How Strong are Carbon Fiber Handles?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by MatthewSB, Sep 19, 2014.

  1. MatthewSB


    Feb 1, 2013
    Looking at the new ZT knives with CF handles - they're beautiful, but how strong is carbon fiber, compared to G10?

    If you drop one of these knives, is it going to crack, chip, dent, or whatever?

    I was under the impression that CF is brittle, but I know that it all depends on how its made. I'm assuming that the CF used in knife handles is something similar to G10, layers of CF epoxied together, but I could be way off....
  2. jprime84

    jprime84 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2014
    I seriously doubt it. Its strong stuff!


  3. K.O.D.

    K.O.D. Sanity Not Included Platinum Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    The carbon fiber scales are basically a G-10 scale with a peel-ply CF over it. So they are very durable. They are not 100% CF, but about 10%.


    Mar 24, 2014
    Peel Ply is Spyderco. ZT uses legit carbon fiber 100%
  5. Krissig12


    Sep 11, 2013
    Step AWAY from the spydies, K.O.D. :D

    Like THEBACON said, zt's CF is 100% carbon fiber. For proof , look at the 0770cf. It's pretty obvious on that model in particular
  6. BJtactical


    Sep 26, 2011
    Definitely strong but subject to scratches like anything else.
  7. rycen

    rycen Super Moderator Staff Member Super Mod Basic Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    Spyderco peel ply is 100% carbon fiber as seen on the Manix 2 XL, superhawk and military along with a few others. The carbon fiber you're confusing it with is taiwanese models that is a laminate with G10.
  8. RamZar

    RamZar Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2013
    Carbon Fiber is extremely strong with the added benefit of being very light in weight. The aerospace industry is another example of its use for exactly those properties not just in the aircraft frame (CF and CF composites) but even in jet engine blades! CF is expensive though.

    The carbon fiber fan blades of the GE Genx jet engine, with titanium-coated edges:
  9. knifehoarder


    Sep 8, 2014
    Carbon fiber is used on race car bodies. You won't break the scales on that ZT knife.
  10. whitty

    whitty Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Aug 25, 2005
    That really puts it into prospective. That picture is awesome!
  11. ToddM


    Oct 2, 1998
    It depends on a lot of things. People like to think it's a wonder material but if you pay attention it's typically only used for very specific applications.

    First the weave pattern impacts stiffness a lot, one of the beautiful things about CF is you can make it incredibly stiff in one direction but flexible in another for example as used in formula 1 suspension parts. However, I've noticed a couple of the CF handle knives without full liners exhibit more flex in the handle perpendicular to the blade than their counterparts, and you can easily deflect the handle scales just by squeezing them. If you don't pry with it, which you shouldn't be doing it's not an issue. I'd imagine that flex could make a liner/frame lock collapse earlier, but again only after you do something you shouldn't.

    The other thing CF is very poor at is abrasion/impact resistance. Once you damage the weave/laminate it tends to peel exposing the fiber weave, and you do not want CF in your skin, it makes fiberglass look hand lotion. You crash a CF road/mountain bike frame where it takes any significant abrasion and it's ruined. In a knife handle that's not likely to happen, especially since most high $ knives don't see hard use, and people typically are not beating on the handles. Depending on the epoxy used it may or may not be resistant to chemicals, UV etc.

    It's an okay material, amazing in the right application, but unless it's peel-ply it's too slippery and worthless for anything but looking pretty in a knife handle, and I doubt most of the CF used in knife handles would take anywhere near the same impact/abrasion abuse as Micarta or G10 without damage.

    Most industries go through a phase where they try to use CF for everything as a "wonder material" and over time learn where it works well and where it doesn't. I suspect the knife industry will learn this as well.
  12. The_Knife_Man


    May 30, 2014
    I hear it's pretty strong stuff. But I also heard of it chipping on knife scales.

    I haven't seen a problem on my after market CF or ZT CF so far.
  13. EChoil

    EChoil Banned BANNED

    May 22, 2014

    Aren't we really talking carbon fiber INLAYS here? If there are a lot of production knives out there bearing 100% carbon fiber handles, full thickness carbon fiber slab handle that are structurally superior to other commonly used handle materials, I'll stand corrected right here.

    If not....I've never thought a "carbon fiber" knife had any more true handle strength than one without the CF inlays. I'm under the impression that at this stage of knife technology CF is primarily a cosmetic/marketing thing.

    True, when most of us hear "carbon fiber" we envisage high tech, super-strong space stuff....but in reading some of these posts it doesn't exactly share a lot of properties with titanium or stainless for production of a solid folder handle.​

    Personally I don't like it that much. I have a J. Rozich full-tang dagger with CF solid and full length. It's black, it's plain, it's slick...and it will carry scratches. Yes, if you look closely there seems to be a surface weave pattern in it but it's too subtle to be worth anything. If I ever put the knife into rotation, I'll probably leather wrap or paracord it to tell you the truth.

    On the other hand, it's understandable why it's attractive to many. It IS high tech, it IS strong (even though most handles are made mostly of something else), and it can be attractively applied and patterned I suppose. Just nothing out there that really does it for ME.
  14. RamZar

    RamZar Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2013
    There are at least a couple of folders where the frame is all carbon fiber without any additional support structure. One is the Zero Tolerance 0777 series and the other is LionSteel TM-1 with a solid/integral (one piece) frame. Both showcase the strength and light weight of the CF.
  15. Moxy


    Oct 30, 2011
    What's wrong with peel ply? I actually prefer it over the real stuff. You get a nice flat final layer of CF that doesn't need to be sanded flat. Plus there is some added texture like on the Sage I. Some of the CF on the 770s look all wonky since the CF plate is sanded flat. Besides sanded CF feels like a chalkboard to me.

    G10 > Carbon Fiber, In my opinion. :p
  16. bpeezer


    Jan 27, 2013
    Between CF and G10, there's no comparison. CF is mechanically superior in tensile strength, compressive strengh, and flexural strength. I put together a table of their max properties, using data from


    *mechanical properties of carbon fiber will change with the weave, as mentioned. However, CF in general is way out of G10's league.
  17. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    Hello! The Ugly Stick, a nearly unbreakable fishing rod is made from carbon fiber. Real carbon fiber is extremely strong, yet light weight. It is the perfect, and beautiful, material for a knife scale.
  18. Tripton


    May 26, 2008
    Um, no. Ugly Stiks are graphite wrapped in fiberglass, I believe. They are pretty tough, but they are like fishing with a heavy rubber broomstick, only less sensitive.
  19. Allex


    Jun 29, 2007
    All quality motorbikes helmets are made from fiber glass, not CF, CF it's not impact resistant.
  20. Fish30114

    Fish30114 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    True that!! A friend once told me he was thinking about getting an Ugly Stik, and I asked him why did he want to beat the fish once he caught them with a real rod?

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