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Thread: Knife as a tool

  1. #1
    lamecrow htmitten's Avatar
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    Default Knife as a tool

    In my opinion the primary characteristics of a knife (especially a folder) is that it is a tool to be used and that it should be easy to sharpen and to hold an edge. To require extra care to prevent rusting should have no bearing on the steel used. The best steel with these characteristics is carbon steel. In my opinion stainless steel has no use for a folding knife. To me the plethora of stainless steel knives is a disgrace. All or most of the vintage folders and other knives were made with carbon steel and they were not expensive. Now, if one wants to acquire a carbon steel knife, he must pay a ridiculously high price. Personally, I think this situation is unacceptable. Who among you agree?

  2. #2
    Senior Member sheajohnw's Avatar
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    I think that cheap low grade stainless knives are an abomination and that carbon steel is usually easier to sharpen and may hold a sharper edge, but I would not rule out any possibility of acquiring high quality stainless knives. I used to have trouble getting stainless fillet knives sharp using slow cutting Arkansas stones and always looked only for carbon blades. One day at Woodcraft, I discovered DMT diamond sharpening plates and pasted leather strops. Since that time, I have been able to get quality stainless knives (not junk) hair shaving sharp on a medium grit diamond plate followed by stropping on leather with CrOx compound. The stainless knife edges last well in home use with only a touch up on the pasted paddle strop needed between uses. I also have had good luck maintaining stainless knives using Japanese water stones after the knife bevels have been set up on the diamond plate followed by stropping. I really appreciate my Sabatier carbons and continue to use both carbon and stainless knives, but I need to keep my carbon blades away from other household members who are not very committed to the maintenance required by carbon steel. An EDC carbon folder or belt knife is a fine tool, but there may be some outdoor uses such as marine cruising environments where a good stainless blade might be a better choice.

    Last edited by sheajohnw; 04-04-2012 at 10:04 PM.
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  3. #3
    Admin & Forum fixer Bruno's Avatar
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    I don't.

    I prefer carbon steel knives, like you. But I don't think stainless is a disgrace. Just because you really like knives does not mean other people are required to do the same. For many people, stainless is a good choice. I'm currently making a set of kitchen knives for my wife. Stainless steel and micarta handles. The simple reason is that my wife had 1 single condition: they have to be dishwasher safe. That rules out carbon steel.

    You also over romanticize the days of yesteryear. They didn't use stainless because they didn't -have- stainless. If they had had it, they would have used it. For example, I read that on ocean ships, tools were kept immersed in a vat of oil, because that was the only way to keep them from rusting away. You think they wouldn't have used stainless if they had had it? In those days, they would have used stainless for everything where it would have worked.

    And it's not really true that you have to pay ridiculous prices for carbon steel knives. True, you can't really buy a stainless steel spyderco, but you can buy a carbon steel opinel for 8$ Opinel No 6 Carbon Steel Folding knife: Sports & Outdoors
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    There is no charge for Awesomeness Jimbo's Avatar
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    Well, my Friodur is among the best shavers I have, and I have tried a few. So I guess I'd have to say that from my point of view, taking into account your own criteria of what makes a steel "good", that I heartily disagree with you.

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    Administrator Lynn's Avatar
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    I think if you ever shave with a vintage Hess 44 straight razor or vintage C-Mon stainless blade, you would have an entirely different perspective. There are also a few currently made models using stainless that are quite good shavers. ATS-34 and CPM-154 both make very nice razors too.

    Have fun,


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    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    Default folder is made from Talonite and I love it.

  8. #7
    Senior Member RayCover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by htmitten View Post
    In my opinion stainless steel has no use for a folding knife. To me the plethora of stainless steel knives is a disgrace.
    I do not understand your reasoning here. If your talking about the junk knives that have come out of Pakastan and China (with very poor heat treat and material quality) over the last several years I would agree they are junk. But very good knives can be made from stianless if you use an appropriate stainless and heat treat it propperly. My father made me a folder out of 440C stainless for a graduationg present when I graduated high school. I am now 45 and still carry and use that knife. It has held up well and holds a decent edge. My dad's hunting knife he made out of 154cm. One season I watched him dress 7 deer with that knife and it would still shave hair off his arm. Granted he used a hatchet on the ribs but to dress out that much meat and hide and still shave is holding a fairly good edge. THere are other stainlesses out there now days that are even better performers than 154 and 440c.

    I have no problemn with a guy prefering carbon steel but to say strainless steel has no use for a folder and that stainless knives are a disgrace? I just can't get there from here. I dont understnad that reasoning....unless the only experience you have with stainless knives are the imported junk knives which are to knives what costume jewelry is to real gold and diamonds. If that is the case I would say your experiences with stainless knives has been too limmited.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member deighaingeal's Avatar
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    I only recently switched to a stainless EDC. Not because I specified stainless, but the maker ihad this on hand. I'm not disappointed at all in the blade.
    I have had a number of knives in my life, all tools, ranging from vintage to custom and while there is a warm spot in my heart for a proper carbon steel blade, I have no desire to eliminate stainless from my options.
    On the not of marine blades; my uncle has run a commercial long-liner fisher/processor in the Bering Sea for longer than I I have been alive and he has always preferred carbon steel for his processing knives and to this day they are aboard.

  10. #9
    xuz is offline
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    I think the point could be further clarified.

    1) Do you believe that stainless steel is inferior to high carbon steel?
    Have you considered different tempering options that are available only to composite steels?
    Have you considered the carbide size and distributions that separate composite steels from purer carbon steels?
    Have you considered that for high production knives, composite steels allow for tighter/trouble-free manufacturing control?

    2) But it seems to be that, you aren't particularly bothered by the quality of the stainless steel, but rather the fact that knife costs have gone up.
    If that is that case, then I'm in agreement with you.
    I also want to get good quality knives for 10 dollars.
    Unfortunately, if you want to get a great folder with robust pivots and stop pins, good ergonomics in the shape and material of the scales, quality steel that has long edge retention combined with ease of sharpening, nice primary and secondary edge geometry for the intended applications, and with excellent warranty and post-purchase services, (for some examples, Spyderco's paramilitary 2 or a Chris Reeve Sebenza), you have to shell out 150 dollars to 400 dollars.

    Sometimes I do wonder what the raw variable cost of these knives are (without considering the R&D cost).
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  11. #10
    Senior Member blabbermouth Theseus's Avatar
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    Being someone who has carried a Swiss Army knife every day for the last 22 years or so, I can say that there is nothing inferior about the stainless steel being used.

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