All around steel

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by JamesofArc, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Therom


    Nov 13, 2013
    IMO good all around steels are S35vn, 154cm (or cpm154), 14c28n for stainless steels and 1095, 4v, Cruwear for non stainless steels
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  2. pnsxyr

    pnsxyr Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2013
    I think you are right about S35VN being more marketable even though both steels have excellent all-around properties. S35VN is arguably now also much more marketable over S30V, and S45VN will likely become more marketable over S35VN once it begins to see widespread adoption (and marketing). That said, I can't tell you a huge difference between the inherent performance of S30V, S35VN, and RWL-34/CPM-154 in terms of edge holding because my experience which each steel has varied so much. The individual heat treatments of the steels by the specific maker and the edge geometry of the blades they are on also seem to play such a big role.

    When Chris Reeve changed their heat treatments to harden higher from the former 58-59 HRC to what is now right around 60 HRC, you could have told me that they adopted a new exotic super steel and I would have believed it as it was such a big difference to my point of reference on that specific knife...even though it was the same damned steel with the same damned composition on the same damned blade. Then I got a Chris Reeve with an Insingo blade. Again you could have told me they adopted a new high performance steel with excellent edge strength characteristics and I would have believed it. Here we had the same damned steel with the same damned heat treatment with a different edge geometry, and it was completely different from their standard blade, and my subjective interpretation of its performance was completely different. :confused:
  3. dimiw1337


    Feb 25, 2019
    Dont get fooled by all the m390 boys because thats the only thing they know... My 4 favorites are aeb-l, 14c38n, lc200n, cpm 3v!
    jstn likes this.
  4. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    Survival knives - plain carbon
    Folders - D2 or 14C28N
    Big knives as well as folders - CPM 3V
  5. GatorFlash1

    GatorFlash1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2012
    VG-10 is a decent all around steel. I edc a GB M4 but it may not be as rust resistant as many knife owners want.

  6. Korean Hog

    Korean Hog Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 12, 2017
    For sure...;)
    Heat treating and geometry gets left out of the equation in so many consumers' minds...
    When people ask what kind of steel, I almost want to reply, sarcastically,that the best kind of steel is well-designed, properly heat treated steel.
    That's the kind of steel you want right there!

    A high quality allow exists to "further your purpose" in that if you took two steels and made two blades with everything equal but the alloy they're made from, then you could truly draw conclusions on the performances of those two alloys.
    A seemingly small change like HRC from 56-58 vs. 59-60 can make such a difference that you're only comparing the two blades in and of themselves rather than all knives made from those respective alloys.
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  7. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    10xx or 5160 for carbon steel, 420HC or 440A for stainless, all with a good heat treat and edge geometry.
    420HC is Buck Knives standard steel for pocket knives and fixed blades. W.R. Case also uses 420HC as their "True Sharp" stainless steel, but run it a little softer than Buck's. 420HC is also used by other major manufacturers.

    440A was used for both folding knives (modern and traditional) and fixed blades by Schrade USA in all the "Schrade +" knives. (some with bone covers may have had 440C) They used 1095 for everything else. BTI Schrade uses 7CR17MoV and 9CR18MoV (the "440A and 440C equivalents" respectively) on all their knives.
    The BTI Old Timer OTB knives get the 9CR18MoV
    I'm not sure, but I think Taylor Schrade (owned the Schrade brands before BTI) used 440A on most, and 440C on the old timer OTB's
    Cold Steel uses 1055 and 1085 on some of their products. (If memory serves, their "Carbon V" is naught but 1085) they also use 1.4116 KRUPP on their budget folders and fixed blades.
    Note also that these steels are "easier" on the tooling than say CPM 154 and "up".
    The 2018 BF Forum knife, a two blade Buck 301, has CPM154 blades. There were other steel choices, but nothing "above" CPM154 could take a tang stamp; they had to be etched.
    There is a Buck dealer (not on the supporting dealer list anymore. I don't know if that is by "oops" or they didn't renew that membership level. Either way, since they are not on the list, I'll not mention their name.) who has exclusive Buck SFO's (Special Factory Orders) of the 100 series fixed blades and folders with 5160 blades.
    5160 is also used for automotive and truck springs, and the Himalayan Import's Kurkri.
    (See HI's manufacturers sub forum here at BF for examples of their knives.)

    Keep in mind the average knife buyer is not a "knife enthusiast". Knife enthusiasts make up less than 1% or 2% of the market.
    Unless you want to compete with GEC (uses mostly 1095 and a rare few with 440C) and CRK at their price points (or higher) and ignore 99 to 98% of the potential market, you want a simple easy to sharpen steel that will hold an edge long enough to peel and gut 3 or so whitetail deer.
    The "average" knife buyer doesn't know -- or care what the blade steel is (and in all likelihood does not know or care what the differences between the various steels are, anyway) so long as it cuts/slices, and he (or she) can sharpen it easily without any special stones or equipment that adds cost to the ownership.

    Good luck
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
  8. PaultheCarpenter


    Jul 12, 2020
    Any steel which you can sharpen quickly and easily. Some of the steels people are recommending here simply aren't possible to sharpen in anything approaching a reasonable amount of time.
  9. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    What are you using to sharpen that you have issues sharpening these steels? :confused:
    I've been largely using regular silicon carbide paper from Canadian Tire or Home Depot on the back of an old university textbook I use as a flat surface, and haven't had any issues.

    I don't think my silicon carbide paper on the back of an old book constitutes a fancy, high tech sharpening system out of reach of the common folk...
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  10. Korean Hog

    Korean Hog Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 12, 2017
    I'm all for old-school proven steels that are easier to sharpen, but I feel like diamond stones are readily available to people,
    and that's what you need to sharpen these highly alloyed "super steels" in a comparable amount of time to, say... 1095 on an Arkansas stone.
    Microtechs in M390 and/ or Elmax that I've own are simple to sharpen, but I always use a fine/rough diamond stone for daily maintenance.
    Same easy sharpening for Spyderco S110V, as long as you use a diamond stone.
    That's what I like about S35VN. It's a good middle ground between crazy hard super steel and easy to sharpen, old-school carbon at an HRC of 59-60. Usually a pretty tough steel at that hardness as well.
  11. PaultheCarpenter


    Jul 12, 2020
    M4, D2, M390 and Elmax for example.

    I find that if I have to get crazy with different stones, it's too much trouble. Full stop.

    Plus the harder steels chip and you might as well throw it out, because there's no chance of reprofiling it without setting hours aside to do it. If you can't get it razor sharp with a minute of ceramic rod and a strop, it's simply not worth my time. They're impractical and often prohibitively expensive to the point where you baby the knife to keep it from real use and wind up using a box cutter or something while your $300 knife sits in your pocket.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  12. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
  13. PaultheCarpenter


    Jul 12, 2020
    That's adorable. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, but I'm going to guess he had to work on it for a lot longer than I could be bothered with to get the edge back once he was done.

    I think my advice to the OP is to make knives for the blue collar, that is where the money is, and that is who uses tools.
  14. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    D2 could be an all around steel choice, although some folks think it brittle for large blades, and the flood of Chinese "D2" (which often ain't) has skewed people's perceptions.

    Basically I'd suggest looking through the various steel charts that list various attributes, then pick a "name brand" steel that has the characteristics you want.
  15. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    "He" was "me", and I have used that knife for the three years since as well.
    Once again, my silicon carbide paper on the back of an old textbook was all that was needed.

    That knife has been used on wood, scraped grout, cut insulation, and a bunch of other things.
    It has not chipped, the edge does not "fall off" nor is it difficult--for me at least--to put an edge back on it.
  16. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Most of my blue collar colleagues in jobs I've had would never spend more than $20 to $30 on a knife. You ain't gonna make it as a knifemaker selling knives at that price point.

    You need people who like spending cash.
    Hunters, collectors, and people like that.
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  17. PaultheCarpenter


    Jul 12, 2020
    I applaud you being one of the few who actually use your knife, it's funny you made a thread showing that off, you knew it was a rare and daring thing.

    I lose and break knives at an alarming rate, so that isn't a price point I can handle replacing often. I lost 2 knives recently by dropping them in the desert where I was working on location, and broke a third that was s35vn.

    And a point about D2, I personally think it's too brittle and unstable. I've snapped huge portions off blades made from it, someone here convinced me it was just bad luck, but I was watching a someone on youtube gently battoning a stick and had the exact same issue, but with a different manufacturer, Gerber I think.
  18. PaultheCarpenter


    Jul 12, 2020
    And we buy them almost weekly. If someone were to make solid knives designed for working at a price point and quality that can compete with Kershaw and so on, it's a money machine.
  19. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    I would be hesitant about D2 in a large blade unless it was rather thick. Seen some reports of longer blades breaking, but they were not the thickest.

    I had an unfinished D2 blade from a knifemaker that was going out of business (already heat-treated), and I left it in my tool box as my scraping and prying knife. I did eventually bust the tip off, but it took a lot of abuse.

    There is are some awful knives out there with D2 steel though, that's for sure.
  20. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Have to be a bigger company to do that though. Economy of scale.
    I just got a couple of knives heat treated at the local industrial heat treat place; was $30.
    I could get 10 pounds of steel heat treated for $50, but I did not have that much ready to go, just 2 knives.
    And the steel was about $95, once tax and shipping was included. Not to mention the cut off disks, flap wheels, sanding drums, and sanding belts. Still waiting on the handle and sheath material to show up, but that cost money too.

    A big company though would already have the ability to waterjet, laser cut, or EDM the steel to the right shape (getting rid of the need for all the cut off disks and such); they'd have big, efficient grinding devices, and they'd get the steel in nice big quantities, getting better prices, and bringing down the shipping costs for amount of steel they get.

    Then by using a "budget steel" they can provide you with a knife that works for what you need, but is cheap enough to replace as often as you feel like it. :thumbsup:

    An independent knifemaker or small company will be stuck with those annoying higher costs, and will end up with a more expensive knife even when using cheaper steel.
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