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Knife material

  • serratus Saturday, September 18, 2010 4:23 AM Reply
    I am just getting into this knife obsession thing. DX blades are made from a few different materials:

    - Steel
    - Stainless Steel
    - Carbon Steel
    - Ceramic

    What are some pros and cons to these? What's the toughest and will hold the edge the longest? I don't mind sharpening knives as long as I don't have to do it too often.

    My carbon steel SKU.18253 is my camping/hiking knife and I cut everything with it (although usually don't cut things harder than wood). I find I need to resharpen it after every trip.
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  • flashin Sunday, September 19, 2010 8:33 PM Reply
    no matter what they have stamped, printed, or etched on the blade, most dx knives are a chinese version of a 400 series stainless.
    the ceramic..... are ceramic.
    Howdy from Ohio!

    (john 3:15-18)
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  • frills Top 10 Forum Poster Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:21 PM Reply
    To expand on what flashin wrote, it's a lot simpler than it looks because the steel knives are really just about all the same.

    There are no carbon steel (as we understand it) blades for sale on DX, afaik. All steel contains carbon and the public equates carbon steel with strength, so some manufacturers take it as an excuse to call their product carbon steel. Also the handling and storage practices of many of these factories would probably ruin a non-stainless steel.

    Chinese steels are named after the chemical elements in their alloying composition, so they're difficult to remember and tell apart. Every single knife I've gotten from DX has had a blade made of steel very similar to 440 stainless.

    Most if not all of them are probably made of 8Cr14MoV, which is a popular budget steel that falls in the same range as 440 or AUS8. This is actually not a bad steel, but it's not in the same league as a grade of stainless like S30V or tool steel like D2.
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  • flashin Monday, September 20, 2010 10:53 AM Reply


    Howdy from Ohio!

    (john 3:15-18)
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  • gregwalton Tuesday, September 21, 2010 3:22 AM Reply
    I would be surprised if they were 8Cr14MoV / 440C / AUS8 (approx equivalents). They are more likely 420 and/or 440A at best. Possibly some might be 420HC (maybe the "Carbon Steel" ones?). I have an AUS8 knife and none of my DX knives holds an edge as well as it does.

    Of course that maybe down to the heat treatment as much as the actual steel, but I doubt they would waste money on decent steel if their treatments weren't up to it. However there are certainly differences in steel between the different DX knives: some are too easy to sharpen, some are quite hard; there are big differences in their ability to hold an edge.

    I'd agree with what you said about the Carbon Steel knives: they seem to be some kind of stainless as well - not one of the four or five I have has shown any sign of rust. And you're right about handling and storage - I'm sure Carbon Steel blades would be arriving rusty. Some knives with mild steel scales or escutcheons turn up rusty.
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  • serratus Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2:49 PM Reply
    Thanks for all the replies. I guess I should just look at the reviews of each blade to determine how well it holds an edge?
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  • flashin Tuesday, September 21, 2010 9:42 PM Reply
    the ability to retain an edge is almost as much of a user issue as it is a steel type issue.
    someone that doesn't abuse their knife will get these dx blades to hold an edge much longer.
    ..... i ain't one of those people! i beat the tar out of my knives!
    these dx knives still hold their edge for me pretty well.

    i'll admit i do have a few layin' around that need a stone taken to 'em.
    i just reach into my drawer and pull out another new one and use it til it's dull.
    Howdy from Ohio!

    (john 3:15-18)
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  • gregwalton Thursday, September 23, 2010 6:18 AM Reply
    Retaining an edge is going to be down to use/abuse and also how it's sharpened. I keep a lot of my knives shaving sharp (they'll take the hairs off your arm) with an angle of 20 degrees on each side. Some of the bigger ones I've sharpened to more like 25 to 30 degrees so that they'll take a bit more abuse.

    Like Flashin says, tho', at these prices you can afford to have other sharp knives waiting when your first one gets blunt.

    I've found that sku.18252 sharpens really easily but doesn't retain its edge with much use; sku.18256 has the same shape of blade but is a little harder to sharpen and keeps the edge a lot longer. One of the best I've found is sku.33987 which I keep shaving sharp and use a lot to trim stray twigs overhanging where I walk the dogs. All I do is clean the blade and strop it on on some cardboard and it stays sharp.

    The black ceramic knife, sku.28878 isn't very sharp at all and is about 30 degrees either side but it'll cut cardboard boxes for ages before going blunt. Cardboard is surprisingly abrasive - which is why I use it for stropping/polishing blades.
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  • flashin Thursday, September 23, 2010 12:27 PM Reply
    yeh card board is abrasive.... and so are those brown paper towels you find in public rest rooms...
    back in high school [late 80's] a buddy of mine did the final wet sanding on his oldsmobile cutlas with paper towels right out of the dispenser in the shop.
    it gave him a morror smooth finish which is good because he painted it black.
    Howdy from Ohio!

    (john 3:15-18)
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  • frills Top 10 Forum Poster Friday, September 24, 2010 11:30 AM Reply
    AUS8 and 8Cr14MoV aren't quite up to 440C so I'm hesitant to lump them together. I figure on 8Cr because it's produced in high volume, cheap and locally available to the manufacturers. There's probably a good amount of recycled 400-series in use too now that I think about it, actually...

    I don't expect good heat treatment on most of these knives. Some of the better blades may have gotten a decent treat but they'll be the exception.
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