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ZDP-189 - Best blade steel so far

Discussion in 'Spyderco' started by Harry Callahan, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. Harry Callahan

    Harry Callahan Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 17, 2002
    ZDP-189 is the best blade steel (by far) that I've ever used in a folding knife, bar none, end of story. I have cut with, scraped with, performed "twisting" cuts on zip ties (you name it) with my burgundy Calypso Junior. The edge stays laser sharp for long periods of time and touch-ups on the Sharpmaker are a snap. Now when ZDP actually gets dull dull, it admittedly takes the diamond triangles to get the party started, but if you only need a touch up, the dark triangles will suffice to get the touch-up going with the white stones finishing things off.

    There is no wire edge problems. No edge rolling. None of that nightmarish stuff associated with sharpening and maintaining the old 440V and to some extent today's S30V. And VG-10, while a good blade steel, DOES NOT hold an edge anywhere near as good as this ZDP stuff. Take a look at your VG-10 edge after a couple of days of EDC using a jeweler's loupe. See those "flat" places? Yup, 90% of your edge is still screaming sharp. The other 10% is flat spotted and ready for a touch up. As much as I like VG-10, after using ZDP the stuff seems soft and in need of "kid glove" treatment.

    In my honest opinion, after having used ZDP (and using it hard), I think it is the best bargain in the pocket cutlery world. Some of these Spyderco models that use this blade steel are quite simply, for what you are getting, a world class steal.

    Can't wait for the full flat ground Endura with ZDP. Sheesh. That's gonna be a workin' man's knife fer shure!

    Anybody else blown away by this steel?? :cool:
  2. Badhammer

    Badhammer Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 8, 2009
    Just got my first ZDP-189 knife yesterday, a Kershaw Blur composite. Also a Blur in CPM-154. I was pretty jazzed about getting both a ZDP-189 and in a composite however, out of the box the CPM-154 was quite a bit sharper and after equal time on my Sharpmaker it's still cutting smoother and with less effort than the ZDP-189.

    All I've done with both blades is put them on the dark stones at 40 degrees followed by the F and then UF rods. It may be that the factory grind on the 154 is just closest to my Spyderco angle. May try putting the ZDP on the diamond rods to make sure it's at 20 on each side and go back through the other rods.

    Don't know if Spyderco uses a different source for theirs and or a different heat treat and if so that may make the difference as so far I'm not as impressed with the ZDP as I was hoping to be?

    That being said I still intend to give a Spyderco model in this steel a try.
  3. yablanowitz


    Apr 14, 2006
    ZDP-189 is great stuff, but for the way I use my knives, S90V leaves it in the dust. YMMV. ;)
  4. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover

    Aug 2, 2006
    I really like ZDP, and S90V.

    But for the way I use a knife, CPM M-4 can't be beaten.

    I can't wait for the new CPM M-4 Millie! :p
  5. THG


    May 18, 2008
    Oh, ho, ho! I have to disagree with you there! In my experience, especially when reprofiling, ZDP makes a HUGE, crusty burr. It's so rough that when I strop it on my jeans to get the metal dust off of the blade, it catches fibers from my pants.

    And you're right about the edge rolling: it seems to like to microchip better.

    I still like the steel. It was good and I never had any corrosion problems. Maintenance isn't a problem. The only thing is that for me, a knife that can't catch the nail at the slightest touch isn't a sharp knife. Even ZDP can't do that after one cut into cardboard, so ZDP, VG-10, 420HC... It's all practically the same to me.
  6. Harry Callahan

    Harry Callahan Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 17, 2002
    I must be doing something extremely right as I've not experienced any burrs or microchipping to speak of with ZDP. In fact, I haven't noticed any appreciable drawbacks to this blade steel as yet and I've really been abusing my burgundy Caly Jr. As for nail catching after cutting cardboard, that's one of the things ZDP seems to excel AT! Very strange. We must live in parallel universes. :) Are you using a sandwiched model or the solid blade? May have something to do with it (although I wouldn't know why).
  7. Badhammer

    Badhammer Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 8, 2009
    What angle are you guys sharpening your ZDP at?
  8. Harry Callahan

    Harry Callahan Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 17, 2002
    I've not had to reprofile yet so all of my sharpening has been at the 40 deg setting on the Sharpmaker. When it gets time for a reprofile I'll go 30 deg with the diamonds. But that's a long way into the future as this steel holds a useable edge at least twice as long as anything else I've used. I'm impressed with this stuff.

    It would be interesting to see how well ZDP would handle a pure 30 degree edge. May have to look in to that... :cool:
  9. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    I must agree, ZDP is good but S90V is the steel I've been waiting a long time for.
  10. elkins45


    Jun 17, 2006
    The first time I tried to resharpen my ZDP Delica it gave me a rolled wire edge so horrid it was easily visible to the naked eye, and would catch on the edge of my nail. I'm glad you like it but I find myself far less than impressed with the samples I have used.
  11. yablanowitz


    Apr 14, 2006
    When I started sharpening ZDP-189 I had terrible results as well. I finally figured out that I was using too much pressure against the hones. The hardness of the steel made it feel as though it was simply sliding over the hone, but the diamonds were in fact abrading it. Bearing down enough to feel the level of abrasion I was used to gave poor results. Using very light pressure and lots of strokes has given me excellent results. It will take a wicked edge and hold it a long time - as long as you keep it away from drywall, ceramic tile, concrete block, porcelin, and fiberglass. All those materials that I deal with on a daily basis. I find the S90V to have better abrasion resistence giving a longer-lasting edge when scraping caulking off tiles, cutting out damaged sheetrock and scraping (actually more like filleting) paint and texture off the surounding wall to make repairs. But what I call normal use seems to freak other people out for some reason. :D
  12. kreole


    Jul 23, 2009
    ZDP189 is too chippy IMHO. I'd like to see it a couple RC lower than it is now, even if that's heresy to some. I've had lots of rust issues as well, but this summer even VG10 had problems with in that around here. For me, it's a great steel for a low to medium-use smaller gentleman's folder, and I got rid of all my EDC and heavy-use knives in the steel.
  13. ChapmanPreferred


    Oct 7, 2006
    I like ZDP. I particularly like ZDP in the Caly Jr model. My first Caly Jr ZDP came with a 0.012 behind the edge bevel measurement. I always sharpened it at 30 degrees with no trouble.
  14. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    I do love ZDP. No question it's my favorite stainless steel. Overall I like CPM M4, and even ingot M2 better for folding knives, and smallish , medium duty fixed blades. I seem to be able to get the super sharp, biting edges I like on these steels much easier than any other that compare wear resistance wise.

    I've thought long about this and I've come to the conclusion that I really like the tungsten steels best. Vanadium carbides are harder, but overall, I like the whole package the tungsten steels give. With CPM M4 and M2 there is moly and vanadium as well and they do their part.

    I've figured out that's why I like vascowear better than the similar, but all vanadium carbide CPM 3V. The Blue steels also can take some wicked edges that I like too.

    Yes, ZDP is still a great supersteel that has greater performance than most high carbide stainless steels when it comes to thin, but strong edges.
  15. eyeeatingfish


    Dec 9, 2003
    ive read that bg-42 still outperforms ZDP
  16. jimnolimit


    Oct 28, 2009
    so far my FFG ZDP endura 4 is holding it's edge very well , im very happy with with this steel .

    p.s. i have the edge at approx 17 degrees on each side (34-35 total) , the edge is finished at 6000 grit and aligned on leather .
  17. Outdoors Fanatic

    Outdoors Fanatic

    Sep 6, 2007
    I still think that Spyderco's VG-10 is the best overall steel for folders and small fixed blade knives. It is as easy to sharpen as plain carbon steel, yet is very rust resistant and with superior edge retention. A pleasure to use and to maintain...
  18. gunmike1

    gunmike1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 9, 2005
    I really like ZDP for taking clean, very sharp edges at very acute angles and holding them a long time. In slicing for extremely long periods of time on very abrasive materials I've found S90V to last longer, but it takes a worse edge. Like Mastiff, CPM M4 is my favorite steel. It gets sharper than any other steel I've tried, is pretty tough (especially compared to stainless), and has excellent, if not ZDP grade edge retention. Super Blue is another steel that is a tremendous performer, and like Mastiff said it is Tungsten based as well. All hard M2 is another great performer. I guess I'm a Tungsten steel fan myself.

  19. Mark J

    Mark J

    Mar 15, 2001
    I love ZDP-189, but as mentioned above, it's a pain to sharpen. Forget about using ceramic sharpeners - I've found diamond sharpeners are the only way to go with this steel.

    - Mark
  20. ChapmanPreferred


    Oct 7, 2006
    I sharpen my ZDP and S90V bladed knives on my Spyderco Sharpmaker with no difficulty.

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