Hand Tools

some wear fundamentals

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
I have made contact with a metallurgist that has provided a wealth of technical support to the knife community. One of his contributions is to build a model of all the known steel variables that contribute to blade edge life from wear. Plug in the steel composition, hardness, etc and out pops a ranking of how that steel will wear under conditions not far removed from planing. He has provided days of reading material which I am wading through slowly as it is dense. Will summarize in the end.

But I am getting hints of why V11 wears so well. Almost 1/4 of this steel is a finely divided carbide, far more than M4 or 3V. Furthermore, finely divided carbides perform well to resist abrasion by a fine abrasive, like cellulose and lignin and a trace of mineral content (AKA wood), while at the same time yield to large pointy harder abrasives (AKA sharpening stones). The magic of powder metallurgy.

The knife people are decades ahead of us in understanding steel and taking advantage of different steels for different tasks. His information rationalizes why V11 is up there with M4 in wood abrasion yet far behind as a tool steel. It is quite likely if a knife company chose to build plane blades they would have quickly arrived at a steel similar to V11.

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