Winkler belt knife fails strength tests (GREAT response by Winkler)


Gold Member
Apr 6, 2004

I received the replacement belt knife from Daniel Winkler today. It came by second-day priority mail. It is perfect. The grind lines are perfect. The old knife will be sent back to him tomorrow. He sent me a pre-paid label to cover the shipping costs.

I tested the knife in what I thought was a reasonable way for a hard-use knife with heavy edge geometry, by chopping a chunk of Douglas Fir, a softwood that is very strong. Doug fir is used for framing here in the Pacific Northwest. This piece was sun-dried, clear grained and barkless — free of dirt, sand and knots. I hit it hard. There was no damage to the edge.

I also tested the tip with a series of thrusts that punched it into the wood no more than a quarter of an inch, and then pried splinters up. There was no tip damage.

This second test easily damaged the old knife with a broken heat treat.

That’s all the testing I’m going to do. The knife is fine and extremely well made. The sheath is better than the old sheath, although they are the same style.

At first, I thought the edge was not sharp because it would not slice paper easily. Actually, the edge is sharp, but the edge profile is very thick — 0.0475 inches at the shoulders. The edge angle is about 43 degrees inclusive. This kind of edge geometry isn’t meant for slicing paper.

I’d like to thank Daniel Winkler for replacing my old knife, which was secondhand, but unused. I thought his response in this thread added to his well-deserved reputation as a master bladesmith, as well as a person with an abundance of integrity. He showed us all how a good man responds to honest criticism.

He didn’t have to replace this knife, and I didn’t ask him to.

It’s not easy to post a thread showing the weakness of a particular knife, especially one made by someone with an excellent reputation. The easy route is to just contact the maker and do everything out of the public eye. But in this case, we had a chance to see how a bad heat treat can affect blade performance; and we also had the chance to see that this was an isolated case that Daniel explained up front and with no excuses. We know what happened and why -- which is what a thread should be about.

Hopefully, all is now well with everyone. It is with me.

Jan 16, 2014
His response sold me for several future purchases. and I am now carrying a tad edition winkler belt knife with me every day. and I have used it and it has held up perfectly and keeps a killer edge.
Glad it worked out for you.


Basic Member
Jun 27, 2007
Awesome looking blade, and glad everything worked out! :thumbup:
Apr 4, 2007
Gotta say I have serious amounts of respect for Mr. Winkler and his products. And I love that he has the amount of humility he has and can even poke fun at himself. All I know Is I would rather buy a knife that does what the OP's did and have the customer service than a knife that may not have any problems yet you fear the possibility as you know the company wont be their for you. There are many instances in this hobby that have me questioning the state of things. Then things like this happen and renew my faith. Great stuff.
Mar 26, 2012
I believe this cause from the 52100 source that use to made this blade came full spheroidize annealed (very soft structure wit load of carbide) for ease of machining and need to be normalized (soak at higher temp) to break up the carbides and get the steel structure to be ready for hardening.
This is a very common problem for makers who do stock removal especially when working with steel from new source.
Jun 10, 2003
Spheroidize annealed is ready to HT. But for each supplier you have to find the right HT. There is a difference in th e annealing which will produce small or large carbide spheres ! The larger the carbide s the longer your soak time .The point is to saturate the matrix with carbon to get full strength matrix.