Steel recommendations for a high edge retention boning knife.

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So I was doing some prep for some smoked pork shoulders that I'm planning to start cooking tonight, and I tend to like to use a western style boning knife to do the trimming. The same problem always arises ever time though. The blade won't hold an edge anywhere near the whole job.

I use a Mercer boning knife, and it's just not made for how I tend to like to use knives. I know they go into it with the idea that using soft steel wont chip, and also they will be maintained throughout the day by butcher using a honing steel. That isn't ideal for me though.

So I had the idea to make myself a new boning knife. I haven't made any of my knives with the intent or me keeping, and using them yet. So I figured I could make something just for me.

Onto what I'm thinking for the knife. What I'm wanting is a blade that can be kept harder than a normal boning knife, but still not chip it I bump it on bones when removing meat. Ease of sharpening isn't even a little bit of a concern for me, and stainlessness isn't much of a priority.

The first steel that came to mind was 4v. It should be tough enough at high enough hardness for the edge retention I want, plus the wear resistance will help.

I wanted to see if anyone else had any good suggestions for what steel i could use on this knife. Toughness, hardness, and wear resistance are my priorities with it.
 
I was going to suggest 4v class, so cruwear, MagnaCut, 4v, m4 type. I have a petty/utility in m4 at 64 hrc that I use as a butcher and it holds up extremely well. Anything in that class or even 3v should work. Ultimately, since you are making your own, geometry can compensate for a lot, so many steels will work.
 
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I was going to suggest 4v class, so cruwear, MagnaCut, 4v, m4 type. I have a petty/utility in m4 at 64 hrc that I use as a butcher and it holds up extremely well. Anything in that class or even 3v should work. Ultimately, since you are making your own, geometry can compensate for a lot, so many steels will work.
I wonder if I can find cruwear at a decent price. I actually didn't even consider it until you just mentioned it. I'm going to check alpha out, and see what's in stock.


Yeah I think anything similar to 4v would be good for this. I had thought about m4 briefly, before I decided to come ask what you guys thought.
 
So I'm seeing Vanadis 4 extra, 4v, m4, z wear, and magnacut are available right now. I didn't go through and compare the prices at the available bar stock thicknesses, but that may be a factor in what I decide to pick in the end.
 
v4e and 4v are same, so if you go that route just pick the cheaper in the stock you want. Zwear/cruwear/pd1 are the same too. Zwear is the toughest and m4 is the most wear resistant of these, the rest are somewhere in the middle. All of these will work.
 
So I'm seeing Vanadis 4 extra, 4v, m4, z wear, and magnacut are available right now. I didn't go through and compare the prices at the available bar stock thicknesses, but that may be a factor in what I decide to pick in the end.
It all kinda depends on your personal working habits but frankly 10V at fairly high hardness with robust geometry might be a good bet. Expecially if you are looking at HTing to 64+ RC. 10V would offer a lot more wear resistance than the above steels at only a small hit to toughness. People use Shiro frequently in similar-ish knives and don't have any issues and 10V has similar toughness to that.

As far as the other steels. Cruwear is best at lower hardnesses at 63+ RC there is not much reason to use 4V or Cruwear over MagnaCut. You lose corrosion resistance and gain..... well nothing really. M4 is a good all-around bet but again at 64+ Rc 10V has the same toughness and better wear resistance.
 
It all kinda depends on your personal working habits but frankly 10V at fairly high hardness with robust geometry might be a good bet. Expecially if you are looking at HTing to 64+ RC. 10V would offer a lot more wear resistance than the above steels at only a small hit to toughness. People use Shiro frequently in similar-ish knives and don't have any issues and 10V has similar toughness to that.

As far as the other steels. Cruwear is best at lower hardnesses at 63+ RC there is not much reason to use 4V or Cruwear over MagnaCut. You lose corrosion resistance and gain..... well nothing really. M4 is a good all-around bet but again at 64+ Rc 10V has the same toughness and better wear resistance.
I looked at what heat treating m4 called for, and that kind of made me take that out of the running. I have the kiln, but to get up to the heat needed for optimal hardness, it would take forever.

Good point with 10v. Plus I've made knives with it already. I know I can get good properties, and getting my kiln to 1950-1975, then doing a subzero treatment, and a low (for secondary hardening steel) temperature tempers, isn't too time consuming.

I didn't look at what is needed for heat treating 4v, but I do remember reading larrins article on heat treatinf magnacut (and although the properties are very close, the actual times and temperatures could be a good bit different. I'll double check what is recommended for both, and see if I can make any decisions.


Since 10v was brought up, I've been wanting to give making a knife in k390 a try. This could be a good chance for that. I can't remember where k390 lies with toughness compared to 10v, but I imagine they are pretty similar, being they are, well, very similar.

Edit: this is on the description at alpha knife supply


Description:
Bohler K390 has close to the same edge holding as A11 but is tougher. This steel is difficult to grind, finish and sharpen. Once it is sharp it will stay sharp for a long long time. I wish this steel was more available

So according to them it's going to be a tougher version of 10v. Which sounds great for this application.

Edit 2: well all they have is .081 thickness available, so that seems a bit thin. Also its not too cheap. I can get a better price getting cpm 10v, or a11 pm
 
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K390 is unlikely to be significantly tougher than 10v even though Bohler claims 25% improvement in toughness. vanadis 8 has a decent improvement in toughness over 10v, but is probably more expensive or harder to get. Since you control geometry 10v should work well. Really depends on how hard and thin you were planning to go and what type of bone contact you expect. For example, zwear around 62 is much tougher than 10v, but if you were planning on harder than 10v is good and has a significant wear resistance improvement. It all goes back to how much toughness and wear resistance is really needed for your application. You should really make 2 similar knives one in zwear around 62 and one in 10v around 64-65 and see which works best for you. It might be that the bone contact in your use doesn’t chip either, but deforms softer heat treat. In that case 10v would be superior.
 
Good point. I honestly believe it shouldn't need a condirable amount of toughness, but it definitely needs to be tougher than something like your run of the mill gyuto. Since it's a boning knife, it's for cutting meat off the bone, not really cutting through them. Except maybe small chicken bones, if it was going to be used for spatchcocking.

I'm liking the thought of 10v at the moment, I would definitely want it at 64ish if i was going to use that. Not completely as hard as the steel can get, but definitely not soft. That or magnacut. The stainlessness is definitely appealing, although not needed, with good properties. If I remember correctly it would still be relatively tough at 64 HRC. So with the niobium, and vanadium, it should do pretty well.
 
I looked at what heat treating m4 called for, and that kind of made me take that out of the running. I have the kiln, but to get up to the heat needed for optimal hardness, it would take forever.

Good point with 10v. Plus I've made knives with it already. I know I can get good properties, and getting my kiln to 1950-1975, then doing a subzero treatment, and a low (for secondary hardening steel) temperature tempers, isn't too time consuming.

I didn't look at what is needed for heat treating 4v, but I do remember reading larrins article on heat treatinf magnacut (and although the properties are very close, the actual times and temperatures could be a good bit different. I'll double check what is recommended for both, and see if I can make any decisions.


Since 10v was brought up, I've been wanting to give making a knife in k390 a try. This could be a good chance for that. I can't remember where k390 lies with toughness compared to 10v, but I imagine they are pretty similar, being they are, well, very similar.

Edit: this is on the description at alpha knife supply


Description:
Bohler K390 has close to the same edge holding as A11 but is tougher. This steel is difficult to grind, finish and sharpen. Once it is sharp it will stay sharp for a long long time. I wish this steel was more available

So according to them it's going to be a tougher version of 10v. Which sounds great for this application.

Edit 2: well all they have is .081 thickness available, so that seems a bit thin. Also its not too cheap. I can get a better price getting cpm 10v, or a11 pm
.080 will be perfect for a boning knife. Keep the spine thick and convex the bevel down a bit if you like a stiffer style knife or distal and flat/thin grind for a bit more flex

I wouldn't over think the steel choice to much, any of your mentioned steels will hold an edge seemingly forever in comparison to the soft stainless commercial style knives. I do mine in plain old nitro v at 62 RC and the edge keeping is way better than my victorinox boning. knives
 
I would look for another approach. Once you're sure a blade gets damaged, instead of looking for the hardest material which still will suffer, I would consider what steel is the easiest to repair. A relatively soft simple carbon won't chip, and gets restored with only a few strokes on a fine stone.
 
I would look for another approach. Once you're sure a blade gets damaged, instead of looking for the hardest material which still will suffer, I would consider what steel is the easiest to repair. A relatively soft simple carbon won't chip, and gets restored with only a few strokes on a fine stone.
I'm wanting a steel that won't need to be restored. That's pretty much the idea already of the cheap boning knives like the one I own. Its soft steel that can be quickly honed back to being useful again. The problem I find is that I ended up needed to go back to the stones, and stop working in the middle doing something.

I want steel that has more wear resistance, and is tough enough for the kind of bone contact that happens with a boning knife, while being higher rockwell than you could get a carbon steel, and expect that kind of toughness. Which is actually doable with the steels we have been talking about here. Especially ones around the 4v area.
 
I was going to suggest Z-wear, but, the PD-1 suggestion is close enough.

I haven't chipped my gyuto cutting through the spine and small bones on Salmon, yet...
 
I was going to suggest Z-wear, but, the PD-1 suggestion is close enough.

I haven't chipped my gyuto cutting through the spine and small bones on Salmon, yet...
I believe that's what he meant by xwear.

I've narrowed it down to 4v/vanedis 4 extra or 10v now. Leaning towards 10v. When I get the money soon to buy the billet, I'll take a look at what is available, and the prices. Then go from there.
 
X-wear is generic for the many names for the same material.

Vasco (vanadium steel company) developed this alloy first and many years ago. Vasco-wear was the original and was a conventional cast wrought steel. It has been copied by many companies including Crucible, Carpenter, Zapp, (cru-wear, PD-1, Z-wear, etc.) there are more coming from EU and mostly in PM/CPM.

Hoss
 
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