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Old 04-04-2009, 07:02 AM
SVanderkolff's Avatar
SVanderkolff SVanderkolff is offline
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Location: Mildmay, Ontario, Canada
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How would you answer this?

Hi Steve, I was wondering if you could tell me what type of steel is the absolute best at holding its edge. I'm looking for something that has the best possible edge retention while at the same time can be sharpened to a fine blade angle. Money is no object.

Thanks for your time,

My first thought was , what kind of knife, for what purpose. Then I thought of forging , multiple quenches and cryogenics, then I thought of stellite or other isoteric metals. Then I realized it was a good question and that I had no ##ea how to answer it.

Thanks for the help

Stephen Vanderkolff
Please come on over and check out my website.
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:13 AM
Wade Holloway Wade Holloway is offline
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I don't think you can answer that question. There are to many variables involved to say that one steel is the best, IMHO. I will looking forward to see what the masters here say.
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Old 04-04-2009, 08:05 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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This situation is where you must be the educator. As Wade sa##, its not a question that you can answer.... without qualifying the parameters.

You certainly can create a knife that will hold an ultimate edge, but you will sacrifice durability, toughness, and/or ease of sharpening. What will he/she be cutting? Daily chores? Game animals? Rocks?

This situation screams that you talk extensively with the client, and educate them on the various aspects of a knife. If you fail to do that, and give them exactly what they want (at least in your own opinion), its going to be nothing but a heartache. In many instances, people simply do not know or understand what they are asking/saying. Its your job as the Maker to educate and gu##e. As one of my first mentors told me..... "YOU are now the expert." That carries with it a great deal of responsibility and much thought and care needs to be taken when exercising those responsibilities...not only on your own behalf, but you must also keep in mind that your input and decisions not only reflect upon you, but the industry as a may be the only knifemaker that indiv##ual speaks with, and to him your words are gospel.


"Every CHOICE has a CONSEQUENCE, and all your CONSEQUENCES are a result of your CHOICES."
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:33 AM
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Geno Geno is offline
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Glass holds an edge because it is hard, but no flex to it.
Steel has similar properties, depending on the mix and cooking temps.
Harder means better edge, but no toughness. Some kind of balance needs to be made for "that" job, as Ed sa##.
Softer steel makes a tough knife but won't stay sharp.
Find out what it is going to be used for first, then the steel choice, then cooking parameters to meet the need for the blade use.
The best knife is designed "for" that job.
Hope it helps, God bless.
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:37 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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I completely agree with Ed and Wade's reply on this having fielded that question in the past myself. There is always more to it than the original question implies. For instance, suppose you happen to be part of the group that thinks triple quenched, double cryo processed, extra virgin forged 52100 is just the ticket to meet that customer's requirements and you tell him so without getting any further info from him. After all, we all know some very high performance blades can be made from 52100 but then next thing you hear from the customer is "Sounds great, but can it rust? My blade has to be absolutely, perfectly un-rustable".

So, let the education process begin and pray that the customer has at least one foot firmly planted in this world because if he lives in sword and sorcery land you're screwed no matter what you build for him ...


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

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Old 04-04-2009, 10:43 AM
Jim Dannels Jim Dannels is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Colfax,Iowa
Posts: 55
While I have yet to make a knife I am willing to admit to, I have earned my living in the sales and customer service field for the past 23 yrs. Prior to that I worked in metal fabrication and finishing building farm machinery.
First you need to qualify the customers desired application.
To do that you need to ask open ended questions. By that I mean questions that make him/her explain what they want to do or acomplish.
If you give them either/or options, you are leading them and will not learn their real desire. Yes & No answers do not really tell you much and can mislead you.
I sold Consumer Electronics wholesale for some time, and found that getting Technical was not productive. The Tech Heads knew more than I d##, and I olny proved how little I knew. The Business People, d## not care about the Tech s##e of things, they only wanteds to know how much money they could make. Learning what they want to acomplish and their likes and dislikes, will assure you gu##e them in the right direction and have a SATISFIED CUSTOMER. Your reputation is at stake, a satisfied cutomer tells his friends, a dissatisfied customer tells everyone he see''s.
Once You determine the customers desire and application, you can determine what to sell them.
You can use the FAB Formula: Features/Advantages/Benifits
Certain Features will offer certain Advantages which will benifit the customer in what way?

I have no doubt with a little thought, you can answer all these questions for the customer.
And remember your selling your wares, so there is no reason you should not steer them in the direction of the product and materials you have the most conf##ence in your ability to produce an outstanding piece, prov##ed it will fit their application.

I hope I have not babbled too much, but If I can help or answer questions I am more than happy to help.

Last edited by Jim Dannels; 04-04-2009 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:04 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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This whole discussion reminds me of when I was a gullable, uninformed knife buyer. I read those articles about those super-duper wonder steels that never go dull and I payed top dollar for CPMS30V and ZPD189 blades. Then I read an article that described such knives as the best blades that you'll never be able to sharpen. After that I stuck with the old tried and true steels that I can sharpen on a regular oil stone. Better to have a knife that I can sharpen in about 5 minutes than to send back to the factory to have an edge put back on it, which was what one salesman d## with his S30V blade. Bes##es, it's just as easy to misplace/loose a $160 knife as it is a $60 one.

Doug Lester

If you're not making mistakes then you're not trying hard enough
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:06 PM
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Don Hanson Don Hanson is offline
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Location: By the river in Missouri
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Hard to add to the good info above but...

Heat treating and edge geometry are more important than steel type.

Every maker should be able to answer the above question, or make a recommendation
bassed on their own experience and knowledge of the steels they use.

But ask 6 makers and likely to get 6 diff answers

Like Ed sa##, you have some educating to do...

N-T 'Hammerin Crappie Hanson'
Don Hanson
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