Steak knife brainstorm questions.

Austin Thrasher

Well-Known Member
Hey guys, I just got an order from a repeat customer for a set of 8 matching steak knives for his brothers birthday. I’ve never even thought about steak knives design wise and would love to hear what y’all thought. I want to use stainless but am not sure what to go with. I have an Evenheat oven so I can do more precise ht. I also have air and aluminum quench plates. Here is a list of questions:

What steel? If I go with AEBL, can I get away with no cryo or should I make the leap to get that equipment? I’ve never done dry ice and don’t know how yet or even if it gets cold enough to justify the effort. Alpha says it need to get to -95.

What thickness for a steak knife?

I’m thinking the width on what I design should be around an inch or so. Is that too wide or should I go with something a little slimmer? It will probably be around 8” total. 3.5 or 4” cutting edge.

Plungeless or plunge with Spanish notch?

I like jimping with a checkering file. Yay or nay? I guess food could potentially be caught in the jimping and cause bacterial issues possibly. It does look nice though.

He wants walnut handles. I love tru oil on walnut. Is that “food grade enough” for a kitchen cutlery application or should I go with something else?

Thanks in advance guys. I know some of these questions are gonna be simply dependent on my own personal style (as it should be since I’m the maker on these blades lol) but would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts, tips, or opinions on what you would do. Thanks again!
 

Owl

Gold Membership
Hey guys, I just got an order from a repeat customer for a set of 8 matching steak knives for his brothers birthday. I’ve never even thought about steak knives design wise and would love to hear what y’all thought. I want to use stainless but am not sure what to go with. I have an Evenheat oven so I can do more precise ht. I also have air and aluminum quench plates. Here is a list of questions:

What steel? If I go with AEBL, can I get away with no cryo or should I make the leap to get that equipment? I’ve never done dry ice and don’t know how yet or even if it gets cold enough to justify the effort. Alpha says it need to get to -95.

AEB-L will make a great steak knife. From everything that I read, you need to cryo it to get the best performance, but honestly sometimes I think we obsess over details that don't make a real world difference. I use LN on my AEB-L but it does seem that dry ice/alcohol will do a pretty good job.
Someone more knowledgeable on this topic might answer this.

What thickness for a steak knife?

Thin. I would say no thicker than 3/32 or so. Say 0.070 to 0.092.

I’m thinking the width on what I design should be around an inch or so. Is that too wide or should I go with something a little slimmer? It will probably be around 8” total. 3.5 or 4” cutting edge.

I think 1" would be ideal.

Plungeless or plunge with Spanish notch?

I would do plungeless but it's a style thing.

I like jimping with a checkering file. Yay or nay? I guess food could potentially be caught in the jimping and cause bacterial issues possibly. It does look nice though.

I wouldn't put jimping on it for the reason you mention.

He wants walnut handles. I love tru oil on walnut. Is that “food grade enough” for a kitchen cutlery application or should I go with something else?

Not positive but I think you could use Tru Oil without any problem.
You are going to have to make sure he understands not to soak the knives or put them in a dishwasher.

Thanks in advance guys. I know some of these questions are gonna be simply dependent on my own personal style (as it should be since I’m the maker on these blades lol) but would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts, tips, or opinions on what you would do. Thanks again!
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
All the times I’ve gotten a request for steak knives I gave the customer a real price and that has stopped the order.

If you decide to go through with it:

I suggest.070 AEBL. I wouldn’t worry about cryo on steak knives. If you do want to cryo, dry ice / acetone or alcohol slurry works well and is easy. Your local grocery store probably sells dry ice. Ask at customer service.

Walnut handles are fine.

Plungeless or a notch is totally up to you. Think long term. If he buys a Chef knife from you next, how will you want to make it? Have an overarching theme in mind for handles and design elements.
 

Randy Lucius

KNIFE MAKER
John is absolutely spot on with his advice. I made a set of steak knives as a Christmas present for my daughter-in-law. These are ABE-L. If you decide to make them, profile and heat treat a few extra in case something goes wrong. I probably won’t be making anymore because I hate making the same thing twice and if I did the price for a set of six would be in the $1500-$1800 range. They are as much work as any other knife X 6 or 8.
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Austin Thrasher

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the help fellas.
Good point on the notch or plungeless question #John Wilson . Plungeless it is as that is how I make all my other kitchen knives.

Those are beautiful Randy!
So AEBL it is then. Should I heat treat before beveling with AEBL? Especially considering how thin it is.
#Randy Lucius , obviously the steel you used is thin, I guess with thinner material the grind doesn’t have to go near as high? Is that assumption correct on my part? Looks like a 1/8” or so grind on those beauties you made.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
I'd skip the notch or any jimping, decorative filework would be nice but you'd be going the extra mile there.
I just heat treated some AEBL in .100 and used the dry ice bath. my thermometer read -104, that may not be correct but it shows dry ice will do it and a Rockwell tester will show it.

the only thing with AEBL is warp issues you need to watch for, plate quenching will keep them from warping initially but if the knife is long or thin enough the dry ice bath can warp them too.

On long blades I use 3/8" plates for the ice bath too.
I'm in the process of making a container for the dry ice bath, I'm going to use a long bread loaf pan set in a wooden frame with foam board and spray-expanding foam.

Here in Florida you have to have your ducks in a row when doing multiple blades in dry ice, if just using a oversized metal pan
it doesn't last long.

I use acetone, the first couple times I used kerosene which worked great but it stinks and it's mess in the end.

Edit...don't grind your blades pre heat treat you'll have an even harder time with warpage.
 

Austin Thrasher

Well-Known Member
Ok. So are you using the plates in the slurry with the knife in between or just using the plates when you pull the knife out of the slurry? Do box stores carry dry ice? Where is a good place to get it?
I'd skip the notch or any jimping, decorative filework would be nice but you'd be going the extra mile there.
I just heat treated some AEBL in .100 and used the dry ice bath. my thermometer read -104, that may not be correct but it shows dry ice will do it and a Rockwell tester will show it.

the only thing with AEBL is warp issues you need to watch for, plate quenching will keep them from warping initially but if the knife is long or thin enough the dry ice bath can warp them too.

On long blades I use 3/8" plates for the ice bath too.
I'm in the process of making a container for the dry ice bath, I'm going to use a long bread loaf pan set in a wooden frame with foam board and spray-expanding foam.

Here in Florida you have to have your ducks in a row when doing multiple blades in dry ice, if just using a oversized metal pan
it doesn't last long.

I use acetone, the first couple times I used kerosene which worked great but it stinks and it's mess in the end.

Edit...don't grind your blades pre heat treat you'll have an even harder time with warpage.
 

Randy Lucius

KNIFE MAKER
Thanks for the help fellas.
Good point on the notch or plungeless question #John Wilson . Plungeless it is as that is how I make all my other kitchen knives.

Those are beautiful Randy!
So AEBL it is then. Should I heat treat before beveling with AEBL? Especially considering how thin it is.
#Randy Lucius , obviously the steel you used is thin, I guess with thinner material the grind doesn’t have to go near as high? Is that assumption correct on my part? Looks like a 1/8” or so grind on those beauties you made.
With thin stock do your bevel grinding after heat treat. Less likely to warp. I made these before I had my heat treat oven so I sent them out for heat treating and cryo. The grinds on those were plungeless (my first).
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
I only use the plates in the slurry with knives pretty much over 8" OAL.
I've noticed no warp on shorter knives but I've had fillet knives come out of the dry ice warped that's why I use thin plates with them in the bath and it seems to work.

There's no soak time, they just need to get to -95 but sometimes I just put the bath to the side and leave them in there until most of the dry ice evaporates. whatever you use, acetone, alcohol, kerosene, make sure ALL the ice is gone when you pour it back in a container.
I usually leave the container outside overnight with the lid cracked loose, elsewise the can could pop- in a bad way.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Randy, those are gorgeous.

The one positive about having a steak knife design in your pocket is that the same knife sells very well as a Petty / Utility. (or as a Paring knife if the blade is under 4 inches).

I price them exactly as Randy described. If somebody wants affordable steak knives I point them to Amazon. That’s not a slap at all. A decent set of steak knives can be had for $150. The ones in my house are serrated with plastic handles and cost a fraction of that, because people are only going to abuse them and toss them in the sink.

A handmade knife is a handmade knife. I can’t make them them cheaper just because they are called steak knives. If you want eight 4-inch Pettys to cut steak with, I’m happy to make them for $250 each.
 

Austin Thrasher

Well-Known Member
Good stuff guys. Thanks for the help.
I believe I am way too cheap then :rolleyes:. I told him $100 apiece. Lol!I will probably jig grind these rather than freehand since the bevel looks like it will be pretty short.On .070” stock, should that bevel only be an eighth or so or should I grind thinner than that?
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
I get my dry ice at Publix supermarket, back where they sell the fresh fish. oddly though not all of their stores carry it. I've got two within a couple miles of me and only one carries it.
you can also find it at fish markets. I looked everywhere around me and only found the one place.
I'm making a move soon, then it's going to be a 70 mile round trip to get it then. probably be a once a month or so thing then.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Good stuff guys. Thanks for the help.
I believe I am way too cheap then :rolleyes:. I told him $100 apiece. Lol!I will probably jig grind these rather than freehand since the bevel looks like it will be pretty short.On .070” stock, should that bevel only be an eighth or so or should I grind thinner than that?
I do full height flat grinds with no plunges. A plunge on .070 looks goofy to me.
 

Bill Hubbell

KNIFE MAKER
I'm soaking all this up. I made the mistake of telling my wife I would make her another kitchen knife like I made her at Christmas- but in Stainless instead of high carbon (at her request). I think my mouth wrote a check my body can't cash. I'm not set up for stainless but Demo generously offered to help as he has an oven and is only about an hour from me.
More stupid: I committed to also making 3) similar knives for my daughter and two daughter-in-laws.

And I bought some AEB-L and have profiled three of them. But, I've been looking for something for quench plates, as I doubt that Demo has enough plates to treat 4 or 5 knives in one session (haven't asked him tho).

Sorry for the rambling, but my question is: could I use steel instead of aluminum for plates? I know aluminum conducts heat better, but steel would be much easier for me to get locally and cheaper. I figure it would help prevent warpage, but wonder how it would effect hardness.
TIA!
Bill
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Quench 1 blade at in plates, remove, dip plates in water to cool, then quench 2nd blade and so on.

For soaking in dry ice you can stack 3 or 4 blades together between the plates (I use 1/2" X2" aluminum bar) and soak the whole thing in dry ice. While do soak time is required for AEB-L at -95°F, it will still take a while to cool aluminum and blades so plan on at least 30 minutes to an hour in dry ice.
 

Austin Thrasher

Well-Known Member
Good stuff Ken. Thanks for the info :)

Quench 1 blade at in plates, remove, dip plates in water to cool, then quench 2nd blade and so on.

For soaking in dry ice you can stack 3 or 4 blades together between the plates (I use 1/2" X2" aluminum bar) and soak the whole thing in dry ice. While do soak time is required for AEB-L at -95°F, it will still take a while to cool aluminum and blades so plan on at least 30 minutes to an hour in dry ice.
 
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