Well said Steven.
I spent the last 16 months until three weeks ago cutting fish for 3-4 hours a day of an 8-9 hour workday 5-6 days a week. I learned a few things about knives during that time....mostly that carbon steel knives suck balls in that environment.....like even with a patina the most wonderfully made carbon steel knife that was a gift from an amazing human being stained white steak fish at the cut, and the fish had to be rinsed before it could be packaged up....busy fishmongers don't have time for that...period.
I don't think all carbon steel sucks at all, but I learned what I learned by doing it. Just like you.....just like all of a sudden you started knocking out leatherwork that is frikkin amazing...wasn't amazing a few years ago, but it got that way by you working hard at it, asking good questions, and keeping at it.
This discussion isn't about the perfect steel...this discussion is about some makers having a real strong opinion and working methods one way, and other makers on the other...same for the collectors.
There isn't supposed to be any winners or losers, it's just supposed to be an open forum for discussion....I haven't tried to bully or denigrate anyone....for the most part it's a good discussion, from the feedback and the quality of posts.
The knife tells the story by how it feels, by how it looks by all the tangibles and intangibles that it possesses. It can make you feel good, it can make you feel confident, powerful and it can teach you things.....it can also feel like a fresh turd or a pile of fish guts in your hand if it isn't a good one.
I learn from knives every day.....most of the people posting here do too...we learn some of the same things, and we learn different things....but the bottom line is that we learn, because when you stop learning, it's pretty much time to die....and talking about what we learn is a good way to teach other people, and have an affect on their opinions and how they do things.
Last edited by Kohai999; 10-14-2012 at 02:14 AM.
Well said Steven.
I'm a big supporter of recycling but steel is biodegradable so if that old plowshare just rusts away and isnt turned into a new knife, it wont bother me none... I will say when I am buying a knife I prefer a steel that is tried and tested and even more importantly, I want the maker to be very familiar with its properties and know how to get the best performance out if it by heat treating it properly. When you're making a high dollar custom knife, I think the guesswork needs to eliminated from the process as much as possible.
Obviously any craft requires a learning curve (and like STeven says, we never stop learning) but buying a known quantity in steel is definitely a good start to ending up with a knife that can be trusted to perform. As to carbon versus stainless, I know where my preferences lie. I dont think there is any right or wrong though. It just depends on your circumstances. Some love a patina, some love a shine that will never fade and can be easily restored with a dab of Flitz - to each his own! I have forged and stock removal knives, both have their place in the world.
Something occurred to me the other day when thinking about this thread. Why is it that people are fine with putting beautiful, but sub-par handle material on a knife but then have different standards for the blade? I mean... ancient walrus ivory just isn't going to compare to something like micarta for performance, endurance, toughness, etc. If you were design a knife ONLY with performance in mind.. you start getting pretty limited in the creativity of the craft eh? Just a thought.
yeah that all makes sense... and I sometimes love the look of micarta (not so much carbon fiber). I just thought it was an interesting comparison.
"Avatar - Roman Dagger by Curt Erickson"
I have my thoughts on handle material and I have settled on Stag and Micarta as my favorites
Stag is very durable and even when knocked around can age very well.
Micarta is my friend and I have grown to love it for what it is
As for recycled steel
There are a few smiths I don't have a problem with when it comes to this. I have a mystery steel from Bagwell that I am pretty sure he has an idea of whatit is. Bill being the second man to receive a MS stamp has a pretty good idea of what he's working with.
There are a few other Smiths out there that know what there doing and I consider Ray to be one of them. In general I prefer to know the steel but more important to me is that the smith knows how to heat great that steel and when it comes to mystery steel that takes experimentation and in this day and time it is less time consuming to stick with known materials.
In fact everyone should just use W 2 for there mono steel blades anyway
NRA Life Member
R.I.P. Phill Hartsfield
We've had some great viewpoints from both sides and I can fully understand both. I guess that it is all down to what you want your knives to be known for (and for what you enjoy doing). There's no doubt that there synthetic handle materials that are more durable than most naturals and a known steel is easier for the maker to H/T with consistant quality.
Steven--Cudos for making everyone think and for "stirring the pot" to get everyone to respond.
I've enjoyed the thread.
ABS, CKCA, AKA, KGA
Scientific heat treating can be done with a manufacturer's recommendation and a computer controlled caibrated oven. However, it is just as scientific to use a good experimental design and determine the best parameters by trial and error. This is what a good cutler does with "mystery" or found steel.
You all should read some of Wayne Goddard's work in Blade and his reprints in his books. The best blade (edge holding with no chipping) I own is made out of "saw steel" (the big circular blade kind), heat treated by an "amatuer".
It is not a "mystery" if you make test blades and determine the best way to handle the material. People have been making great knives out of recycled steel for ages, it's not controversial, it's not new, and it certainly works.
You do have to trust the maker...but you've got to trust even with a knife made of "known steel" since you won't be sending the knife out for analysis to make sure it is really CPMWondersteel99.
Even if it is "known steel" how do you know the maker treated it right for it's purpose. Did they follow the "recipe" from the manufacturer, or one from a knife buddy down the road, or did they "modify" the heat treating because they don't have the right kind of equipment. Is their oven at the right temperature?
At least with a responsible maker that uses found steel you can be assured the heat treat is right because they have tested their blade for its intended use.
Many of the people on this thread don't use most of their knives they collect...why care about the steel in a knife you don't plan on ever using?
Just want to underline Mr. Brownshoe, Mr. Ecos, Mr. Scott, and of course Mr. Ray's posts.
Here in my country, a developing country. Knifemaking materials are scarce in term of modernity.
Steel for blade mostly comes from scrapyard, means that we deal with "mysterous" steel.
At least two well known old blacksmith in Indonesian knife community who are produce blades that we really admire their skills. The two blacksmith are only 0.0.....% of blacksmiths in our country who able to execute mystery steel nicely.
My job needs me to have a good reliable blades, exploring Indonesian jungle for conservation.
I used to take one blade in nearest village of our survey area. Most of the blades never failed.
One of the blacksmith that i mentioned above is more than 60yrs old, i think one of his blade already served an American gentlemen very well. When my fellow gave him a piece of Don Hanson W2 flatten bar, he said wow this is a good steel. He not even look at the color of steel when its burnt in his forge. He just look at the color of bar which is not sanding or grinding yet, color come from forging when its flatted.
We did not tell him that it is DHIII W2, so it is consider a mysterious steel for him.
The blade that he made from W2 is awesome, no rolling no chipping. He use water quenching or used machine oil, he just HTing base on the spark and color which caame out during forging process.
He understand his work really well base on his experience of dealing with mystery steel on his knifemaking business.
There is no controllable machine on his workshop.
I just want to say thanks to Don Hanson lll who let us purchased his W2 so several local blacksmith in our country had happy face when they make blades for us. I have been contacted so many steel dealer to ask small quantity of their steel but did not work. So we will always dealing with mystery steel feom scrapyard.
This thread is excellent. I mean really, really excellent. And while I'm all for "known" steels, since I kind of have to be, I have to say going out and finding the stuff is a lot of damn fun as well. Whether its doing a smelt on a Saturday in the middle of nowhere or adventuring up to old harbors in Massachusetts to go search for 1800's wrought iron chain, I do enjoy the history of it all. Without having gone through all those processes, smelts, "wizardry", and all that, modern knife making would not be what it is today. Heck, modern steels wouldn't even be what they are today. Bridges, buildings, cars, surgical instruments, the stuff is everywhere. Still all started out with a guy with some raw materials and a need for tools that would hold an edge. And here we are.
I think there is a big difference between reusing/recyclying steel that is of a known composition, and using true "mystery steel.
I use quite a bit of 8670M (L6) from large saw blades that I get from a known source. I have also verified who made the blades and what steel they use.
I have also done quite a bit of testing to verify the information.
I think full disclosure to the customer about steel source AND heat treat methods are really the key, no matter what steel we as knifemakers decide to use for any given knife.
Just my .02
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