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E tan e epi tas
Picture of cslinger
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I got to thinking today that steels for blades just in the last 15-20 years have changed at a lightning pace. Today’s super steel is tomorrow’s steel for “the poors” Razz so to speak.

So I am curious with today’s S110v, 20CV, K390, etc. etc. etc. what kind of steel would have been used in a blade from say the late 1800s? What equivalency to today’s steel if any?

I mean it seems like a hot second ago when VG10 and 154CM were some of the go to steels and with a blink of an eye it seems like we have steels that will hold an edge “forever!!!” But need a plasma cutter to sharpen them. Smile. What was a period Bowie knife like?


"Guns are tools. The only weapon ever created was man."
 
Posts: 6422 | Location: On the water | Registered: July 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't have knowledge of steels used that far back and how they would compare to today's steels. Over the last several years on occasion sharpened older knives for friends. Sharpened two knives early this year that were a friends great grandfathers knives, great sentimental value. He guessed the knives were from early 1900's. He just wanted the edges cleaned up and somewhat sharp. Could not get a keen edge even at 50 degrees. Cut a few things, no doubt the edge retention very poor.

Ya, knife steels have come along ways in the last 20yrs. Heat treating has come along ways too. 30V was introduced in 2001.... Even with the common used 30V ideally should be sharpened with diamond/CBN stones to take full advantage of it properties. More and more diamond/CBN stone options today at prices similar to quality waterstones.

As a sharpener who enjoys learning about these steals/how to sharpen them... no better time to be into knife steels!

Lots of good info on history of knife steels on this site. https://knifesteelnerds.com/

First knife that I had that I tried to sharpen was a Schrade Old Timer Sharpfinger in 1095. That's going back a few years! Like to have that same knife today in Maxamet, Rex 121.... As a skinning knife the edge would last a very very long time with those steels.
 
Posts: 3083 | Location: 9860 ft above sea level Colorado | Registered: December 31, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The best way to sharpen a knife is to work on it. You won't learn on the new steels. As I recall the story, Bo Randall began on old Willy's spring steel. That was long ago, like the 1940s. Before that, who knows. My best guess is knives didn't last all that long. Used outdoors, they tended to rust. My dad made all our kitchen knives out of old saw blades. Terrible material. Well, not really. Easy to sharpen, quick to dull.

Some of my favorites were the Randall mini's. Try finding one of those. I paid less for my first car.


Unhappy ammo seeker
 
Posts: 17991 | Location: Kentucky, USA | Registered: February 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by rburg:
The best way to sharpen a knife is to work on it. You won't learn on the new steels. As I recall the story, Bo Randall began on old Willy's spring steel. That was long ago, like the 1940s. Before that, who knows. My best guess is knives didn't last all that long. Used outdoors, they tended to rust. My dad made all our kitchen knives out of old saw blades. Terrible material. Well, not really. Easy to sharpen, quick to dull.

Some of my favorites were the Randall mini's. Try finding one of those. I paid less for my first car.


My experience the new steels are easier to learn on, 30V or better. Some of the older steels won't take an edge worth a darn regardless of how sharpened. So we don't know if it's technique or the steel. Can't get a decent edge on 30V, it ain't the steel! Also steels that don't take an edge regardless what we do is a indicator of very poor edge retention. I've sharpened many sentimental grandpa knives for friends over the years Wink

cslinger to your question about the super steels going down in price. We can look at today's price of the Spyderco PM2 in 30V, not getting any cheaper.
 
Posts: 3083 | Location: 9860 ft above sea level Colorado | Registered: December 31, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by cslinger:
I got to thinking today that steels for blades just in the last 15-20 years have changed at a lightning pace. Today’s super steel is tomorrow’s steel for “the poors” Razz so to speak.

So I am curious with today’s S110v, 20CV, K390, etc. etc. etc. what kind of steel would have been used in a blade from say the late 1800s? What equivalency to today’s steel if any?

I mean it seems like a hot second ago when VG10 and 154CM were some of the go to steels and with a blink of an eye it seems like we have steels that will hold an edge “forever!!!” But need a plasma cutter to sharpen them. Smile. What was a period Bowie knife like?


Carbon crucible and wootz steel would have been the top of the line steel in the 1800s. I don't think there were any "stainless" steels until some time in the early 1900s. Most firearms at that time were made of mild steels, borderline just being iron.

A good crucible carbon steel with USA iron ore and a good heat treat would have offered performance in the realm of 1095 to A2 steel. However, most of the steel that would have been affordable to the average American buyer would have been created via an industrial bloomery in the east or even frontier bloomeries in the west with a mix of quality results. 1095 steel performance would have been the absolute top of the line steel in America in the 1800s. Most blades would have been far inferior to 1095 just due to the quality of the steel before the knife maker got ahold of it. There are some iron ore deposits around the world that have higher quality ore, with trace elements of vanadium and molybdenum such as the deposits in Toledo, Spain(Toledo steel), and Japanese Tamahagena steel. The Romans recognized the quality of the ore in Toledo, and secured those mines for their own use during the empire.
 
Posts: 649 | Location: USA | Registered: June 13, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
E tan e epi tas
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Thanks all.

Fuego220,
That’s exactly what I was looking for. Thanks much.

Chris


"Guns are tools. The only weapon ever created was man."
 
Posts: 6422 | Location: On the water | Registered: July 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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