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Blade Steels - Have We Been Fleeced By Marketing?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by rogatsby, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. bobe01


    Oct 27, 2012
    Sorry, my english is not that good, it would take more effort for me to write everything i think, than to resharpen my dull Lionsteel TRE in M390 with a wetstone:D, but the point is, everybody talks only about steels. Manufactures make knives with this steels but none of them provides full info about maintenance and sharpening. If they were completely honest they would say that this things are impossible to make sharp without a good skills and a $100 diamond stone. In that case this knives would be bought almost only by enthusiasts or collectors.

    I have quality knives for heavy saltwater fishing use, I cut everything with them including fish bones, and when they get dull If I can't resharpen it in a mater of one minute they are useless to me. Same thing in a kitchen, I cook all the time and touch up my knives at least 2 times per week. always perfectly sharp
  2. David Richardson

    David Richardson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 30, 2018
    Your English seems fine to me. I agree that makers don't mention sharpening. I wish they would. Whenever anybody asks me for a knife recommendation my first response is "how will you sharpen it?" That's a big factor in my recommendation.

    I think Lionsteel runs their M390 at 59-60 hrc. It should not be difficult to sharpen. On the right stone I would expect you could get it sharp in a couple of minutes, assuming it hasn't gotten too dull. You can get a stone for less than $100. However, if the knives you have work well for you there's no reason to use a "better" steel.

    Many years ago I worked on a salmon processor ship in Alaska. I cut up Salmon 12 hours a day. We had some cheap knives that were very stainless. We sharpened them every morning and they did fine. They were fairly dull at the end of the 12 hours. They still worked. By the end of the season they were ready to get tossed.

    I also touch up my kitchen knives 1-2x per week. I have Victorinox, White Steel, S35, and others. They all take a minute or two to keep sharp. If I let the S35 get very dull it would take longer.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  3. Hawk45

    Hawk45 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 28, 2005
    For how I use my EDC, I'm not too concerned with blade steel. My carbon 1095 slips cut just as well as any M4 knife I have for EDC tasks.
    Once a week I hit them with a few passes on a strop with Black/Green and back to good edge.

    If you are lazy and don't strop/maintain your edges regularly, maybe a tougher edge holding steel is for you (if you want to pay the price), but getting that tough steel back to a sharp edge can be many times more difficult than a more basic steel, especially if you let it go to long without touch-up.

    I buy knives in 2 categories usually:
    1. Functionality - Does this knife give me something above the rest in ergos or carry or xxxx that is worth the price?
    2. Badassery/Art/Design - This thing is just cool, no matter what materials it's made out of.

    Is marketing in effect? Of course! But it's all individual preference.. some can live with any steel and some can live with only a few. Would I pay the same for knife in an 8CRxxxx steel as one in S35vn, M4, etc? Nope. But I won't not chose a knife based on steel used alone, as long it aligns with a certain price range and usefulness.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
    sgt1372 and David Richardson like this.
  4. GronK

    GronK Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 1, 2001
    Old man Ruana preferred Studebaker springs. :cool:
    Mecha and USMCPOP like this.
  5. rogatsby


    Jun 19, 2018
    Get a Spyderco Sharpmaker. The stones are good, and once you get good with them, you can use them free-hand without the stand. I highly recommend getting the ultra fine stones to finish. I am able to get almost a mirror edge on my S30V blades with the sharpmaker, but it takes quite a bit of work.

    In the end, you make a good point. If you are using something like 8cr13mov, you can use a cheap stone and get it useable in no time.
  6. bobe01


    Oct 27, 2012
    IMO, every high quality and well sharpened knife suitable for the task, will do a great job with little difference between standard and a super high end steel. Super steel knives are 2 or 3x more expensive, take much more time, work, money (more expensive sharpening stuff) and skill to be maintained, and I really see no benefit for me in all that.

    I admit I like high end tech stuff especially tools, and I own or have owned more than a dozen super steel knifes, but for my needs, none of them proved that it's price tag and specs on paper make any difference in every day use.
  7. Sonnydaze

    Sonnydaze Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 6, 2009
    Yes, I'm a steel-nerd, and I don't apologize. I try for the best rated I can find, both in folders and fixed.
    I don't buy cheaper stuff, even if it does work. I don't have that much time to mess around.
  8. scottyj


    Jan 29, 2009
    Jim Behring aka "Treeman" uses old Dodge springs.
  9. Pteronarcyd


    Feb 19, 2019
    In an attempt to put this question into perspective, what were the knife super steels 30 years ago? My guess is they were mostly 400-series stainless varieties.
    CanadaKnifeGuy likes this.
  10. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    30 yrs ago? D2, ATS-34/154CM, GIN-1, etc. Stuff that is today considered only mediocre in performance.

    440C hasn't been a 'super' steel since the 60s and 70s. That said, even today Randall uses 440B for their stainless knives. And 440C is still the most popular steel in Europe for production knives.
    Sid Post, The Mastiff and Pteronarcyd like this.
  11. GronK

    GronK Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 1, 2001
    Look at it this way. If the marketers didn't fleece us for steels, as well as "features" like studs, holes, flippers, bearings, titanium, etc., etc., we'd all be walking around with Buck 110's on our belts and there would be no Bladeforums.
    Shrub, Pomsbz and CanadaKnifeGuy like this.
  12. Pteronarcyd


    Feb 19, 2019
    What about focusing just on folding knives? For example, I don't recall D2 being used in folders just a decade ago, but it is now a fairly common budget offering. I remember D2 being touted as a good tough-use steel for fixed-blade knives at the time.
    The Mastiff likes this.
  13. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 21, 2006
    I made my first knife because there were no commercial knives available in D2 and I wanted it for EDC use. Not all knifemakers would work with steels like D2 then much less steels as wear resistant as M390 and S90V. Of course those didn't yet exist. 440C was about the upper limit for high wear resistance. It was considered a premium steel back before the term super steel was even invented. The first steel I recall being called "super steel" was ATS 34/154cm. That was hot stuff and boat loads of it was sold. There wasn't much competition for several years. Other than BG42 which was never all that common ATS 34/154cm led the way until Spyderco brought out 440V/S60V, The first powder steel and true "super steel"used in commercial knives best I can recall.

    Now 10V isn't that uncommon. We have Maxamet knives now. I'm not sure how much higher we will see or need in the abrasive wear resistance race. Many think nitrogen steels are the future due to their attributes. We'll see.

  14. Murdamook


    Nov 3, 2010
    Getting “fleeced” is hardly the term I would use. People buy into marketing and want the greatest super steel but they know their mileage may vary. Plenty of people are happy with a standard Chinese steel. Likewise, plenty of people are happy seeking out the latest steels because that’s what they want. I don’t think anyone buys 3V expecting it to part the Red Sea. Most knife hobbyists understand that the only difference a different steel provides is corrosion resistance, toughness, and edge-holding capabilities. To be “fleeced” I think you have to fall for some sort of snake oil and that’s definitely not what’s happening.
    KVT likes this.
  15. KVT


    Feb 17, 2019
    It would be nice to know the actual finances behind it.
    Cost to acquire, manufacture, heat treat, grind, sharpen etc each of the different steels.
    To see if the spread is truly represented by the actual street prices. To see exactly how much “premium” is tacked on to the latest top 3 super steels, or, if the street prices are truly representative of the cost to manufacture.
  16. scott.livesey


    Nov 10, 2011
    I think folks are getting fleeced because of the smoke and mirrors surrounding "greatest super blade steel". Look at three measures mentioned a lot in this thread. Edge-holding is measured by what, the ability to cut squares of sandpaper? The only standardized edge holding test is the CATRA which is cutting squares of sandpaper, nice if I a woodworker needing to cut sandpaper, doesn't tell me much if all I cut is fruit, veg and meat. Toughness is measured by Izod or Charpy tests which is basically how hard a hammer swing will it take to break the blade. Nice test for a crowbar, doesn't tell me much if all I do is fillet fish and cut bait.
    Corrosion resistance is measured by resistance to strong acids. My knives aren't exposed to that and are cleaned after each use.
    A knife is a cutting system, the blade just a part. We rarely hear about fit and finish, balance, hand feel, and blade geometry.
    the old sailor
  17. GronK

    GronK Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 1, 2001
    I own two folders, a Dozier "Thorn" and a Kabar "Extreme" with D2 steel blades. Both are well over 10 years old.
    Mo2 likes this.
  18. Pomsbz


    Jul 31, 2015
    I went from carrying this in M390:


    To this, a simple little SAK in soft whatever it's called steel:


    Due to superior geometry it cuts with a razor edge better for longer. It cost me under $20, I can strop it up on my chinos and sharpen in minutes.

    Recently I've given up on anything but Victorinox for my EDC uses after years of working my way through the usual suspects to the detriment of my bank account. Geometry and ease of ownership over super steels for me. They're super cheap, super stainless, super people friendly, take a hair popping edge remarkably easily, slip unnoticed into a pocket and they just work. In a way that gives me quiet satisfaction every time. Oh and they're pretty easy to mod like the one shown above. :)
  19. David Richardson

    David Richardson Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 30, 2018
    Some people are chasing after steels without understanding why. Some steels have a following I don't understand. I guess you could say that's hype.

    On the other hand, the claims about H1 and LC200N are real. Same for Maxamet, Rex 121, K390, and others that have great edge retention. This doesn't mean people need or even want these steels, but there's no smoke and mirrors about their performance.

    You could always try these yourself and see. If you buy a used knife knife you're likely to get most of your money back. I'm keeping my LC200N and K390. I have great 154 CM and 440C knives as well.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  20. Sid Post

    Sid Post

    Oct 14, 1998
    440C is a good stainless steel for most stainless knife applications. Is it the best? Define best and intended use. In general, I find 440C fixed blades to perform very well in my "real world" uses.

    However, 440C doesn't catch the attention of "Mall Ninja's" so, marketing heavily focuses on impulse buys from people who really don't know or care the details.

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