What’s the real skinny on titanium?

Oct 2, 1998
OK. What’s the real skinny on titanium? Does it not corrode? It’s not magnetic, but does it get picked up on metal detectors and not detected by magnetometers?

Everyone’s dishing about Newt Livesay’s Titanium Tigers - and I think they’re so hot they’re cool - but why are they such a great last-ditch, covert item, besides being so thin?

What’s the real deal with titanium? It’s light, it’s strong, what else? Please, end my confusion! (At least about this one issue.)




[This message has been edited by Jim Six (edited 22 August 1999).]
I don't want to make this an attack on Mr. Livesay's work, but I feel that Ti is unsuitable for a stand-alone blade material. If stabbing and concealing easily are all an item is expected to do, a good pen or pencil might suffice. If more strength is needed, perhaps an aluminum or titanium icepick. I can't see the sense in fashioning a blade out of a material that won't take much of an edge (and I probably don't need to rehash my feelings on tantos as thrusting points).

Titanium is popular because it is nearly as light as aluminum (slight exaggeration) and nearly as strong as steel. It is also nearly impossible to corrode, can be anodized to pretty colors, and (as if 99.99% of users cared) is non-magnetic. It has some of the most unpleasant machining and grinding characteristics you might imagine, but that's all in a day's work, right? It's a great material for liners, bolsters, and other fittings... at least, the results are great, but getting there is a bit more hassle than, say, 416 stainless. For strength and (it seemed to me) workability, most folks prefer the alloy 6Al4V over commercially pure titanium. I have never seen Titanium take a ver good edge, and Benchmade found similarly with their Ti-bladed 970s, forcing them to add carbide particles to te edge for decent cutting.

A local self-defense instructor advocates carrying a large, sturdy hat-pin in the seam of your pants-leg as an all-purpose back-up weapon that can be carried anywhere. He carries it in such away that he can retrieve it even with his arms pinned and jab it nicely into an assailants thigh or, preferably, genitals in order to facilitate escape. This would seem to me a better solution to the "last ditch" weapon than a knife-shaped chunk of titanium carried about the neck. If you must carry a "poking only" tiny little Ti knife, at least make it a nice icepick that will pierce effectively and don't bother with a lousy edge that will do little damage to an assailant but might cause problems should your grip slide onto it.

I'm not sure if I'm out-of-line posting a functional criticism of another maker's knife. I'm not in competition with Mr. Livesay and I understand he has sold all of these knives already, anyhow. I admire his work and would certainly endorse most of it. I just saw this question and felt that I should reply honestly as a knife user, designer, and maker, just as I do about production knives every day. I'm going to post this and if there is any outcry, it will be edited.

-Drew Gleason
Little Bear Knives
Drew, don't delete/edit the post. You have neither lied nor said anything to be ashamed of. If somebody feels a need to lock horns with you, just ignore or counter as you see fit.

If anybody wants to argue the merits of the tanto point, I can pick up that fight for you. If you wish.

While I fully agree that titanium takes a lousy edge, I would agrue that it can be made accute enough to damage flesh for one encounter. I whole heartedly agree with the titanium icepick suggestion. However, I would prefer a colichemarde.
Drew, you stated your opinion and did nothing wrong. If someone doesn't like it then screw them. That's why the forums are so great because the information is unbiased. How are we supposed to see the other side of the coin if people only say what other's want to hear?

Corduroy - Your post is excellent. Ti just doesn't seem to be a great material for knife blades. It sure makes a great bicycle frame but you have to pay a lot for that.
I have made one blade from titanium(a custom request) While it looked awesome...(Tanto blade, nickel silver guard and butt cap, ebony for the hande) I'll not make another one.
Tested out at 36Rc, and nearly impossibe to put a decent edge on it.
I e-mailed Newt about making a Titanium Bow hunting buddy and this is what he said:

I wasn't trying to be a smart ass about the reply I put to you about the "T--BHB". What I am going to say here I am sure from your conversations is not new to you. In my opinion Titanium isn't worth a
damn for making knife "BLADES" that are to be used as sporting, or combat/utility knives. By this I mean titanium will not hold a long
term cutting edge like carbon steel as you know. Even the 6AL4V when heat treated doesn't lend itself to a good sporting knife blade. Titanium in the knife industry however does make excellent handle material for different knives. Titanium makes a very good probe for land mines, etc., as well as an excellent "dagger" or "shank" for sticking. In a knife such as the Bow-Hunting_Buddy it would just be for looks I feel.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.

Check out my review of the Kasper AFCK, thougths on the AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Meadows/1770/kasperafck.html


I have a use for titanium. I own a Mission MPF that I will carry as I fly on a pretty freq. basis so it does have a purpose. I started this because I was stop at a security checkpoint for the Spyderco Expermential 2 I had in my pocket. They would not let my on the plane with it and I had to give to my wife to take home. I mean this knife had a 2 in. plain edge blade you can't get anymore less threating then that. So I went to the MPF and preliminary testing says that I will have no problem with this knife showing up. So if it only has to make a few cuts and then has to be touched up it has served it's purpose. Sorry if this post has offended anyone these are my personal feelings. I know that other people have their own views.


Keep them sharp and for heavens sake be careful

Why can't Corduroy make this post without two people jumping up to back his statements even if no one else challenged it? It's like starting a fight before its even been started.

I was under the impression that Mission had devoted substantial R&D time to treating Ti in some way that made it slightly better as a blade material, though I got to see an MPK tested some years back and it did indeed lose its edge quickly. Still, I admit edge retention is of little importance in a defensive piece such as what we are discussing here.

One way to locate a good hatpin is to search through your grandmother's old things
Another might be to try a craft store. These are big, heavy-duty things, like pins with a darning needle somewhere in the family tree. If tucked into a heavy seam, though, they won't poke you or make their presence known - you just leave the head sticking out, high enough to grab with your arms pinned to your sides.

I was under the impression that a "colichemarde" was a "boar sword." Its blade is an unground bar for about half its length, then tapers into a three- or four-sided thrusting point. It has no true edge, and was used by European nobility in times past to dispatch wounded/cornered game, I guess by those who found the reach of a boar spear less exciting. Seems a little hefty for neck carry
I'm sure if I am wrong in this Snick will correct me, but perhaps he was thinking of a misericorde?

I will be gone for about a week, so if this topic turns ugly, I apologize for not responding. It seems Mr. Livesay and I are basically in agreement about Ti as a blade material, and simply have different notions of what a holdout "sticker" should look like. That's cool with me - there would only be a couple of very boring knives in the world if we all agreed on such things.

Drew :

I feel that Ti is unsuitable for a stand-alone blade material

I am interested in Missions Ti ability to hold an edge as it is its only real weakness. After talking to several owners whose opinions I value highly (like NamViet Vo), I think it is at least worth looking into. Given Ti high ductility it may be able to hold certain types of high performance edges much better than the much more brittle steels.

"Colichmarde" from "Colidge Marder" if I got that name right... Anyway, he was an 18th century military man and the term describes a style of smallsword blade attributed to him; triangular in cross section, but that widens significantly at the forte to increase strength.

In a small blade, this widened triangular forte opens up the would cannel wider making an even nastier wound. Plus triangular cross sections just tend do better when done in this style due to the extra strengh.

I have seen a sword similar to what Drew describes, only the point swelled wider than the rest of the blade.

There was also a "tuck", sometimes called an "estoc" that was similar to a rapier in that it was a pure thrusting sword, only the tuck was a miliary weapon. It had no cutting edge, and frequently was triangular, rectangular, or diamond shaped in cross section.

I wouldn't want to wear either a smallsword or a tuck around my neck, but I have hidden my Project 1 that way on occasion.

A misericorde is something different entirely. I don't like them much, too specialized.

Fenris, I backed Drew because he is my friend and I don't feel he said anything that needs to be deleted or edited. Also because we feel the same on certain issues that get argued a lot, so if one of us were to get weary of supporting that arguement, it would make sense for the other to take over. This isn't a system we worked out, but is something that has happened on it's own.

I agree with Snick and Drew here, for the most part, titanium does not make a phenomenal blade steel.

I need a bigger bucket.
I am learning so much about whether titanium can cut, but none of this seems to be answering my primary question about the detectability of titanium by walk-through and hand-held metal detectors/magnetometers.

Some more input in that area?



I am to understand that titanium is not magnetic in most situations.

But I am also to understand that the things in some airports and courts are metal detectors, not magnetometers.

That would explain why pens and belt buckles and shoe grommets and keys set them off, especially since most of those things contain little or no iron.

But if it a metal detector, then depending on how hight it is set, titanium potentially will set it off.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.

Check out my review of the Kasper AFCK, thougths on the AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Meadows/1770/kasperafck.html


Aluminum is non-magnetic, but I was turning up pop tops and pull tabs left and right when I was doing the metal dectector thing. And that was with a 40 dollar Radio Shack special that ran on a 9v battery.

All metal is galvanicaly active as I understand it. Therefor, it is detectable.

I think the non-magnetic thing is valuable for landmines because some are magneticaly triggered or something, and require a strong electromagnetic field, like one generated by something big and iron, like a ship or tank, to detonate.
I no experience with Ti used for blades, but I think it makes excellent scales. I found more often than not that the people here know what they are talking about.
Having crashed recently on my mountain bike, I can attest that titanium may make a better club. And I have the bruises to prove it.

The same things that make Ti great for bikes also makes it great for some knife parts. It's lightweight, basically non-corrosive, and will flex quite a bit before failure. BUT, my bike won't hold an edge either.
i have a titanium tiger and from the stabbing tests that i gave it it would most definatly get someones attention if inserted forcefully in to someone. it is not made to be for utility but if you have nothing vs a 2 inch titanium knife you are better off.

that said i also have a 3.5 inch NRG livesay in my right pocket for extra social work too.