Your Cutting Edge Examined

In Articles by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

A knife is only as good as the steel used to make the blade, good steel will ensure a knife that is sharp,stays sharp and wont break. If you buy a knife and the manufacturer does not disclose the type of steel used you could be getting something unreliable and unsafe. The blade will not retain its sharpness and could chip and break. So let’s look at the requirements of a good daily carry knife.

Hardness and durability are critical, you want a knife that won’t bend because its steel is too soft. However you also do not want a steel that is so hard that it becomes brittle and chips over time. A good mixture of these two qualities is best.

Your knife be sharp and stay sharp through repeated use. Furthermore  it should be knife that is easy to sharpen and maintain. The “hardness” of a blades steel affects how sharp it can get. The amount of carbon in the steel affects that howeverother elements can affect how well a blade can hold that edge through repeated tough use too.

The ability to resist corrosion is importantThis is influenced by  whether your knife is stainless steel or not. Non-stainless steel knives need oil and maintenance to keep rust away. Stainless steel knives are more forgiving, but they can still end up rusting if neglected. The amount of chrome and vanadium present in the steel alloy help this out.

There are numerous steel types used in knifemaking so let’s look at the options available!

1095  Carbon Steel

  • non-stainless carbon steel, with approximately 0.95% carbon in the blade.
  • Adurableknife that holds an excellent edge, prone to rustingif neglected
  • Frequent lubrication and proper storageensure longevity
  • 1095 blades tend to bethickerbecause a thin knife made of hard 1095 can be brittle.

D2 Tool Steel

  • Is a steel normally used to create large industrial toolsneeded to cut and stamp softer forms of steel.
  • Because of that it’s incredibly toughand wear resistant.
  • It’s a bit more resistant to corrosion than carbon steel but it’s not truly stainless.
  • And while it makes for a very hard, yet durable knife, it can be difficult to sharpenwithout the right equipment.

420HC

  • Is an old-school high-carbon stainless steelthat you’ll mostly find in classy gent’s knives and outdoors hunter designs.
  • It’s not as hardas some of the steels on this list, but it’s great for knives that go through constant hard use.
  • It’s extremely easy to sharpen; in a pinch, even the unpolished bottom of a ceramic plate will do.

Sandvik 12C27

  • A medium carbon (0.6%) blade steel that features a large amount of chromium in the mix.
  • Blades made of this steel exhibit strong durability and wear resistance. It’s very resistant to rustas well.
  • Despite the lower carbon content compared with other blade steels in this guide, Sandvick 12C27 can become very sharp if heat treated 

AUS-8

  • Has similar properties to 440C stainless steel, but it features a large amount of vanadium in its creation.
  • It’s an excellent blade steel when made properly, but its quality is very dependent on how well it is forged and heat treated.
  • If you’re looking at an AUS-8 knife, make sure you’re buying from a maker who’s up to snuff.
  • While it gets sharp, AUS-8 also tends to dullquickly, so make sure to sharpen it regularly to get the best results.

440C

  • A stainless steelwith a durable crystallite structure and a high chromium content.
  • It generally has a higher amount of carbon than 1095, but the chromium content makes it far more resistant to corrosion.
About the Author

Glyn Demmer

My first 4×4 was a Nissan Hardbody thereafter I started travelling all over the country. In 1992 we held a big 4×4 day with hundreds of Nissan families, and then the 4×4 bug really bit.

A friend Monty Brett and I started running 4×4 courses at the Hennops Off-road Trail just outside of Johannesburg. At first we offered day-and-a-half courses that started on Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday afternoon.

Hannes Grobler the Rally Ace regularly assisted, and we reached a nice balance between our two styles and our skills.

Leave a Comment