Let's Run Carbon Steel - 15N20, the industry's best kept secret as a stand alone cutlery steel

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David Mary

pass the mustard - after you cut it
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Jul 23, 2015
I will begin by referencing the material of Dr. Larrin Thomas as my "proof":

For the following statement: I believe 15N20 is the knife industry's best kept secret as far as carbon steels go, the way AEBL has been in years past. Both steels are similar in that they are fine grained ingot steels, not the fancy particle metallurgy alloys that are more expensive both to create and process. They both have excellent toughness, and relatively low wear resistance. However, because of their high toughness, and edge stability, they can readily take extremely thin geometries that PM steels would not support without increased failure risk.

This allows for knives of all kinds that are:

High performance due to thin geometries,
Durability due to cross section of good hardness with good toughness,
Sharpenability due to low wear resistance, a trait often looked upon as undesirable, yet in fact makes it even easier to keep a knife sharp in the long term. The only "drawback" is the need for the smallest amount of preparedness (a ceramic hone, or strop) and more frequent, but less extensive, touch ups than high carbide steels.
And the principal benefit of 15N20 over AEBL, EASY PATINA!

My hardness of choice for 15N20 blades is 61, for reasons you will understand if you watch Larrin's video. With the right geometry, even large choppers can support this hardness, given 15N20's amazing toughness optimization in that range.

I would like to offer another run of 15N20. I have some interest in one already, but to help keep costs down for everyone, the sensible thing for me to do is determine first how much interest there is. My goal for this thread is to learn from you, my fellow Bladeforums members, what types of cutlery you want me to make for each of you in this excellent alloy, this year, most likely before summer.

Ideally, I should make half a dozen or so of a given design, to be able to make it economical, and at least three or four, or five designs. Not planning on pulling the trigger on this until we have the makings of a run that is actually financially responsible for me to start. So bring it on, let me know what I should make on this run. And maybe we'll see new designs come out of it, or if you already have a design you want (those of you who posted designs in the B.rex thread, I'm looking at you!) perhaps you'd like to see it in this run. Brainstorming ideas:

Chef knives
Paring knives
Camp Knives

If I have enough people say "Id' be in for a ______" then I will post a few designs of that given style and we can go from there. And so on for whatever you're all interested in. Thanks, and let's have fun!
I missed out on previous daggers, so that is of interest as is”etc.” Any plans for bigger blades like choppers or machete-like blades?
Does sharpen up beautifully and the patina story told on the steel is more dramatic than some similar steels, like 8670.
This EDChef was not really dull, but I like to play with edges and decided to lesson the bevels of the edge angles, using a Baryonyx arctic fox stone, Spyderco med & fine, and then diamond polishing compound....and then quartered a chicken, cut carrots and kale. Sharpening and food prep took less than an hour - very responsive to sharpening, takes a very keen edge but won't wear you out getting there.





I'd think I'd be into most anything in this steel.
I missed out on previous daggers, so that is of interest as is”etc.” Any plans for bigger blades like choppers or machete-like blades?

Plans for anything in this steel will be driven by the demand.
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Received a request for something like this as well. That's 7.3" overall with a 3.3" cutting edge.

I'd be in for a paring knife of sorts. More or less standard 4" paring knife dimensions/proportions, but with a dropped tip...either k-tip style or like a CRK Insingo. Basically a paring knife that still makes it easy to get the tip down on a cutting board.

Just putting the idea out there to see if it generates enough interest.
K-Slick with 6" to 6.5" blade. 😍

Or else an EDChef in that same range. I'm not sure what size the various models in the EDC series run.
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I'm still keeping an eye on this thread, and will be reaching out to everyone in time to put together the run. K-slick XL sounds really cool!
I missed out on previous daggers, so that is of interest as is”etc.” Any plans for bigger blades like choppers or machete-like blades?

For this run, a model asked for in this thread, and then confirmed through private communication = planned.
How far out would these be, as in weeks or months? Far enough out and I’d have no problem committing to a chopper or Barax, but anything real soon I’d have to pass as I need to deal with an unexpected expense.
I'm holding off just yet saying anything for sure, until I get a better handle on what's happening with the MagnaCut blades.
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