Hand Tools Archive

There's a little magic...
Response To:
Re: That's true... ()

david weaver
The steel that you posted a link to has a very strong reputation in the world of knife users, and it appears that there are supply issues for it.

They are used to very high vanadium steels, especially in the stainless types. M4 (non-stainless), M390, Elmax, S35V, S90, S110 etc, are all commonly found in knives, and I'm sure they all wear reasonably well, but can be a bear to sharpen.

The key, as I see it, is finding a steel high in chromium carbides, but with enough other alloying elements to get hard enough to be in the sweet spot for planes (60-62 or so). And then, with little enough vanadium because vanadium seems to be a good very wear resistant carbide, even in wood, but it doesn't seem to reach what you'd think its numerical potential would be against something like V11. Whether the carbides are pulled out of the matrix or come out when the material around them erodes, I don't know, but the others wear more slowly without lasting longer and aren't as slick in the cut.

It's novel, I'm enamored with it, and as rob said, I can have a really cynical view sometimes! (that's not exactly what he said, he just mentioned that my view that I could be banned as a buyer was cynical).

I'm fast approaching 30,000 feet planed, and it's just nicer to use than anything else. I hate to say it (partially because like rob, I'm going back to O1 and other stuff like it, anyway - at least most likely), but it's nicer in the cut than O1 and the finish is the brightest I've seen.

I looked up XHP and bought a bar. It's expensive. If that's what it is and it's that good in plane irons, I'm going to foil wrap it and see if I can heat treat it and make some knives out of it.

I would assume that the market is limited because in more metal to metal contact type operations, or more abrasive operations, I'm sure the vanadium carbides would stand out. They do some in wood, but not proportionally, it seems.

At the cost of the bar that I purchased ($135 or something for 36 inches of .094" and 2" wide), I can't believe there's much financial incentive for LV to offer it compared to A2 and O1, though I'm not working in production. I have had some O-1 irons warp. The one I made for this test was a little more squirrely than expected. No big deal. I flattened it. That's probably problematic in a production environment.

But, I'll admit, I'm still fascinated with it and other stuff of its composition seems to be uncommon. Everything either is more like 440C or CPM154-CM where there's some potential, but the high hardness isn't there, or the high hardness comes along with lots of vanadium, which presents sharpening issues - easily solved by diamonds, but not much else.

There is only one fault of V11 that I can think of. Rob mentioned heat tolerance similar to other common tool steels that we use. It doesn't spark much on a grinder, and tools that spark less build more heat from what i can tell. One has to be careful grinding it.

One last test I almost forgot about after the angle and abrasive test in O1 - V11 vs. O1 in end grain. I have to fabricate a big fake endgrain board long enough to plane. At least that test should be faster.


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