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Thread: Knife steel

  1. #1

    Default Knife steel

    Anyone know the best knife steel is for everyday utility?
    154cm? Aus-8? 440C? Other?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    That's particular to your uses and environment, whether hardness or rust resistance are more important, and so on. Here's a nice primer by Joe, followed by a more recent article on S30V:

    http://www.knifeart.com/steelfaqbyjo.html
    http://www.knifeart.com/s3stainnewst.html

    My EDC small sebenza, and alternate EDC Strider SNG are S30V, while my favorite Spydercos and Benchmades are ATS-34 (154CM).

    I'm sure a search here at CPF will yield many opinions on knife steels.

    daloosh
    Last edited by daloosh; 04-26-2006 at 06:48 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Knife steel

    Mr. Talmadge is well recognized for his expertise within the cutlery community.

    My $.02:
    It depends on you as the individual user. What works best for you may not for someone else. Steels can differ from one manufacture to another. As pointed out in the article linked above, there are other factors that play into the performance of a paticular steel.

    I will say that I personally am quite enamored with the Spyderco VG-10. Of all the knives I've experimented with. They have given me the most of what I wanted. That is: Edge holding ability, with eas of sharpening. Mcust's VG-10 is comparable IMHO. I used a Browning Ice Storm SX390 with it and I think it compares nicely with the Spyderco.
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Ooh, right, my Spyderco Lum Chinese peasant knife is VG-10, nice!
    daloosh

  5. #5

    Default Re: Knife steel

    I don't have much exerpience sharpening, all I have used are the cross type ceramic. Is this a factor?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Knife steel

    Quote Originally Posted by shoeblade
    I don't have much exerpience sharpening, all I have used are the cross type ceramic. Is this a factor?
    If your talking about the kind that looks like a "V" formed by two different rods, or hones, then it probably does make a difference. These type of sharpeners actually damage the edge. They do this by leaving a jagged edge, instead of a even, uniform edge.

    I personally do not have very good sharpening skills and had to invest in a couple different sharpening kits. I highly recommend the Spyderco Sharpmaker for maintaing the edge on your knife. One of the important things about sharpening is to not let the knife get overly dull. Once that happens, it becomes harder and more time consuming to get it back to shaving sharp again (and your knife should be shaving sharp). The Sharpmaker makes this easy with it's simplistic design and convienence of use. If it's easy and convienent, then you'll probably be more likely to use it when needed, instead of waiting untill it's too late.

    The price of the Sharpmaker may be difficult to come to terms with, and that's understandable. I had a hard time buying one myself because the price of the unit could pay for a new knife or flashlight. However, I assure you that the Sharpmaker is much more of an investment than a new knife or light. A knife is wrthless if it isn't kept sharp, the Sharpmaker is just a maintenence tool.
    First they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not stand up, because I was not a Trade Unionist.
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    *Flashaholic* CLHC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Again, another recommendation for the Sharpmaker as ghostrider mentioned. I myself am still learning about blade materials, not that I want to be a metallurgist—
    LUX'Ottica

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    VG10 or ATS 34 produces edges that will hold up very well BUT the trade off is the longer they will hold an edge the more difficult they will be to resharpen.5140 is a non stainless steel but is a very popular choice for kitchen knives in the private sector.
    will work for peanuts

  9. #9

    Default Re: Knife steel

    Quote Originally Posted by smokinbasser
    VG10 or ATS 34 produces edges that will hold up very well BUT the trade off is the longer they will hold an edge the more difficult they will be to resharpen.5140 is a non stainless steel but is a very popular choice for kitchen knives in the private sector.
    Have you used VG-10? One of the things I like about it is that; even though it holds an edge longer, it's still easy to sharpen.

    For example: I used to EDC a Kershaw Whirlwind with 440A. I liked that knife because of the excellent job that Kai did with that steel (edge holding, and ease of sharpening). When I started using VG-10, it seemed to me that while the VG-10 held an edge longer, it wasn't any harder to sharpen. Almost seemed easier. However, I do understand that it's comparing apples to oranges since other variables can differ between companies.
    First they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not stand up, because I was not a Trade Unionist.
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    Hawkbills- Sink in the tip, and let it rip!!!- Axlis

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    There are many great steels on the market with more being introduced every year. The heat treat is as important (if not more so) the the steel itself.

    A huge thing to consider is your ability to sharpen (as others have pointed out). If you are not confident in your abilities then I would not get one of the super steels that hold an edge for longer (S30V, BG-42, etc). You will find that you don't like the knife since it is difficult to get a good edge. It does take quite a long time to get good at sharpening.

    With this being said I have had the most luck with the Edge Pro. This sharpener is the easiest to use.

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Hmmm....its funny. Being a knife nut (and gun nut, and flashlight nut, and...) I've never really paid that much attention to what steel a particular knife has.

    Don't get me wrong, I understand from a technical perspective the differences between 440A, AUS8, D2, VG-10, INFI, BG-42, S30V/Stellite, Talonite, Damascus, etc., etc.

    But, to me, it just doesn't make that much difference, other than frequency of sharpening. I think very few people will come close to "pushing the envelope" of a knife's performance--and if you are one of those few you would know exactly what knife steel you require and the tradeoffs in design parameters.

    I think to answer the original poster's question; you'll be well served by any of the above steels (and the many more I haven't listed!). Any knife from the likes of Benchmade, Spyderco, CRKT, etc. (just stay away from the Chinese-made junk like Coast, Frost, etc. [not that there aren't good knives made in China, just not from those makers]) will serve you fine for everyday utility.

    Ergonomics, blade length & style, and lock-type are inifinitely more important from an "EDC"-perspective.
    Last edited by guncollector; 04-27-2006 at 12:16 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Knife steel

    Im thinking a 154cm griptillian benchmade or an aus8 m16 from CRKT

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Quote Originally Posted by shoeblade
    Im thinking a 154cm griptillian benchmade or an aus8 m16 from CRKT
    Both are very usable, but I think most knife knuts would tell you the benchmade is going to be a better overall knife. (At least, that's my opinion)

    The quality of the heat treating is just as important as the steel, IMO, not that you have any control over it.

    I also defer to Mr. Talmadge in these matters.

    Gary

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    The M16 is very functional and good looking, but the griptilian is the heat!
    Love the axis lock, love the comfort in the hand, terrific knife!
    daloosh

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    As far as everyday steels, all the steels you mentioned -- 8A, 440C, 154CM -- are fine steels. 154CM is more wear resistant and stronger, so it will normally hold an edge longer but be a bit more difficult to sharpen than the other two. I agree with the crew, "best steel" depends on your use. And if you're not good at sharpening, that does come into play, although I'd argue that you should invest the time to learn to sharpen.

    In fact, I take it a step further: you should think twice about spending the extra money to get the top-tier steels if you don't take advantage of those steels' properties when you sharpen.

    Here's an example: I can buy a knife made from ATS-34 at 60 Rc or M-2 at 62 Rc. I'm not a good sharpener, so whichever knife I buy, I'll just leave it at the factory edge of 18 degrees per side. Is it really worth paying more for the M-2 knife? Will it perform that much better? Well, the M-2 knife will hold its edge a bit longer, no doubt. But with each knife sharpened at 18 degrees per side, each knife will cut with the exact same performance. But if I take advantage of the M-2 blade's better toughness and strength, I could re-profile the M-2 knife down to 13-degrees per side (can't do that with my ATS-34 blade, it will chip!). And now when I test my 18-per-side ATS-34 blade versus my 13-per-side M-2 blade -- dang, now I can see why I bought the better steel. It's because the ATS-34 blade takes 3 cuts to do what the M-2 blade does in one.

    Depending on what you use your knife for, having a "better steel" isn't just about wear resistance, it's about toughness and hardness as well. A harder knife can take a thinner edge without rolling or indenting, and that means you can re-profile to a higher-performance edge. Do you doubt this would make much difference? I have a long article where I tested my Benchmade 710 with the factory edge, and then after I re-profiled it on the sharpener, and when I was done, the new edge cut 8 times as deep -- that's 1 cut where I would have had to have taken 8 cuts.

    The more you take advantage of a better steel in your sharpening plan, the bigger difference you'll see between steels. That's what justifies the extra money for better steels! You want to see the difference reflected in cutting performance, and not just the marginal difference in strength, toughness, and wear resistance.

    Joe
    Last edited by Joe Talmadge; 04-27-2006 at 03:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Thanks, Joe, really appreciate you chiming in here!
    daloosh

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    In addition to the valuable comments already made, I'll offer up this link that has some good info on sparpening in general - for anyone that will find the information a useful resource. HTH
    My own personal knives are D2 and 154CM, with an M2 blade on the way. They all work great for my needs, but I maintain the edges on a regular schedule.
    http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?showtopic=26036

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    What Joe said... , plus...

    Don't concentrate so much on blade steel and develop your sharpening skills first, then move up to the "wonder" steels....As mentioned several times previously, the Sharpmaker is a wonderful tool for doing this.

    Buy a knife from reputable manufacturer that emphasizes quality, i.e. Spyderco, Benchmade, etc whose heat treatment on their blades will be much better than that of others (thats why Spyderco's 6A blades seem to outperform knives from other manufacturers made from the same 6A steel)

    For everyday useage, i.e. food prep, opening boxes/envelopes, cutting tape/twine,etc., you probably won't notice much difference anyway except for the length of time required between sharpenings.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Knife steel

    Well, you don't want to have to take a factory M2 edge down to 13deg with a sharpmaker unless you want to hone up on your patience skills


    When it comes to sharpening, it is hard to beat a HarborFreight 1x belt sander for 30ish bucks. I use it to establish the bevel then hit it with the paper wheels (then the sharpmaker, etc). Obviously power tools and razors are not a good safety mix, so you have to be careful (I've known people to lose digits this way). You can always have a local sharpening guru do the work for you and then the sharpmaker can be your tool of choice.


    Also note, it is easy to get caught up in the sharpness of a blade just like we CPFers get caught up in the lumen battle. The reality is a scarysharp blade isn't necessarily the best. You have to anticipate the usage to decide what it best. This realization comes with maturity (and the bliss of ignorance )

    My current EDC is a MiniGriptillian 555 half PE and half SE. The serrations are perfect for many tasks and there is enough plain edge to task on the push cut and slice tasks. When ever I carried a PE knife (720 axis for instance) I end up wishing I had my spyderco. When I carry a spydreco, I end up wishing I had the PE. The 555 gives me the axislock plus serrated and plain edge not to mention light weight (nice when wearing shorts)

  20. #20

    Default Re: Knife steel

    Quote Originally Posted by Luna
    ...


    Also note, it is easy to get caught up in the sharpness of a blade just like we CPFers get caught up in the lumen battle. The reality is a scarysharp blade isn't necessarily the best. You have to anticipate the usage to decide what it best. ...
    I'm going to make an assumption here and say that I think Luna means "razor" sharp, as in an edge like a razor. They have a high polish that makes them unsuitable for certain tasks. "Scarysharp" is a somewhat subjective term. Nevertheless, a knife should be as sharp as possible, with an edge finish applicable to the task at hand. Don't think you can "get by" with an edge that "could use a little touching up". Using a dull knife is unsafe. The duller the knife, the less safe it is to use. This is because a duller knife requires more force to make the cut. This in turn equates to less control over the blade. A sharper knife cuts easier, and allows for more control.

    Understandably, this may not always be possible or practical.
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Luna,

    What I meant was that the Sharpmaker is a good tool for keeping knives sharp. I can see now how easy it is to mis-read what I wrote. I agree, there's no way I'd ever attempt to re-profile the edge of D2, S30V, 440V etc. w/ a Sharpmaker but then that's not what it was designed for either.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Knife steel

    Ghostrider, "Scarysharp" is a term we use at the numerous knife forums.
    There is sharp, razor sharp, then scary sharp

    Synergy, No mistake as you didn't say anything wrong. Just a clarification for the OP about the Sharpmaker and the hard blades.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Knife steel

    What about ceramic blades?

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    How do we define scary sharp?

    I mean, if its razor sharp, its as sharp as a razor. Where a razor being such a thin blade with only a single bezel, has a sharpness conventional knifes can't achieve but perhaps could only 'felt' the same. I can't imagine scary sharp.

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Not all ceramic blades are equal, just as with steels. For the vast majority of ceramic blades, they seem to work okay as long as you cut carefully with them (they're not all that tough), and are willing to put up with a semi-sharp edge that stays around for a long time. There are better tougher ceramics, like Kevin McClung's composite, but they cost a fortune and it's just not worth giving up what you get with steel, IMO.

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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Anyone know how Sandvik 13C26 Stainless Steel stands up to the rest? The Kershaw ET uses it.
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    I usually carry 2 knives daily. One is usually a Benchmade Rukus or Skirmish with the S30V blade. The other is either a CRKT M16 with AUS 6 nlade, or a Kershaw Leek with 440A blade.
    That out of the way, here is what I have noticed. I have not yet had to sharpen either Benchmade knife with the S30V blade. Yes they do get used daily. I have to sharpen the Kershaw or the M16 daily!
    So much for what the difference is worth?
    I keep a DMT diafold in my desk at work to keep the Leek or M16 sharp. The 2 Benchmades still have the factory edge
    Last edited by cbxer55; 01-09-2008 at 09:13 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Quote Originally Posted by shoeblade
    Anyone know the best knife steel is for everyday utility?
    154cm? Aus-8? 440C? Other?
    For a folder, M2 tool steel.

    The BM710HS is one of the best examples.

    Can't beat it. Just can't pry with it (but why would you?), M2 is quite brittle so it's not often used for longer fixed blades.

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    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Knife steel is important, but so is the handle, lock, and blade design. I would probably make my decision based on those three before steel. I've sold several knives that had good steel but the form factor just didn't work for me. For example, I prefer a handle that is comfortable for multiple grips (no finger grooves), a lock that can be operated with one hand in a single movement (axis) and a narrow 3"-4" plain edge blade.

    Last edited by leukos; 05-11-2006 at 07:16 AM.
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    Default Re: Knife steel

    Quote Originally Posted by Synergy
    Luna,

    What I meant was that the Sharpmaker is a good tool for keeping knives sharp. I can see now how easy it is to mis-read what I wrote. I agree, there's no way I'd ever attempt to re-profile the edge of D2, S30V, 440V etc. w/ a Sharpmaker but then that's not what it was designed for either.
    I guess with the spyderco diamond triangle rods, reshaping/reprofiling can be done? But they are heck expensive.

    What do you S'porean bros used for sharpening? I tot of getting a sharpmaker later on, but if I dull my knives too much, it won't be that useful.

    Any good places locally to buy sharpeners and any cheapie but useful sharpening systems around? I have read a few tricks about slanting a wetstone against an angled block of wood and stroking the knife straight downwards; but I guess all this takes some skill.

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