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Thread: Any real advantage to CPM 154 and 154 CM over 440-c Stainless steel for knifemaking?

  1. #1
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    Question Any real advantage to CPM 154 and 154 CM over 440-c Stainless steel for knifemaking?


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    Hi, I am Larry Lehman and I have have made and sold over 200 knives. I use the stock reduction method and love to grind stainless steel. I have been paying a fortune for CPM 154 CM and cannot tell the difference in my knives looks wise or any other way. In fact I think I get a better polish on the 440C knives I have ground. I use Texas Knife Supply for heat treating and they all come out around 59 Rockwell so why am I spending the extra money? I am not trying to be cheap and I make nice knives with the best wood and horn and bone that I can find at any price. My customers don't seem to care what stainless I use when they order a knife but they always want pictures of the Damascus blanks. For my own knives I don't have any preference as long as the knife is beuatiful and sharp. Some one please take a minute and school me. Thanks, Larry www.Lehmancustomknives.com :

  2. #2
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    As a knife buyer and user I can say I definitely DO give a crap what steel the knifemaker uses. To my mind the guys who go all ga-ga over nice wood or whatever for the handles and ignore the steel are missing the point of a knife entirely. There is a definite difference in performance from steel to steel, many have demonstrated that in a variety of tests. Personally I would take CPM-154 over 440C or 154CM any day. I only have one knife in CPM-154 at the moment but so far I have been very impressed with it. Bear in mind CPM-154 is not the same as 154CM. It is the powdered version. Powdered steels are proven performers and will take a real keen edge. It also takes a very nice finish from what I can see... my two cents!

    Here's a Marty Young Ursus with CPM-154. Excellent performance from this steel...




  3. #3
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    The difference is a bit better edge retention and a bit better blade. It may not show, but there is a difference. Buyers/collectors seem to favor CPM154 ( CPM steels in general) over 440-C, too.

    Now as far as paying a "Fortune" for the steel?
    From Jantz, a .125X1.25X36" bar of 440-C costs about $33. The same bar in CPM-154 costs $52 ( less from Aldo). Each bar makes five or six knives easily. So you pay $4.00 per knife more per knife for it ( 2% of what you sell your knives for). The steel cost for a 440-C knife is about $6.00and CPM-154 is about $10.00. You sell your stainless knives for $185 normally, so over the steel, you make either $179 or $175 ( This is not the final profit. I realize there are other costs, but this shows how little the steel changes things.).

    Or, look at it this way, if all the 200 knives you sold were stainless, you have made $37,000 in sales. That cost you $2080 for the steel if they were all CPM-154.

    Now I know that no businessman wants to give away 2% of his profits, but if having CPM-154 blades leads to only 4 more knife sales, it would be a wash. I would expect most sellers to get 10% more sales from CPM-154 than 440-C. That would net you an additional $1700 in profit after the additional steel cost( 220 sales vs 200 sales).
    Stacy E.Apelt
    It is better to die fighting evil than to live under it.

  4. #4
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    Stacy that warms my accountant heart, and I think you're spot on. Same can be said for the cost of setting up an exemplary website too; if it leads to 2 incremental sales it's worth it.

  5. #5
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    Stacy, this idea got into my head when I bought 36 inches of 3/16 by 2 inch CPM 154 from Pops for $94.00. I will get 3 tactical style knives out of it and enough scrap to practice my filework. I now have to stamp the steel type of each knife after making it flat to tell them apart. I have bought quite a bit of 154 CM and CPM 154 Cm and have bought the 440C steel when it is on sale. My favorite knives this month have all been 440 c but they could well have been the other steels if I had used them. Some knifemakers have said 440C grinds kind of "sticky" or builds up heat fast and I have been watching for that with no conclusions. I have no scientific research but I can field dress at least four animals in a week before sharpening a 440C made by me and maybe the more expensive steel would hold an edge a little better. I would like to hear some more opinions. I was hoping the more expensive steels would at least polish nicer but I have tried Black magic followed by green chrome and also tried white 1800 grit known as number 51 on each steel again with no conclusions. I guess I will keep using expensive steel for the knives I offer for sale but my own are probably going to be high carbon, high chrome 440C that I like. Larry

  6. #6
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    CPM154 is somewhat easier (and faster) to grind, machine and finish than 440C or 154CM, performs slightly better, is significantly tougher, and sells better. So, the knifemaker's work is easier, the customer gets a slightly better steel, everyone is happy.

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