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Thread: Good steel for knives.

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    Senior Member cosperryan's Avatar
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    Default Good steel for knives.

    So I am looking for some understanding on knives. My only knowledge on knife steel is 154cm and 420c. Other than that I know squat. So what are some good steels for knives and what are some to be wary of. By the way this would be for like a work knife and EDC. Something that will take a great edge and keep it. I don't want suggestions on knives but for what steel this knife should be made of.

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    Senior Member JSmith1983's Avatar
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    That is a really tough question because its not just the steel, but how they are tempered. Also in how they are used. I couldn't honestly suggest a steel since I don't know all the specifics of every type of steel out there so I am looking forward to what others are going to say. There are so many personal opinions when it comes to steel types.

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    Senior Member Wayne1963's Avatar
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    I have 2 Benchmade knives. One is a 440c, which is a very common steel used in a wide variety of knives. It is easily sharpened, which means it is also easily dulled. The other is a 530v steel, which holds an edge a little longer. I suggest you go to the Benchmade and MicroTech websites and check out the steels that they use. I'm sure if you do a search for "custom knife makers", you'll find a wealth of knowledge. For keenness of edge, I find the grind profile of the knife more important than the steel. My 440c Benchmade is a semi hollow grind, and it will get far sharper than my 530v Benchmade, although the 530v is the more "sophisticated" steel.

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    I used Nakayamas for my house mainaman's Avatar
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    AEB-L
    Blue 2
    White 2
    Super Blue
    VG-10
    Swedish Carbon
    V-2
    O1
    1095
    A2
    3V

    S90V
    S30V
    S35VN
    S110V
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    Stefan

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    Member Corin's Avatar
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    I like this list. I would also add AUS8 Cryo for good stain resistance and affodability (it is softer then some, which can effect edge retention). Some of the differences between the metals are controversial; blade shape and tempering are key +1 to JSmith. For a stainless edc, if price were not a factor, I'd take VG-10, S30v, or S35vn. The carbon steels rust but are generally affordable and have other performance advantages.
    There are a couple factors to consider as far as personal preference:

    -How rust/stain resistant do you want it? Some of these are very stain resistant and others will start to stain easily.
    -What's your price range?
    -Do you heavy use your knife? (prying, steel on steel, abrasive materials, etc) Some steels that hold an edge well are a little brittle and can chip/snap with heavy use.
    -Ease of sharpening. Some steels are slow to sharpen on anything but aggressive stones or diamond.
    Quote Originally Posted by mainaman View Post
    AEB-L
    Blue 2
    White 2
    Super Blue
    VG-10
    Swedish Carbon
    V-2
    O1
    1095
    A2
    3V

    S90V
    S30V
    S35VN
    S110V

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    Senior Member cosperryan's Avatar
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    Well to answer some questions you guys had.

    Price is not really a problem. Obviously I am not going to spend Randall Knives type money although I wish I could, I live right down the street from them. I would say around the 200-250 range is in the higher end. I know its not necessary to spend that much for a good knife but thats what I have. Some of those steels I have heard of but not many. I have heard of the VG-10 and the blue and white 2's and then of course the 1095 and O1 from some of the razor makers on here but thats it.

    As for how heavy of use it will see, lets just say I had a bench made triage knife with I think the steel was N680 (thats whats on the blade). Well the blade is now not straight and I have had it for a couple of years but only used it extensively for a year and a half. I can't even begin to imagine how to resharpen it because the blade is so twisted. Now that of course was in my navy days when I was in the middle east and then on Diego Garcia and used to cut down bananas and open coconuts. I doubt it will see use as heavy as what I put that knife through but still heavy use.

    One question, if you are willing to answer, what is the differences between the steels. I ask this instead of googling because I have been on a few sites where they say "oh this steel is great and this is great and this is great" and then another site says "this steel is ok and this steel is crap and this steel is great" and some of them say the exact opposite of others.

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    I used Nakayamas for my house mainaman's Avatar
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    Knifeworks has two Benchmades in m390, this is excellent stainless steel, a lot better than s30v or s35vn, prices are right at the 200 mark, take a look.
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    Stefan

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    Senior Member Phoenix51's Avatar
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    Courtesy of Benchmade Knives...

    154CM: An American made premium grade stainless steel originally developed for tough industrial applications. Known for its best all-around qualities, it offers great corrosion resistance with good toughness and edge quality.
    S30V: An American made and developed premium grade stainless steel created especially for knives. It is a powder made steel with a uniform carbide distribution and clean steel properties. As a blade material it offers excellent corrosion resistance and superb edge qualities.
    CPM-M4: Special purpose, high-speed steel with a combination of high Carbon, Moly, Vanadium and Tungsten for excellent wear resistance and toughness; A powder-metal, non stainless steel.
    D2: An air-hardened tool steel, which offers good corrosion resistance and excellent mileage in wear resistance. A good choice for hard use applications.
    440C: A high-chromium stainless steel with a terrific balance of good hardness and corrosion resistance. 440C takes a nice edge and is fairly easy to resharpen. An excellent value priced steel for its performance.
    M390: A high performance blade steel with superior cutting ability and wear resistance due to its high concentration of vanadium and chromium carbides. Its unique powder metallurgical process also promotes a uniform carbide distribution and clean steel properties, making M390 a popular steel used in surgical cutting instruments and in applications requiring a high finish. As a blade material it offers excellent corrosion resistance due to its high concentration of Chromium.
    More info: www.bohler-edelstahl.com/files/M390DE.pdf

    N680: A chromium-molybdenum conventionally produced stainless steel with the addition of vanadium and nitrogen. Excellent corrosion resistance properties, especially in salt water. Good hardenability and high obtainable hardness. High wear resistance and ability to preserve keenness.
    N690: An Austrian made stainless steel, which is comparable to 440C in performance and value. Keen edge qualities with great corrosion resistance.
    X15-TN: This French steel was developed for the aircraft industry for jet ball bearings, as well as the medical industry for scalpels. It has the ability to resist rust in the worst of conditions while maintaining ample edge retention. The capability behind this steel is in the way it is manufactured, resulting in the finest steel for use in harsh environments such as salt water. The edge on an X15 T.N blade is easier to maintain.
    AUS-8: A Japanese made medium-carbon, high chromium stainless steel, which offers a good balance of toughness, edge sharpness and corrosion resistance.
    9Cr13CoMoV: A Chinese made high-carbon stainless steel with increased levels of cobalt added for greater edge retention. Offers a higher level of corrosion resistance at a great value.
    8Cr14MoV: A Chinese steel with similar performance characteristics to AUS-8. An excellent value priced steel for its performance.
    DAMASCUS: A specially forged, layered steel made up of a variety of steels, It offers remarkable toughness and edge quality. For finishing, the surface layers or lines are exposed through an acid etch, which creates a very unique visual effect. Used in special applications due to its inherent high cost and artistic nature.

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    Member Corin's Avatar
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    The reason I asked about heavy use was that some steels that have fantastic wear resistance and edge retention, but can be a little brittle (prone to chipping with heavy use abuse) . Also, steels like m390 offer better corrosion resistance then knives with similar edge retention. For example, some cutting tests show s90v to retain the edge little longer then m390, but it is less corrosion resistant (ankerson does a lot of cutting tests).

    Ankerson cutting tests M390 vs S90v:
    m390, elmax, s90v : a little reality

    Ankerson cutting test rankings:
    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/sh...-5-8-quot-rope

    Steel data sheets
    Tool Steel Data Sheets
    Last edited by Corin; 08-18-2014 at 03:53 PM.

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    aka shooter74743 ScottGoodman's Avatar
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    Sounds like D2 may be your candidate, tough as nails and good steel for knives...pretty stain resistant too. I've been wanting to mess around iwth it some with the knives I make. Only problem is that most knives out of D2 are fixed blades, but google is your friend. Thickness and grind is what you will have to pay attention to if you are going to use it hard, I would recommend a flat grind as it's about as tough a grind as you can get.

    Lastly, this is going to end up a opinion thing as all the steels listed, if properly heat treated and tempered, will serve you very well. That's the heart and soul of the steel, the heat treat and temper. I believe this was mentioned above, but had to bring it up again as it's the key to any knife. Then you have to worry about ergonomics for you as well as the shape/grind of the blade.

    Did I happen to mention the most important part of the knife is the heat treat/temper?
    Last edited by ScottGoodman; 08-18-2014 at 04:10 PM.
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    Northeastern Texas & Southeastern Oklahoma Mentor/Helper...PM me if I can assist you.
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