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Blade steels - what's wrong with improvement?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Comeuppance, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002

    That's possible I suppose, but I try and think more positive in that it all would have been over and we would be here living the good life maybe on another planet. :)
  2. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    All we can do is wait a thousand years and see what happens. Think of the alloys we'll have... rich with sub-micron powdered carbides... mmmm now there's a thought...

    And people still saying 1095 is all you ever need :D
  3. shqxk


    Mar 26, 2012
    From the chemical engineering's point of view there are still the limitation of matter property on this planet. No matter how advanced of modern technology will go, scientist still can't find anything harder than diamond or any solid material that softer than soapstone. I know there are many syntetic material that said to be harder than Diamond such as Graphene but it just theoretical and just too restrict to be proven.

    I don't believe the advance of modern alloy will go any much further than now. Most alloy that we consider as super alloy theseday was developed long time ago.
  4. Gator97

    Gator97 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 10, 2000
    Graphine isn't theoretical? There's more too.

    May be steel will hits its limits, but we're not sworn to use steel as out perpetual cutting tools, are we :) First it was bone and stone, then obsidian, bronze, iron, steel etc... Doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it cuts and stays sharp, it can be anything from metal to energy field...
  5. Camber


    Jul 13, 2011
    Anyone care to go back to discussing how "super steels" are truly "super" when, while they do offer improvements in a number of areas, they can even bring downsides in others?

    Would we like to continue with strawman discussions about hating technology, when I'm watching TV on an flatscreen, using a Macbook Pro, drive a Prius, and yes even have an Elmax knife within reach?

    I must like all and appreciate all technological advancements? I must not point out that they might have flaws in certain areas?
    So, essentially, if everyone followed the logic displayed in the last few posts, Mac should have just given up since Microsoft already made advancements...they shouldn't have looked at Microsoft's flaws and tried to improve upon them?

    Here's a convenient list of failed technology: http://listverse.com/2013/01/12/10-innovative-pieces-of-technology-that-failed-miserably/
    Should people not have pointed out the flaws of those things? Should we still be using them today?

    I got no beef with the CPM steels. My comments have all been on their promotions. If you don't ubiquitously promote them for chopper use, is it really that hard to assume it might be inappropriate to promote them in such a way for smaller knives? In many cases they will be great, in many they will not.

    If we can move past the strawman arguments, would someone please explain how a high volume carbide load helps in shaving one's face? How those little hard carbides, that are unshaped and unapexed, help to push cut through my facial hair once the softer matrix surrounding them wears away? Perhaps if they could be submicron size, which if technology gives us I'll be very happy about, they could help more in this case

    Or could someone else please point out where I said that I would want AEB-L for cutting rope / cardboard or dressing out the dirty hide of an animal?
  6. shqxk


    Mar 26, 2012
    Then 5160 should be call as super steel too since it sacrifice wear resistance, hardness and corrosion resistance for super ease of sharpening, take super sharp edge, super tough and super flexibility :thumbup:
  7. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    James I am glad you brought up competition cutters, I had forgot about how they could fit into this discussion. I do remember reading about a European guy that made one from O1 and won a couple competitions over there, but I do not think it fared so well over here against the M4. He did have a special heat treat developed with help from Kevin Cashen, if I remember correctly. The M4 knives are ground really thin, but I think their hardness is around 60-61 Rc to capture a little more of the toughness with a slight loss of fine edge holding. I saw a youtube video a couple weeks ago where Dan Keffeler is going to be using PD1 this year for his competition knife. I am curious as to what the target hardness is for that one. My PD1 knife I made is at 63 with full convex zero grind. I have chopped, beat, batoned, and sliced with that knife and have to say that PD1 is very impressive.
  8. GrinderMcgee


    Jun 23, 2008
    Yup. Spyderco doesn't do a bad job of making slicers though. Just sayin.

    S90V still goes dull if I hit a staple or contact hard surfaces just like my Krupp 4.116 knife. That's after I have to sharpen it just like I do a Mora. ;)

    I could literally buy 35 stainless clippers for the price of my last "super" blade knife (ZT0777). Now is OP saying that this one super blade will out perform an entire box of knives for cutting off fish heads, opening bags of concrete, yard work or even stabbing zombies?

    The point being, like always.....it depends on what you want/need from your collection. I say more is better. Whether it be more low cost dependability or more super steel mystery. To me, the value in a M390 sprint run is collectibility, not edge holding.
  9. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Any details on how thin and what edge angle they use?
  10. leghog


    Aug 10, 2013
    While talc is the softest mineral, man has developed a softer porous solid in aerogels.
  11. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    The ones I have handled were made from thicker than 1/4" stock, flat or very light convex grinds to very thin edges. I have not measured any and did not ask for specifics out of courtesy, but if I had to guess they were around .010" behind the edge. The angle is a convex for sure to a micro bevel. These are the Bugati of the knife world. Very streamlined, highly "engineered" (because they make a lot of competition knives to find what works for them), and purpose driven for speed and efficiency.
    Has anyone else tried to cut a 2 x 4 in 1.5 seconds much less 3 hits. I think that is speed and precision, especially when it is repeatable.
  12. gine


    Sep 2, 2007
    Great thread this turned out to be. Everyone has a preference on different steels. I am a big fan of high alloy steels as well as low alloy steels. They all have their place, pros/cons ect. I like high wear steels for my utility knives because I cut lots of abrasive things like cardboard. Kitchen knives I don't need the wear resistance so I've been enjoying carbon steels and AEB-L .I agree with the others that say high carbide steels cut aggressive but a little overkill for kitchen use IMO. I have an CPM S35VN nakiri and it cuts forever before sharpening.I like my kitchen knives ground very thin with 400-700 grit edge finish. I prefer all my knives ground .01" or less behind the edge besides choppers.
  13. gine


    Sep 2, 2007
    I'm working on a couple choppers right now in 80CRV2 ,375 thick . I won't stack up to PD1 but I think it will do fine.
  14. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    Maybe or something else altogether in the future. :)

    Oh, but yeah I am sure there will still be those 1095 fans. :D
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  15. GatorFlash1

    GatorFlash1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2012
  16. GatorFlash1

    GatorFlash1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2012
    There was a guy named Bob Loveless, maybe some of you have heard of him. He used some of the "old" knife steels like 154-CM very successfully. Of course the picture of the Delaware maid on the blade didn't hurt. Never seen one? Check these links, and the price. Check him out sometime.



    He made knives with very good geometry, which I will take over designs less efficient but made from the latest steel. I'm buying knives, not steels, and rely on the manufacturer to put all the pieces together into a usable package.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  17. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    They're very specialized blades, and I probably wouldn't grind or HT a general purpose camp knife quite the same way. But much like race cars, pushing them to their limits does offer insights that can carry over even to a mundane sedan. (I credit my friend Ken for pointing out the race car analogy to me; he often refers to his comp blades as "race knives".)

    PD1 is interesting stuff. I haven't even studied it much less worked with it, but I hear cool things about it.

    True, but it's important to remember that in his time he was widely criticized for using "new fangled" steels like 440C and 154CM, being a pioneer in using high-alloy steels and thin grinds, and even - GASP! - not forging his blades, but grinding them out of barstock. The tired old arguments about stock-removal vs. forging, in terms of blade performance, have very much faded away in recent years... but there are still a few places where you can find yourself in a knock-down drag-out fight for even bringing it up.

    Long before the end of his life, Loveless had fully embraced powder metallurgy. I don't think he's a good example of someone sticking with "old" steels. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    440C and 154CM are still as good as they were back then - except for the unfortunate fact that the quality of the steels themselves has fallen off badly (poor mixing, poor cleanliness, etc). But if you like them, you're going to love CPM-154, Elmax, etc... they're simply better across the board.

    When we consider how/why these alloys are actually developed, we're not talking about fast food or disposable razors or even pocket knives, where companies mostly just re-arrange the same ingredients to have an excuse to make a glitzy new commercial or magazine ad. The mills have to be able to show industrial users that buy steel for dies, slitters etc by the ton that the extra expense really pays off in longer tool life.

    It's not a matter of replacing "old" steels just to have something new to market, but of learning from them and improving upon them.

    It just so happens that many of these new alloys also make truly excellent pocket knives and fixed blades, but we are a mere drop in the bucket of their demand.
  18. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    As I've said many times, and in the thread that I referenced, it chipped because the primary grind and the edge angle were too thin to perform in the media that I was cutting. Then I took the angle out to 15dps, and it quit chipping. As I have said before, it didn't affect the cutting ability in any way that I could discern with my hands. With excellent equipment, perhaps you could measure the difference, but if I can't tell it myself, then I don't care.

    You probably could go out to 20 or 25 to make it more stable. Once I solved the chipping, I was happy with it. I still am. I don't know what thickness Landes was using, so I can't really compare my results to his. And when I did this test (probably 7 or 8 years ago), I hadn't read his paper. I tend to go out and do things on my own then compare results rather than look around literature first.

    If you want to take it a step further, by all means, go ahead and do it. I would be interested in the results. For my part, I'm finished with that particular experiment. I don't test for other people, just myself. I figure if anyone wants to see more, they can do it themselves.

    Ok, good. I agree with all that you've typed. I'm just mystified at the direction this thread has taken. I thought it was assumed by all that when we discuss performance, it's only within a narrow scope of work. Evidently that's been somehow not communicated or miscommunicated.

    Based on my D2 knife, I would agree about S90V. My S90V knives are sufficiently expensive that I'm not tempted to try that experiment with them. :D I'll let others do that, if they are so inclined. I still have a soft spot for my M2 HSS blade, crude that it is. It introduced me to the world of high performance knives, even if it's been surpassed in some areas of work.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  19. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    I agree with your first sentence, I think we all have been saying that. The other stuff I got from this thread.

    If a high alloy/carbide steel needs a larger edge angle, it doesn't mean thicker than a splitting maul's angle (where'd I get that from ;) ?). It just needs to be relatively thicker. The primary grind thickness also plays a role. Will my M2 HSS knife at 66 HRC outcut a production knife in S90V? Probably, if the production knife has a really thick primary grind. Will it outcut a custom in K294 with a very thin primary grind? Probably not, although, to be fair, I'd have to actually do the cutting to find out.

    And yes, I'm talking about cutting abrasive media such as butchering a hog. I did that with a Dozier in D2, and literally almost couldn't tell the knife was even used. I tested it before and after with a hanging piece of yellow pages, I could cut withing a half inch of each other from the point of hanging. I can't extrapolate anything from that except that Dozier's knives are quite well suited for the task of butchering hogs.

    If someone took any of these knives, lashed them to a pole and tried chopping with them, there would be violence. From me to them. :D These aren't chopping steels, I would hope that everyone would understand that.
  20. Ankerson

    Ankerson Knife and Computer Geek Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    Exactly. :)

    The steel industry is huge while the knife industry is a very small percentage of that as a whole.

    Most of the steels aren't new at all and have been used in other parts of the industry for years or decades.

    But that doesn't mean that all of them are adaptable for knife use due to various issues, cost etc.

    While some have been adapted and work very well, others not so much.

    What the future will hold nobody really knows what new technology will come out in processing that can take the steel to a new level.

    The knife industry has come a very long way in the past 30 years, but we will have to see what happens in the next 30 years.

    I think it will have to be in refinement, the alloys are there so it's going to be taking what is there and improving on them or maybe going in a completely different direction that we haven't seen yet.

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