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Thread: Best way to understand steel types?

  1. #1

    Best way to understand steel types?


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    Ok, I've read these descriptions:

    http://zknives.com/knives/articles/knifesteelfaq.shtml

    It's pretty good. How do I translate it into the real world? And how do you compare the actual steels? Good, excellent, etc is kind of vague.

    For instance...
    • Toughness : SV30 can cut 30 feet of cardboard where 440C can only cut 10 before you lose your ability to shave arm hair.
    • Wear resistance: SV30 can cut 30 feet of carpet where 440C can cut 10 feet before you lose your ability to shave arm hair.
    • Strength: SV30 can cut an oak 1/4" doll rod 30 times where 440C can cut 10 times before you lose your ability to shave arm hair.



    Something like that.

  2. #2
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    ...and so the mystery that haunts us all. so many factors, so little time and your question is quite vague itself. I recommend narrowing it down to a couple of steels you plan on toying with and ask what you want to know about them to help you decide. A lot of steels are good for a lot of different applications, for a lot of different reasons, so for instance: which is tougher for impact resistence, ELMAX or M390 and you will get closer to an answer you are looking for.

  3. #3
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    Lots of factors to consider. Edge geometry, heat treat, consistency of the cutting media all have major effects on the kind of test you''re talking about. CATRA resting is the closest that I know of. I've owned S30V knives that were roundly outperformed by AUS8 blades and others that held an edge for a long, long time. It's hard to say which you'll get in any given knife.

  4. #4
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    The riddle of steel...

    Determining the intended use of a knife can greatly help in identifying what steels are best to use as well as how to treat them and grind them.

    Any one steel will show different characteristics depending on the heat treat and geometries of the blade.
    The only thing that we truly depend on for our lives is our mind. Everything else is just stuff that breaks.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Insipid Moniker View Post
    Lots of factors to consider. Edge geometry, heat treat, consistency of the cutting media all have major effects on the kind of test you''re talking about. CATRA resting is the closest that I know of. I've owned S30V knives that were roundly outperformed by AUS8 blades and others that held an edge for a long, long time. It's hard to say which you'll get in any given knife.
    When is AUS8 better than S30V? Or is that just in CATRA testing?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by wacki View Post
    How do I translate it into the real world? And how do you compare the actual steels?


    Something like that.
    There are two main ways to get a knife with good steel for the usage. One is easy. The other is not.

    Easy: Buy a knife from a top manufacturer and just let them pick the steel. It's what they do for a living and the top makers do an outstanding job of it.

    Hard: Buy and use knives. A lot of knives. A lot of alloys. A lot of usage. Expensive. Fun. But it takes many years.
    Frank R

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

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wacki View Post
    When is AUS8 better than S30V? Or is that just in CATRA testing?
    When it has a better heat treatment and blade geometry.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by knarfeng View Post
    There are two main ways to get a knife with good steel for the usage. One is easy. The other is not.

    Easy: Buy a knife from a top manufacturer and just let them pick the steel. It's what they do for a living and the top makers do an outstanding job of it.

    Hard: Buy and use knives. A lot of knives. A lot of alloys. A lot of usage. Expensive. Fun. But it takes many years.

    This is the best advice. If the manufacturer isn't using good steel in the knives he is producing, and at whatever price point he sells them at, then he will not be in business very long. The manufacturers have to balance the steel they use between that which can be used in the manufacturing process and that which the market demands.

    Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your budget, the price of the knife often correlates to the quality of the knife, of which steel is just one component.
    Last edited by GatorFlash1; 09-23-2012 at 08:22 AM.

  9. #9
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    to compare, use, sharpen, try them
    it's the only real way to get your personal idea

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wacki View Post
    When is AUS8 better than S30V? Or is that just in CATRA testing?
    As Doogoon said, I would mostly attribute it to heat treat and edge geometry. If you heat treated both steels the same way and sharpened them at the same angle S30V would certainly win out, but since those things vary widely from knife to knife real world testing is extremely difficult. Many reputable companies run S30V fairly soft which has a pretty extreme effect on it's wear resistance.

  11. #11
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    Basically, if you take S30V at RC 58 and compare it to S30V at RC 61 you may as well be comparing different steels.

  12. #12
    I think people worry about it too much. Some people are interested in various steels, but that doesn't mean 80% of what's available isn't more than adequate for typical use. My EDC is ATS-55 and the world hasn't ended.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by shunsui View Post
    I think people worry about it too much. Some people are interested in various steels, but that doesn't mean 80% of what's available isn't more than adequate for typical use. My EDC is ATS-55 and the world hasn't ended.
    Great advice. Buy a knife in the size and shape you like from a manufacturer that has been in the business for many years and let him sweat the details. Then you can just enjoy your knife without agonizing about the elements that created it. That's my philosophy and I'm sticking to it! Enjoy!


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by knarfeng View Post
    There are two main ways to get a knife with good steel for the usage. One is easy. The other is not.

    Easy: Buy a knife from a top manufacturer and just let them pick the steel. It's what they do for a living and the top makers do an outstanding job of it.

    Hard: Buy and use knives. A lot of knives. A lot of alloys. A lot of usage. Expensive. Fun. But it takes many years.



    That says it all right there.


    Don't let the steel rule your knife buying decisions.


    Buy a knife from a trusted knifemaker, designed for the tasks at hand,

    ...or be prepared to do the testing yourself.



    Even so, any knife should be thoroughly tested before being trusted.




    Big Mike

  15. #15
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    There is a monstrous amount of info on steel types this very forum. Just do a few searches and browse through the Knife Reviews and Testing area you'll be able to read yourself goggle-eyed.

    Quote Originally Posted by wacki View Post
    Ok, I've read these descriptions:

    http://zknives.com/knives/articles/knifesteelfaq.shtml

    It's pretty good. How do I translate it into the real world? And how do you compare the actual steels? Good, excellent, etc is kind of vague.

    For instance...
    • Toughness : SV30 can cut 30 feet of cardboard where 440C can only cut 10 before you lose your ability to shave arm hair.
    • Wear resistance: SV30 can cut 30 feet of carpet where 440C can cut 10 feet before you lose your ability to shave arm hair.
    • Strength: SV30 can cut an oak 1/4" doll rod 30 times where 440C can cut 10 times before you lose your ability to shave arm hair.



    Something like that.

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