The single most important component of a good knife is the steel used to make it. Stainless steel is a popular alloy type because of its unparalleled resistance to rust, as well as its convenient and stress-free ease of maintenance. The high chromium, Japanese-made AUS 8 stainless steel is an extremely hard, rust-resistant metal capable of acquiring a razor-sharp edge to satisfy any knife-maker or lover.
The exceptional balance of qualities offered by the steel sets AUS 8 aside from many other high-grade steels in its class, giving it countless reasons why you should look for it in a knife. Given a proper heat treatment and hardened to the right level, which is usually around 58 to 59 HRC, it will perform satisfyingly and meet the standards of a true quality stainless steel.
A well-rounded composition allows for this steel grade to reach high levels of hardness, toughness, wear the sideways shifting of the metal from its original position and corrosion the gradual destruction of metals resistance, as well as edge retention the ability to retain its sharp edge.
This is a carefully balanced composition to ensure not just a great hardness, toughness, and harden-ability, but also the critically important qualities of wear, abrasion, and corrosion resistance that are vital in any good knife steel.
Each of the above listed components in AUS 8 steel serve different and equally important purposes which, together, make it a quality steel superior to so many of the other steels in its class. Carbon content in a steel will give it the hard-to-achieve quality of an increased edge retention, which cannot be attained through the use of other popular elements in stainless steels.
Edge retention in a blade is so critical because it helps give the steel the attribute of keeping its edge for long periods of time, ensuring any blade made with it to be a dependable, steadfast knife that will not let you down.
In order to be classified as a stainless steel, a metal must have a chromium content of at least The benefits of the use of chromium include a significantly increased hardness and toughness, as well as a strong tensile strength the ability to withstand maximum stresswear, abrasion, rust and corrosion resistance. Chromium is one of the most beneficial components of a stainless steel due to these reasons, which add to its dependability as well as its ability to attain a razor sharp edge and last for very long periods of time.
Steels that are easy for welders to fashion make for better blades, and make them easier to sharpen when they get dull. This ingredient is not commonly found in stainless steels, but is becoming more commonly used due to its low density and more cost-effective price, and has begun to replace the now less common ingredient of tungsten.
Another unique component of AUS 8 is nickel. When nickel is added to a stainless steel, the austenite structure of the iron is steadied. Silicon is commonly found in stainless steels, offering an increased tensile strength to give those steels a greater maximum stress resistance.
Consequently, knives using the silicon-rich AUS 8 will be rugged and dependable- able to go anywhere with you. Vanadium is also reported to make steels easier to sharpen.
These types of knives are ideal for outdoorsmen, hunters, and other knife-users who are looking for a quality blade in an affordable price range that will be dependable and serve its purposes well.
Why is AUS 8 steel so popular, who uses it, and for what purposes is it used? Because of its superior composition, which allows for it to be so versatile and strong, AUS 8 has become popular among knife makers and knife companies, who use it to make many different types of blades. Among the many knife companies which use AUS 8 steel in their knives, SOG uses the steel for many of their specialty knives, creating easy-to-handle knives which will be able to withstand significant abuse and perform satisfyingly.
Cold Steel, a company that produces a wide variety of blades including, knives, machetes, and swords, is known to have often utilized AUS 8 steel in their tools and weapons in order to obtain the quality features that AUS 8 has been known to offer. Afterwards, the handle is added and the knife is sharpened and polished. AUS 8 steel is also very popular for use in machetes, with its tough and dependable qualities matching to what is looked for in a good machete.
Ontario and United Cutlery are two companies which utilize AUS 8 steel in the blades of their machetes. There are a myriad of tests done to determine the success of various steels; these tests measure everything from toughness to corrosion resistance to tensile strength. When it comes to knives using the high-grade alloy, it did not take long for knife critics to realize the quality of AUS 8 steel, leading to many awards won by knives made of the high-grade metal.
The thick, well balanced blade had an ergonomic, easy-to-grip handle that makes for a simple knife with all of the high-tech aspects found in modern knives, they said. Rugged and easy to handle, the Kiku is a true quality knife thanks to AUS 8.Last Updated: May 28, When I review knives the kind of steel is very important.
I usually spend quite a bit of time researching the steel. In addition to my own impressions I look to user experiences, manufacturer guidelines, and independent resources on steel. Then, I usually spend a good amount of time in each review discussing the the pros and cons of the steel, why the manufacturer might have selected it and sometimes I even do comparisons and go into detail on heat treating and all of that.
For example, if you have read one blurb on CM, you have probably read them all. This page will allow me to go more in depth on a steel and make it easy for you to get to the information you want, and avoid reading through stuff you already know.
By popular request I have created a steel chart, where I try to simply map out the relative merits of each steel. You can use this chart to try to find the best steel for you.
I decided to do this on 20 point scale, where I assign a maximum of 5 points to the 4 categories of Ease of Sharpening, Toughness, Edge Retention and Corrosion Resistance. Really listing out all the steels like this and assigning a number or rank may not be as helpful as you think.
Just ask the experts in the comments section. Steel should not be studied in a vacuum. There are many other variables to consider outside the steel itself, even when considering things like edge retention which many would assume only pertains to the steel.
Here are some other factors to consider:. But generalizations and charts can be helpful, especially if we are talking about production knives. Also, keep in mind no single steel will be able to get a 5 in all the categories, but some are nice well rounded steels, while others are a little more biased one way or the other.
This goes to the importance of using the right tool for the job. These are my personal experiences, subject to change, and breaking everything down to a scale is something that will probably require some tweaking.
For more information on any particular steel including my justifications for giving it a certain number scroll down further to read the commentary.
Super Clean Sandvik 12C27 | Swedish Steel Knife Review
Again, these are some of my personal thoughts on knife steels, subject to change. Feel free to drop me a comment or email with your thoughts on this. Most of the discussion on this page is anecdotal. There is nothing wrong an anecdotal discussion of steel, but if you want to delve further into the science and metallurgy of blade steels, then I invite you to check out my page on steel composition.
It goes into the chemical composition of steel, what the various elements can do to blade steel, etc. For many I think it will be too much information, but feel free to check it out if you geek out on this sort of thing.
AUS AUS-8 is Japanese made medium-carbon, high chromium stainless steel, which offers a good balance of toughness, edge sharpness and corrosion resistance. The score this steel earned my surprise people, but there is a lot to like about AUS 8.
Edge retention is definitely the weakest link on this steel, but depending on the heat treat and the purpose of the knife I think it can be entirely adequate. Like AUS-8, it lacks the edge retention of the higher end steels but can take a wicked edge and is reasonably tough and corrosion resistant. I think the low end stigma in the US is a bit unfair for C.
S30V: Widely considered to be one of the best high end steels on production knives, S30V is an all around performer with great corrosion resistance, toughness, a fine grain structure and great edge holding capabilities.
While a number of super high end steels have reached the market, S30V still remains as an obvious choice for any high end piece of cutlery. Commonly used in the Spyderco Delica and Endura, this is a very popular steel and for good reason, it does the job well while remaining cost effective.It never ceases to amaze me how some blade steels receive all the attention, while others quietly remain in the shadows.
For example, mention any of the domestic series or Japanese AUS steels and everyone from knife makers to users will have an opinion. During a recent conversation with knife maker Russ Kommer, he mentioned the folks at the Swedish Sandvik steel firm had sent him some samples of their 12C27 stainless and he was anxious to tell me all about his experience with this steel.
The Complete Guide to Knife and Tool Steels
When Russ Kommer gets excited about something, you end up on the other end of a one-way conversation. It can be heat-treated to Rc 59 for superior edge holding. And it takes an awesome Russ uses this word a lot mirror polish. I made a test knife out of the steel and used it to field-dress and skin a whole bunch of whitetail deer. Amazingly, I only had to touch up the edge once. Obviously, Russ Kommer likes Sandvik 12C Other folks are also fans of this Swedish steel.
The reason behind all of this lies in the combination of good corrosion resistance and superior edge retention. A look at the chemical composition of Sandvik 12C27 sheds some light on its superior performance. The specifications are: Carbon. Designed by Russ Kommer who else? It just so happened that some friends had invited me along on an axis deer hunt in Hawaii. Obviously, deer hunting in the islands would provide the first-hand experience needed to gain a better understanding of the blade steel.
Then it was my turn to jump into the fray. I rolled up my sleeves and put the Sandvik 12C27 blade to the test.
Axis deer are about the size of a mature mule deer. The warm weather in the Islands meant that field care had to be undertaken quickly to forestall spoilage. Field dressing both animals was no trick at all.The Lexicon of Blade Steel list common steels often used in knives. It is in no way all inclusive. All steels listed here also appear within the Lexicon of Knife Terminolgy. As I hear about other steels being used in knife making I will try to determine what they are and add them.
It has a HRC of making it relatively soft. For instance would equal 0. More carbon produces a harder, tougher blade but increase the potential for staining rust. See also It is roughly equivalent to A. It is often called Norwegian Steel. The Rockwell test is around HRC A popular use for CM is in survival knives that may be exposed to salt water for long periods of time. The steel is austenitic non-magnetic due to the high chromium content but is used in surgical instruments due to it high stainless content.
They use it mainly for pans and throw away blades. It would make an absolutely lousy knife blade due to the softness of the metal yet in theory it is a Surgical Steel. The steel is often used for dining sets. It is a surgical stainless steel. The molybdenum gives better overall corrosion resistant properties than Gradeparticularly higher resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion in chloride environments.
The steel is non magnetic and makes a lousy knife blade. However, is often used for other knife materials where edge retention is not required but corrosion resistance is highly valued. For this reason, it is a U. Military standard for marlin spikes on folding rigger knives used by the Navy and Coast Guard. The smart consumer will assume it is a lesser grade steel, typically or J.
It is, however a good choice for knives used around salt water diving and for decorative knives because of its rust resistant qualities.
It is often used in cheap imports. It is some times used as the liners on pocket knives instead of the more popular brass.
It is said to be roughly comparable to A. There is debate about this claim. Buck uses this in its Chinese imports as well as many of its USA made knives. It is also used by others. The J has nothing to do with Japanese made steel. It is a very soft steel whcih means it will knick and dull quickly. It is sometimes used in dive knives because for its corrosion resistance. It is used in surgical instruments due to ease of machining and corrosion resistance.
With proper heat treating can achieve a Rockwell test of 56; which makes it comparable to HC. It is often used in scissors. It is not a true tool steel. However, because it is used on making certain surgical tools some people will call it J2 tool steel in a less than scrupulous sales pitch.While knife makers could debate at length about the benefits and drawbacks of using different steel grades to forge blades, the reality is that most people don't really pay much attention to the grade of steel used to make a knife.
They should, though. If you spend any time in the kitchen or outdoors, you'll understand the value of having a strong knife blade that retains a sharp edge. The following summary explains some of the most commonly used steel grades grouped as non-stainless and stainless steels. While the obvious drawback of non-stainless carbon steel is that it rusts more readily than stainless steel, carbon steels can be differentially tempered to provide hardness and excellent, sharp edges.
When properly heat-treatednon-stainless steels make strong, reliable knife blades, although they are more for outdoor use and are not recommended for kitchen or cutlery knives. An air-hardened "semi-stainless" steel, D2 has a relatively high chromium content 12 percentwhich makes it more stain-resistant than other carbon steels. It has shown excellent wear resistance and edge retention and is tougher than most stainless steels, such as ATS, although less so than other non-stainless grades.
Air-hardened tool steel. Tougher than D2, but less wear-resistant. This grade can be treated cryogenically to improve edge retention. Often used for combat knives. Benefiting from 0. While W-1 is fine grade steel, the addition of vanadium in W-2 increases its wear resistance and hardenability. Carbon generally decreases as numbers in the series decrease, which results in less wear resistance but more toughness. It is, however, susceptible to rust.
Excellent at taking and holding an edge and popular with forgers. O2 is another reliable high carbon steel. Not being stainless, it will rust if not oiled and protected. Properly heat-treated, O1 and grade steels are seen as by many equal to any expensive stainless steel grades.
A steel designation trademarked by Cold Steel, Carbon V reportedly fits between a and O1 grade and is similar to B. Carbon V is a cutlery grade steel that shows reasonable corrosion resistance and good edge retention.
It is exceptionally tough but harder to sharpen than most stainless steels. Two designations for the same steel grade, this is chrome-vanadium steel with strong edge taking and holding qualities.
This medium-carbon, low-alloy steel grade is tough and hard. It effectively springs steel with added chromium to increase hardenability. Tough and impact-resistant, these steels are most often found in axes and hatchets. Crucible powder metallurgy CPM high vanadium-content steel. This grade provides excellent wear resistance and high toughness, but at a cost.
Stainless steels are made corrosion resistant by the addition of chromium. Cutlery-grade stainless generally contains more than 13 percent chromium, the oxide of which helps to form a passive film that protects against corrosion and staining.
Most kitchen knives are made from martensitic stainless steel. Generally considered bottom-end stainless steel, and J, while stain-resistant, are soft and not very wear-resistant. This grade of stainless can be tough and strong but loses its edge quickly. High-carbon stainless steels, this grade of stainless can be hardened to a greater degree than grade steel, allowing for greater strength and wear resistance.
Stronger than the A group of stainless steels as a result of higher carbon content, C is a high-chromium stainless that has excellent hardness properties. Slightly less corrosion resistant than A, C is more widely used and is better regarded because it takes and holds a sharp edge, that is tougher and more stain-resistant than ATS A widely used group of stainless steels.
In general, this grade takes and holds an edge and is tough although it is not as stain-resistant as the grades.Knife-makers use dozens of steel types to create knife blades. Which one is right for you? We look at common steels used by popular knife brands to help you select the right material for your blade. Three main characteristics differentiate steels from one another: corrosion resistance, hardness, and toughness. It is soft, with very low carbon content.
And given the recipe, it has a low number of carbides, the extra-hard microcrystals in steel that provide the hardness necessary for a stable and sharp edge. It is actually quite good, a low-cost steel that performs like a mid-price steel. This is an old high carbon non-stainless steel. And while it can be hard depending on the heat treat, I have found it easily chips, causing microscopic dings in the edge when hardened to a high level on a thin blade.
See More Steel Knives. Used in knives since at least World War II, performance varies considerably with an abundance of tweaks in the recipe and the heat treat. One of the more common stainless steels, and one readily available in lots of different places worldwide, AUS-8 is a decent all around steel.
VG-1 is a non-powder steel made by Japanese specialty steel maker Takefu. Cold Steel still uses VG-1 on some knives, and, for the money, it does well. Everything you need to know to buy the right knife for the job. Read more…. These are Chinese-produced steels that recently started showing up in Chinese-made knives. Type 8Cr, the more common formulation, is worse than AUS a little more prone to corrosion and not quite as hard.
It is very cheap though, and when ground appropriately it can be a real winner from a value standpoint. They lack the carbon necessary to hold an edge, even during mild use. This is the steel used in Swiss Army knives and is excellent for beginner sharpeners.
See More Swiss Army Knives. While not a powder steel, CM is widely used in nicer knives.Edge Retention - 12c27 - Custom Knife
It is a good balance between all three attributes, being relatively hard, tough, and corrosion resistant. CPM is a truly superior steel. This is an American-made powder steel produced by Crucible and developed specifically for knives with the aid of the knife guru Chris Reeve maker of the vaunted Sebenza among other gems.
Five years ago, S30V had a premium price. But as the market has grown and newer steels have come out, it has fallen in price and prestige. I have found that most makers harden S30V too much, making it prone to chipping at the edge. Like CM, there is a newer version, S35VN, which shares many of the same attributes as S30V but is easier to craft into a knife thanks to niobium. I have found S35VN less chippy even at the same hardness.
This is a powder metal steel also produced by Crucible. The benefit of this, of course, is that the steel holds an edge for a very, very long time. Because of its difficulty in sharpening and machining, it is very rarely used and comes with a high price premium.
Even though it has very high hardness, it is also still decently resistant to corrosion and quite tough. This is one of the better steels on the market. This is also a power metal steel produced by American steel company Crucible. Spyderco offers this as the high-end steel for many of its evergreen blades, like the Paramilitary 2Paramilitary 3Manix 2and Native 5. This is a non-powder Japanese steel used primarily in Spyderco knives.Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 21 guests.
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Knife Blades: Common Steels Explained
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I have read mixed reviews. One person claimed it is used on cheap kitchen knives and scalpels but others have done field-tests and claim the knives made from it are good Examples: Cold Steel Leatherneck fixed blades, other low priced fixed blades.
What do you all think of it? Is it okay? Also, what do you think of the Japanese AUS 8 stainless they use on some of the knives, like the current Voyagers and others? Not much wear resistance, decent toughness for stainless and pretty good corrosion resistance.
Aus 8 I've used in I can't count how many blades. I've seen it perform well, and very lousy. Generally the old Japanese Cold steel Aus 8 knives performed well. Likewise Moki made knives are heat treated well. Other knives I've tried it in weren't as good. Like anything else it depends on how many corners you cut to save money.
With optimum heat treat it is easy to sharpen to a very keen edge and its edge retention is appropriate. AEB-L is a similar steel, slightly harder with slightly less corrosion resistance. If you have not used them, then it is similar to HC which is a very common US steel. Jump to. Who is online Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 21 guests.