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Carbon Or Stainless Blade Steel...what Is Better???

Discussion in 'Steel, Hardware, & Handle Material' started by Icho-, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. Icho-

    Icho- Staff Member

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    This is a topic comes up all over knife making forums and even when I tell someone my hobby is making knives. My favorite question is "Cool, do you use surgical stainless steel" LOL

    Here is a video I came across a while back and he does a pretty good job comparing the two.

    Feel free to throw in your own opinions.
  2. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    I have used both materials and from very low end to high end back in the day (80's) and in the end I still have the leaf spring knife I bought from a maker in Fort McMurray that is the bottom knife. Oiled annually and every few years I refresh the Tru-oil handle. Knife has always been stored in its sheath for the last 37 years and has not been used in ten years, used to be mirror finish that I did the year after I bought it. Used several stones and loads of sandpaper and the finish has only been recently brightened up on the sander for a texture.

    Upper knife is a forged blade from a torsion bar as far as I know and spent its life in the Sheath. Pretty sure I worked with the person who made the ugly sheath back in Comox in the early 90's and picked it up at the antique store a year or so ago for around $20.
    Both carbon steels with limited upkeep and still going strong
    parker likes this.
  3. Randy Reichert

    Randy Reichert New Member

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    I like carbon steel for traditional and hard use knives. Not really a fan of stainless unless it's a chef's knife.
  4. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    I think the best knife steel is the one(s) you become comfortable with. It's fun to try something different or challenging, and for those who like to experiment, there are so many possibilities to play with. Do any of those steels make better knives? I don't think so. I think better knifemakers make better knives, regardless of the steel they use.
    shadman, dancom and Randy Reichert like this.
  5. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand New Member

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    A bit late to the party...

    I was going to go with the "comparing apples and oranges" thing but it is more complicated than that. Someone's orange is another person's apple. There are a lot of crossover attributes that make a definitive answer almost impossible. Add to that the "maker variables" of heat treat, geometry, ergonomics, etc... I mean, you can get such a performance spectrum from just one steel! AND some makers like working with air-hardened steels to avoid oil and smoke.

    Choosing knife steel is kinda like choosing a motor vehicle, imo.(Though, I just made that up and haven't thought it through, fully) If all you are ever going to do is drive it back and forth to the grocery store in town, almost anything will do. Performance and aesthetic attributes become more important as your vehicle requirements become more specific. 4WD, AWD, 4cyl, 6cyl, Rag Top, Leather, Heated Seats, Cargo Space, Head Room, Sound System, Fuel Efficiency, Eject Buttons and Rocket Launchers ... One person's definition of "off-road" is not the same as another's. Do you live in Toronto or Inuvik?

    Personally... my requirements have steered me toward plain carbon steels. I like forging, I like the attributes. Plus... the way I see it. Carbon steel readily oxidizes and goes back to the Earth, where as stainless takes MUCH longer. So I will leave you with this...

    Stainless steels take the "stain" out of sustainability!
    If you love nature, grow your carbon steel footprint.

    Rick ;p
    SDMay, cuatroXcuatro and Mythtaken like this.
  6. cuatroXcuatro

    cuatroXcuatro Active Member

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    The 1st determining factor for me is heat treating, if it looks to difficult to heat treat on my own with what I have in my shop and my limited skills I won't use it.

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