Why might top makers hold onto old steels?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by SS234, Nov 21, 2020.

  1. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Ultimately if the steel is a reasonable choice and the maker/manufacturer knows how to get what they want out of it, it doesn't matter. It doesn't bother me to sharpen I knife but I don't like to re-sharpen a knife in the middle of a job. Hence, the second knife.

    I'm influenced by the super steels just like most of us here. But I have settled on middle range steels now and don't seek things like 3V or whatever. I see the new Spydie in a what is supposed to be a great steel and I just think my regular Native 5 is just fine.

    The one thing that doesn't excite me are makers that use truck springs or steel scrap to make their knives. Just doesn't do it for me.
  2. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    What do you consider middle range steel?
  3. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Stuff like S30 or S35V...... I am real fond of 1095, but I don't consider it middle range.
  4. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    1. Older "non-super" steels are cheaper
    2. They know how to harden them properly
    3. They have tooling that will cut them (no need to buy new tooling) Tooling will last longer too, with softer steels.
    4. The steel is not the main focus of their product
    jbmonkey and afishhunter like this.
  5. Ourorboros


    Jan 23, 2017
    I didn't think about it, but that's what all of us who have been saying "I want something I can sharpen" are really saying. We just want something that works.
  6. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    If we look back at the two world wars, our conflict in Korea and Vietnam, and substitute modern steels for the steels that they used then; our guys would have died from an inability to sharpen their knives in the field.

    afishhunter likes this.
  7. dan35


    Apr 21, 2009
    I like the idea of most new steels for the variety and technical make up of the steel. Most of us don’t need it and never use it to it’s potential. S35vn is great. I’m thinking of picking up a small CRK 21 while they are available. S35vn will be just fine for a life long user.

    If your someone who cuts 1000’s of items Maxamet will be great. Most of us are set with VG-10 or S35vn qualities.
  8. cbrstar


    Sep 7, 2015
    I have two Dozier Arkansas knives. Both are in D2, and I don't know what they do in thier heat treat but they way out perform any of my other D2 knives. And the D2 meets my needs while camping etc.
    Like others have already said. Having a knife with a amazing heat treat far outweighs having a "super steel" with a soft crappy heat treat.
  9. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Umm ... "Truck springs" (and car springs) are generally 5160 ... they make a fantastic blade. :)

    I'll agree with the use of recycled scrap steel. Talk about a "mystery steel"!
    Made with everything from cast iron and mild steel (such as refrigerators, and auto bodies), to high carbon steels, stainless steels, welding rod of various types, and steel foundry/ plant rejects, among other sources, all melted together ... who knows if the finished conglomerate/mess will take and hold an edge, or if it can even be hardened and tempered.

    I worked at Novak's American Metal Reduction back in the early/mid 1970's. At the time, Novak's was one of the largest metal recycling yards in the country. (I don't know if they are still going, or under what name if they are, after the founder passed. His son and daughter didn't seem interested in carrying on the family business, from what I saw. I've little doubt they sold the company when their pop passed, presuming he didn't sell out before then, when/if he decided to retire, for instance.)

    Steel recycled went into one pile. No attempt was made to separate the various grades or types. There was also a lot of rejected steel from Kaiser Steel, over in Fontana. Not to mention chips from all the area's machine shops, new to decades old barbed wire and chain link fencing, and literally tons of scrap welding rod that had gotten wet. Cars were stripped of the fuel tank, engine, and transmission, (using an articulated end loader with a claw) then crushed and shipped out.
    The only "clean" metals shipped were aluminum, brass (red and yellow brass were kept separated), and copper. I'm not sure if the rare bronze could be considered "clean" since there were at least three different types. ("Marine" "Plumbing" and "Gun" bronze were three most common types I saw.) They were all shipped out mixed and crushed together in multi-ton cubes.
    Engines and transmissions were never separated; they went on to trailers, still joined together. I helped replace the landing gear on one trailer that had 125,000 pounds of "engines" loaded on/in it. The 50,000 pound capacity landing gear collapsed when the yard mule truck disconnected from it. Unsurprisingly, the crane operator who loaded that trailer wasn't fired.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
  10. vjb.knife

    vjb.knife Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2002
    I really can't say that I notice a lot of difference in most of my knives that are various steels, All are pretty high quality. One of my favorite custom makers is Bob Terzuola and he almost always uses CPM154. Who am I to say that's not good enough. I have 4 or 5 of his knives and they seem to work ok.
  11. jbmonkey

    jbmonkey Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 9, 2011
    I still like and use 440c done by Buck. I also use and like 420hc for that matter. these are still good knife steels for my uses. course I'm doing mostly normal cutting tasks.

    I also have lots of newer and super steel knives too. I like those as well. I can sharpen. guess I fall into an exception part of the can or can't sharpen whether likes super steels hypothesis.:) I enjoy the newer stuff just cause. i just like steels.
    stevekolt, willc and onionfan like this.
  12. mendezj

    mendezj Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 24, 1998
    My very best performing knives, by far, for the past 35 years have had 440V steel blades.
  13. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    Old doesn't mean bad. I bought a custom in 440C 3 years ago. It's a great steel for a pretty knife. It takes a high polish, is highly rust resistant and can be quite hard, thus the edge lasts. It can be heat treated by the maker in their shop who has 30 years of experience with it.

    Modern steels are often just different, not really better for what people use knives for. GP Knives has video on how they decide what knives to stock, HYPE is the second biggest factor. Don't fall for it.
  14. hardheart


    Sep 19, 2001
    They use "old" steels because we aren't cutting new things. Steel that used to work still works. Any steel that achieves the desired properties at the required cost will get the job done. The desired properties depend on the buyers, and the overwhelming majority don't require much.

    I like super steels because I can sharpen. Polishing an old low alloy blade until it can split hair isn't exactly difficult. So I like stuff I have to take a little longer with, and to justify spending in a bunch of knives as well as a bunch of sharpening stones.

    That's where a lot of the steel, handle, lock, color & shape variety comes from. There isn't just *a* knife hobby, there's buying, selling, using, tuning, sharpening, matching, cataloging, researching etc activities in different aspects of knife hobbies.
  15. BillZee


    Apr 30, 2020
    All steel alloys are a trade off of properties even new ones.
    Give me D2 or 400 series any day from a company that gets quality steel and heat treats well.
    I got some expensive knives ($200) and love my Ontario RAT 1&2 in D2.
    Look at Benchmade tax on fancy steels.
  16. soc_monki

    soc_monki Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 5, 2019
    I like my fancy-ish steels. I also really enjoy the 1095cv in my Kabars. I went to town on a tree branch that fell in my yard yesterday with my bk7. It is still shaving sharp after chopping that branch down to manageable sizes. That's good enough for me, no need for anything else for a blade like that. And it's easy to get stupid sharp.

    And I could sharpen it on a rock if need be. :thumbsup:

    I do love my cpm m4 though!

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