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Thread: Schrade Blade Steels

  1. #1
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    Schrade Blade Steels


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    Schrade Blade Steel

    One question that arises time after time is regarding which blade steels Schrade used. For many years, those of us who grew up owning and using Schrade Old Timer and Uncle Henry knives had a pat answer. Or at least we thought we did. That answer, dating back to 1967 with the introduction of the earliest Uncle Henry knife, the 897UH Premium Signature Stockman, was “Old Timers use high carbon steel in their blades, and Uncle Henry knives use Schrade+ stainless steel.” Research and communications with Schrade employees here in this forum since 2000 have revealed a slightly different answer, not nearly as cut and dried as we are used to.

    I am reminded of an old Volkswagen ad campaign where they showed a Beetle in water. The tag line was “A VW will definitely float, but it will not float indefinitely”. While all Schrade knives marked “SCHRADE+” are stainless steel, not all Old Timers and Uncle Henry knives not so marked are carbon steel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Faust, Schrade Product Manager 9/19/01
    The...trapper..285UH...started out in 1969 with high carbon blades. The catalogs don’t list it with stainless until around 1977, but we probably started using it earlier than that (maybe around 1973 or 1974)....All records that we can find on the 897(UH), even from the first year of production in 1967, indicate that it was made from stainless steel, but it was the only small Uncle Henry stockman that we made in the very beginning.

    The Uncle Henry line started out when our knives were stamped “Schrade-Walden”, and it wasn’t until a couple of years into production (probably around 1974) before we started using the “Schrade+” stamp, so even though a knife isn’t stamped “Schrade+”, it may still be stainless.

    We did make a few other Uncle Henry’s with high carbon steel, but they were all rigid blades (165UH, 153UH, 171UH, and 172UH).
    Quote Originally Posted by SchradeWebGuy 6/21/04
    About the carbon steel. We are cutting back some for now...Financial reasons... Most of the knives that have always had the high carbon are now being produced with Schrade+. It’s unlikely that it will stay that way, but for now we have to take some unpleasant steps to weather the storm.
    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie Chase, Schrade CSR 11/25/04
    Actually, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is very possible that the blade of your 152OT could actually be stainless. Because of difficulty with their steel suppliers in supplies and soaring prices, and the demand by stores like Wal-mart to keep prices down, Schrade did (I believe around 1997, if I remember correctly) begin to do a running transformation from carbon to stainless. Unfortunately, they did this hoping that if the tang stamps were not changed, no one would notice. Being in direct contact with knife enthusiasts on a daily basis, I did advise them that people would definitely know...and I was left “holding the bag”, when people would return their “high carbon steel” knives because they were stainless.....Quite honestly though, I knew they had switched over a lot of folders, but I was not aware that they had begun doing it with rigid blades.”
    Apparently, Schrade did perform a test marketing of sorts to check the validity of Ms. Chase’s assertions and her feedback from disgruntled customers.

    Quote Originally Posted by lrv 10/21/05
    You won’t see too many of these around. This 19OT was made the same year that the 512OT surfaced.
    Quote Originally Posted by Codger 10/21/05
    The original owner of the 512OT declared it to have been purchased in late ‘89, and it came to him in the standard tan 152OT marked box. The right box for the knife, acquired later from a friend, had a 1991 copyright date. So that gives us a timeframe.....

    Yes, Schrade did mark this pair Schrade+ on both tangstamps and boxes. And the catalogs eventually dropped the references to what steel the Old Timers were made from (late in the game).
    Now that I have thoroughly confused you, and blown long time dearly held ideals of absolute truths, we will look at the steels themselves.

    “High Carbon Cutlery Steel”, at least in the case of Imperial Schrade Old Timers and Uncle Henry knives so blessed, refers to AISI 1095HC. It has a carbon content of between .95% and 1.05%, Magnesium 0.30-0.50%, Phosphorus (max.) 0.040%, sulphur (max.) 0.050% according to ladle samples. “Famous for both it’s edge hold ability and resharpening ease. One of the charactoristics of this steel is that it will darken or discolor with use, especially if used on meats or fruits. Care must be taken with a carbon steel knife to prevent rust. The blades should be kept dry and lightly oiled occasionally.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie Chase, Schrade CSR 12/06/04
    The feeling by many knife users that the rust and discoloration of high carbon steel was an inconvenience was most definitely the reason for the introduction of stainless steel. While most avid users preferred the high carbon steel and honestly felt that the steel wasn’t a good steel until it was seasoned (darkened and discolored) properly, there was always quite a number of people writing in to complain that the steel must be a very poor steel, because they couldn’t slice their apples without it rusting....
    “Schrade+” steel was actually a trademarked name used for at least two different stainless steel alloys. First was 440A. Then a change was made to 420HC. As of this time, there is conflicting information about when this change took place, but it seems to have been sometime after the 2000 production year. The 440A has a carbon content of 0.60-0.75%, Chromium 16.0-18.0%, Manganese 1.00%, Molybdenum 0.75%, Phosphorus 0.04%, Silicon 1%, and Sulphur 0.03% according to ladle sample maximums. Stainless steel is just as it’s name implies... it “stains less”, but will still discolor or rust to some extent if not properly cared for. Both carbon and stainless blades were heat treated to 56-59 Rockwell.

    Every knife enthusiast/user has their own opinion as to which blade steel is best, and which characteristics are most important to them. I’ll not delve into that can of worms here, but to say that my preference is carbon steel. Whatever your preferences, you should be able to find a carbon bladed Old Timer, or a stainless one, if that is what you like. It just takes some searching. Best clues for a carbon steel Old Timer is to try to get one new in an older package, pre 1997 or so. Or buy one with the beginnings of patina, easily removed if you like shiny blades.

    A few later knives were made of exotic metals like true forged stainless (BTO1), ATS34 (Spitfire), CM154 (Original Loveless design), and if I remember correctly, the D’holders were of a custom steel/process.

    This is my best effort to flesh out the answer to the question of Schrade steels, borrowing liberally from forum resources. Build on this guys.

    EDIT: Recently acquired evidence suggests that 420HC SS was introduced, at least partially, in 1998 when they began using fine blanking on the LB7 production. If it was like most other changes in production, it was not like turning off one faucet and turning on another, the change was most likely gradual, what is called a "running change". And of course there is almost always a lag between when production began and shipping began.

    Codger
    Last edited by Codger_64; 10-28-2006 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Corrected content of 440A Steel...company booklet wrong on elements!

  2. #2
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    Good work collecting that info.

    I don't know when did Schrade start using the "Schrade+" stamp but my first stainless Schrade, 897UH bought in 1974 if I remember correctly, is stamped "STAINLESS".

    Luis

    Last edited by Don Luis; 07-25-2006 at 03:33 PM.

  3. #3
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    Codger_64, that was a great post! Thanks for the insights on Schrade steel usage.

    The 897UH is one of my favorites. Those rounded bolsters are easy on the pockets.

  4. #4
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    Nice knife Don Luis! Yes, your 1974 purchase dovetails into the info I had, since your knife likely was produced in 1973 or early 1974, then retailed in 1974, possibly while the factory had started the new tangstamp. I am still looking for one of the stainless marked 897's, or even a Schrade-Walden 897UH.

    Thanks for the kudos, guys, but I expect a lot of info to be added as time goes by. I'll do my best to update the original post by edit, and bring it foreward if need be.

    I could have sworn I did a rant on the 897UH, my own EDC, but I'll be darned if I can find it tonight. I do research postings on Old Timer and Uncle Henry fixed and folder patterns from time to time. Here 'tis: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/sh...ighlight=897UH

    Codger
    Last edited by Codger_64; 12-15-2005 at 08:29 PM.

  5. #5
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    Ooooops how could I forget!!!, I just remembered I actually bought my "STAINLESS" 897UH in 1976, I was in Quebec during the Montreal Olympics and got it over there.

    I was confused because I got my first good paying job in early 1974 and bought some knives at the time, sorry.

    Luis

  6. #6
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    This is what makes collecting Schrades so enjoyable, and at the same time, frustrating - there are no absolutes. Codger, this was a fantastic lecture and I totally appreciate you efforts.

    By the way, I'm STILL waiting on that 61OT ramble that you promised me, back when you posted your 897UH ramble earlier this year.

  7. #7
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    Well i just checked a few more of my old timers and did discover a stainless orange handled 158ot and the brown handle that was purchased at the same time was carbon! i also found a stainless 34ot.

  8. #8
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    Ya gotta love Codger's Rambles!
    Thanks Mike, great info. Copied and filed!

    Dale
    Last edited by orvet; 12-16-2005 at 03:05 PM. Reason: spelling

  9. #9
    I have a red handled pocket knife with 7 tools, on the beverage can opener is the number 361-889. The long blade is stamped 906 stainless, Schrade Walden NY USA. Embedded in the red plastic is a crest with Schrade/Walden diagonally across it. The crest is silver colored. Can anyone tell me when it was made? My dad gave it to me when we lived in Walden, NY.

  10. #10
    If anyone can help me, please e-mail me at : darwars@earthlink.net

    Thanks!!

  11. #11
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    As you note, your knife is a number 906, and it is a "Swiss Army Knife" type, but called an "American Army Officer's Knife". I see them listed back as far as 1955 in the Schrade Walden catalogs. They may have been made earlier as a continuation of the Schrade Cutlery CO. line. I'm not sure when they were last sold, but I'll look into it tonight and post what I find. In any case, it was made pre-1973.

    Codger

  12. #12
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    Darwars,

    Here are some examples in my stable:




    I agree with Codger, back as early as 1955 catalogs...

    Glenn
    "you know the road doesn't end, when it reaches a bend..." - Poco

    Proud Supporter of JK Knives #65

  13. #13
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    Here is the French Army Knife (FAK)



    (I've been waiting for le chance to show this one )

    Codger

  14. #14
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    Best looking SAK I ever saw.Or is that a FAK.Arnold

  15. #15
    ROFLAMO, Codger! My wife loved that one too.

  16. #16
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    I just looked all through my files & couldn't find the pic I had of a FAK. It was an automatic with a pop up white flag. The color was of course YELLOW!

    Great stuff Codger!.

    Dale

  17. #17
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    Not meant to be offensive...just as a possible product development reference.

    Bill
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #18
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    That is it Bill! Thanks.
    Did you see where it is made.......?
    When I first saw that, several years ago, it was making the email rounds among the Veterans Representatives for the State of Oregon. Most of us were Vietnam veterans back then. We all thought it was hilarious.

    (No offence taken. I am part French myself. Much to my chagrin).

    Dale

  19. #19
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    Based on my recollections, I don't think the "Schrade +" tang marking was used until sometime in the 1980's.

  20. #20
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    LB7 Ad from July 1978

    Last edited by Codger_64; 10-22-2006 at 09:42 AM.

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