How well does Bead Blasted Titanium hold up???

May 15, 2000
Well, many people know and dislike Bead Blasted steel for a few reasons. (at least I do) First it will aid in the rusting or steel, and second it that it will scratch. Both Stainless steel and (to an even greater extent) aluminum will scratch with a B.B. finish.

My question is:

How well does Bead Blasted Ti. hold up??? What kind of scratches/scuffs does it suffer with use??? (Luckily Ti. will not rust!)

Thanks for the help -- I hope I made myself somewhat clear,

[This message has been edited by mmtmatrix (edited 03-05-2001).]
It depends on your term "use!"

Several people carry knives with blasted titanium for EDC with no problems. If you bang it against a brick wall, it will probably scratch!

It also depends on how the bead blast was performed. If the maker just glanced over it with very fine abrasives (just enough to make it a bit dull) it might get "shiny" fairly quick.

I think what we have to realize is that if a particular process or finish didn't hold up to moderate wear, nobody would be doing it for so long. Repeat sales mean a lot in this business!


Tom Anderson
Hand Crafted Knives
Thanks for the reply. Maybe I could have been more specific. I am just curious how much it will scratch, etc., with say being in your pocket with keys and (coin) change? Sense it is harder than steel will it stay Bead Blasted/non-glare longer?

Also If I was going to have someone bead Blast some titanium for me is there a special process that they could do to make it last longer? What could the person going the BB do to make it better?


Titanium is NOT harder than steel! Most knife blades are somewhere in the 50-60 RC range. Titanium is much softer!

You might be thinking of titanium hard coatings, like titanium carbonitride, used on end mills. Some of those are in the 90 RC range. These are NOT bead blast finishes.

Whoever is making your knife for you should know that!


Tom Anderson
Hand Crafted Knives
Not sure if it is BB, but the bolsters on my MT LCC M/A, which I bought to be a hard use knife, are all scratched up from contact with keys, coins,etc.
The bad thing about a bead blast finish is that it scuffs up pretty easily. I have a Benchmade Pinnacle with titanium handle with alot of scratches due to coins, keys etc...
Since it's a knife the was meant to be used, I don't mind.
Titanium, like anything else, will get scratched if in comes into contact with something harder then itself. With surface finishes you can even scuff them with something softer then themselves. Unless you use a pouch or dedicate one of your pockets to the knife and nothing else (ever) you will get scratches and scuffs. FYI, I dedicate my right front pocket to my knife.
Since Titanium is softer than steel (I think the Beta stuff Mission uses is quoted at RC47)anything harder than that will scratch the material if it comes in contact with it.

Fundamentally, a bead blasted surface is just a bunch of little divots in the material. It doesn't make it any more or less resistant to being scratched. I think it is mostly personal opinion as to what surface shows the scratches the least, but a bead blasted titanium surface should hold up as well as any other kind of finish on titanium.

As one other note - the comment regarding the Titanium Nitride coatings, there actually are several types, the normal gold TiN coating has a lower RC rating (about 65 - 70 I think) than the TiCN coating which I think is about RC90.
Man I am stupid, (more like uneducated - but I sure feel stupid)). For some reason I thought Ti was harder than steel. It's harder to work with right? From the little experience I have had with it I thought it was a lot harder to work than steel.
Actually this is not for a blade, its for some handles, and I wanted to see if it was something that I should consider doing to the handles (because these handles see a lot of use) I wanted to see if the handles would scratch easily with the BB finish. How can I do the Bead Blasting so that it will last longest/the best?
Well you learn soothing new every day,
Thanks for the help so far,

Don't worry. There's a big difference between not knowing something and refusing to learn something!

You'll need a good air compressor and a bead blast cabinet as a minimum. Depending on how humid your work area is, you might also need some type of coalescing filter or drier to keep the media from turning into mud.

You can find all sorts of blast media in the MSC (1-800-645-7270) catalog. I mostly use 80-100 grit glass beads.

Also make sure the cabinet is vented and you have a vacuum system hooked up. (You need air flow to keep the dust down and to optimize the blasting action.)

By the way - I think this now belongs in the Bladesmithing Forum!


Tom Anderson
Hand Crafted Knives

[This message has been edited by Tom Anderson (edited 03-06-2001).]
mmtmatrix, Sebenza owners have been dealing with the bead blasted handles on the Sebenza (which are Titanium) for years. If you bead blast your Titanium handles, you're begging for scratches, or the elusion of them.
Ti handles will scratch rather easily, but I have never viewed this as problem. The knife simply develops it's own personality over time. My large Sebenza has developed many surface scratches on the handles and each is a welcome character trait for a great using knife.

Enjoy. Don't worry about it.


If you have worked with Titanium, you actually are not going crazy. The thing about Titanium is that it work hardens extremely quickly, and in that state can get very hard and very brittle. So in a normal state, it isn't that hard compared to steel, but plastically deform it even a very little bit and it gets very hard and brittle. This increases the challenge of working with it as a material quite a bit.