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Let's talk about knife steel

This is a discussion on Let's talk about knife steel within the Knives, Swords, Blades, Axes, Spears, Daggers, Machetes forums, part of the Weapons, Protection, Self Defense, Hand to Hand Combat category; Just curious if anyone has a favorite steel for their knives. I'll admit I know very little about knives and bought whatever was cheap in ...

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Thread: Let's talk about knife steel

  1. #1
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    Let's talk about knife steel

    Just curious if anyone has a favorite steel for their knives. I'll admit I know very little about knives and bought whatever was cheap in the past without giving it some thought. I'm familiar with 440 etc., but recently have been researching knives. I have an old Airforce survival knife that's 1095. It's been in storage for a few years and there is some rust on it. Cleaned it up and oiled it and it's fine. Recently bought a Bull Dozier KaBar that's made of AUS 8A, and I also bought a Tops Steel Eagle 107C which is 1095. Been looking at other Bob Dozier knives that are made of D2. I've read that it's a mother fu***r to sharpen though, especially in the field. But the appeal of it is it's near stainless and since it holds an edge longer, it doesn't need to be sharpened as frequently. One of my favorite knives I have is a Benchmade automatic made of 154 CM.
    Anyway, I've been doing all this research and would like to hear what everyone prefers. I imagine however that people may like a variety of steels for a variety of tasks. For the field, I think I prefer 1095 since it holds an edge well and is easy to sharpen, even with a smooth stone. I'm not concerned about rust. It would take years and years of rust sitting on a blade for it to actually damage it. And, 1095 has been a proven steel in the military and for survival for a very long time. The next KaBar I'm looking to get is 1095 but the Becker BK7 that I also want to get is 1095 CroVan. I'm also looking at the Ontario Rat 7.
    Anyone have any thoughts on their favorite type of steel for a knife? Does it even really matter?

  2. #2
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    Somebody can come along and chime in with the specs or whatever, . . . but my handy dandy USMC Kbar is "THE" best knife I have ever owned. It gets sharp, . . . stays sharp, . . . and so far I haven't done anything to it that has ever hurt it.

    I can say the same thing about an old Case XX, 6 inch, 2 blade folder I bought aboard ship in 1965. Again, . . . don't know the steel, . . . but neither knife is stainless.

    May God bless,
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  3. #3
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    I picked up the Benchmade Adamas. D2 tool steel. Awesome knife!!!
    Rise to the challenge. Embrace the suck.

    Be ready. Be practical. Be humble.

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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwight55 View Post
    Somebody can come along and chime in with the specs or whatever, . . . but my handy dandy USMC Kbar is "THE" best knife I have ever owned. It gets sharp, . . . stays sharp, . . . and so far I haven't done anything to it that has ever hurt it.

    I can say the same thing about an old Case XX, 6 inch, 2 blade folder I bought aboard ship in 1965. Again, . . . don't know the steel, . . . but neither knife is stainless.

    May God bless,
    Dwight
    I'm torn between getting a good ol' traditional KaBar or the Becker BK7. From the website, the traditional KaBars are 1095 Carbon. But, the traditional KaBar was designed for one purpose only, killing. The reason I like the BK7 is it has a drop point instead of the traditional clip point. But yes, I think the original USMC KaBar is the standard which all other knives are measured. I want a traditional KaBar (Army version) with the traditional leather sheath someday. So many knives to buy, so little money. That is, the money my wife will let me spend on guns and knives.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Purkeypilot View Post
    I picked up the Benchmade Adamas. D2 tool steel. Awesome knife!!!
    How long have you had it? Have you tried sharpening it yet? I've read some reviews that say it's a real bitch to sharpen but it holds an edge longer than most other steels.

  7. #6
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    I've had a lot of knives over the years. Using them for various tasks in different environments till they get dull and I take the stone to them, dealing with corrosion and pitting at times. The steel I like best these days with the way it performs is 154CM. I've got it on my Benchmade Nimvarus and had another Benchmade with it and even with all the other steels from S30V, D2, 1095, Sandvick 12C27, VG-10, AUS-8, 440C, I like it the best. The others are excellent steels, but I'd still prefer the 154CM over anything else right now. Somewhere down the here I'd like to have a custom knife made for me with it in a blade shape similar to the Tom Brown Trackers but with a serrated edge on the top a little further back on the spine with a longer, thinner blade and a sand blasted finish with a kydex sheath for attaching different ways.


    Let's talk about knife steel-tbt010.jpg

  8. #7
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    Nice looking blade Fuzzee. What's your thoughts on 1095 and the rust factor. Is it really that important? Most articles I've read said "just use the knife and the rust spots will fall off". I assume for long term storage you'd want to oil it good when you put it away. But I'm just curious about the longevity factor out in the field. I have 1095 knives and just have never paid that much attention. I know when it get's wet you need to wipe it down after use and oil it once a week or so.

  9. #8
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    Many factors in knife steel such as hardening, the same steel can act completely different depending on what Rockwell it is and don't forget about coatings in the rust factor. A good 1095 steel will probably out last the owner with little maintenance. Like any tool it need to be used the way it was intended. Knife batoning is the same as using a screwdriver as a chisel. Hardness can be a tricky subject ceramic inserts for machining are supper hard and will cut the hardest of steels like butter but can't be stored loosely because if they tap each other the are ruined. Very hard steel will act the same way and will chip easily when contacting another hard surface. Knives do not mainly wear the way most people think by molecules being rubbed off but from the side pressures put on the very thin edge deforming at the microscopic level. You may remember seeing movies where the chef would slide the knife along a steel rod with a handle. The process would straighten micro- deformities in the blade caused by the cutting process. Very hard material will have a tendency chip instead of deforming and make sharpening very difficult.
    Last edited by rickkyw1720pf; 03-21-2013 at 01:03 PM.
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  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by trainershawn View Post
    Nice looking blade Fuzzee. What's your thoughts on 1095 and the rust factor. Is it really that important? Most articles I've read said "just use the knife and the rust spots will fall off". I assume for long term storage you'd want to oil it good when you put it away. But I'm just curious about the longevity factor out in the field. I have 1095 knives and just have never paid that much attention. I know when it get's wet you need to wipe it down after use and oil it once a week or so.
    1095 will probably out last the owner, but you've got to care for it. It can hold a great edge and take one. It's a tough carbon steel when done right, but it rusts and pits. You've got to keep it clean and keep it oiled. Much more than higher end stainless steels like 154CM that also hold and take a great edge and are more than tough enough. Lots of knife makers still use it because it's a very good steel, but it's not all there is.

    That's the TOPS version. Not bad, but not great either. Quality, but like the Mocassin Ranger I had, poorly balanced, bulky and not as comfortable in the grip for me. I don't like the saw edge their using either and prefer a better stainless like 154CM. There are other builders of the Tracker design, but none are quite what I'm looking for and are very pricey. I'd like a custom knife built for me from my design mods drawn out with a custom sheath. It will be pricey still though and I'm not ready to put the money towards it right now.

    Some others,

    the Horan Wisk,

    Let's talk about knife steel-full_wisk001.jpg

    and Dave Beck WSK,


  11. #10
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    The hardness and wearability of the blade is determined by the kind of steel used, the finish quality and the heat treatment used to finish it.
    The finish also can help or hurt resisting rust. A finely polished blade will not rust easily if it is maintained. Parkerizing will also help retard rusting as long as it is cleaned and oiled.
    For me, personally, the material I use determines how I will make the knife. Since I don't use power tools to make my knives I only forge those that are high carbon steel. It would be difficult to use a file to remove metal when it is that hard to begin with. Once the blade is shaped it has been heated enough to be a bit softer and can be worked with files and sandstone. If I am using stainless I use the material removal method where I buy a piece of flat bar 3/8" thick and carve the knife out of it. The bad part of the stainless is that I have to take it somewhere to have it heat treated and then somewhere else to have it cryo-treated. I can heat treat carbon steel myself and even do the final tempering. Either way you can get a good knife with a long lasting edge.

    The best knife I have is one I made using an old leaf spring and a 12 inch bastard file. I folded it 100 times and the pattern on the finished blade was like fine grained Ironwood. It takes a nice edge with a ceramic rod and holds it longer than any knife I have. I also have a chef's knife I made using 440 stainless. Everybody loves to use it because it is like a razor but I have to use a ceramic rod on it every time before I use it and when I put it away. It will not hold an edge after cutting 6 tomatoes or when my wife uses it to cut cardboard..... it happens rarely. If anyone else tries to use the rod on it it takes a couple of hours for me to correct the edge. I like a very fine taper - about 5 degrees per side/ 10 degrees overall. Tap water will pit the edge if it is allowed to sit in it for long because of the chlorine so I use it, clean it and sharpen it to protect that knife. It is not the kind of edge to have on a utility knife or a skinning knife.
    I have a broad dagger that I was working on before we moved but with no place to work on it until I finish my shop it is in storage. It is more for show than any real use and made from stainless. I already have more than twenty hours in it and only about a third of the way to putting a handle on it. Shoot all my good stuff is in storage so I have too much time on my hands.




 

 
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