1075, 1095, 1084, 1086v, 52100, 440-C, AEB-L, mystery carbon, super wear resistant, PM stainless,154cm, cpm 154, D-2, spray form D-2, ATS-34, S-30V, L-3, 3-V, cpm M-4, vanadus 4 extra, niolox/SB1, L-6, O-2, 15n20, A-2, 19c27, 12c27, 425, spicy white, 5160, 9260, and several types of recycled steels such as chain saw bars, lawn mower blades, circular saw blades, coil and leaf springs, planer blades, etc. all come to mind. I'm sure that I've forgotten some.

    We plan on trying several other steels in the future, to see if there is any thing better than what we are using.

    The steels that we have settled on so far are; AEB-L, PM stainless (to remain nameless), super wear resistant (to remain nameless), and mystery carbon (also to remain nameless).

    Some of the steels that we have tried have been a big disapointment, and some have been a big suprise.

    More to come.

    Hoss

  2. #2
    Senior Member Adagimp's Avatar
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    Love this idea.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    WildBoar's Avatar
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    This is great. I can only imagine how much time you burn on phone calls, emails, etc. trying to educate the great unwashed masses

    There are bits and pieces spread through a handful of threads in your vendor forum, but it will be great having all the info consolidated.
    __________
    David (WildBoar's Kitchen)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by DevinT View Post
    The steels that we have settled on so far are; AEB-L, PM stainless (to remain nameless), super wear resistant (to remain nameless), and mystery carbon (also to remain nameless).
    52100? Or is the super wear resistant carbon and mystery carbon taking over for 52100 in your lineup?
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  5. #5
    I still like 52100, 19c27, spicy white, niolox and a few others, however, I don't want to offer too many steels and the ones chosen may have a slight advantage.

    Hoss

  6. #6

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    Have you all worked with W-2, i didnt see it on the list?

  7. #7
    May I ask how your "PM stainless" and "Super wear resistant" compare to R2 (which Tanaka and Mr. Itou are using)? I absolutely have nothing but good to say about it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke_G View Post
    May I ask how your "PM stainless" and "Super wear resistant" compare to R2 (which Tanaka and Mr. Itou are using)? I absolutely have nothing but good to say about it.
    I have the pm stainless and I will say that I would be very impressed if the R2 in either can match it. It's significantly nicer than SG series, SRS-15, zdp-189, etc.). I'm testing the DT-super now. So far, I can say it is nice to sharpen (just two trials so far) but not quite as nice as other DT steels (takes a little more time) and it gets very sharp but the DT-pm is one of those steels that really "likes" to be sharp. It is probably my favorite steel so far and definitely my favorite stainless. I've tried out knives made from many steels but not R2. Sorry. After the DT-pm, I might choose Niolox or AEB-L.

  9. #9
    It's difficult to compare to R2 because there's little information available on the steel.

  10. #10
    Wear resistance.

    Does it "hold an edge" is the question I get more than any other. In custom knives it has more interest than any other subject. I've heard lots of tall tales and exaggerations about this over the years.

    Edge holding is the ability for a knife to keep cutting well in service. A properly sharpened knife will have a diameter of .4 micron at the edge. With use the diameter gets larger until it does not cut well, usually > 1 micron diameter at the edge. There is no reason to buy a custom knife unless it has excellent or superior edge holding.

    Most steels come in the annealed condition and require hardening and tempering. Annealed steels have very low wear resistance which allows them to be worked easily. There are two things in properly heat treated steel that contribute to wear resistance. The first is the hardened matrix (martensite), and the second are the carbides. The amount of carbide volume, size, hardness, and distribution of the carbides all affect wear resistance and edge holding. Vanadium and tungsten carbides are harder than chrome and iron carbides. Steels with more carbides are more wear resistant than those with less. A certain amount of the carbide dissolves in hardening putting alloy and carbon in to the matrix making it hard and wear resistant.

    Hardness affects edge holding. An increase of 2 points in Rockwell hardness will generally increase edge holding by about 20%. Improperly hardened and tempered blades having retained austenite (incomplete hardening) will be softer and not as wear resistant. Retained austenite also affects how much of a burr is formed and how easy it is to remove from a knife's edge while sharpening.

    Lastly, the keener the edge the faster a knife will become dull. The coarser the stone used in sharpening, the longer it will hold that edge. I think that in general most knife nuts over sharpen.

    To summarize, the proper selection of steels given the correct heat treatment along with correct sharpening will produce a knife with superior edge holding, give years of service, and will be a joy to use.

    More to come.

    Hoss

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