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Old September 23, 2010, 01:47 PM   #1
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educate me about knives

Hope it is ok to discuss knives in this forum.I am considering it an accessory I reckon.So,what makes a good quality knife? I read stainless doesn't stay sharp and is more difficult to sharpen.I hear carbon is this true?Why are so many blades stainless and for big $? Whats best to get and why?
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Old September 23, 2010, 02:36 PM   #2
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Personaly i like boker and benchmade AND SOG. there all high qaulity. jmho
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Old September 23, 2010, 02:38 PM   #3
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educate me about knives
Knives is sharp. Knives kin cutcha. Knives is daynjrus.

OK, here's the Readers Digest version.

Cutlery metallurgy is complex.
* Yes, many stainless steel knives are harder to sharpen and do not hold as fine an edge as carbon steel. But not all.
* Yes, many carbon steel knives are easier to sharpen and hold an edge longer than stainless steel blades. But not all.
* Many stainless steels are more expensive than carbon steels. But not all.

Metallurgy is much more complex than O1 and 440C. Most economy knives are made using whatever is easiest to machine or heat treat. Many are made using cast blade blanks.

A top of the line knife will be made from metal with a very fine crystal structure, typically a spring steel, die steel, tool steel, or aerospace alloys, depending on the characteristics the maker is trying to achieve. The older spring steels (10 series like 1060 and 1095), oil hardening steels (O1, O2, etc), and air hardening tool steels (A1, A2, etc) work well for knife-making, are reasonably priced, and hold an edge very well. And since they are easy to heat treat, you can harden them in your shop.

Common tool steels will be A, W, O series, T or M series, or AUS series. In general, they are tough and hold an edge well, but some are just tough.

Common die steels used for cutlery are D2 and S7. They are tough and hold an edge well, but since they are wear resistant, they can be hard to sharpen. They also need more complex heat treating, involving at least a heat treating oven.

Martensitic stainless steel (stainless containing iron) consists of more than 440C, there are numerous alloys used for blades. In general, 440C is easy to machine and does not hold an edge at all well, but there are exceptions depending on who makes it and how it is heat treated. Other stainless steels like 154CM do hold an edge well.

Custom knife makers use exotic alloys that display the characteristics they want, but they can charge more so they can use higher cost metal.

Heat treating is complex and expensive, and steels that require special treatment will cost more to turn into a blade.

Some of the newer steels being used for knifemaking are more complex, actually incorporating tungsten carbide or titanium nitrite into the steel during the production process. These are sold under several trade names. With these steels, while the edge does not seem especially sharp, it will cut for a long time.

There is a lot of information on the internet, but you have to wade through the BS to get to it.

That's what I know!!
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
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Last edited by Scorch; September 23, 2010 at 02:44 PM.
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Old September 24, 2010, 06:43 PM   #4
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Many old timers like carbon steel over stainless simply because it gets and stays sharper than stainless generally. But 90% of the buying market wants stainless and that's what sells so that's mostly what you see for sale. Many stainless steels today perform very well, especially with great heat treat. That's why I sent all mine to Paul Bos - if you get bad heat treat it doesn't matter what kind of steel you use.
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Old September 24, 2010, 07:11 PM   #5
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I'm kind of old school and I like old knives but frankly, I'll leave it to the experts to say which is best. As a favor, I sharpen knives for a few groups and all work about the same. Buck is not as good as they would lead you to believe. Columbia River is under-estimated. Kershaw is excellent and the only knife I had to work hard to sharpen, was a Gerber utility knife and the list goes on. Older Pumas are great but perhaps that's only because I like the older ones, like the Hunter and Hunter's Pal. I have one liner-lock that keeps a great edge and it was made in China.

I have a pretty good group of stones that serve me well and have no problems sharpening any knife. Tanto's and serrated are harder to work with but can be done. I have sharpened a piece of flat aluminum to the point of shaving your arm but didn't last very long.

By the way, there is a better way of checking the sharpness of a blade that does not require you to shave your arm. You use a rubber band. ....

Be Safe !!!

Last edited by Pahoo; September 25, 2010 at 10:19 AM.
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