Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Best steel for a knife blade?

  1. #1

    Default Best steel for a knife blade?

    General all-purpose survival knife. I've read heat treatment is probably the most important factor in a steel blade but since most of us have no way of assessing that, what type of steel do people look for and why?


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    1,027

    Default

    Thats really not true. There are ways to heat treat rather simply. It won't be as accurate as a forge can create, but it will harden the steel.

    Considering that you have to anneal the steel before working it, you will have to harden it to have any decent edge holding ability.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    1,027

    Default

    Look online for the color charts for whichever steel you end up using. It will give you a rough idea of what glow equals what temperature. Go build yourself a nice fire with really hot coals. Let the fire die, so its just coals, bury the steel, and give the coals a lot of moving air to stoke them. You should be able to get that steel as hot as you need to.

    Anneal it, shape it, temper it, sharpen and polish.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Camp10's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    2,923

    Default

    I'm going to assume you want a non stainless for an all purpose knife. I use 5160, L-6 or O-1 usually. They are tough steels and while they wont keep an edge for quite as long as some other steels, they will take lots of abuse. For a hunting knife, I prefer 1095, d-2 or 52100.

    You are right up to a point about the heat treat. There is a limit though to every steel and a perfect heat treat will still leave different properties in every metal type.

    If you want stainless, go with 154 CM or the Japanese version ATS-34. They have really nice edge holding properties but slightly more flexibility then the other stainless I've tested.

  5. #5

    Default

    Personally, for a "Survival knife" I wouldn't consider any stainless steel knife or some of the "Near Stainless" either. Why? One reason, none of those will strike a spark with flint. I carry one old pocketknife always, for just one reason... it is the ONLY knife I have that will strike a spark with flint. My Carbon steel Mora's won't even strike a spark, nor my O-1 Nessmuk either. I do have one other knife that I THINK might, but it is a $400 pocketknife that I won in a raffle. So I'm not gonna' even try that one unless I have to.(It's 1095 steel IIRC)

  6. #6
    Super Moderater RangerXanatos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Northeast, Georgia
    Posts
    1,626

    Default

    Never tried with actual FLINT, but I've gotten lots of sparks with my moras on firesteels. I have even gotten sparks with Stainless steel.
    What's so crazy about standing toe-to-toe saying I am?
    ~Rocky Balboa

  7. #7
    Spark Maker panch0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South TExas
    Posts
    1,311
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I got sparks with my cpm154 blade, 1084 is a great steel, and the heat treat is easier than most.
    -Frank

    Whether the knife falls on the melon or the melon on the knife, the melon suffers. (African Proverb)

    Updating website! Stop by and tell me what you think!

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RangerXanatos View Post
    Never tried with actual FLINT, but I've gotten lots of sparks with my moras on firesteels. I have even gotten sparks with Stainless steel.
    If you have a good firesteel you can get sparks with glass or even aluminum. It's the Firesteel itself that provides the sparks. With Flint and steel, if my understanding is correct, it is the steel that makes the spark, not the rock.(The type of rock shaves off a tiny sliver of steel and causes it to heat up to the point of producing a spark) Because of the Chemical make-up of different steels most knife steels used today will not make a spark. I also have heard that even IF the right steel is used but the Heat treat is off it won't produce a spark.... Not sure how true that is though.....

    Also many people worry about oiling a knife in the field to prevent rust, but you probably produce enough on your nose and face to oil your knife daily. This may sound gross, but isn't too much different than licking your lips. That same oil is right there too.
    Last edited by Pocomoonskyeyes3; 01-03-2011 at 03:47 PM.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    North Florida
    Posts
    37,162
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    One way to find out.....one of you two handed folks get out there and try it.
    Can't Means Won't

    My Youtube Channel

  10. #10

    Default

    I just did a short video on several knives of some various steels that I have to see. I will download it and then post it here.

    Edit: It will take about 40 minutes to upload to Youtube, and we have to take the boys to their Doc's appointment. So as soon as I get back I will try to link it in a post here. I haven't been able to so far not sure what I'm doing wrong.... but There will be a link at least.
    Last edited by Pocomoonskyeyes3; 01-03-2011 at 04:24 PM.

  11. #11

    Default

    OK Here is the video showing my attempts at getting a spark with various knives made of different steel types. The knife made from 1095 may not be true to the steel type as it was heat treated with clay, producing a hamon and a softer steel on the spine than normal.


    EDIT: YAY!!! I finally figured it out!!! (How to embed a youtube video that is)
    Last edited by Pocomoonskyeyes3; 01-03-2011 at 06:18 PM.

  12. #12

    Default

    It's challenging for me to say which steel I prefer. My knives fall into the neo tribal blade category. Gosh only knows what they are made from. One of my favourites is a knife I made from a trap spring, holds a edge well although the handle is a little small.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    North Florida
    Posts
    37,162
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    The bottom line for knife steels is that when you use the term best - just as with pack, stove, .22, rifle, 9mm, sleeping bag, knife, and on, and on - there is a lot of subjectivity and of course use and environment play a big factor. First, know what you want the knife to do. Second, know the environment that you will be using it. Third, substitute the word good for best. You'll be much happier.
    Can't Means Won't

    My Youtube Channel

  14. #14
    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    291
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    If you are unable to get a spark using o-1 then its either the carbon has been burned out during heat treat or the technique being used. any piece of flint or quartz sparks well off my o-1 blades. Thanks for the vid.
    Why carve a spoon or bowl when you can fold bark into a cup and eat or drink from it like a real man

  15. #15

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Erratus Animus View Post
    If you are unable to get a spark using o-1 then its either the carbon has been burned out during heat treat or the technique being used. any piece of flint or quartz sparks well off my o-1 blades. Thanks for the vid.
    Well my O-1 Nessmuk was professionally heat treated by a company that does nothing BUT heat treat. It tested at 59 RC. The vid was my pleasure....

  16. #16
    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    291
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    is there a coating on the blade? O-1 is high carbon and it is the steel that burns when scraped off. My blades are the same 59RC.
    Why carve a spoon or bowl when you can fold bark into a cup and eat or drink from it like a real man

  17. #17
    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    5,990

    Default

    I suspect that the notion that you can not strike sparks on stainless blades is more a product of the hardness to which those blades are often tempered. almost every stainless blade i've ever used was inexcusably soft, and we know that this is not truly necessary.

    a large part of the reason for my preference of simple carbon steels is that heat treatment of those blades is within my ability and experience in my own shop. I've slowly gained a great respect for some of the high end stainless steels.
    For a given claim: When the kernel of truth within is disconcerting enough, do you really think rolling it all up in a particularly thick veneer of steamy BS is going to help your case?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    To see more of my bladesmithing, visit CanidArmory or check us out on Facebook.

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Erratus Animus View Post
    is there a coating on the blade? O-1 is high carbon and it is the steel that burns when scraped off. My blades are the same 59RC.
    Well What do ya' know? After reading your post, I took a "Rust Eraser" to the spine and tried it again..... It worked, but still not as well as the little old Pocketknife in the video. Must have been the patina on it is all I can figure.

  19. #19
    2%er Erratus Animus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    291
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Sweet! I am glad it is working better for ya
    Why carve a spoon or bowl when you can fold bark into a cup and eat or drink from it like a real man

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •