Ever wish that certain knives were offered from less expensive steel?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Solomonson, Feb 6, 2021.

  1. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Nowhere did I mention that 1084 did not make workable knife blades nor that it wasn't rugged or couldn't perform well.
    Other than that? I expect them to be very corrosion resistant and to hold a fine edge even when after being used for a good deal of cutting on "abrasive' materials.
    You said it "performs incredibly well" with the added implication that because it performs so well, there's no point in spending more than $5 on a knife blank as long as you know how to heat treat it properly. It's a pretty standard high carbon steel and it performs like a pretty standard high carbon steel. If a person considers a pretty standard high carbon steel to "perform incredibly well" then 1084 performs incredibly well.

    I'm not saying there's anything wrong with 1084, but the reason it's often chosen for knifemaking, especially beginning knifemaking isn't because it provides unusually good performance, it's because it forges and grinds easily and is very easy to heat treat. Doesn't hurt that it's also inexpensive. There are other steels out there that will perform better, but they are more expensive and can be more complicated to work and heat treat.
     
  2. rust collector
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    rust collector Contributing Member

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    It's interesting that steel type is now a big factor in marketing. For many years we were assured that these knives were crafted of high carbon cutlery steel or surgical steel. Early stainless steels were difficult to sharpen well, and Western Knives stuck with high carbon long after others went to stainless. Consumers showed a preference for a shiny blade even if it would spend most of its life semi-sharp.
     
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  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    I think part of it is that the knife buying community is a bit more well-informed now and has the resources to find out what the various alloys can do. Imagine in 1970, seeing a knife with the alloy spelled out and trying to figure out what the mix of ingredients meant in terms of performance--it would be beyond the resources of all but the most dedicated researchers or maybe a few metallurgical specialists. Another part of it is the proliferation of new alloys that offer new levels of performance, especially in the stainless category.
     
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  4. NuShootr

    NuShootr member

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    I wrote my statement very specifically. If you think I implied something, then that is your understanding. Not my words.

    I would say that the average person has no idea what steel a knife is made of and buys it mostly because it looks cool. And even if they know what steel the blade is made of, they have little to no idea what qualities different steels have. Yes, of course, I realize that in this forum we are not dealing with the average person looking to buy a knife. Just my thoughts.
     
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  5. NuShootr

    NuShootr member

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    "Surgical steel" is actually terrible. That catch phrase was used to impress. It gets dull quickly and breaks under only mild pressure. And it can rust quite easily.
     
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  6. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Ok, what did you mean when you said it "performs incredibly well" and that the piece you got cost only $5? I assumed that there was a coherent theme to your post and responded with that in mind.

    By the way, it's poor form to continue to edit your post after someone has already responded to it. I see you've made 4 or 5 edits to post #25 since I responded to it.

    Here's one of the additions:
    So 3x to 6x the cost for raw materials compared to a run-of-the-mill high carbon steel? What are the additional complications in terms of working the steel and heat treating it?
     
  7. NuShootr

    NuShootr member

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    I didn't see your post until after I finished my edits. You know, you Mods need to seriously chill out. For real guys. Calm down. If you want to start nit picking about nothing, have at it, but sheesh.
     
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  8. NuShootr

    NuShootr member

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    Dude, I SPECIFICALLY mentioned in my post that is has more to do with the heating and crafting process than the actual STEEL ITSELF. And now you are asking me the exact question I was pointing out about? What point are you arguing exactly? Forget it. You're the guru. I think you guys need some fresh blood watching these forums.
     
  9. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    You could have just said that and not only saved a lot of typing on your part but also made a much clearer statement.

    I think, if crafted properly, it performs as well as a $5 piece of steel could be expected to perform. Which is perfectly adequate--good even. Perhaps "incredibly well" to someone who doesn't understand what to expect from high-carbon steel.
    First you mention that $5 steel will make a knife that performs "incredibly well". When I point out that might be a bit of an overstatement you respond with a post that seems to be in disagreement with my comment and then add to it that you can buy "CPM steel" for $15-30. All this on a post about "less expensive steel" that has turned to discussions of "quality".

    A reasonable expectation is that someone following the discussion will interpret your comments in the general context of the thread, the more specific context of the current phase of the discussion and the immediate context of the comments being responded to.

    Along those lines, I interpreted your post on page 1 (post #23) as a response to the two or three comments immediately above it in the thread when I responded to it. Your response to my post seemed to confirm that I interpreted it properly, but perhaps I was mistaken.

    Let me try again.
    1084 is often used by knifemakers because it forges and grinds easily, provides good performance and is easy to heat treat, not because it's near the top of the list in terms of final performance.
    It's not JUST about the steel, but the material is certainly an important part. Heat treat is another very important part as is blade design, etc.

    Now, improperly heat treating a blade can ruin it even with very good raw materials in play, so in that sense, heat treat is the most important aspect. But if the heat treat is proper, then the raw material becomes a much more important factor. You can't get more out of a material than is in there with the heat treat.
     
  10. Valkman

    Valkman Member

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    I, like bikerdoc, will only buy or make a knife that is minimum 440C stainless. I did this in knifemaking too, using both 440C, O1 and D2 and other non-expensive steels. Those are good steels even though they are not expensive so yes most of the cost is craftmanship. A 5 foot bar used to run me $21 and I made 5 knives from it but the work is what you pay for. No I have never wished for cheaper steel on a knife I like, there's too many choices out there not to get what you want.
     
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  11. Valkman

    Valkman Member

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    I was told at a knife show by the owner of Plaza Cutlery that 90% of buyers want stainless steel knives. That influenced me and I made more stainless knives after that but guys who like custom knives will certainly buy non-stainless knives too
     
  12. rust collector
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    rust collector Contributing Member

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    I understand that the new wonder steels not only cost more, but likely take more time to finish and perhaps need a more involved heat treatment. What does something like M390 or cpm 20cv add to materials costs? How much more time is involved in finishing?
     
  13. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    One final thing. Someone above inferred that a 2WD SUV is inherently of lower quality than a 4WD SUV. It made me think just how misunderstood and misapplied the term "quality" is by so many. If two SUVs are identical except for the fact that one is 2WD, the other a 4WD, the difference is not one of product quality. It's a difference of economic utility -- specifically that of form utility. It's highly dependent on the individual customer's needs, as form utility is a measure of how well a product or service satisfies the customer's needs.

    A 4WD SUV no doubt provides greater utility to the skier who winters in Jackson. On the other hand, a 2WD SUV might well provide greater utility to the stockbroker who lives in Manhattan.

    Equating things like form utility to product quality is simply wrong.
     
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  14. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    As much as I know about knife steel I have learned your preferences are not mine, or the ubiquitous his.
    I have worked with, 1095, D2, 8cr13mov, 440C, N690, old files and leaf springs.
    Steel choice is only one part of producing a user knife.
    Heat treat and tempering , and blade geometry are equally important.
    And to complicate the discussion crank in the Rockwell hardness scale and we will have to crack open another 2 litre bottle of Dr Pepper. ( I don't drink )
     
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  15. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    ^^^^ This! :)
     
  16. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    You’re here, what, a good 10 minutes and you want to redo this place? lol

    Chill, and get a little more feel for it first. Try and keep in mind you’re here to enjoy yourself.
     
  17. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    Remember when beer was just beer? And a micro brew would have just been a tiny glass?

    Things change, now I want top steel even though I’ll probably never need it.

    An educated consumer can be a pain in the ass. lol
     
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  18. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    This:

    Did not address this:

    ...at least as I interpret them.

    The first points out that manufacturing has more to do with [(cost, quality, ....)] than does material.

    John's question was, I think, about how different material properties might affect the cost of processing.

    My main interest is in kitchen cutlery, and I only want good knives

    If anyone has any recommendations, shoot, and thanks in advance.
     
  19. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    See new kitchen knife thread
     
  20. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, most of the time, typically, and they improve performance measurably, but like most things the returns can be diminishing for the cost. If you want a knife that can make 100 chops on antler and then shave hair, I can point you to the maker. The steel is exotic, the heat treat requires a computer controlled process, and it will take a mirror finish, but the result is stunning at the hands of a master.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
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  21. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    Start a new thread
     
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  22. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    Frustration with online forums is nothing new.It seems to be something inherent with the beast. I think that's the big reason why social media seems to be taking over the function that was once largely limited to dedicated online forums. Over on /reddit, for instance, there are well over a million total total subscribers to r/knifeclub, r/knives, r/knifedeals, r/bushcraft, r/EDC, and r/BudgetBlades. I'm sure Facebook has even more.

    Keep in mind THR seems far better than most, except for some far more limited/smaller, serious shooters-only forums, which attract far fewer people. The overly tight moderation can be nettlesome at times, but it's what ultimately makes THR tolerable on the long term.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2021
  23. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    I think sal means the quality they want with, that after a huge markup, sells for $30. I've seen plenty of $30 knives that offer way better materials and build quality than the byrd line. The steel will cutjack, cjrb feldspar, and the ganzo FH*1 series spring to mind. Spyderco has some great designs, some "creative" designs, and a willingness to push the materials and design envelope. That said, they, like benchmade, need to rethink their pricing. Take the tenacious lightweight. It's a great design, but for $50, I expect better steel than 8cr13mov and an injection molded plastic handle. If spyderco is paying more than $20 per item to the factory to make one, I'd eat a pocket clip.
     
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  24. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    There are fewer and fewer differences between very low-priced knives made offshore in quantity today, and far more expensive knives crafted by masters out of unobtainium and Narwhal antler.

    I ran into a friend who was excited to show me his new knife made by the We Knife Co. It really was a beautiful knife. Great design, exceptionally well finished. Its price was very low, making for a rather stunning price. It's made out of Böhler M390 stainless.

    A third guy then walked up. This time an "expert." He gave the knife a quick once over, grimaced and said "I sure wish it was made from better steel and not in China." What a buzzkill. What a fool.
     
  25. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    The people making nation of manufacturing a criteria are often out of date on their understanding of the change in manufacturing quality and/or are simply making a nationalistic based decision. We used to equate Japanese products with junk and now accept that it means quality. As Japan became equated with quality instead of junk, China assumed Japan's old role as the supplier of cheap disposable junk. Now we find Chinese first world quality products (check your watch, computer, phone, pocket knife) almost as easily as disposable junk, although the interesting thing about Chinese manufacturing is they'll make junk as readily as first quality as long as there's sufficient profit. There are entrepreneurs working to make India and Pakistan manufacturing and products competitive with China/Italy/USA in producing quality consumer goods and we may one day look at "paki crap" as just an evolution in knife manufacturing quality.
     
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