Custom makers using powdered steels?

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augerpro

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I've taken a long journey finding the right knife for me, and geometry and grind were the priority, and the steel not so important. I finally settled on two that are perfect for me: Kintaro and Gengetsu. Been using them for years and have no desire to try something else. I've owned a lot of others prior to that, but some I remember offhand are Shigefusa, Tanaka R2, Ginga, Kochi V2, Ginrei, and Kagekiyo. I do my own sharpening, and I've come to the point where it would be nice if I could find something with performance of the Kintaro and Gengetsu, but that I didn't have to sharpen so often. So I'm wondering if there are any great makers out there using something like S30V or M390. Any advice?
 
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I've taken a long journey finding the right knife for me, and geometry and grind were the priority, and the steel not so important. I finally settled on two that are perfect for me: Kintaro and Gengetsu. Been using them for years and have no desire to try something else. I've owned a lot of others prior to that, but some I remember offhand are Shigefusa, Tanaka R2, Ginga, Kochi V2, Ginrei, and Kagekiyo. I do my own sharpening, and I've come to the point where it would be nice if I could find something with performance of the Kintaro and Gengetsu, but that I didn't have to sharpen so often. So I'm wondering if there are any great makers out there using something like S30V or M390. Any advice?

@Andrei, @HSC /// Knives, @RDalman (I'm assuming his HSS1 is a PM alloy) and @DevinT have all made knives out of PM steels although not necessarily the specific ones you are asking about. I'm sure there are other makers as well beyond these and Shawn Houston. You might also ask @Troopah_Knives.
Be prepared to buy some diamonds stones if you don't already own any.
 
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I've taken a long journey finding the right knife for me, and geometry and grind were the priority, and the steel not so important. I finally settled on two that are perfect for me: Kintaro and Gengetsu. Been using them for years and have no desire to try something else. I've owned a lot of others prior to that, but some I remember offhand are Shigefusa, Tanaka R2, Ginga, Kochi V2, Ginrei, and Kagekiyo. I do my own sharpening, and I've come to the point where it would be nice if I could find something with performance of the Kintaro and Gengetsu, but that I didn't have to sharpen so often. So I'm wondering if there are any great makers out there using something like S30V or M390. Any advice?

There are a decent number of makers who use PM steels although especially with the release of MagnaCut very few use S30V. M390 is also fairly rare probably due to its subpar wear resistance considering its very high carbide volume. To some extent, it depends on what you are looking for. If you want a Gyuto in MagnaCut there are probably dozens of makers who would be willing to do that sort of work. If you want something in Z-Max there may only be a couple. I would recommend you find a maker you like and chat with them about what they have used and what they would recommend.

In general, I've seen fewer PM stainless steel kitchen knives probably because those willing to pay for these steels are confident in their abilities to handle the non-stainless PM tools steels which present better working characteristics and still have better corrosion resistance than low alloy steels.

As people have said before be prepared to buy some diamond stones as they are often required to get the best out of these steels.
 

Bensbites

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I would look at magnacut or s35vn. I have knives made from both and love them.
 

Philip Yu

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Carbon is in shortage. White #1 is being subbed by White #2. R2 is also hard to come by, knives made with R2 has jumped an average price of $50. So ya, smiths and makers are trying to find new steels to work with or keep marking up prices.
 

Justinv

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In general, I've seen fewer PM stainless steel kitchen knives probably because those willing to pay for these steels are confident in their abilities to handle the non-stainless PM tools steels which present better working characteristics and still have better corrosion resistance than low alloy steels.

I completely agree with that. I like tool steel san-mai with stainless. Something with 4-5% Cr is nearly worry free from rust and can be treated like stainless. You get better balance between edge retention and toughness than stainless or carbon steel. The edge discolors but that can add to appearance.

Unfortunately it sounds like factory made san-mai barstock of tool steel or high carbide steel doesn’t really exist for western makers to use. Or at least its limited.

I really like Hap40 but very few makers use it and grinds are limited. There are lots of other options for balanced tool steels but they are even rarer.
 

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I predominantly use Bohler's Elmax PM stainless steel. It performs very well against many of the "super-steels" on Larin's Knife Steel Nerds charts. I just picked up a piece of Takefu SG2/R2 laminate so will be trying that soon.

Hap40 (zknives) is interesting as a high alloy hot tool steel. hand sanding that would give you muscles on muscles. Seems there are a few equivalents from different manufacturers. Looks easier to heat treat than S600 as it has a lower austenitizing temp <2000C.
 
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Matus

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I would like to try MagnaCut and/or CruWear this year. For me one of the properties I would be after is higher toughness and edge stability as those allow to grin the edge thinner.

One thing the potential user should actively be aware of, that to thin a kitchen knife made out of monosteel high-ish carbide steel (and basically all steels discussed here) that contain quite some Vanadium carbides is not going to be an easy task and after thinning my k390 PM2 (at around 63.5 HRC) I must say that I really recommend diamond water stones for the job.

For the same reason - the knife made out of these steels should really come ground THIN behind the edge, so that user does not need to worry about thinning anytime soon (what given the high wear resistance should definitely help).
 

Bensbites

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I would like to try MagnaCut and/or CruWear this year. For me one of the properties I would be after is higher toughness and edge stability as those allow to grin the edge thinner.

One thing the potential user should actively be aware of, that to thin a kitchen knife made out of monosteel high-ish carbide steel (and basically all steels discussed here) that contain quite some Vanadium carbides is not going to be an easy task and after thinning my k390 PM2 (at around 63.5 HRC) I must say that I really recommend diamond water stones for the job.

For the same reason - the knife made out of these steels should really come ground THIN behind the edge, so that user does not need to worry about thinning anytime soon (what given the high wear resistance should definitely help).
Magnacut is awesome. It’s a beast to grind, but it can take a very thin edge. It was pretty easy to heat treat with the proper equipment.
 
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I would like to try MagnaCut and/or CruWear this year. For me one of the properties I would be after is higher toughness and edge stability as those allow to grin the edge thinner.

One thing the potential user should actively be aware of, that to thin a kitchen knife made out of monosteel high-ish carbide steel (and basically all steels discussed here) that contain quite some Vanadium carbides is not going to be an easy task and after thinning my k390 PM2 (at around 63.5 HRC) I must say that I really recommend diamond water stones for the job.

For the same reason - the knife made out of these steels should really come ground THIN behind the edge, so that user does not need to worry about thinning anytime soon (what given the high wear resistance should definitely help).

Harbeer Chahal @HSC /// Knives has worked with both alloys so you might want to contact him for his comments/advice. I have one of his Z-Wear (CPM CruWear) knives and I can vouch for the toughness and edge retention. It is not as fully stainless as MagnaCut but more than sufficiently corrosion resistant for my purposes (better than A2). I really can't imagine a need for more edge retention or toughness in a kitchen knife.
Some of the Vanadis alloys (4E and 8, possibly 23 as well) might be worth a look if they are more readily available to you.
 

captaincaed

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Mert Tansu makes a good knife, works in some hard wearing steels.

Dan Bidinger makes a killer convex grind in addition to the special grinds, and has magnacut. A belt finished convex from him would perform very well and not break the bank.

Most of the other knives you listed are on my top cutter list. What differentiates the Gengetsu and Kintato for you? Doesn't kintaro have some r2 as well?
 

augerpro

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Thanks everyone for the great feedback! Pretty much all the metals mentioned would be a good step up from what I have now. I'll start looking at the smiths suggested. I'm not sure which ones do the grinds I like: very thin behind the edge for some distance, with just enough spine thickness and blade height to give it a bit of weight. My Gengetsu is about the perfect grind and geometry too, but just a hair light. My Kintaro is a nice weight at 154g (210). My Ginrei was an even better weight, but just thick enough behind the edge that I always found myself reaching for one of the other two. Also only interested in wa-handle in case some of those makers don't offer that.

captaincaed> I don't know about R2 Kintaros, where have you seen them?

Shapton Glass stones are no good for these steels?
 
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Thanks everyone for the great feedback! Pretty much all the metals mentioned would be a good step up from what I have now. I'll start looking at the smiths suggested. I'm not sure which ones do the grinds I like: very thin behind the edge for some distance, with just enough spine thickness and blade height to give it a bit of weight. My Gengetsu is about the perfect grind and geometry too, but just a hair light. My Kintaro is a nice weight at 154g (210). My Ginrei was an even better weight, but just thick enough behind the edge that I always found myself reaching for one of the other two. Also only interested in wa-handle in case some of those makers don't offer that.

captaincaed> I don't know about R2 Kintaros, where have you seen them?

Shapton Glass stones are no good for these steels?

Depends on the steel. With Magnacut, Z-Wear, Hap 40 Etc. You can get away with Sharpton glass stones especially if you have some experience sharpening. Otherwise, diamond stones are preferable. The faster material removal rates make them easier to apex.
 

augerpro

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I took my weights off JKI, but just weighed them now and my Kintaro is 168g and Gengetsu 148g. So I would prefer at least in the high 150s. But matching my Kintaro would be ideal. Found a seller with the R2 Kintaro and they list 146g.
 
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Thanks everyone for the great feedback! Pretty much all the metals mentioned would be a good step up from what I have now. I'll start looking at the smiths suggested. I'm not sure which ones do the grinds I like: very thin behind the edge for some distance, with just enough spine thickness and blade height to give it a bit of weight. My Gengetsu is about the perfect grind and geometry too, but just a hair light. My Kintaro is a nice weight at 154g (210). My Ginrei was an even better weight, but just thick enough behind the edge that I always found myself reaching for one of the other two. Also only interested in wa-handle in case some of those makers don't offer that.

captaincaed> I don't know about R2 Kintaros, where have you seen them?

Shapton Glass stones are no good for these steels?

My Gengetsu is really an awesome grind ... "light" - it certainly could be considered that but still have some weight / not a laser (IMO) and they are definitely the definition of 'thin behind the edge' ...

I use the JKI Diamond plates for all of these (stainless) at this point with some of the other JKI 400 & 3K when needed ... I have been trying (not successfully) to get a 3K (Super Vitrified Diamond Waterstone) but always miss it ... Just need something between 1K & 6K ... love them both but the 6K is less "great" for stainless (as one would expect anyway).
 
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Marko does his workhorse in AEB-L ... I have it in 225 & 240 ... will weight them when back in WA (travelling again) and get you some numbers ... I love Marko's grind as well but maybe not super 'thin behind the edge' like the Gengetsu but certainly a great performer.
 
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I took my weights off JKI, but just weighed them now and my Kintaro is 168g and Gengetsu 148g. So I would prefer at least in the high 150s. But matching my Kintaro would be ideal. Found a seller with the R2 Kintaro and they list 146g.
Weight of a knife very much depends on the handle wood and construction, so unless you have an idea how much the handle weights the weight of the knife itself doesn't give you the full picture. How the knife balances might have more of an effect on how it feels in use. Not talking about extrimes of course since a knife can feel too light or too heavy by itself, but as long as it is somewhere in the middle, few grams one way or another is less important than balance.
 

captaincaed

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Thanks everyone for the great feedback! Pretty much all the metals mentioned would be a good step up from what I have now. I'll start looking at the smiths suggested. I'm not sure which ones do the grinds I like: very thin behind the edge for some distance, with just enough spine thickness and blade height to give it a bit of weight. My Gengetsu is about the perfect grind and geometry too, but just a hair light. My Kintaro is a nice weight at 154g (210). My Ginrei was an even better weight, but just thick enough behind the edge that I always found myself reaching for one of the other two. Also only interested in wa-handle in case some of those makers don't offer that.

captaincaed> I don't know about R2 Kintaros, where have you seen them?

Shapton Glass stones are no good for these steels?
Unhelpfully sold out, but this is what I found Googling around

With my limited experience, R2 is possible but a PITA with non-diamond stones. MagnaCut is a PITA even with diamond stones. A2 is a happy medium for me. Gives a carbon-like edge, but lasts quite a lot longer. Plus, you get Yoshikane grinding it…
 

Matt Jacobs

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It's always so interesting to me how so many of us have different experiences with the same knives. I have R2 very easy to sharpen and deburr. I am a big fan.
 

captaincaed

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It's always so interesting to me how so many of us have different experiences with the same knives. I have R2 very easy to sharpen and deburr. I am a big fan.
I keep hearing this. I only have one from ryusen, sounds like I need to try another.
 
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It's always so interesting to me how so many of us have different experiences with the same knives. I have R2 very easy to sharpen and deburr. I am a big fan.
Yeah, I haven't had any issues with MagnaCut and diamond stones. If anything I thought it was rather easy and very smooth. Deburred very nicely. It reminded me most of AEB-L on regular synthetic stones. Sharpening, not thinning, I am sure thinning is more difficult. It seems like it all depends on one's point of reference.
 
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