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Utility blade material

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Rockin' P smithing, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Rockin' P smithing

    Rockin' P smithing

    Jun 21, 2012
    Hey guys. I want to make a good hunting/survival/utility knife. I want something that won't be bothered by the elements. I want a really durable blade. A blade that won't break very easily at all and a blade that will hold a edge for a long period of time. Oh and fairly cheap if possible.

    Y'all got any ideas???
  2. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    Elmax, CTS-XHP, and CPM-154 in that order.

    Oh, you mentioned "cheap"... it really doesn't work that way. You're asking for at least three different attributes... corrosion-resistance, durability and low cost. Pick any two of those parameters and you'll have plenty to choose from. You can't get all three for "cheap".
  3. Brian Ayres

    Brian Ayres

    Feb 4, 2011
    Even "expensive" steel is reasonably priced. A 2' chunk of CPM-S35VN .140/.156x1-1/4" is only $32.00. You could make 3 drop point hunters for $11 each...
  4. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    154cm is a great all around steel and not too pricey
  5. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    CPM S35VN is a good choice. CPM-154 is another.
  6. fast14riot

    fast14riot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 27, 2010
    What's wrong with the good ol' 440C? I still like that steel, its plenty tough and hold an edge pretty darn good. Is it just out of fad nowadays?

  7. stevomiller


    May 4, 2001
    Rocking P, make sure you factor the shipping to and from the heat treater, and also the cost of heat treatment itself. I only mention this since you were concerned with costs and have only used recycled materials thus far.


    Aug 17, 2010
    I made my first knife for me (#5) out of 440C and I don't think it is as tough as I would like. I have a huge chip to deal with on that one and the geometry was not aggressive. I agree with James, but would put CPM154 in front of the rest because of price in this hierarchy of needs.

  9. Mudbug007


    Nov 29, 2010
    If I could only have one outdoor knife to handle all my hunting, fishing and camping chores, I'd make it from one of the stainless steels in CPM-154, Elmax, S35N or CTS-XHP. I haven't used the last two, but I've talked and read to a few top notch makers who are impressed with those steel. I do have knives in CPM-154 and S35N and I like both of those. But of course, I love my carbon steel knives and know how to take care of them to keep them from rusting to bits.

    I'd also have Micarta or G10 scales on them. Remember, I'm talkin' if I could only have one knife. I like stabilized handles, as well as tough woods like Ironwood, Cocobolo and Bocote (to name a few), but if we're talkin' only one knife for the rest of my life, give me Micarta or G10.
  10. Rockin' P smithing

    Rockin' P smithing

    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks guys. Money isn't my worry. Thanks for the recommendations. I think I'm going to try to get some cpm s35vn.
  11. cbr900son


    Mar 3, 2011
    Im about to do a few cpm 154 knives if you go that route and if you want could throw yours into the mix in my evenheat oven. Just pay shipping.
  12. chad2


    Sep 2, 2011
    Well i think every one else will agree with me on this one if you take corrosion resistance out of the picture cpm 3v would be the number one choice for this application. 3v is also pretty rust resistant just keep it dry after getting wet and you will never have a problem! But if you really want a SS look into elmax it is stronger and has better edge retention then cpm s30v and it is also easier to sharpen according to the knife makers who have used it on this forum.


    Aug 17, 2010
    If money isn't the worry, then get the Elmax or M390. Problem with those is they require very hot ovens, Peter's Heat Treatment may be your only choice, but they are affordable in batches (10 or so)

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