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Stainless don't mind the rain

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by Doug Add, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. Doug Add

    Doug Add

    Jan 9, 2012
    Because sometimes you have to work in the wet, with no time to clean and oil carbon blades.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
  2. 555

    555 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 5, 2007
    The very reason why I'll carry Case, Buck, etc. Stainless.
  3. MT Damascus

    MT Damascus Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 14, 2011
    I like carbon steels, but prefer stainless, especially stainless damascus. I would like to see GEC use thier 440C on more models. Nice pic

  4. sitflyer


    Mar 10, 2011
    +1 on wishing GEC would offer more patterns in 440C...
    I prefer stailess steel, but I do like carbon too...
  5. jazub

    jazub Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 6, 2010
    Another vote for stainless here. Wish GEC would offer it on all models. In the meantime, Case and Buck! :D

    -oh, and cool pics Doug Add. That one is a looker. :thumbup:
  6. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer

    Jan 12, 2009
    Not being a collector, I buy knives for utility. Carbon steel was great through the 90s on my work knives as the stainless from different makers I tried was pretty poor quality stuff. I found that quality knife makers that offered stainless used steel that was rust resistant but would hold an edge better than a lead fishing weight. I tried several stainless offerings since I was tired of making the effort to wipe off my carbon knife blades every single day, but found no stainless worth the trouble to sharpen.

    Somewhere about mid 90s that seemed to turn around. Better stainless was out there, and I have been on board ever since checking out different offerings. Now I carry stainless through the hot summers and any wet days where I have to work outside, and carbon any other days.

    No daily maintenance speaks volumes to me. I like today's stainless for work knives a lot.

  7. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I sure can't complain about the service I got from my old Buck stockman. Or the Buck cadet either. Good stainless, great knives, and they served in a wide range of climates and conditions. Even my stainless Opinel number 7 is a very good cutter.

    I can remember when the stainless stuff out there was not so good. Lot's of junk, lots of so-so stuff. But that was then, and this is now. The old timers wouldn't have anything to do with stainless steel, but I think that my generation was the first to see some good stainless steel in those post WW2 years. Buck, the green and yellow box Puma's where good stuff. And then there was SAK's. In the 60's on the Swiss Army knife became well known in America, and backpackers and sportsmen got used to good stainless that you didn't have to worry over if it got wet. Factor in Vietnam and anyone who served, andyou have a whole generation of soldiers who used Buck knives in a very wet hot place. I wonder if someone could make a case for Buck knives making the idea of stainless knives acceptable to American sportsmen?

  8. sitflyer


    Mar 10, 2011
    I think you hit that nail square on the head Carl:thumbup:
  9. confucius37


    May 18, 2008
  10. jazub

    jazub Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 6, 2010
    GEC knives have quite a bit of oil on them fresh out of the tube. I think there was recently a picture of finished knives soaking in oil on their site. Great for keeping moisture off the steel prior to significant handling.

    However, with use and carry, the 1095 I have from GEC most certaily does spot and rust if handled and put away without particular care. I don't carry those knives for most of the summer or any of the wet winter.
  11. Doug Add

    Doug Add

    Jan 9, 2012
    I read that whole thread. One of the posts talked about a bass player who kept going through instruments because of his sweat. One of the guys I used to ride with every morning only buys carbon fiber frames for his bicycles now because his sweat kept rusting through the top tubes of other bikes.
  12. confucius37


    May 18, 2008
    Wow that's intense, but I can certainly see how a salty solution like sweat can do a number on steel, even stainless steel if left unattended for long periods. In general I don't find water to be a big deal for my carbon steel knives, I wash my knife after I use it for food prep and its never really an issue. Salt water is a whole other story though.

    I think Kevin has remarked before that the deep dark patina he has on his EO #85 was earned from keeping it in his pocket when he goes mountain biking
  13. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer

    Jan 12, 2009
    I hadn't thought of that, but I think there is strong enough history to make that case. I don't know the actual makeup of 420hc, although many have their own opinions. I know that Buck used to make some of their knives in 440c, and rumored other stainless or semi stainless as well. Research on the Buck subforum (and some great responses) has led me to the conclusion that my 119 is most likely 440c. I never knew that until I started reading this forum.

    I have a Buck 119 (if that isn't a classic... what is?) that has been used on too many hunting, canoeing, hiking and camping trips to count. It has been underwater, cleaned poorly due to conditions of animal blood and guts (all hunters know how hard that is on a knife), wet for days on bad camping trips, and on an on. It got speckles of rust that were tiny spots half the size of pin heads once or twice. Under the advice of the sporting goods guru at our locally owned store, the corrosion was easily removed with an old fashioned white ink eraser. I never worried about corrosion with that knife.

    Ditto all the guys that carried the 110 hunting that used the venerable 110 for the same uses mentioned above.

    I think though, that Buck's biggest contribution was the 110. The mystery steel known as 420hc used in its construction was obviously some kind of modified stainless and it performed easily as well as the carbon steels of its time. I started in construction in 1972, and that knife was already starting to be a jobsite staple due to its robust build, and its corrosion resistance. You could clean gunk off of it with the harshest cleaners, use it around corrosive materials (try concrete dust on a wet blade for that 10 minute patina), and more importantly, carry it in your sweat drenched back pocket and use the knife without fear of rusting. The only maintenance needed was an occasional cleaning, oiling the pivot and sharpening. I would bet that by the late 70s through until about the 90s about one in three guys on the job either carried a 110 or had one on hand. I always envied their lack of maintenance as I carried a large CASE carbon bladed knife and had to lightly sand off rust and oil the blades constantly during the summer months. They did nothing.

    And of course, those same 110 knives went everywhere else too, for all manner of ranch and farm chores that were a big part of San Antonio's landscape at that time.

    Like I said, I hadn't thought of it, but I think you are on to something Carl.

    I KNOW it wasn't CASE that had anything to do with introducing quality steel. I bought one or two in the early to mid 70s and unfortunately had two or three more CASE stainless folders given to me around that time. Without doubt, they ranked as some of the worst quality knives I have ever owned. They were no less than absolutely awful, and one of the reasons I wouldn't touch stainless in a traditional folder until a few years ago.

    Good food for thought, Carl.

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  14. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    If Buck made the stainless popular among the blue collar tradesmen, then Victorinox has got to takethe award for the white collar upwardly mobile young college crowd.

    Before the 60's, if you went camping, you used heavy but cheap surplus stuff from an army navy store. The 1960's saw the birth and explosion of backpacking as a sport. Stores and outlets like REI, Hudson Trail outfitter's, Eastern Mountain Sports, and others came into being, and all where pushing the new cutting edge light weight gear. A man named Colin Fletcher had wrote his first version of "The Complete Walker". Names like Kelty, The North Face, came into being, and young people were spending some good money on the lastest stuff. These stores carried a colorful display of nice shiny red handled SAK's right up front, and by the 1970's, a SAK was standard equipment for the light weight backpacker, Euro-train traveler, and college student. The SAK became the badge of the new wave, the new kids on the block, the cutting edge kids.

    It was this new generation that embraced a lot of new things, new ways. They didn't have the old built in prejudice against plastic that my father and his generation did. They didn't have the prejudice against stainless steel because they weren't even alive when the cheap no good stainless was giving the stuff a bad name. This was the new generation that embraced new technology like the dawn of computers, Japanese cars, personal electronics like walkmen. I can only wonder how many of then got a Swiss Army knife for a birthday or Christmas.

    If we look at it, Buck and Victorinox did the lions share of getting stainless knives out there. Each with a different clientele.

  15. Rsmith_77


    Jun 4, 2010
    now if buck would go back to doing full flat grinds (hollow grinds?) instead of saber grinds
    alot of us would be happy :D

    as someone who recently transitioned from edc'ing a buck 301 to a case texas jack, the difference in cutting is ...apparent :p
    oh and my sweat can and has rusted my 301 a few times already this summer :D
  16. richstag


    Feb 22, 2007
    Doug, yes sir, most of that patina was from mountain biking :)

    I am going to take a moment to explain my strong passion for carbon steel. Its going to be long, but only because I respect you all enough to take the time. I also respect your preferences so none of this is to go against those.

    From the time I was a kid my father always took me hiking in the woods. It was the number one activity. He bought me an ontario 1095 machete some time in elementary school for the walks. I carried that thing in a canvas sheath EVERY single time.

    Growing up with it I learned to use a machete for everything, eventually fast forward to when I got much more into knives I also got very into sharpening.

    I tried super steels and the such. What I found was I could get a geometry and an edge on my 1095 ontario that I could not match with the supersteel stainless. If I went as thin the edge would start to warp in hard wood. Anyhow, I bought a bunch of Ontario's and a belt grinder and a few hundred dollars worth of belts and compounds etc.

    Here is a quick video of why I love my simple 1095 in a machete. It just works. The times I have hit concrete the edge was not destroyed.


    I learned to sharpen with diamond stones, arkansas stones, edgepro, belt grinder, wheels and on and on. What I found was every steel responded differently and I used to have specific compounds I would finish steels to and certain grit belts I would stop at etc.

    Then I came back around to traditionals with 1095 steel. I pulled out my older arkansas stones and gave it a shot again. I was able to experiment and find just what I like. I don't touch my traditionals with a grinder and there is no need to go to diamond. So, I decided, KISS :)

    It has been challenging at times to keep rust away and Frank (knarfeng) graciously explained to me what a patina really is. Yes, it is rust, I now understand this.

    Here is my 85 recently in the rain


    Here is was at the beach getting constant salt spray for a few days


    Here it was along for one of my many mountain bike rides, as you can see no strong patina yet :)


    Here is my old mountain bike, never had any trouble with rust :)


    What I found was it takes a really really thick patina to keep red rust away on the really humid rides or days out working. It took a few rides on 100+ days with HIGH humidity to make my 85 rust. I was so drenched that when I jumped in the river I actually felt like I dried off. I had to take Carl's advice on this one and I just let it go. I spit shined off the rust and kept working and kept riding. The patina got darker and darker and thicker and thicker. No more problem with red rust after this.

    Then the other problem I was left with was the freshly honed edge having no protection. This is when I switched my compound on my strop. An old barbers strop with linen and horsehide. I used to use dry compound but I switched to waxed so that when I stropped it also left a layer of protection. It has been working for me ever since, with the only signs of corrosion being microscopic, literally.

    I hope this helps explain my love for carbon steel. I probably left a ton out, but I tried to recap quite a lot that got me to where I am with it.

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  17. Gevonovich


    Jan 17, 2011
    Illustrating what Carl said...

  18. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer

    Jan 12, 2009
    I agree. The first SAKs I ever saw were carried by executives and students. Some liked the toothpicks, some the tweezers, and some the can/bottle openers on certain models. Fast forward a bit, and I started seeing SAKs on keychains.

    I hate to sound like a closed minded old fart (I'm not... really!) but I never was able to get used to the shiny, red plastic handles. Bone, sure. Bakelite, maybe. Leather, you bet. Wood? On a large sodbuster or a medium folder.

    Plastic? No way. Heck, I even hated Delrin. I remember needling my companions with "what's the matter, Schrade can't spell <plastic> anymore?" Then the ridiculous name of "sawcut delrin" to make it sound like it wasn't molded plastic. Never could make that work for me. I was raised in a pocketknife household, and plastic on a knife wasn't allowed even as a kid. The cite my Dad always used to make his case was the PowerKraft Boys Scouts of America knife he gave me about 1960. Within a few years, the plastic scales had curled up off the brass liners completely. He had me convinced!

    Fast forward to now, and I like all kinds of man made materials including micarta, G10 case/frame on my lightweight Puma folder, the yellow composite on my Queen CC, the red on my Bulldog soddie, etc.

    I always seem to be behind the times...

  19. The Buck 110s/112s used 440C from 1964 (very beginning) to 1980/81 or so. After that, they tried 425M for a little while, then transitioned into 420HC around 1992 (all of this steel dating info is per the 'sticky' provided by Joe Houser in the Buck sub-forum).

    A lot of people didn't like the original 440C back then (pre-1980), because it was more difficult to sharpen on conventional stones (high abrasion resistance and very thick factory edges on the earlier knives). I never realized how good it actually was until just a few years ago, when I finally worked up the nerve to thin the edge on my '2-dot' 112, and convex it. Great stuff, now that my skills and tools have caught up to it. :)

    And the Camillus-made Buck 300 series were done in 440A. Very, very easy to take care of and sharpen to a fine edge.
  20. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Buck used 440C on its fixed blade knives, 110's, and 500 series knives from the mid 60's up till the early 80s. The 300 series was originally made for Buck, first by Schrade, then by Camillus. Neither of those companies used 440C on their own pocket knives. They used 440A. Stands to reason they used it on the ones the made for Buck. Certainly my old Camillus made 303 holds an edge as if it were that alloy.

    As for 420HC, it isn't a complete mystery either, even though there is no official composition for it. Up until recently, Buck bought their steel from Latrobe. Latrobe does has a set composition for 420HC.


    Buck hardens their 420HC to a Rockwell of about 58-59. Quite a bit harder than Case with a resulting significant improvement in edge retention without much increase in effort required to sharpen.

    Sorry. Middle of the week. Still in engineering mode. You were saying?

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