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Knife Steel
2016-07-24 14:19:50

Knife Steel

Where to get steel for knifemaking ?


As many people know, you can't just use any old steel and make a good knife out of it. Different steels have different properties, and you have to make sure you get the right one.


To start off, there are two opposing properties a knife must have to be counted as a good knife. Keep these in mind, they are the basis of how good a knife is.


The first is Toughness. This is measured in how much  abuse and stress the blade can take without breaking or snapping. Think  of toughness as synonymous with "softness". A blade that is soft/tough  can take a lot of abuse without breaking, but will not hold an edge for  long. In steel terms, soft means it cannot hold an edge for much use.  The atoms will move slightly in relation to each other rather than break  away completely.


The second property is Hardness. This is measured in  how much use a blade can go through before becoming dull. The harder the  blade, the longer it will stay sharp, as well as the sharper it can be  made. The downside of this however, is it is brittle. Think of a knife  made of glass. Extremely sharp, and will not dull, but will shatter  easily.


Now the best knife is one that is right in between the two extremes;  tough enough that it can be put through a lot of abuse without breaking,  but hard enough that it will hold an edge for hundreds of cuts.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Only with particular types of steel is it  possible to change the properties of the steel to get the perfect  balance. Steel is a combination of iron and carbon. Without carbon,  plain iron is too soft to be an effective knife. Too much carbon, and it  becomes too brittle. The optimum range is between .4% carbon and 1%  carbon by weight. A steel with this amount of carbon can be manipulated  to be the perfect balance of hardness and toughness. To change the  properties of steel, a smith must heat treat (HT) it.

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