• JR Knifemaker
    Morning KT Forum-

    Can I ask you a question?

    I’m no metallurgist. But a hobbyist maker and hard user of cutting tools. Whether it be at work or at play (in the woods outside Brecon Beacons, where we have a small forest).

    At work, as a frontline emergency service worker (I’ll keep it vague), I carry the Spyderco UKPK. I’ve got the CTS BD1 version. I also sometimes carry a little fixed blade pocket knife in 1070. The UKPK has deployed a number of times, always in an emergency intervention in first aid. Always worked.

    If I were to honestly compare the two, however, I couldn’t say that the CTS BD1 out-performs the 1070. I’ve tested the both of them, rudimentarily I must add, but the difference is negligible. Same goes for D2 for me.

    So discounting the very advanced new steels, and if we remove the stain-resistant properties of more traditional stainless steels for the purposes of this: is a simple carbon steel all round a better choice?

    Thanks all

  • Ross Vosloo
    hmmm, this is a tough question and im sure some more experienced makers will chime in with much better info/opinions, but heres mine if your interested.

    Im a big fan of carbon over stainless. my reasons:
    1. easier to forge and heat treat
    2. easier to get very very sharp, keep sharp, and sharpen by customers
    3. hamons. just hamons
    4. i love a good patina. shows a knife is loved through use and not just a cabinet queen.

    like i said, these are my reasons and opinions, based mostly on experience and use of a lot of different knives over the years and making my own for the past year
  • JR Knifemaker
    My thoughts too. Although it’s very possible I’m just convincing myself as carbon is far easier to work with!
    I know enough to know I don't know shit, however I have to agree with Ross.

    As a carbon blade is used it changes, and will have a unique finger print. In this way the user and maker are locked in a life long collaboration.
  • JR Knifemaker
    Maybe the three musketeers will weigh in next week!
  • Matthew Lee
    This might help for stainless to stainless comparison
    Bd-1 doesn’t appear to be that high up on the list and 1070 isn’t that high performance compared to the other carbon steels as far as I’m aware.
    As far as I’ve heard for tough use larger tools one of the best performing steels you can get is CPM 3v.
    I have never used any stainless though so this is all based off of research. Hope it helps!
  • JR Knifemaker

    That’s a great link thanks for that. 1095 ranks pretty poorly other than in toughness, but as disclaimered: design is just as much a part as anything else.

    I confess to never have used these high tech steels I own lots of cutting edges: all 01, 1095, 1070, CTSBD1, D2; so it’s all I know really.

    I’m unconvinced the point that Damascus is for art pieces only. Given the sort of makers that are clearly making incredible tools with Damascus steel, and with the variety of Damascus out there.
  • Ross Vosloo
    bear in mind that the info contained in the link about Damascus steel is talking about true wootz Damascus, not just the general pattern welded steel that most everyone refers to as Damascus these days.

    I'm not a stickler for calling only wootz Damascus, but some are, and it's important to know when people are talking about wootz rather than patern welded steel because they are both different things.

    Wootz is a product of the smelting and refining of a very particular set of alloys under very specific conditions. A very very over simplified explanation but hope it helps
  • Siena
    The reality is no one uses a knife to the point where these steels really make much difference. These steel differences are really a major factor for industrial use (think an O1 slitter cutting tens of thousands of sheets of abrasive material each day). In industrial uses a 10% increase in toughness (or edge retention or any other factor) means a real cost savings. For knives wielded by a human it will likely outlive you either way so use what you like.
  • JR Knifemaker

    Good point. I think that Damascus has now slipped into the common usage for pattern welded steel enough to redefine it! Wootz: I watched that documentary on YouTube with Pendray. Unreal.
  • Smith Knifeworks
    I'm no expert knife maker, but I've used and paid attention to a lot of knives. I've adopted this:

    For a pocket knife, I want stainless. For anything that's a fixed blade, I want carbon. This is only because I live in the southeast US and I sweat a lot. Stainless has less of a chance to rust in my pocket, but some still have.

    The reality, as Siena said, is that no one uses a knife to the point where it matters. Straight carbon steel is *usually* fairly simple to sharpen and strop back to an edge. That's why I want it. AEB-L stainless is also grouped into "carbon steels" in my mind because it shares the same attributes, in my experience, as far as edge taking and ease of sharpening.

    It feels, to me, like all the folks chasing some super steel unicorn fart unobtanium nonsense are just doing it because they were told its better or because, for whatever reason, they want a knife that has 10 years of edge retention.

    I want knives that are easy to get the edge back on. Sharpening is guaranteed to be required on any knife. Period. I want one where that process requires minimal effort with the maximum result. Sharp quickly, right now is more important than sharp for months to come. To me, anyhow. Especially in a kitchen knife. I favor kitchen knives that are made of steel that's inclined to respond favorably to a newspaper or 6K stone strop. I don't want some abrasion resistant psycho steel that is nearly impossible to sharpen by hand. Been there, dished the shit out of a stone trying.
  • Chop Knives
    Personally, I prefer to make my kitchen knives on the softer side to allow for easy sharpening.

    A high carbon steel is my preference for a chef knife, as it’s used a lot and is generally maintained by most (particularly with professionals). Knives which are used less I generally use a stainless for. Things like bread knives and fillet knives are better suited to stainless in my opinion.

    It’s all personal preference, modern steels are up to most tasks.
  • Nathan Zimmerman
    Barring complex super steels, you won't see a noticeable difference between properly thermal cycled 1084 and most other steels. D2 has some interesting properties that make it cut different and seem sharp even when dull, but most others, we just won't see a perceived difference.
  • JR Knifemaker
    For me the fact that carbon steel holds and edge, and takes it super easily is what trumps it. As @Smith Knifeworks says, being able to get that edge back immediately is a winner. I have a small strop glued to a bit of wood, charged up with some silicone compound in the drawer. Every few times a knife gets used, I’ll give it four or five strokes on the strop and it’s back to razor sharp.
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