Hand Tools Archive

Videos I mentioned - practical use of steels

david weaver

Not woodworking, but similar type of discussion to what we've had here.

That being, charts and such that crucible provides are useful if you know the context, but the difference in practical use is little to none for most things we do as woodworkers (as in, we don't challenge toughness of tools unless we're beginners).

Reading through the crucible charts (I went that direction for a while - harder, more alloy, faster stones to cope, diamonds, etc), it appears that most of the steels that we consider to apply well to woodworking there are really designed for something entirely different, and the typical applications are skewed toward things like dies and ball bearings.

Once I had a microscope and started looking at the edges objectively, and quantifying time, I dumped all but one of my super steel pocket knives (and that one is a fallknaven knife in SGPS. It, too, was a bear to find the point where it really wants to be sharp and not shed its very edge to a finish stone or a strop. I ended up finding that it prefers to be sharpened with a deburring wheel and a hard buff with compound.).

There are a lot of parallels to woodworking steels with a slicing test like this, which you can see in brent beach's edge pictures.

Some of the diemaking steels will tolerate a lot more abuse (you can trim brass with an M4 chisel, and you won't find many carbon steel chisels that will tolerate it. A few of the very best japanese makers might make a hard chisel tough enough - I've seen stan covington trim the iron oop on a japanese chisel with a carbon steel knife, but my low/mid grade knives suffered catastrophic failure when i tried the same).

The maker of this video (cliff) gets a lot of mules (primitive knife shapes in exotic steels, etc, to try characteristics before someone goes to the trouble of making a higher class knife). He isn't exactly anti-specialty steel, but will call out a mule when something like CPM-rex comes along and proves to be generally useless in blades.

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