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Old 08-04-2020, 04:39 PM
arvanlaar arvanlaar is offline
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Cannington, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2
Stainless Steel and Heat Treating

Hey All,

First time posting here. I have been wanting to make a knife for a while and my wife and I are celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary and I thought it would be nice to make her a knife that she can enjoy (traditional wedding gift is iron. I am no blacksmith so SS it is!).

I want to make her either a single or a couple different cheese knives as she loves cheese and loves good knives in the kitchen. I have done some research and have not been able to find a definitive answer to these questions and I was hoping some more experienced hands can assist with them:

1. Does stainless steel need to be heat treated for a knife that is not going to have an aggressive edge that will need to be sharpened repeatedly (ie a cheese knife)?

2. For a hunting knife or a chefs knife, I would imagine a 3/32" or 1/8" thick piece of stock would work as you want some heft and sturdiness to the knife. For a cheese knife, what sort of thickness of material should I be looking at using?

3. Are there any other concerns I should have working with SS instead of steel stock? I know heat treating can be a pain (hence question #1) but is there anything else I should watch out for?

I am planning on using 440c SS if all goes to plan.

I appreciate any and all help Thanks!
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:55 AM
Bob Hatfield Bob Hatfield is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Northern CA.
Posts: 114
Why don't you check Jantz or Texas knife supply for a cheese knife that you only have to attach and finish the handle scales. Jantz does offer a "cheese slicer" for around 8 dollars that is heat treated 440C stainless steel.

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Old 08-05-2020, 08:10 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Wauconda, WA
Posts: 9,843
Bob's suggestion is excellent! Stainless steel isn't nearly as stainless until it has been heat treated and the heat treatment for any stainless isn't something you can do properly without an electric furnace. There are hundreds of kit blades available for you to choose from and customize without having to worry about heat treatment. That's the way to go....


Your question may already have been answered - try the Search button first!

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Old 08-05-2020, 09:10 AM
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cnccutter cnccutter is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Dorena, Oregon
Posts: 191
Good morning, welcome to the forum and happy anniversary.

You might fill out your profile so we all know who we are talking with.

A few thoughts, first, the kit knife is a great idea.

You didnít really say if you have a shop, tools, metal working experience? Building your first knife is going to be a monumental experience and you want to be prepared so itís a fun experience. If you donít have at least the fundamental tools Iíd go kit to start with.

Second, you are jumping to SS because your not a blacksmith. You donít have to be a blacksmith to use high carbon steel. It comes in the same flat stock as SS and for the beginner is definitely the way to go. Iíd recommend something like 1084 for easy working for a beginner.

If this is your first knife Iíd look around your area. There are tons of blade smiths hidden in none discript shops that might lend you some advice and help for your project. Hence filling out your profile so we can find someone close to you.

For what your talking about, Iíd never go over 3/32 for the larger blades and 1/16 for the smaller blades.


Erik Land
Dorena, Oregon
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:34 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Decatur, IL
Posts: 2,612
Getting a finished blade and attaching a handle to it is a very traditional way of making a knife. More traditional than doing everything from the initial forging through to finishing the product. There is even a name for someone who does the final assembly of a knife; they are called cutlers.


If you're not making mistakes then you're not trying hard enough
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Old 08-06-2020, 09:39 AM
arvanlaar arvanlaar is offline
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Cannington, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2
Hey Gents,

Thanks for your replies and welcomes So what I am getting is that SS needs to be heat treated for that typical very shiny stainless steel effect? Is that correct?

I didn't want to go the route of a kit as I did want to make the blade myself. I like to make the gift part myself for whatever material is set for the anniversary year. Last year I made her a wood ring from scratch.

In terms of my shop, its pretty well equipped. I don't have knife making specific gear but I have bandsaw, hacksaws, vices, drill press, angle grinder, sander etc. What I am lacking is the ability to heat treat any metal apart from using a torch on it. That was the reason I was hoping to go stainless steel as I thought since I was making a cheese knife with it, it would have minimal wear on the blade.

I have to admit, a lot of my research has been into using old saw blades to make knives. I was planning to go that route for my first few knives to get the hang of design and shaping and then up my game and get into heat treatment.

You mention forging the knife. To me that sounds like working the metal as a blacksmith would. Is that correct? I also may have made a wrong assumption that I could buy stock from a company like that is say 1/16" thick and then shape with the tools listed above and put an edge on it.

I feel like I might need more research into using new stock of metal rather then what most of my research has been with regards to using pretreated saw blades.
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Old 08-06-2020, 03:29 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Location: Decatur, IL
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A stainless steel blade needs to be heat treated to hold an edge, just like carbon steel blades. The shiny finish comes from polishing the blade. You are correct that bladesmithing is a subset of blacksmithing. However, stainless steels really don't lend themselves well to being forged. Their working range is rather narrow compared to carbon steel. Yes, you could buy a bar of 1/16" stock and shape it with the tools that you have, though don't expect great results the first time out of the shoot. If you do make a stainless steel blade you do have the option of sending it out to a heat treating outfit to have it hardened.


If you're not making mistakes then you're not trying hard enough
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Old 08-08-2020, 08:29 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Now live in Las Cruces NM.
Posts: 1,345
I would strongly recommend you buy a kit blade and then choose the handle material and pins. But if you insist to make a cheese knife from scratch and to grind on it without experience you will probably end up with a warped knife if you do grind it. Oh drill your holes before you heat treat unless you have small carbide drill bits.

Using either O1 or 1084/80CrV2 steels keep in mind that .062 thick steel is hard to grind without overheating it, you must go light and fast to quench in water between passes. If you're merely going to just put on an edge go with thinner metal like in the .040 range as you can heat treat it first (for both thicknesses) with a oxy/acetylene torch until a magnet won't stick, but basically red hot, quench in canola oil heated to about 120 degrees. After quench run a small file over the edge to see if it bites, it shouldn't. Then temper for 2 hours at 425, let air cool.

I do recommend 80CrV2 as it has more flexibility if overheated with the torch and Alpha Knife supply has it in 0.036 and 0.058 thick. For a cheese knife you want as thin as possible.

Be sure and hold the torch back away and slowly heat up the whole blade area, don't worry about the handle area in the vise grip you're holding it with. Focus your heat just under the edge getting the edge area red hot leaning to orange, make certain the whole edge is red hot then quench in less than 0.2 seconds, yes have the oil in a can that close. Do not move the blade sideways just up and down. Oh and keep the torch away from the oil.

Use Silicon Carbide wet/dry 220 grit sandpaper taped tight to a flat piece of stiff wood or metal and then just sand the edge without worrying that heat will trash your edge. Use the sandpaper to sand off your blade to the finish you'd like, most like a satin finish to about 600 grit, but 800 to 1200 grit really makes it shine, then finish with a nice polish. Finish sharpening with regular stones.

Remember to stay away from the edge with a grinder or you'll most likely turn it blue and ruin your edge, unless you have a wet capable grinder like I do. I cannot emphasize this point enough with thin blades.
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Old 08-18-2020, 06:58 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Acworth, GA and/or Hanging Dog, NC
Posts: 3,584
Just an alternate thought - go by the local thrift store and pick up a couple of old kitchen knives to practice on. Look for brand names if you can find them. Use the tools you have to cut and reshape to a style you like and get some practice in shaping and grinding bevels. These blades are already thermal cycled and if you are careful to not over heat you can get good results and a lot of practice in the process.

Being a bladesmith myself, I'd prefer the high carbon forgable steels as mentioned above because I enjoy the creative process it allows. Either way if you are looking to get "shiny" mirror finishes you will need to learn some serious mechanical and hand finishing techniques - without the proper equipment not as easy as it sounds. By the way, it's not the heat treating that makes them shiny (as indicated in OP) and almost all steels can be bought to mirror finish with hard work whether thermal cycled or not.

Jim, Doug and Ray have given a lot of very good advice so read carefully and pay attention, it's a learning experience.

Carl Rechsteiner, Bladesmith
Georgia Custom Knifemakers Guild, Charter Member
Knifemakers Guild, voting member
Registered Master Artist - GA Council for the Arts
C Rex Custom Knives

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