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Thread: Case CV - Has it changed?

  1. #1
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    Case CV - Has it changed?


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    Case's Chrome Vanadium steel (CV) has been around for a long time, and with a deservedly excellent reputation. Even though the composition of the CV steel seems to constantly come into question, it has been revealed by an authoritative voice that it is actually 0170-6 (50100 B), which is basically 1095 with small additions of chromium and vanadium. Our forumite STR quoted BRK&T's Mike Stewart back in 2005 as saying this was common knowledge in the knife industry. Besides Case, it has been used by Cold Steel (Carbon V), Camillus, Becker and Western. Obviously, each company used their own HT recipes to bring out the performance criteria of their own products.

    Sharon steel made the original batch in the 1950s, but went bankrupt in 1988. Some time after 2000, Case and Camillus got another (unnamed) company to duplicate the chemistry and produce more of the steel.

    The composition, with the addition of chromium and vanadium, should be superior to plain 1095. Mike Stewart says it will outperform 1095. But, recent tests and anecdotal evidence support the case that GECs straight 1095 is both harder and better at edge-holding than Case CV. The only logical explanation is in the heat treatment.

    Do those of you with great experience of older Case CV blades believe that either the composition, or more likely the HT, has changed over the years? Were the older blades run at a harder Rockwell than current production? Thanks for the input.
    -- Jeff

    "Why Ike, whatever do you mean?" John Henry "Doc" Holliday

  2. #2
    I have a Soddy Jr that's ancient I can strop that on my palm, can't do it with the new stuff. So I'd say the changed something I prefer it to be softer.

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    I've wondered about this too. I have a 1970 10-dot large Case sodbuster with the 'carbon' blade. But, it's not specifically marked with the 'CV' in the pattern number (2138). I've wondered if it was the same steel, but maybe Case just hadn't gotten around to using the 'CV' designation at that time.

    It wouldn't surprise me if they've tweaked their process to make their blades easier to sharpen (& perhaps to make machining/stamping process more efficient). Buck Knives did this years ago with their 110 Folding Hunter, in switching from 440C to 425 and eventually to the current 420HC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Obsessed with Edges View Post
    I've wondered about this too. I have a 1970 10-dot large Case sodbuster with the 'carbon' blade. But, it's not specifically marked with the 'CV' in the pattern number (2138). I've wondered if it was the same steel, but maybe Case just hadn't gotten around to using the 'CV' designation at that time.

    It wouldn't surprise me if they've tweaked their process to make their blades easier to sharpen (& perhaps to make machining/stamping process more efficient). Buck Knives did this years ago with their 110 Folding Hunter, in switching from 440C to 425 and eventually to the current 420HC.
    Case never marked the "CV" on the pattern number until 1996. CV was the predominant Case steel from the old days until about 1980 (very small percentage of the line was SS).

    If anyone knows how to read steel data, I have some 1950's and 1960's era documents on Case CV from the company that provided the steel to Case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by knifeaholic View Post
    If anyone knows how to read steel data, I have some 1950's and 1960's era documents on Case CV from the company that provided the steel to Case.
    Is it in the form of percentages of the alloying elements, like on A.G. Russell's Steel Guide?

    Here is it's link: http://www.agrussell.com/Steel_Guide/a/73/

    It shows 0170-6C as having .95% Carbon, .4% Manganese, .45% Chromium, and .19% Vanadium.
    -- Jeff

    "Why Ike, whatever do you mean?" John Henry "Doc" Holliday

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    Quote Originally Posted by knifeaholic View Post
    If anyone knows how to read steel data, I have some 1950's and 1960's era documents on Case CV from the company that provided the steel to Case.
    You can post the info in the maker's forum. I'm sure one of the metallurgist's there will be happy to identify it for you.

    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/fo...play.php?f=741

  7. #7
    I think it is a little harder now than it used to be.

  8. #8

    case carbon

    case knives before 1980 or even later rockwelled at 53 or 54[carbon] i know after parker was gone or maybe during his last gasps the rockwell or alloy was improved. 1991 or 93 or so i skinned a mule deer with a standard copperlock & noticed a big improvement in the edge holding. cardboard cutting in the 70s & 80s was very poor . gerber, eye & even carbon imperials did better on cardboard than the case. i figured someone had authorized the harder rockwell to improve the knives.whatever is the situation case carbon is a much better cutter than 25 years ago.

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    1095 is an AISI designation for iron alloyed with 0.95 carbon but variation of +/- 0.05 1070 is same but 0.70 w/o carbon. If true AISI there are no other alloying elements but some sulfur and manganese and phosphorous for other purposes. There are a bazillion other steel designators SAE ASTM DIN ASM etc and a lot of variation and similarity. 50100 is an SAE designation. It's hard to compare and rely on the compositions of carbon steel just based on what someone claims it's designator is even if that person isn't lying.

    The composition of stainless steels varies more widely and the designators tend to be more significant e.g. 420 vs. 440 vs 316. Same more or less with tool steels like D2 O1 etc.

    The proprietary designators like the various CPMs are like brand names and even more reliable.

    Of course heat treatment and hardness (related but not same) can render composition nearly irrelevant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by black mamba View Post
    Case's Chrome Vanadium steel (CV) has been around for a long time, and with a deservedly excellent reputation. Even though the composition of the CV steel seems to constantly come into question, it has been revealed by an authoritative voice that it is actually 0170-6 (50100 B), which is basically 1095 with small additions of chromium and vanadium. Our forumite STR quoted BRK&T's Mike Stewart back in 2005 as saying this was common knowledge in the knife industry. Besides Case, it has been used by Cold Steel (Carbon V), Camillus, Becker and Western. Obviously, each company used their own HT recipes to bring out the performance criteria of their own products.

    Sharon steel made the original batch in the 1950s, but went bankrupt in 1988. Some time after 2000, Case and Camillus got another (unnamed) company to duplicate the chemistry and produce more of the steel.

    The composition, with the addition of chromium and vanadium, should be superior to plain 1095. Mike Stewart says it will outperform 1095. But, recent tests and anecdotal evidence support the case that GECs straight 1095 is both harder and better at edge-holding than Case CV. The only logical explanation is in the heat treatment.

    Do those of you with great experience of older Case CV blades believe that either the composition, or more likely the HT, has changed over the years? Were the older blades run at a harder Rockwell than current production? Thanks for the input.

    Don Hanson has posted some definitive data on changes in CV composition. See post below. It is not just the heat treat. Current CV has less carbon.


    Quote Originally Posted by Don Hanson III View Post
    As Elliott mentioned, I've done some tests between older XX and USA (1940s-1960s) Case knives and new CV Case knives 2003-2007. I've been a Case pocket knife nut a long time and was just curious.

    The newer CV knives held an edge a good bit longer while cutting cardboard, two to three times longer. The newer CV blades were also a bit harder to sharpen, which leads me to believe they have a higher Rc hardness.

    12-13 years ago I also ran into a guy who owned and ran a machine shop, he also collected old Case knives. He pointed out an interesting bit of info. He Rockwell tested (hardness test) a number of old Case CV knives, Tested, XX, and USA, 1920s-1960s. They all tested in the high 40s, which is basically a spring temper. These old knives are known to be easy to sharpen and folks liked em that way.

    I have also looked over a couple of original Case documents with the analysis of their CV steel, one from the 50s' and the other from 2008 I believe. The CV from the 50s' is 1095 with .50% chromium and .19% vanadium added. Very close to W2 (great steel), if had a bit less chromium. Or 01, if a bit more manganese.

    The 2008 CV was basically the same except .86% carbon and more manganese. Pretty close to Howard Clark's 1086M which is one of the finest steels I've worked with. Right next to W2.

    A very small bit of alloy, like vanadium does wonders to a simple carbon steel and is one reason W2 is so good A very small amount of chromium can also be good.

    Hope this helps,
    According to Phil Gibbs, who worked for Camillus, Camillus did not partner with Case to buy the lot of steel that Cold Steel marketed as Carbon V and which Camillus marketed as 0170-6C. Phil admitted that the composition of the Camillus steel was similar to that of Sharon 0170-6. But he said it was not exactly the same. He also insisted that the proprietary heat treat performed by Camillus produced a superior blade.
    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/sh...6&postcount=17

    Wayne Goddard wrote in The Wonder of Knife Making that he had taken a sample and had an elemental analysis performed on it. He posted the results in that book. 0170-6C was indeed extremely similar to the 1950's Case blade steel composition in Don's post. It is less similar to the current CV.
    Last edited by knarfeng; 05-13-2010 at 01:01 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by knarfeng View Post
    Don Hanson has posted some definitive data on changes in CV composition. See post below. It is not just the heat treat. Current CV has less carbon.

    "Phil . . . also insisted that the proprietary heat treat performed by Camillus produced a superior blade."
    I can well believe that statement, if Case was running theirs at from upper 40s to lower 50s HRc. Anything in the 1080 to 1095 range of steels can be run at 60+ HRc. So why are Case keeping their CV so relatively soft? Ease of sharpening does not mean nearly the same thing today, with diamond hones, as it did back in the 1940s. GECs 1095 is around 58 HRc, and by all accounts is noticeably harder than CV and still sharpens easily. What am I missing?
    -- Jeff

    "Why Ike, whatever do you mean?" John Henry "Doc" Holliday

  12. #12
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    I own a number of pre 70's CV Cases as well as newer one. I agree the older CV knives did sharpen easier while the newer knives sharpen more like Carbon V (which I also own a good number of). I do admit I baby my knives, I use them but I try to use the right tool for the right job. If I am going to be breaking down cardboard boxes I use a box cutter, not my pocket knife. I prefer the older CV knives as I can put a near scalpel edge on them while that very fine edge is tougher on the newer knives. I often wondered if the newer CV had not become larger grained as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by black mamba View Post
    I can well believe that statement, if Case was running theirs at from upper 40s to lower 50s HRc. Anything in the 1080 to 1095 range of steels can be run at 60+ HRc. So why are Case keeping their CV so relatively soft? Ease of sharpening does not mean nearly the same thing today, with diamond hones, as it did back in the 1940s. GECs 1095 is around 58 HRc, and by all accounts is noticeably harder than CV and still sharpens easily. What am I missing?
    They're probably trading off some edge retention for toughness. I don't know what vanadium does to the steel's microstructure, but edge chipping might become a problem at higher hardness.

  14. #14
    Very interesting info in this thread
    I believe a higher hardness of Case CV would suit me better. I am with you black mamba on the the GEC 1095 vs Case CV.

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    I am not to suprised by most of these results. I ha e always felt that Case runs their stuff aft, even more so in the old days. But it is good stuff if they would run it a bit harder like GEC then their knives would be a noticable step up in my opinion.

  16. #16
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    Current Case CV blades rockwell in the mid 50s, 5 to 10 points harder than the old knives. I believe folks used to use pocket knives much harder than today, prying with the tips and doing stuff that would break harder blades. High blade hardness, upper 50s-low 60s started in the 70s' with custom knives. This trend has slowly worked it's way into some factory knives, this is a relatively new thing to the world of knives

    I don't know what vanadium does to the steel's microstructure
    Vanadium retards grain growth in tool steel, very small amount needed, .20% +/-. Also adds a little wear resistance. Larger amounts can be problematic.

    I often wondered if the newer CV had not become larger grained as well.
    Grain size is a product of rolling/forging and heat treating of steel. Industry usually always shoots for smallest size. Large grain leads to chippy edges and weak blades, not something I've run into with Case CV.
    Don
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  17. #17
    I have an old Case Peanut that dates from the late 1970's. It takes a good edge, but always seemed a bit soft to me.
    It made 440C seem hard.

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    Ok, guys, how does the new CV compare to the "Surgical Stainless" Case currently uses on 90+% of their production? It seems that the knife knuts prefer the CV blades. Don't shoot me now, but if the SS versions are just as good or nearly so, seems that their mfg percentages are just about right.

    Does the general public want a nice shiny blade over a better performing carbon steel blade? Seems that fancy stainless and powdered metal technology is "obsoleting" the older carbon steels. Yet, there seems to still be a market for the less costly carbon steel knives (examples are MORA and OPINEL).

    When I am looking for a traditional slip joint or locking folder for EDC, I want a good performing steel. It helps if the knife is affordable. So, what is really better regarding current Case offerings - CV or SS?

    EJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLARbb View Post
    Ok, guys, how does the new CV compare to the "Surgical Stainless" Case currently uses on 90+% of their production? It seems that the knife knuts prefer the CV blades. Don't shoot me now, but if the SS versions are just as good or nearly so, seems that their mfg percentages are just about right.

    Does the general public want a nice shiny blade over a better performing carbon steel blade? Seems that fancy stainless and powdered metal technology is "obsoleting" the older carbon steels. Yet, there seems to still be a market for the less costly carbon steel knives (examples are MORA and OPINEL).

    When I am looking for a traditional slip joint or locking folder for EDC, I want a good performing steel. It helps if the knife is affordable. So, what is really better regarding current Case offerings - CV or SS?

    EJ
    When I tested the edge retentions of CV & Tru-Sharp side by side in manila rope cutting, the CV did a bit better than the Tru-Sharp. Enough so that I would expect to notice it in every day use.
    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=595750
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    Quote Originally Posted by black mamba View Post
    I can well believe that statement, if Case was running theirs at from upper 40s to lower 50s HRc. Anything in the 1080 to 1095 range of steels can be run at 60+ HRc. So why are Case keeping their CV so relatively soft? Ease of sharpening does not mean nearly the same thing today, with diamond hones, as it did back in the 1940s. GECs 1095 is around 58 HRc, and by all accounts is noticeably harder than CV and still sharpens easily. What am I missing?
    You are missing that the current CV is based on 1085. The old CV was based on 1095. The difference in carbon will have an effect on edge retention even if the blades are tempered to the same hardness.

    GEC uses steel with more carbon and runs it at a higher hardness. It's not to wonder that they hold an edge better.
    Frank R

    ... Still looking for a vorpal blade.
    (op cit Lewis Carroll)

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