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mono v clad; ground v forged

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mpukas

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Here's a topic that gets touched on briefly and often mentioned randomly in posts, but never have I seen a full-blown thread dedicated to it.

Do you prefer a mono steel knife or a clad/san-mai knife?

Is there a benefit of forged v ground?

It appears to me that mono steel knives are most often ground from solid stock, as in the case of {most if not all} lasers (although not always - they may be forged), and clad knives are most often forged (although not always - they may be ground from pre-made stock).

I can see both styles (if you will) have pros and cons, and I'm not sure I have strong preference. I do like a thin knife however, and often clad knives tend to be on the thicker side.

On the topic - here's a question - in the case of a mono steel laser that is ground, where in the process of fabrication is the heat treatment done? Once the knife has been cut and ground to shape, but before final finish, edge and handle attachment? Cheers! mpp
 

Eamon Burke

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The less grinding that is done before Heat Treat, the better. The thinner it is, the more likely it is to warp in the oven, so you suck it up and grind the hardened stuff, or get used to bent blades.
 

ajhuff

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I have not handled enough knives to feel a difference. I don't see a point in clad knives. To me it is an archaic technology held over from sword making that serves no true purpose in kitchen knives. I also have yet to be convinced that a forged to shape knife is not superior to a cut and ground knife, but I base that on theory not personal experience.

-AJ
 

tk59

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Pretty much, it's personal preference although stainless clad, carbon steel reduces the reactive surface. Some steels are difficult to finish so shiny cladding help aesthetically, as well. Some of my best performers are cladded but I don't thing the cladding has anything to do with it. It does prevent you from being able to mod in every way you might want.
 

Lefty

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There's a time and place for both mono and San Mai. My 4 favourite knives I've used to date are 2 mono, 2 clad and 2 forged, 2 "cut out". All of them cut compareably, and have different feels. Right now I'm using a KU (clad) knife for everything, but when I get my pettysuki back from Rick (thanks for keeping it in shape, by the way and please keep enjoying it) I'm sure it'll be number one, splitting time with the Carter suji. Again, 1 mono, 1 clad, one from stock, the other forged.
I think it's more about what you like and what makes you happy when you use it. I will, however agree with TK, when he says that a stainless clad carbon core knife greatly reduces reactivity, etc.
 

Mike Davis

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Forged vs. ground.
There are advantages to both here. Forging allows you to forge essentially to shape, reducing the time spent on the saw and grinder. Also you can do thermal cycling when forging to get the grain size reduced and the stresses relieved. Suitable for the simple carbon steels and tool steels.
Stock removal allows you the option to explore the world of Stainless and CPM steels(Crucible Powdered Metallurgy) which start with insanely fine grain steel and better stain resistance. The problems with stainless steels, there are few that are suited for kitchen knives, and you cannot forge them...most anyway. To me, cladding is mostly an aesthetic option, But one that allows damascus cladding. One thing about cladding is making sure the welds are solid through out...Issues that do not arise with mono steels.

Basically, i feel that it is a preference to the user, personally i like the more intimate aspect of forged blades....
 

tk59

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...Also you can do thermal cycling when forging to get the grain size reduced and the stresses relieved...CPM steels(Crucible Powdered Metallurgy) which start with insanely fine grain steel...
How much can the grain size be reduced? Where are you getting the idea that the grain size on PM steels (Crucible or otherwise) are insanely fine-grained? I was under the impression they aren't that fine.
 

l r harner

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depending on the powder used the steel vcan and will be verry fine grained. std smelt can have alloy boandign in them that makes for funn drilling or grinding (also in HT )
\
tho if you are talking abot the finest grain std smelt steel vz the finest PM steel it will be close as the PM steels are used more for higer alloys not the finer grain simple steels (when have youb ever heard of PM 1095 )

there are super pure allys liek B52 out there but pure and fine grain can somtimes mean different things
 

tk59

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depending on the powder used the steel vcan and will be verry fine grained. std smelt can have alloy boandign in them that makes for funn drilling or grinding (also in HT )
\
tho if you are talking abot the finest grain std smelt steel vz the finest PM steel it will be close as the PM steels are used more for higer alloys not the finer grain simple steels (when have youb ever heard of PM 1095 )

there are super pure allys liek B52 out there but pure and fine grain can somtimes mean different things
Yes. PM steels are generally around to reduce the size of the huge grains obtained from high alloy steels. As far as I know, they don't get close to that of simple steels.
 

Vertigo

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This is gonna sound like hippie mumbo-jumbo, so at the risk of completely embarrassing myself I'm gonna say that to me, clad knives feel a bit flatter in use--that there's less tactile feedback to the cuts than with a comparable mono-steel knife. It's not a deal breaker, and Carter's clad knives are dreamy... but I'd just rather have the same knife without the stupid cladding gumming things up.

And no, I haven't been smoking dope.
 

Mike Davis

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This is mainly for forged steel. Its not ALL about grain refinement. Once a steel reaches critical temperature, the carbide matrix goes into solution and grain growth starts to happen. By starting at just below critical(1414 in simple carbon) and reducing the heat each time you normalize the steel, you are actually putting the carbide solution into a microstructure that is less stressed and reducing the grains. After the last normalizing heat(usually 3) you can quench and essentially lock in the grain size and structure. After that, bring back to above critical for the amount of time you need(varies depending on the steel), and quench your final quench. Now what you have done is reduced the stress on the steel and got the grain size refined back down again...Now you start with smaller grains than you would after forging, to start your final heat for final quench. Simple carbon steels can have huge grains....We have no control over what the steel mill does as they are producing the steels....Some hot rolled stock is damn near impossible to drill through in the state you get it in, ie: flat stock....It is generally poured somewhere around the 33-3600 degree range, ran through the mill and hot formed...then left to cool which can introduce a small measure of air/work hardening.
 

Sarge

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This is gonna sound like hippie mumbo-jumbo, so at the risk of completely embarrassing myself I'm gonna say that to me, clad knives feel a bit flatter in use--that there's less tactile feedback to the cuts than with a comparable mono-steel knife. It's not a deal breaker, and Carter's clad knives are dreamy... but I'd just rather have the same knife without the stupid cladding gumming things up.

And no, I haven't been smoking dope.
I find this as well, someone once compared it to using a condom. For this reason I prefer monosteel knives. Better feed back when cutting, I can sharpen it to very extreme asymmetry without having to constantly work on moving back the cladding. All around I'd just prefer a mono-steel knife.

All that being said I do love my Moritaka; however when his life ends he's being replaced with a mono-steel knife. Most likely a Yoshihiro from Jon, or maybe I'll finally go laser.
 

Citizen Snips

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i have turned the page on clad knives. i used to be a big fan and believer but recently i feel as though they have characteristics that dont fit my bill anymore.
 

Iceman91

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I have had quite a few monosteel knives, and recently purchased my first clad knife (Carter). As far as working in a kitchen, for me, clad is the way to go. When i am super busy and dont have the time to wipe off my monosteel knives with every use, i was getting tiny rust spots on them. That's after i already had a patina on them. With my clad i never have to worry about it. I haven't noticed any difference in feel or performance with clad either.

Mike
 

Cadillac J

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I prefer mono-steel all the way, but not because of anything related to forging or grind.

Cladded knives have a muted or dulled feeling when makings cuts to me...less feedback and don't feel as good.

kcma had the best analogy when he said "clad knives are like wearing condom"
 

WillC

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned it, but when you like your steel as hard as 61/62hrc as I think many here do, the cladding acts to toughen up the blade and support the edge, (depending on how close to the edge it comes). I'm moving towards using different carbon steels, (not mild) in place of a differentially hardened/or tempered blade. This is done with sword constructions allot, and gives you a safety measure against receiving a blade back in several pieces, if extreme edge hardness is required.
 

Larrin

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Does damping really occur with properly laminated blades? I'm still not sure. A difference would arise from disparity in elastic modulus between composite materials, which shouldn't be much different between two steels. Are people using poorly laminated blades or is it just a placebo effect? The difference in vibration could also be observed through sound (also vibration). Anyone tried ringing their blades to listen for differences?
 

mpukas

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I definitely notice a muted feeling on my clad blades, both in terms of cutting feedback and sound when sharpening (not that the later matters at all). The heavier the knife, the more muted. My Moritaka 270 kiri-gyuto is like a big sharp club. The Blazen is a nice compromise between being super-sturdy but not clunky and light and nimble with good feedback. No fear of bending the blade by smacking garlic w/ the side. But I grab the laser 98% of the time; I'll use one of my other knives occasionally just for comparison, and always come around to preferring the mono laser.

I've not found a mono steel knife, outside of a honyaki, that is harder than 61-62. Seems to me if you want to go higher/harder than that you're looking at a clad blade, like JKI's Heiji line (again discounting a honyaki).
 

WillC

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It certainly not a placebo effect, it can be a genuine tool. If your core material reaches say 62hrc at a given temper temperature and your cladding is at a relatively tough springy 55 hrc. I'd say thats a very good thing in overall blade strength. I'm not convinced how much it would support the edge, it would have to be really close to do anything to prevent small chips
Not that your going into battle with a kitchen knife or anything but accidents can happen. If you look at some Seax and sword constructions, they used up to 3 or 4 different types of steel to achieve a differential hardness, soft on the spine, medium in the middle and high carbon edge. Granted they did not have the benefit of modern steels but I believe used right it can be a genuine tool. I'm sure some are intended more for "the look" than anything else.
 

tk59

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...kcma had the best analogy when he said "clad knives are like wearing condom"
I guess a lot of the finest sushi chefs in the world are missing out, aren't they? I hope kc can help them.
 

Vertigo

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Does damping really occur with properly laminated blades? I'm still not sure. A difference would arise from disparity in elastic modulus between composite materials, which shouldn't be much different between two steels. Are people using poorly laminated blades or is it just a placebo effect? The difference in vibration could also be observed through sound (also vibration). Anyone tried ringing their blades to listen for differences?
I notice degrees of difference based off the quality of the cladding, sure. The Hiro AS I used felt like a wet burlap sack, whereas the aforementioned Carters felt much more visceral and responsive. That could also be a byproduct of their hugely disparate thicknesses. Either way, it's nothing I've spent a lot of time contemplating, just a few casual observations that steered my general purchasing preference.
 

oivind_dahle

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The more I play with knives, the more I love sanmai

* Protects the brittle core steel
* creates non-reactive surface to knife

What Ive heard is that
* the core steel is more expencive and harder to finish.

I really like my Carter sanmai, however Im having really high expectations to my next sanmai....
 

Larrin

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It certainly not a placebo effect, it can be a genuine tool. If your core material reaches say 62hrc at a given temper temperature and your cladding is at a relatively tough springy 55 hrc. I'd say thats a very good thing in overall blade strength. I'm not convinced how much it would support the edge, it would have to be really close to do anything to prevent small chips
Not that your going into battle with a kitchen knife or anything but accidents can happen. If you look at some Seax and sword constructions, they used up to 3 or 4 different types of steel to achieve a differential hardness, soft on the spine, medium in the middle and high carbon edge. Granted they did not have the benefit of modern steels but I believe used right it can be a genuine tool. I'm sure some are intended more for "the look" than anything else.
I'm aware of the difference in hardness, I'm saying damping would occur through elastic modulus differences which are unaffected by hardness. I think the whole debate over a "dead" feeling are from poorly laminated blades. A properly laminated blade should have no such difference.
 

WillC

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Elastic modulus differences. mmmm:D I won't pretend to know what that is, but imho, a good weld is a good weld, i've never noticed any loss of feel to a blade in san mai. Having said that the layers in san mai are less consolidated than in damascus so extra care must be taken that the weld is good, any flaw will show up on grinding, after HT if not before however. I suspect there would have to be de-lamination to effect the feel of the blade.
 

Cadillac J

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I guess a lot of the finest sushi chefs in the world are missing out, aren't they? I hope kc can help them.
Talking about double beveled knives only, this doesn't apply for yanagis or other single bevels.
 

Sarge

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Based on my limited experience the way the cladding is on a kasumi knife(mostly on one side only) and the very thin edge provide more feed back than sandwich construction. Can't say why but there is far more feedback from my Kiritsuke than from the Moritaka Kiri-gyuto
 

Justin0505

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I've done a bit of reading about elastic modulus recently (thanks to Larrin), and it also still blows my mind that it's not effected by HT. However, different steels do have different elastic properties... So it doesnt shock me that a blade made of a composite of steels "A" and "B" would have different harmonics and transmit vibration differently than one made of just steel "A".

However, it also seems obvious that factors like thickness, grind, balance point, handle construction and material would all be significant attributing factors to what often gets attributed just to blade construction. Until
Someone makes some knifes that are identical in every way but blade construction, this is going to be just another matter of personal opinion and taste. -but I guess that's really all that matter in the end.
 
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