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Posted: 7/29/2009 6:15:41 PM EST
Does anyone know where I can find a quick-and-dirty guide to different knife steels? I want to get a good quality knife (well, another one) and was about to pull the trigger on a SOG Trident, when I noticed that the steel is AUS 8. I remember seeing something on here about that particular steel being less-then-optimal for knives, but I can't remember why.

So, can anyone help a brother out?
Link Posted: 7/29/2009 6:55:24 PM EST
This one is quick and dirty.

All my regular use knives are 1095 and A2. Far easier to restore an edge than the any of the high end stainlesses (VG-10, ATS-34, S30V, etc)
Link Posted: 7/29/2009 7:03:19 PM EST
You will ultimately find yourself reading about the Rockwell Hardness Scale. AUS 8 is a good knife steel. The link below will show you how some of the knife steels fall in terms of hardness on the Rockwell Hardness Scale.

http://www.cabelas.com/story-123/ross_knife_buyers_guide/83/Knife+Buyer%27s+Guide.shtml

I looked at this myself a few years ago and was shocked to see how many different grades of knife steel are in use today. You will also find that some steel grades just have different names, but the steel is the same. If you search for "knife steel hardness scale" on Yahoo or Google, you will find more than you want to know.

Good luck mate.
Link Posted: 7/30/2009 6:32:26 AM EST
Originally Posted By TomHighway:
You will ultimately find yourself reading about the Rockwell Hardness Scale. AUS 8 is a good knife steel. The link below will show you how some of the knife steels fall in terms of hardness on the Rockwell Hardness Scale.

http://www.cabelas.com/story-123/ross_knife_buyers_guide/83/Knife+Buyer%27s+Guide.shtml

I looked at this myself a few years ago and was shocked to see how many different grades of knife steel are in use today. You will also find that some steel grades just have different names, but the steel is the same. If you search for "knife steel hardness scale" on Yahoo or Google, you will find more than you want to know.

Good luck mate.


I got a SOG in AUS8, it is the first knife that I can shave with- I was very impressed

Link Posted: 7/30/2009 6:35:42 AM EST
Aus-8 is similar to 440B. Aus-6 is similar to 440A. Neither is a high end steel, but they have their applications.
Link Posted: 7/30/2009 7:33:45 AM EST
I used to do some knife making on the old belt sander, once upon a time.

The thing to remember about steel is that it's only one element in how well a knife performs. I suspect people hang up on it because it's an easy way to sound like an expert, or to look down on other peoples' knives. The profile of the knife, the spine thickness, the size, shape, and taper of the primary and secondary bevels, the grind method used on them (flat or hollow), the quality and type of heat treatment or temper used, will all affect how well a knife cuts, holds an edge, and overall how hardy it is.

As an example you pick out the most expensive high-speed steel you want and I guarantee I can ruin it with a bad temper. In the same vein I would prefer a knife made out of O-1 or 1095hc that is well thought out in design, has excellent workmanship and a high quality hand-done differential temper, over a more expensive steel with a bad temper.
Link Posted: 7/30/2009 10:38:17 AM EST
Originally Posted By Hunters_Moon:
I used to do some knife making on the old belt sander, once upon a time.

The thing to remember about steel is that it's only one element in how well a knife performs. I suspect people hang up on it because it's an easy way to sound like an expert, or to look down on other peoples' knives. The profile of the knife, the spine thickness, the size, shape, and taper of the primary and secondary bevels, the grind method used on them (flat or hollow), the quality and type of heat treatment or temper used, will all affect how well a knife cuts, holds an edge, and overall how hardy it is.

As an example you pick out the most expensive high-speed steel you want and I guarantee I can ruin it with a bad temper. In the same vein I would prefer a knife made out of O-1 or 1095hc that is well thought out in design, has excellent workmanship and a high quality hand-done differential temper, over a more expensive steel with a bad temper.
Yep, good assessment. Knife making is part science and part art. All the knife makers will tell you what kind of steel they use, but they don't tell how they heat treat and temper the steel. Most of that is a closely guarded company secret.
Link Posted: 7/30/2009 11:36:35 AM EST
Link Posted: 7/30/2009 3:32:41 PM EST
AUS-8 steel is a great knife steel. I am sure that the gear queers bitching about it are the same ones bitching about 4150 being 10 times better than 4140 steel for barrels.

I have several knives made of that steel. It sharpens extremely sharp and holds its edge well. AUS-8 is one of the few steels that I can get so sharp that it will cut free standing hair.
Link Posted: 7/30/2009 5:30:30 PM EST
Originally Posted By Hunters_Moon:
I used to do some knife making on the old belt sander, once upon a time.

The thing to remember about steel is that it's only one element in how well a knife performs. I suspect people hang up on it because it's an easy way to sound like an expert, or to look down on other peoples' knives. The profile of the knife, the spine thickness, the size, shape, and taper of the primary and secondary bevels, the grind method used on them (flat or hollow), the quality and type of heat treatment or temper used, will all affect how well a knife cuts, holds an edge, and overall how hardy it is.

As an example you pick out the most expensive high-speed steel you want and I guarantee I can ruin it with a bad temper. In the same vein I would prefer a knife made out of O-1 or 1095hc that is well thought out in design, has excellent workmanship and a high quality hand-done differential temper, over a more expensive steel with a bad temper.


Best advice of the thread. Have you used O-1 much? Never had a knife in that steel.

Link Posted: 7/30/2009 6:04:58 PM EST
Steel is one of the LEAST important parts of a knife, unless you are using it in an application that would be excessive for one steel, but OK for another. Typically, as a steel gets "better", it worsens in another area or two, like trading edgeholding for toughness and sharpenabiity. 440A is usually seen as a garbage steel, but the right manufacturers can make it sing. 440C is often seen as much better, but from a lousy company it might as well be a sharpened soup can.

Typically, edgeholding is given as being better with one steel or another, but if one company runs S30V @ 57-58RC, and another runs it at 60RC, there will be a big difference in edgeholding and the way the knife sharpens.

Evaluate what you will use the knife for, then find the knife designed for the task, and you would probably never know the difference over which steel the knife was made of. The exception to that would be for a specialized task, like cutting cardboard boxes all week with no option to resharpen. In that case, the design would need to be spot on, and steel choice would be considerably more important.
Link Posted: 7/30/2009 7:24:42 PM EST
If you like the knife in every other regard do not let the AUS8 steel deter you. Sure, its not the latest in vogue wonder steel, but it was once, and you could certainly do worse in a stainless.
Link Posted: 7/31/2009 1:56:55 AM EST
Originally Posted By Hunters_Moon:
I used to do some knife making on the old belt sander, once upon a time.

The thing to remember about steel is that it's only one element in how well a knife performs. I suspect people hang up on it because it's an easy way to sound like an expert, or to look down on other peoples' knives. The profile of the knife, the spine thickness, the size, shape, and taper of the primary and secondary bevels, the grind method used on them (flat or hollow), the quality and type of heat treatment or temper used, will all affect how well a knife cuts, holds an edge, and overall how hardy it is.

As an example you pick out the most expensive high-speed steel you want and I guarantee I can ruin it with a bad temper. In the same vein I would prefer a knife made out of O-1 or 1095hc that is well thought out in design, has excellent workmanship and a high quality hand-done differential temper, over a more expensive steel with a bad temper.


Like it's been said, this is the best advice on this thread. Heat treat what makes or breaks the blade, literally. It's also one of the intangible qualities you can't readily just look at and measure. Reputation from independent testing sources counts for a lot here.

Keeping that in mind, the above FAQ in the first couple of responses doesn't look halfway bad over a quick glance.
Link Posted: 8/1/2009 10:22:22 PM EST
Originally Posted By nihilsum:
Originally Posted By Hunters_Moon:
I used to do some knife making on the old belt sander, once upon a time.

The thing to remember about steel is that it's only one element in how well a knife performs. I suspect people hang up on it because it's an easy way to sound like an expert, or to look down on other peoples' knives. The profile of the knife, the spine thickness, the size, shape, and taper of the primary and secondary bevels, the grind method used on them (flat or hollow), the quality and type of heat treatment or temper used, will all affect how well a knife cuts, holds an edge, and overall how hardy it is.

As an example you pick out the most expensive high-speed steel you want and I guarantee I can ruin it with a bad temper. In the same vein I would prefer a knife made out of O-1 or 1095hc that is well thought out in design, has excellent workmanship and a high quality hand-done differential temper, over a more expensive steel with a bad temper.


Best advice of the thread. Have you used O-1 much? Never had a knife in that steel.



O-1, also called O-1 Tool Steel, or O-1 Oil Hardening is IMHO one of the best steels for a beginning knife maker. Will it rust? Yep. Are there better steels out there? Yep. But, it's relatively easy to grind compared to some of the other steels, it's widely available, and most importantly it's very easy to heat treat. If you don't think you are ready to heat treat it yourself, anyone that offers that service should be able to give you a decent heat treat. Someone who is experienced in heat treating knives will give you an excellent one, resulting in a tough knife that holds an edge well, probably because he cut his teeth working with that same steel.

As evidence I offer that both Randall and Loveless produced plenty of knifes in O-1.

For a survival/bushcraft type knife I like carbon or high carbon steel. They sharpen easily. They can be sharpened/burnished with rocks if necessary. They tend to spark much better when used with various types of firestarters, than stainless blades. Yes, they can rust if not maintained, but I figure it's going to be a long while before that rust becomes serious enough to affect the blade's integrity. If I've been in the sticks that long, I've probably got bigger concerns.
Link Posted: 8/4/2009 7:19:45 AM EST
Ditto to many of the above comments. I've got knives in S30V, 1095, 440A, 440B, 440C, AUS8, AUS6, CPM154, and even 420. Each has its strength and weakness. I'd feel comfortable going into the wilderness with any one of them. The 420 might be considered "junk" steel, but it's a helluva a lot easier to sharpen on a flat stone than S30V! The only popular steel that I don't have is D2. I think that's another steel that's pretty hard to sharpen, but once it's sharp holds its edge.
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