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WTK - ATS-34/CPM420V/440V and similar in the kitchen

Oct 14, 1998
While looking to upgrade my Kitchen knives, I clicked around at various web-sites to see what was out there.

I was thinking that one of the CPM super steels might be a good choice but, didn't find anything. Why?

Are they too brittle, stain too easily or, too expensive? What am I missing?

I would also be interested in what experiences people have using these or similar steels in the kitchen.

I should note that I have a Rinaldi TTKK in BG-42 that I use in the kitchen currently for a good frame of reference of something representative of what to expect from a custom knife.

Stay Sharp & Thanks,
Originally posted by Sid Post:
I was thinking that one of the CPM super steels might be a good choice but, didn't find anything. Why?
Kitchen knives usually sells mostly to people who have no idea steels can be much different from each other.

But I think it's a good idea of <a href="http://www.fallkniven.com/k1k2/k1.htm">Fällkniven</a> to go for VG-10 anyway -- we'll see if other makers will follow and start using high end steels. My guess is the "traditional" kitchen knife brands won't, at least probably not until enough other knife makers have put out good kitchen knives on the market that it may be too late to capture the performance market.

But then again, since there are knives some cooks only use while on TV and not when working, perhaps they'll never bother and still survive.

Urban Fredriksson www.canit.se/%7Egriffon/
Latest updates:
Schrade Lake & Walker, Calypso Jr Lightweight, A handmade Russian hunting knife

"I've always been fascinated by Scandinavian knives [...] they're simple, in an advanced way". - Bob Loveless
I went with 440C, Sid, and have been very pleased. Not as sexy as the CPMs, but holds a good edge, is easy to sharpen, takes a great mirror finish, and has enough stain resistance that we can be fairly nonchalant about caring for it. I bet you could make a heck of a cleaver out of 3V, though.

Kitchen knives get used in the kitchen. They are grabbed in a hurry and used with little forethought by every member of the family. Kitchen knives are often damaged through misuse and often damage things in the kitchen by misuse.

In a perfect household, trained professionals would select the correct knife for the task and work on a good cutting board. You would bone meat with your boning knife, chop your veggies with your chefs knife, and crack bones with your cleaver, all on the cutting board. What happens in the real world is that Junior takes your razor sharp chefs knife and slices up the steak in your cast iron fry pan, wiping out the edge. If your blade is really hard you are likely to get a chipped edge. On the other hand, Mom takes the steak out of the pan and cuts it on Grandma's heirloom china platter. This wipes out part of the knife edge and scratches the platter. If the knife is really hard it very dramatically damages the priceless platter.

The bottom line is that the average household is well served by knives of moderate hardness that you mostly maintain with a steel and a set of crock sticks. If you have a better trained household they may benefit from better steel, but not as much as you might imagine. Since you can have a steel and crock sticks nearby in the kitchen it isn't as critical for your edge to resist rolling as it would be in a field knife. If I'm up to my elbows in blood gutting an elk on the ground, I really don't want to stop to steel my edge. In the kitchen I have a sink at my elbow and I can rinse my knife and steel any time I get a whim.

I have over a hundred kitchen knives. I like knives from MAC cutlery. They are made of alloys that are roughly equivalent to AUS-8 and AUS-10. The blades are thin and run in the 58-60 RC hardness range. They take exceptionally sharp edges and cut easily. I find them easier to sharpen than the super alloys. I don't consider ATS-34 and 440C as easy to sharpen. See their website.


I'll agree with Jeff, with the understanding that I'm nowhere near a "kitchen expert".

James Mattis (God rest) recommended a couple of Gerber kitchen knives on close out prices for my needs. No real heavy use, 440A steel, (re)puts a very decent edge with a few swipes on the ceramic stick, no problem sharpening with the Sharpmaker if they get real dull, no chips, go through the dishwasher without a problem, etc., etc.

These are very good "bargain" kitchen knives for the "not so expert"

Gee Jeff, you being in CS and me in WP, what are you doing telling all about my family's knife practices?
I personally have Henckels and Spydercos with the Spydercos being accessible to the family use for all the reasons Jeff mentioned...

"Life's tough, it's tougher if you're stupid."
Sid :

[CPM's for kitchen knives]

Are they too brittle, stain too easily or, too expensive?

I have used a 59 RC CPM-420V (S90V) fillet blade from Phil Wilson in the kitchen off and on for some time. The stock is 1/8", blade is 9.5" with a distal taper, ground down to about 0.01" at the edge with around a 15 degree bevel.

It mainly handles meats and vegetable slicing but I have seperated small chickens with it slicing through the backbone and around and threw some joints in a deliberate attempt to damage the blade - failed. I would not try to actually chop through a large bone with it, nor pry joints apart, but for most anything else the edge has held up fine with no chipping.

I have not used any kind of protectant on it as far as I can remember but do clean it often when in the kitchen, but I do this to keep the foods seperate anyway. There has been no staining or rusting that I can see.

Phil Wilson makes kitchen knives in 420V, but his standard choice is modified regular 420 (slightly increased %C), because as Jeff noted, regular sharpening is not a big deal for kitchen knives and 420 has excellent toughness and corrosion resistance and can be maintained with a butchers steel for a long time before actual honing is necessary.

I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to reply.

After reading all the comments above I think I will continue my search for a "super steel" kitchen knife. I live alone so, no kids to around to use the kitchen knife as a screwdriver. I may slice a $10 steak with a $300 knife but, I eat it off a $2 plate from Wal-Mart made in China. It sure seems like a good mid-size kitchen knife that stayed wick'ed sharp a long time would be a very handy addition to my growing kitchen knife collection.

Stay Sharp and Thanks,