The Riddle of Steel

Grizzly Bear

Well-Known Member
I wanted to throw up for comment for those of you who like to talk steel for knives if there will ever be the perfect knife steel. I have been reading everything about steel that I can get a hold of and it is obvious to me that newer and better steel alloys are being developed now and in the future. With the Aerospace Industry and the US moving forward with our space program as well as the need for ever better quality of steel alloys needed for space travel and higher even more dramatic construction, will a truly perfect knife steel ever be developed?

I am referring to a steel alloy that will have as many if not all of the attributes: strength, hardness, ability not to fracture, truly stain free, etc. I know this is probably a pie in the sky thought but with the incorporation of nano-technology and some unknown or unused mineral/chemical who knows what may happen in the future. The on going riddle of steel may finally be solved.

Grizzly Bear
 

Lyon

Well-Known Member
I have been pondering steel quite a bit and have been doing a lot of reading as well. Most discussions on the matter are about the same as everybody lining up and peeing into the wind then checking to see who is the wettest!:3:

One steel perfect steel? Never going to happen IMHO. There will always be friction from a cut so the knife will need to be sharpened. Do you want to be able to sharpen it easily or not? Even now that is a consideration in choosing steel! Even if you could make a steel that was stainless, able to make the best hamon, be thin as a scalpel, and choose how flexible the steel was without changing cutting performance it would still need to be sharpened. Some wouldn't mind sending it off and others would.
 

scott.livesey

Dealer - Purveyor
probably not because KNIFE can be anything from a 3" long, 0.03" thick kitchen blade that excels at slicing fruit and veg to a 14" long, 3/8" thick "Rambo" special that can chop down trees and quickly dispatch the heathen bad guy.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
Might be using light sabers and knives in the future Ha Ha! then everyone will be discussing which light wave cuts best.
 

Knifemaker.ca

Dealer - Purveyor
However, there is definitely the best steel available for the task you have in mind. That's what Boss tasked us to define in this subforum.
 

Grizzly Bear

Well-Known Member
Laurence, I was thinking of all knives. I am seeing that is too broad of a definition. That's too bad. At present there doesn't seem to be a perfect steel for everything. Will there ever will be in the future?

Grizzly Bear

PS: I like your Rhino Skins
 

Dan Pierson

Well-Known Member
An ultimate all purpose knife steel is highly unlikely, probably impossible, because it's all trade offs.
 

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
Laurence, I was thinking of all knives. I am seeing that is too broad of a definition. That's too bad. At present there doesn't seem to be a perfect steel for everything. Will there ever will be in the future?

Grizzly Bear

PS: I like your Rhino Skins
Well, I personally think one of the best all around steels in the stainless dept that's been around since the 1950's is 440C I've made large and small knives with it. Now we will hear a firestorm from the carbon steel crowd! :3:
 

Ankerson

Member
With so many different steels being used these days and the different types of knives that are out there it's really not possible to narrow it down to one steel.
 

McClellan Made Blades

Well-Known Member
I personally think that, as knifemakers, the single most important decision you have to make is, what is the best blade steel for you? To answer that question you must know the answer to these questions,
Will you do your own HT? Do you send it off? Do you have the cash for a HT kiln, Liquid Nitrogen Dewar, and probably a Rockwell hardness Tester?
What kind of knives do you want to make?
This question has been pondered, and I thought that I had found it at the BLADE SHOW a couple of years ago, the demo I saw was astounding! But once I learned of the trade-offs, I was less impressed, still amazing steel, that I would like to test one day, to see how many cuts it would take before a customer would have to send it back for resharpening! I know your gonna ask, so I'll tell you it was CPM REX121, I think is correct, but like they have said, there will ALWAYS be trade offs, if you want the sharpest knife ever, you will have OTHER problems, somewhere!

I had the hardest time deciding which steels to use, until I took a hard look at the knives I wanted to make, once I realized that if my customer could not maintain an edge in the field, then I did'nt want it! So I started looking at the steels that were easy to maintain, yet still tough, and another requirement I had was that I wanted to do my own HT, WITHOUT HAVING TO DO A SUB-zero quench! So, I started testing, the easiest steel to HT, held a good edge, that was easy to sharpen, was Aldo's 1084fg, I think he just calls it 1084, but he adds a touch of Vanadium to his 1084, gives it a bit more toughness, and it gets GREAT HAMONS, that was just a bonus though, and not a deciding factor! I think 5160 will be right up there with it as well, although the HT on it is not quite as simple, it's still pretty easy to do and doesn't require anything extra other than an oven, actually results have been better with a simple O/AC torch, a little knowledge goes a long ways with this stuff!!! And you ARE doing it right, asking questions is the right thing to do, I personally don't think there is ever a dumb question, but there are a lot of dumb answers, depending on the company!
Rex
(no relation to the steel, I mentioned!)
 

stezann

Well-Known Member
You know, the problem with knife steels is exactly that. It'sn not likely that aerospace industries will develope nice knife steels, they are not supposed to.
But they most surely will produce nice new hypes around the knifemaking world...exactly the same way the high carbide steel from the plastic molding industry are praised as the best knife steels, and are not.

I bet the riddle of steel has been solved, but the hypes will never die ;)
 

samuraistuart

Well-Known Member
I wish to no end that Crucible would re-instate that Cru Forge V steel. Seems like every time I turn around there is a new exotic high alloy steel for knife makers, but when it comes to the lower alloy stuff, there isn't much new. Now I know there may be something to the fact that industry is not looking towards those lower alloy steels...the fact that the higher alloys just bring more attention. Are they actually better knife steels than more simple ones? I suppose it really depends on the use the knife sees. Low force applied to highly abrasive materials, sure, those high alloy excel. But many knives simply dont see that kind of work. I'm talking mostly along the lines of kitchen duty, hunting duty, etc. The high alloy steels certainly work well in those scenarios, but they aren't needed. The cost of the alloy, the complex heat treatment including cryo, the difficulty in working and finishing the steel, all come into play.

I guess to boil it down, I REALLY wish the industry would come up with something along the lines of Cru Forge V, or a Blue steel for everyone else outside of Japan. Along the lines of 1.2519 O7. 1.3% carbon and the corresponding Vanadium count to bring the parent martensite matrix carbon down to around eutectoid once heat treated. Or a variation thereof that works. I suppose that'll be the day San Antonio sees a blizzard.
 
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