The magic of carbon

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by bennyprofane, Nov 16, 2016.

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  1. Nov 16, 2016 #1

    bennyprofane

    bennyprofane

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    A lot of people prefer carbon knives and you can witness that there is much more passion for carbon steel going around.
    I too love carbon, it seems that cutting with it is just more rewarding, and I'm wondering what it is.

    Good stainless steel like PM or AEB-L probably gets just as sharp, the Takamura R2 out of the box was one of the sharpest knives I've ever had,
    splitting hanging hair etc but I still feel that I prefer carbon.

    Is there a scientific explanation why carbon is superior compared to stainless (I'm not talking about sharpenability but the cutting experience) or is it just a subjective feeling?
     
  2. Nov 16, 2016 #2

    malexthekid

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    I am going to suggest it is like a confirmation bias thing... because for all physical purposes you should be able to get stainless etc to feel exactly the same when cutting.

    But that is just my thoughts.
     
  3. Nov 16, 2016 #3
    I think one reason could be that it simply is (looks, feels, smells) less sterile than stainless steel. Carbon steel feels different to touch than stainless - in particular with kasumi finish. It smells a bit (and different knives seem to have different smell), it changes with use. That gives it properties that make it feel a bit 'alive' to us and we naturally connect to that. Well, just a thought.

    Maybe it is some meta-physical mumbo-jumbo, who knows :)
     
  4. Nov 16, 2016 #4

    Jacob_x

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    In addition to what has been said above, I think that the simplicity of its composition is such a draw, as many of us who covet knives consider ourselves 'purists' in some conception. Steel at its most pure, it's most basic, just iron and carbon (for white steels, not a lot else otherwise), along with all the slight idiosyncrasies that it brings through the elements it lacks, is such an alluring proposition...
     
  5. Nov 16, 2016 #5

    LifeByA1000Cuts

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    In practice, some carbon steel knives i've handled came springy, ringing thin behind the edge, most stainless i've seen didn't - even the Takamura is the stiff kind of thin, not the Herder parer kind of thin :) Must be something that makes knifemakers feel OK with elastic edges on carbon but not on most stainless, though I guess AEB-L is meant just for that kind of purpose?

    Also, I guess the more alloying elements you put in, ESPECIALLY in small percentages, the thicker a sheet of that material has to be to be statistically "evenly mixed", as in you get your fair share of everything in every spot :)

    Maybe this is why 420A/B of all seem to do better in thin stainless blades than 1.4116?

    Also, my suspicion is that the wear-vs-sharpness curve is just different ... from my subjective impressions: White steel, medium long plateau of scary sharp, medium long plateau of sharp, then edge failure*... Blue, shorter scary sharp plateau then a looong sharp plateau that fades out softly, but eventually ends in edge failure with AS (not standard blue)... Normal stainless, medium short scary, short sharp, edge failure.... VG10, short scary, long sharp, edge failure...

    *my definition: Can't be made to slice into a sponge with any non-abrasive measures.
     
  6. Nov 16, 2016 #6

    supersayan3

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    I prefer Carbons all the way, with my favorite being the whites.
    The most basic.
    Don't ask me why.
    I enjoy cutting juicy tomatoes with white, till it no longer cuts nothing, sharpen it razor sharp in no time, and here we go again...
    If only they didn't discolor some foods...
    That's why is good to have one R2 around
     
  7. Nov 16, 2016 #7

    LifeByA1000Cuts

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    @supersayan my theory is that the common recommendation "white for the enthusiast home cook, blue for the pro" is really not a hierarchy thing but more a "one wants to enjoy cooking, can afford edge failure; the other needs to cook, and has to rely on the knife" thing...
     
  8. Nov 16, 2016 #8

    milkbaby

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    I only have one good stainless knife, and what Matus wrote above, mumbo-jumbo or not, seems to apply to me. I especially notice the smell of carbon and the patina after use. Would actually like to have more stainless knives for those times I'm feeling lazy.
     
  9. Nov 16, 2016 #9

    Benuser

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    Smaller grain, easier sharpening. Some highly charged stainless remain unstable at the edge. And basic carbons can be redressed by a few strokes on newspaper, denim, leather, whatever you have.
     
  10. Nov 17, 2016 #10

    DanHumphrey

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    How can y'all smell a knife? Seriously, I've never been able to smell any of my knives.
     
  11. Nov 17, 2016 #11

    aboynamedsuita

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    If you cut certain things with certain carbon they can smell, I also like high maintenance things which may explain my predisposition to carbons
     
  12. Nov 17, 2016 #12

    Deadboxhero

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    the carbon steel has more potential for a finer micro structure then the stainless but both can be sharpened just as sharp, not sure if I actually feel the difference when cutting in a blind test.
     
  13. Nov 17, 2016 #13

    panda

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    It's probably as simple as chromium having negative affect on feel.
    The only stainless I like is ginsanko. I haven't tried niolox yet which is said to be less stainless feeling.
     
  14. Nov 17, 2016 #14
    Well, you do not really smell a clean dry blade. But once you made a first cut with a freshly finished blade you will smell it and the small will depend not only on what you cut, but oin the composition of the steel (cladding mostly). I can say that I would be able to recognise damascus clad knife from Andy Billipp just by its smell - it was very particular. Once the patina starts to set it the smell gets weaker.
     
  15. Nov 17, 2016 #15

    Cashn

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    I have one ginsanko and one r2 knife I use, the majority are stainless clad carbon gyuto's and a few full carbon non gyutos. All are excellent knives and I don't want to get rid of them but using even the stainless clad carbon feels like riding a horse compared to a train going the same speed. Both have their place and if I could care for full carbon at work I would have more.
     
  16. Nov 17, 2016 #16

    LifeByA1000Cuts

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    @Benuser you seem to come from similar observations and to similar conclusions as me :) Thin, stable edges :)
     
  17. Nov 17, 2016 #17

    supersayan3

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    I agree.
    But then again.., that's why we have many knives
    The one gets dull, you have no time, you grab the other ️️
    Also, white is supposed to have , something like 5 years of life, according to the Japanese standards of use and sharpening frequency,
    Blue 10, Honyaki 15.
    I don't remember where I read that, from a Japanese knife maker

    Yes, carbons smell.
    First out of the box, they are coated,
    And after use, being washed and dried,
    Bring a stainless close to your nose, bring a carbon, your sense will tell

    Java, which maker uses Niolox?
    First time I hear of it
     
  18. Nov 17, 2016 #18

    LifeByA1000Cuts

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    "Bring a stainless close to your nose"

    Could be a missing line in Nirvana's "swap meet" ;)

    ....

    Without googling, I think I've seen that life cycle table either on the Mizuno or Sakai Takayuki site....

    Niolox = SB1, Schanz and other german boutique makers love it.
     
  19. Nov 17, 2016 #19
    Tilman Leder.
     
  20. Nov 17, 2016 #20

    bennyprofane

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    Xerxes also uses Niolox but I would rather get a 1.2442 or SC125 from him.
     
  21. Nov 18, 2016 #21

    supersayan3

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  22. Nov 18, 2016 #22
    I am working on a 180 gyuto in Niolox right now and hope to have it ready in about 2 weeks :) This steel is available in DE in dimensions that is very well suitable for stock removal. A lot of makers use Niolox in DE, but few of them make kitchen knives and probably none is to be found on KKF.

    I am also working on 2 identical 210 gyutos in Niolox and D2 as I am curios how these will compare. I may add a 3rd one in AEB-L. But those will take longer as I have started only recently. If all goes well I will use Niolox as my main stainless steel.
     
  23. Nov 18, 2016 #23

    Nemo

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    I'm waiting on a Niolox 260 mm gyuto from an Australian custom maker. I'm interested in what you think about the Niolox. It's meant to be fine grained like aebl but much more abrasion resistant.
     
  24. Nov 18, 2016 #24
    I see that I will have to make that AEB-L gyuto too ... :)
     
  25. Nov 18, 2016 #25

    Tobes

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    Niolox = SB1: J├╝rgen Schanz.
    might not have the sexiness factor like a japanese or other custom blade...but man is that edge tough! ...easy to sharpen, stays sharp a loooong time , takes abuse like a pro...no worries handing it to the lady or cooking guests
     
  26. Nov 18, 2016 #26

    Nemo

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    I'm looking forward to trying it.
     
  27. Nov 18, 2016 #27

    Iggy

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    Own, owned and tested several knives in SB1 Niolox (most of them from Juergen Schanz). Great stainless steel. Really corrosion resistant and tough with good edge retention. Sharpenability is just ok IMHO. AEBL for example performes better in that aspect. But overall a great steel!

    I'd say my favorite stainless besides AEBL and Suisins 19C27. :thumbsup:
     
  28. Nov 18, 2016 #28

    CB1968

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    I have owned several knives for Tilman Leder and his Niolox is a great steel, I am in total agreeance with Iggy, properly HT AEBL-L gets much sharper.
     
  29. Nov 18, 2016 #29
    I think we may have went off-topic with the Niolox discussion (for what I apologize)
     
  30. Nov 18, 2016 #30

    supersayan3

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    And I thank all of you for that parenthesis
     

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