people's favorite steels for applications

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Rsq, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Rsq

    Rsq Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 7, 2011
    I have seen a lot of best steel conversations, and a lot of broad categorizations, but I haven't found a useful list like the one I would like. I would like to ask people, especially heavy users and makers, what their favorite steels are for different applications. Some notes like at what hardness, from what makers you have had good experiences, and what edge angles and degree of polish you like. There will never be consensus, but it would be interesting to see the groupings.

    Something like:

    Heavy use camping etc,
    cpm 3v at hrc 61+/-. 20* inclusive primary bevel, 35 apex. 8k+ finish
    Bark river is pretty good

    Folding knife edc:
    k390 at HRC 63 +/- ffg to zero edge, 35* inclusive at the apex. 2k grit cbn to finish.
    I have 2 fixed blades by kornalski which take a superlative edge, and lose it slowly (one in the kitchen over months of abuse, neglect, and absolutely no maintenance). Spyderco makes the folders I actually carry.

    Utility/carving knife: I use my kornalski in k390 a lot, even though its ergonomics are terrible for this. I have a hunter/skinner, but it just keeps cutting longer than seems reasonable.

    Kitchen knives:
    I'm not happy with the ones I have and am shopping for an upgrade.

    If a lot of people answer, I'll try to make a spreadsheet and see if any patterns emerge, or if any steels are particularly popular crossovers. Another thing I'd be curious to see is similar high alloy steels with different heat treats and geometries being used for different purposes.
    Rykjeklut and orangejoe35 like this.
  2. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    Let's see...

    - Camping chores - It's usually going to be a midsized or larger knife in 3V or SR101. Camp kitchen chores are usually handled by a dedicated Mora, although I absolutely do not mind carrying a single knife in something like 1095 if it's just a weekend. As for heavy use, I'll use the best tool for the job which for many tasks won't be a knife. I don't tend to pry or beat on things with my knives. As a result, I generally only carry super steel knives because I can, not because I have to. Think using a Bugatti Veyron to just pop down to the grocery store a couple blocks away. Complete overkill for the application.

    - Folding knife - A few years ago I was riding the super-steel carousel with everyone else, but these days, I enjoy everything from S35vn to S110v. Most of the knives I carry are either S35vn, or else they're one of the M390 family (M390, CPM-20cv, CTS-204p). I sit at a desk every day, so a rugged steel that can take being beaten through a cinder block is not only not at the top of my list, it doesn't even make the list of needs in an EDC for me. Much more important concerns for me are ergos and fit & finish. Life is too short to carry a trash knife.

    - Utility/Carving knives - I have a few woodcarving Moras, and I also enjoy using a couple different folding knives, namely a Cold Steel Mini Tuff Lite, and a GEC Bullnose Micarta that I've forced a great patina on.

    - Kitchen knives - I have the usual commercial carbon steel suspects, but I'm in the process of upgrading. I've got my friend @ShannonSteelLabs making a chef's knife for me right now, in fact. I believe it's in Zfinit.
    cwsmith17, jlauffer, jux t and 2 others like this.
  3. Pomsbz


    Jul 31, 2015
    Whatever Victorinox uses. Like Mary Poppins, 'practically perfect in every way'. :)
    James Y and cwsmith17 like this.
  4. unwisefool

    unwisefool Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    I've got some pretty good super and hard use steels, but my two most used pocketknives have s30v and D2.
    cwsmith17 likes this.
  5. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Poor S30V isn't a super steel anymore.
  6. unwisefool

    unwisefool Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    Never said it was. What I said was I have some fancy steels but end up using those two steels the most.
  7. Buck Razor

    Buck Razor Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 25, 2019
    My present collection is small, but slowly expanding. When I plan on banging around the property I use my "expendable steel" like my Tenacious or my RAT 1 (D2). My "out and about" steels are S35VN, S90V, and S110V.
  8. Nsled


    May 13, 2019
    Frankly I can't sharpen anything that isn't 1095, I have a few in D2, S30v and some stainless but it's my "high carbon steel" that always takes the edge. An old Puma is my camp knife and a case trapper my EDC both high carbon.
    cwsmith17 likes this.
  9. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    Says who?

    I’ve got to find this list of which steels are “super-dee-duper”, and which are “common junk”.
    Daddyo16, palonej, jux t and 2 others like this.
  10. ScooterG

    ScooterG You mean Ireland? Yeah, it’s mine. Platinum Member

    Mar 15, 2016
    3V for beating the crap out of stuff - because Carothers

    M4/Cruwear for EDC - M4 especially holds a nice toothy edge and doesn't get chippy (IMO)

    Spicy White is getting my attention though.
  11. BigWillie


    Jun 4, 2019
    The answer among the chef community seems to be knife steel doesn't matter.

    As long as the edge doesn't roll on bone they're good.

    And you're supposed to constantly hone if you're making fine cuts anyway

    VG10 and max would be the obvious candidates for a kitchen knife super steel. Corrosion resistance is king. But if you're in a kitchen you should be able to maintain your blade so easily that will never be a problem anyway. I think shun offers some knives in VG. Wusthof the biggest western maker of production kitchen knives uses a CrMoV steel on all their blades I think.

    Not much appetite for super steel in the kitchen apparently.
    cwsmith17, Pomsbz and marchone like this.
  12. tony281sc2


    Feb 13, 2017
    At my last factory job I found that S30, S35VN, CPM154 and Elmax were plenty good enough for my daily use. Only had to touch em up every couple of months compared to the 8cr/14c28 stuff that needed to be sharpened every week or 2.
    Wasn’t really beating on the knives tho, just cutting plastic wrap, straps, cardboard and the occasional plastic tier sheet
  13. McFeeli


    Feb 13, 2017
    Is CPM CruWear for everything an appropriate answer? I think so, haha.
    ScooterG likes this.
  14. GB940Rookie


    Apr 19, 2016
    For outdoors I’m still using mostly 1095.
    For EDC folders I don’t really care. I have aus8, vg10, bd1, 154, s30, s35, 20cv, m4 and s90.
    If they were all cpm154, I would be fine.
    I use Tojiro knives in the kitchen. I believe them to be high value blades. Can’t remember the steel.
  15. NapalmCheese

    NapalmCheese Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Everyday carry: Stainless or carbon.
    Camping: Stainless or carbon.
    Kitchen: carbon, or stainless.

    My favorite kitchen knife is a 10 inch K Sabatier in xc75 steel hardened at 54RC or so. Sharpened at some low angle that I do by hand on a 1k/4k waterstone, finished on a 12k waterstone, maintained with a steel or occasional touchups on a fine DMT Diafold.

    My camping/edc/everything else knives range from 1070-CPM154 and S30V. I sharpen them at some low angle that I do by hand on a 1k/4k waterstone, finished on a 12k waterstone, maintained with a steel or occasional touchups on a fine DMT Diafold.

    My hunting knives are mostly 420HC, 8Cr13Mov, 1095, hardned to probably 56-58 RC. I sharpen them at some low angle that I do by hand on a 1k/4k waterstone, finished on a 12k waterstone, maintained with a steel or occasional touchups on a fime DMT Diafold.
    BigWillie likes this.
  16. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    I can more or less just break this down to the individual knives I have.

    S35VN Recon 1 when there’s going to be hard use.
    LC200N Spyderco Carribbean for general EDC when it’s muggy
    S35VN Factor Iconic for non-humid EDC
    N690 Real Steel Metamorph II for discrete and corrosion-resistant work carry

    And, once it arrives:
    XHP Hold Out II for non-muggy work carry.

    I might get the M390 Hogue RSK to spice up my work knives with a super steel, but that’s very low priority on my expenditures.
    DocJD and cwsmith17 like this.
  17. Black Oak Bladeworks

    Black Oak Bladeworks KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2019
    For larger chopping knives I have found 5160 at 57rc+/-to do better than the others steel I have tried so far. (Mostly bow making, primitive fire making or limbing an occasional tree as well as cutting small brush. (Others tested 1095,Vg10,Aus8.)

    I really like how some of the Fallknivens VG10 turns out. I have had some of there knifes that did not performed as well as others, but the one I have currently works well as a do everything kinda blade. Not sure the rock well, I think its around 60. (Other steels tested, 5160, Aus8, 1095,)

    I am still deciding for small knives. 5160 is also my current favorite, But I want to test A2 and CPM3V more. They show promises of out performing it. (steels tested, A2,1095,CPM3V,5160,Elmax,CPM154,12c27,S30V, AUS8, VG10.)

    I have a lot more I would like to try:)
  18. marchone

    marchone Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 13, 2013
    30 years+ in high end kitchens and retired now. I recently had a paring knife made in Niolox. It keeps an edge pretty well and is easy to maintain on a Sharpmaker. I just commissioned another in a mid-size 165mm utility configuration. I sincerely doubt anything will replace my 10-inch Wusthof Chef's knives. They are simply the most versatile kitchen knives I have used. Slicer, chopper, light cleaver ... it does it all.

    I'm not crazy about my Moki Banff in VG10. It seems very, very brittle. Perhaps after securing (and learning to use) a WE130, I might change my mind.


    I'll add that I'm very happy with my Shirogorov F3 in Elmax. I should think it would make a fine kitchen knife. But some here say it's an inferior steel to others Shiro uses. I wouldn't know. That seems to be splitting hairs. Especially when the collectors don't actually use them. o_O
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
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  19. jpm2


    Nov 19, 2014
    Best steel for 99% of my use, from picking splinters and other self surgery, to processing food and game, to seperating motor leads, ringing sealtite, scraping corroded wire, and cutting steel cable is
    ~1% C
    less than 5% cr
    5-6% mo
    6-7% w
    ~2% v
    a smidgen of ni, mn, si, and cu
    well heat treated and mid 60's hrc.

    Higher 60's hrc with the addition of 5%+ co, plus a little more of the above except the last bit, will also do.
  20. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    I can see no one understands my joke. Must not have been a very funny one.
    colin.p, DocJD, Cosmodragoon and 7 others like this.

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