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Blue vs white steels

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Amon-Rukh

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I know some of the basics but I was wondering if some of the more knowledgable folks out there might be able to provide some more details about the differences between the various blue and white (1, 2, aogami super etc.) steels out there? Which ones get the sharpest/hold the best edge/get the hardest? If you could only choose one for your knives, which would you go with?
 

tk59

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It's hard to say. So much seems to depend on the maker. I have a Fujiwara in white 1 that takes the nicest edge I've ever experienced on a knife. I recently tried a Takeda (AS) that probably had the best edge retention of any carbon steel I'd tried until recently a knife made from blue #2, I believe seemed just about indestructible. I'd say you can't go wrong with any of them (I haven't tried Blue 1.) and I think they all get up into the mid-60's without much problem for my use.
 

mikemac

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....Which ones get the sharpest/hold the best edge/get the hardest? If you could only choose one for your knives, which would you go with?
I know just enough to know that for me, as a home user & knife knut (and probably for most of us...) it really doesn't matter. I think any one of them can be hardened up to 66hrc, but that doesn't make it a good or 'better' knife. Taeda, moritaka and Hiromoto all use AS, but their end products are very different. Shige uses something referred to as a 'spicy' swedish steel, and look at the huge love we have for his knives. To paraphrase a PM from Watanabe some years back, let the knifemaker use a steel he is skilled with and you will be happy.

If you are a knifemaker, you can throw my $0.02 out the window.

Sharpness and edge retention are kind of difficult to measure, but a few years back C-dawg I think came up with about the best 'workingmans' analysis I've seen....White steel would get [maybe] 15% sharper, but lose that sharpness considerably faster than Blue (and the White would dull to the level of blue)
At that point White and Blue seemed equally sharp, and had equal retention. But because Blue didn't get as sharp, it gave the sensation of superior retention.
 

Shimmer

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Shiro-Ko or Shigami #1 is the purest of all carbon steels with the least amount of alloys and can potentially take the sharpest edge of any steel.
 

EdipisReks

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i have white steel #2 knives, blue steel #2 knives, and i've owned AS knives. i don't think it makes much of a difference. they will all get very sharp and they will all keep their edges relatively well. geometry matters much more than steel choice, to me.
 

tk59

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Shiro-Ko or Shigami #1 is the purest of all carbon steels with the least amount of alloys and can potentially take the sharpest edge of any steel.
If you add the words "commonly available," I'll agree with the statement.

With regard to white getting 15% sharper than blue, I have to say, I totally disagree. That number is way too high. In my experience, any good knife steel will achieve extreme sharpness. The difference is how much work it takes to get there and how long it lasts.
 

mikemac

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Your are probably more right than I am willing to not admit.... :biggrin2:

I just threw that number up there as some form of frame of reference, and I encourage anyone interested to go search the other site for the thread (pretty sure it was Curtis / C-dawg, maybe 4-5 years ago...?)

Generally speaking, I feel the discussion over weather a 62HRC white #2 blade is 'superior' to a 61hrc blue #1 blade is mental masturbation for most of 'us' (bladesmiths excluded)
 

mpukas

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tk59

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Your are probably more right than I am willing to not admit.... :biggrin2:

I just threw that number up there as some form of frame of reference, and I encourage anyone interested to go search the other site for the thread (pretty sure it was Curtis / C-dawg, maybe 4-5 years ago...?)

Generally speaking, I feel the discussion over weather a 62HRC white #2 blade is 'superior' to a 61hrc blue #1 blade is mental masturbation for most of 'us' (bladesmiths excluded)
I was just sharing what I've found. I have no doubt you are accurately paraphrasing. You won't get an argument from me on the comparison statement. :smile1:

For steel comparison, go to: http://www.zknives.com/knives/steels/steelchart.php

I don't think Shimmer was including carbon content. Steel isn't steel without iron and carbon.
 

jaybett

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The discussion of steels is similar to discussing the ingredients in a dish. While it does matter, what is important is how the knife maker brings out and combines those qualities, in the final product. When looking to purchase, I am more interested in the reputation of the maker, then the type of steel.

Jay
 

mpukas

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since we're on the topic of white & blue steels, I have another question;

why is it there are several single steel knives (not honyaki) available in primarily white #2 (and a couple in white #1 from what I've heard) but none in any of the blue steels?
 

EdipisReks

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perhaps because white is significantly cheaper. that would be my guess.
 

JBroida

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there are blue steel honyaki knives... however, white is easier to work with and generally more user friendly which is why you see it more often
 

mpukas

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[/FONT]
there are blue steel honyaki knives... however, white is easier to work with and generally more user friendly which is why you see it more often
Is this true, John? Not questioning you, but I've read several sources that say white is HARDER to work with than blue. Here's a quote from the giant cypress page I linked earlier (granted this guy is talking about chisels and tools, but the steels are the same as in kitchen knives);

So why would Japanese toolmakers choose one steel over another steel for making a tool? From a manufacturing standpoint, it’s easier to work with blue steel than white steel. If white steel is properly processed, the range of temperatures that you can use for the annealing/hardening/tempering process is fairly narrow compared to blue steel. Since the tolerances are tighter, it takes more precision and skill when working with white steel.

On the other hand, white steel also is less expensive than blue steel, so it tends to show up more in cheaper Japanese tools. As you move up the ladder of price points of Japanese tools, I find white steel chisels and plane blades on the cheap end, because of the lower cost of materials, then inexpensive blue steel tools, and then finally high end chisels and plane blades of both white and blue steel, where the cost more is a reflection of the skills and experience of the tool maker.


Is he correct? He states that blue is harder to sharpen to the same degree as white but holds it's edge better, which seems to be commonly agreed, so would that be why people think white is easier to work with than blue?
 

Potato42

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It's hard to say. So much seems to depend on the maker.
Definitely. Much more so than the steel.

I know just enough to know that for me, as a home user & knife knut (and probably for most of us...) it really doesn't matter...let the knifemaker use a steel he is skilled with and you will be happy.
I totally agree.

I just threw that number up there as some form of frame of reference
Precisely 75% of all statistics are made up the spot. ;)



After you figure out if you want carbon or stainless the steel choice really becomes such a minor issue it's not worth debating very much. A good maker will use good steel and more importantly, they'll know how to properly forge, heat treat and grind that steel into an awesome knife.
 

JBroida

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[/FONT]

Is this true, John? Not questioning you, but I've read several sources that say white is HARDER to work with than blue. Here's a quote from the giant cypress page I linked earlier (granted this guy is talking about chisels and tools, but the steels are the same as in kitchen knives);

So why would Japanese toolmakers choose one steel over another steel for making a tool? From a manufacturing standpoint, it’s easier to work with blue steel than white steel. If white steel is properly processed, the range of temperatures that you can use for the annealing/hardening/tempering process is fairly narrow compared to blue steel. Since the tolerances are tighter, it takes more precision and skill when working with white steel.

On the other hand, white steel also is less expensive than blue steel, so it tends to show up more in cheaper Japanese tools. As you move up the ladder of price points of Japanese tools, I find white steel chisels and plane blades on the cheap end, because of the lower cost of materials, then inexpensive blue steel tools, and then finally high end chisels and plane blades of both white and blue steel, where the cost more is a reflection of the skills and experience of the tool maker.


Is he correct? He states that blue is harder to sharpen to the same degree as white but holds it's edge better, which seems to be commonly agreed, so would that be why people think white is easier to work with than blue?
he could be totally right for all i know... at the end of the day i'm not a blacksmith. I just know that in asking the same question to the makers i work with, what i said was the answer they gave me. Maybe different smiths think about it differently.
 

Lefty

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Maybe it's like this:
If you ask how to bubala (high rise pancake) and someone tells you you need high heat in the oven for about 20 mins, do you think you'll get it bang on every time? I doubt it!
But, if the tell you 450* for 17 minutes, your life just got a lot easier.
 

Amon-Rukh

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So on a semi- related note, if the end result is largely determined by the skill of the maker, what accounts for price differences in similar knives produced by a given maker where the only real difference is the type of steel used? Why might an aogami super knife cost $50 more than the same blade made of blue 1? Is this a reflection of the difficulty in working with a particular steel, cost of the raw materials, savvy marketing or something else entirely?
 

tk59

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I bet it's a combination of the three.
 

Darkhoek

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I'm just learning about steels, and I'm only asking here - I've read that white #2 is the purest carbon steel and white #1 is made by adding more carbon to white #2 to make it harder.

http://giantcypress.net/post/609709105/one-steel-two-steel-white-steel-blue-steel true or not? Cheers! mpp
As far as I know it is the other way around. White #1 is the purest of them all. White #2 is added some other components to make it easier to forge and maintain as a finished knife.

DarkHOeK
 

Eamon Burke

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The purest carbon steel in existence would be pure iron alloyed with pure carbon, and no trace elements. This is not a desirable recipe for knife steel. Purity != better.

Also, the question of price difference. I'll say it again: EVERYTHING costs what it does for one primary reason. Because that is what people will pay. There are other factors, like margins, sweat equity, premium/bargain incentives, and whatnot...but the one reason prices are the way they are is because someone is willing pay that amount for that thing.

As for Blue vs White steels, IIRC, those are Hitachi steels that aren't fully disclosed regarding their composition--heck, they are named after the color of paper they were sold wrapped in! People learn to work with them through practice and training, not because they are considering the individual elements and their properties, so results will vary widely depending on what makers choose to do with them.
 

festally

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In my experience, white is easier to sharpen, gets sharper, but dulls quicker. Blue takes a little longer to sharpen, holds an edge longer, but doesn’t quite get as sharp. I haven’t tried AS, but have read that it combines the edge acuteness of white with the edge retention of blue. I think steels of this caliber are all excellent and differences between them are pretty subtle. As mentioned, the steel itself is just one part of the puzzle.
 

tk59

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What is it that you do with the knives that tells you that one achieves greater sharpness than another?
 

EdipisReks

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What is it that you do with the knives that tells you that one achieves greater sharpness than another?
i usually test for ultimate sharpness on the most useful of all objects to cut: hanging newspaper! i can cut hanging newspaper all day! :)
 

tk59

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do you also notice that some get sharper than others? do you spend the same amount of time on each stone regardless of the blade? maybe i should start a thread...
 

festally

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I’m able to get white or blue more than sharp enough to exceed my functional needs. Striving to push them further or to "stupid sharp" is more about me working on my sharpening skills and satisfying my own curiosity.

For the most part I go through the same sharpening routine / use the same stuff, if anything I use more strokes with blue b/c it’s more wear resistance than white.

Thus far, I can get white sharp enough to whittle a strand of hair, touch and bleed (no pain like getting cut by a shard of glass) and almost do that push cut through a tomato thing. With blue, my best efforts can’t quite whittle hair or push cut through a tomato without a bit of draw.
 

EdipisReks

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i think i'm finally starting to really run into steel differences. my Mizuno blue and my Shigefusa are both sharpened to the same keenness, and i've put high, aggressive bevels on the Mizuno, so there isn't much of a way of a difference in edge thickness (in fact, i think the Mizuno might be a little thinner behind the edge, now, than the Shigi). however, the Shigefusa cuts better. it feels both toothy and slick like glass. it glides through things the way slick Blue does, but grabs into the food, almost eagerly, like toothy White. i haven't been able to get the Blue steel to act that way (White always feels toothy to me, and i think it might be why people think it gets sharper than Blue). i wish i knew more about the "spicy steel."
 
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