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Thread: finish for carbon kitchen knife??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    S. Baldwin Co., Alabama
    Posts
    891

    finish for carbon kitchen knife??

    Hello all, This is a GREAT forum and I've learned a LOT from reading. I'd like to ask a question I'm sure has been discussed in the past, but it didn't turn up in a quick search.



    Is there a general agreement on best finish for a hi-carbon steel kitchen knife? I've made a couple using coil spring steel (5160 perhaps?) for the wife. Cut length of coil with torch, put in gas forge to red heat, pound the steel until it sorta looks like a knife, then grind away rest that doesn't look like knife. Heat to non-magnetic and let cool, trying to get each a tad less heat above non-magnetic that first.

    For heat treating I heated to non-magnetic quenched in 120F Canola oil. Very hard, file won't touch. Then bake in wife's oven until done (grinning) (400F for an hour)

    Finished to a very shiny finish - like a mirror. Problem: wife says it won't stay that way, as the knife is used, food tends to stain the blade. I had told her to expect a patina to develop much like old time butcher knifes.

    Now, to my question about finish - would a satin finish work better? A satin finish would allow cleaning with a green pad to maintain the satin finish - or that is my thinking.

    How do ya'll normally finish a kitchen knife?

    Ken H>

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Penicuik, Scotland
    Posts
    453
    I am far from learned in this matter but I would say get it as close to a mirror as possible and keep it like that by keeping it dry and wiping acidic stuff off it.
    Those that do not remember history are bound to repeat it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Decatur, Illinois
    Posts
    1,778
    All the kitchen knives that I have in my block are made by me. They are from some carbon steel or other. They will develop a patina, aka stains, over time. Mirror or satin finish, this will still happen. Remember to use, clean, dry, then put away to reduce it and to prevent rusting. Staining will not effect the function of the knife but rust can.

    Doug
    Old age and trechery will always overcome youth and ambition.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    S. Baldwin Co., Alabama
    Posts
    891
    Thanks for the input - One problem with a mirror finish, as the stains occur, they occur in spots. I expect over time, these spots would blend into an even patina, but a few swipes with the "Scotch-Brite" no scratch green pads and the spots go away leaving a nice satin finish to the blade. I'm thinking a satin finish might be best to start with. As the patina forms, any mirror finish will dull over time.

    Thanks again for the input.

    Ken H>

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Decatur, Illinois
    Posts
    1,778
    If a knife is made to look at then stains are important. If it's was made to use, stains are part of it's history. Rust is another matter, though.

    Doug
    Old age and trechery will always overcome youth and ambition.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    S. Baldwin Co., Alabama
    Posts
    891
    Doug, can I get you to talk with my wife about stains? Before I'd make her a knife I got her to understand a few things, NO dishwasher for the knife!!! and it would develop a patina over time. The problem was the splotchy look as the patina starts to form from the first couple of days. With the mirror finish those spots really show up. I took the green pad, scrubbed the blade good to a nice satin finish. I think that solves her concerns. I was just wondering what finish other folks used with hi-carbon kitchen knifes. I'm thinking I'll be doing satin finish only for those.

    Thanks for comments 'n ideas,

    Ken H>

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Central LA (Larto lake)
    Posts
    1,120
    There are many ways to force a patina such as mustard, vinegar, etc. but in my opinion nothing beats the look of a natural patina which takes time. If you leave the stains, in time, they will all blend together and look more even. A naturally formed patina is also an excellent barrier to prevent rust and corrosion. Kind of like a cast iron skillet/pot, the older it gets the better it gets.
    Darrin Sanders Custom Knives
    564 Paulk Rd.
    Jonesville, LA 71343

    318-339-8290

    darrinsanders8666@gmail.com

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin Sanders View Post
    There are many ways to force a patina such as mustard, vinegar, etc. but in my opinion nothing beats the look of a natural patina which takes time. If you leave the stains, in time, they will all blend together and look more even. A naturally formed patina is also an excellent barrier to prevent rust and corrosion. Kind of like a cast iron skillet/pot, the older it gets the better it gets.
    I agree with Darrin. Problem is....... Most of our wives/girlfriends have been spoiled over the years by using cheap stainless that probably wouldn't cut through hot butter. Just throw it in the dishwasher and it comes out nice and shiney.

    My wife refuses to use one of my knives, stainless or carbon. She says they are too sharp and she is afraid she will cut herself. Go figure........

    Robert

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Decatur, Illinois
    Posts
    1,778
    Robert hit the nail on the head, people have fallen for the idea that stainless steel is the only way to go for kitchen knives. How did our ancestors ever survive preparing their food with plain steel knives with all those stains on them? I think my sister still has Mom's old butcher knife that I know she used for over 50 years and she's been gone for over 20 years. That knife isn't stained, it has history all over it. I hope my niece get it when Sis passes, hopefully not for several more years.

    Doug
    Old age and trechery will always overcome youth and ambition.

  10. #10
    I do most of my kitchen knives in a 400 hand rubbed finish. If you are concerned with the patina, try this trick. Go get a big chuck roast or something beef of similar size. Oven cook it and dont let it rest. Go right at it with the knife using deep slow draw cuts. The blood will help develop a great, even patina anywhere from blue tones to purple tones. The faster you develop a patina, the better rust resistance you will have. Also it looks wicked to have an electric blue kitchen knife
    An artist is never ahead of his time. He is his time. The others are just behind the times.

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