1. What is carbon-steel, high carbon steel, tool steel ?
Steel for knife blades is in its purest form is made of iron and 0.6 to 1.4% carbon only. In this pure form, the structure is very fine-grained and the blades can achieve a amazing sharpness and hardness of up to 67HRC (Rockwell). Here the steel is very sensitive and the blade is hard as glass. In order to obtain a hard, but at the same time flexible and tough blade, the steel must be tempered at a low temperature again. On this way the steel loses some hardness and the blade has usually 60-63 HRC Rockwell.
Carbon steel (carbon steel) is used for centuries in Japanese swords as the "Katana" or even with razors and is sold under the name Tamahagane. (Similar to the 1.1274-C100 in our shop)
Even today exceeds a knife blade of carbon steel every "stainless" steel in the maximum achievable sharpness and edge retention.
For more detailed information I recommend the book "Messerklingen und Stahl" by Roman Landes.
2. What exactly means "not stainless" at blades made of carbon steel?
Carbon steel (as described under 1) is made out of iron and carbon, to enable as a very fine steel structure and thus ratorlike cut containing blade.
This combination is exposed to acids and moisture and the blades should rinsed after use under water and dried with a towel. A feature of carbon steel is that a gray discoloration formed on the blade. The so-called "patina" is a self-protection function from steel, because it forms a barrier against rust. If the blade is first covered with the patina, rust has little chance as long as you treat the knife halfway carefull. Maintain your knives during prolonged storage and / or high humidity with a drop of food-safe blade oil, which you can inexpensively purchase in our shop.
3. What is "stainless" or "inox" ?
First of all: No steel is " stain-free " . The correct term is "stainless" because it is less vulnerable agains rust. A steel is alloyed with at least 13% chromium, to protect it against moisture and acids. (positive for outdoor knives, fruit knife (fruit acid) or diving knife (saltwater))
Chromium forms in steel relatively large carbides, they create"lumps" in the steel. Brought to you by www.metallograph.de we have faced in the figure below two "steel-classic". Here we see very clearly the chromium carbides and the significantly coarser structure in stainless steel on the right side. (Left = Carbon Steel / Right = Stainless)
Simplistically put, one can say: If you grind the cutting edge very thin, stainless steel has not enough support for the carbide and the cutting edge breaks under load more quickly. Here we are not talking about big outbursts that can easily be seen with the eye, but we are talking of a few 1/10 mm!
Generally not-steinless steels have therefore a more stable cutting edge as stainless steels.
To counteract this effect, you should not grind the cutting quite as thin and depending on the load of the cutting angle slightly increase during grinding.
Looking at the fine outbreaks at the cutting edge of the page, so you can see the advantage of a stainless blade. Stainless knife steels generally function as microfine saw. Such a super fine serrated edge! Although the razorsharpness is lost fairly quick, but they cut it for a long time at an ordinary "use of field" in if you move the blade like a saw back and forth.
In addition, the knife is pretty resistent to rust and looks even after long use still like freshly polished.
As an alternative to the described "Carbidemonsters" with sawing, there are stainless steel knife, with which one alloyed so little carbon that the carbides do not have enough "food" to grow. (Chromium carbides need carbon to form itself) Thus you have at the end a stainless steel, which has no real sawing, but it can be milled very thin almost like a non-stainless carbon steel. The disadvantage is that the steel is not so hard because of the lack of carbon.
What is better ?
- If you need a knife with highest sharpness (eg razors, sushi knife, filleting knife) and / or a very stable cutting edge (eg hunting knives, machetes, swords, axes) ... then you should resort to a non-stainless steel.
- If you need a knife with long cutting endurance at an intermediate level (work knives, rescue knife, outdoor knife) or "rust freedom" (outdoor, kitchen, hunting, etc)... then you should use a stainless steel with plenty of chrome and carbon that it reaches the desired sawing-effect and a hardness of 58 HRC.
What ist Damascus steel and why is it so expensive?
A hand-forged knives made of Damascus steel one of the most impressive blacksmith masterpieces that can be made. A damascus knife combines various steels and thus different steel properties to an entirely new alloy consisting Steel perfectly customized for the needs of the knife.
Unfortunately, the term " Damascus steel " is used by the industry nowadays often for comparatively inferior welding composite laminates abused the special Damascus Finish to create. This Damascus is however produced in large mills and has very little to do with the true Damascus steel. The roll laminates can be found in the cutting position of a normal blade steel (often stainless ). The cutting tasks of such a knife are just as well / poorly suited as in a knife without stripes . In these blades you find a normal knife made of a single steel, hidden behind a "wallpaper" what look a little bit like the damascus pattern. However, this has no influence on the cutting quality of the cutting edge in the middle of the "wallpaper" , since these layers are also not present in the cutting position.
The better alternative for industrial produced Damascus steel is in so-called " Monster packets ". They heat a damascus package of several hundred Kg. in an inert gas oven and then weld it under a huge press. Then the giantic damascus block is sawn into smaller pieces and rolled out with machines to sheets to create knives from it. This damascus is called "Super Clean" or "Ultra Clean". The advantage are perfect welds and accuracy.
This damascus however, one must bear in mind that the knife and their applications are always on the identical material and it is not possible to forge specifically damascus mixtures to the customer's wishes and the function of the knife. This process is roughly thus comparable with offering a hand-stitched suit from the tailor only in one size . If it fits, it's a bargain, but if not, then it has no use for your needs.
Also qestionable is the fact that you often can not be sure how good the quality is of the steels used on the starting material. For this reason, we recommend to be careful about where the damask comes from and who made it!
Quality has its price! On this subject there is a nice video on Youtube.
In our shop you will find an excellent "Ultra Clean Damask" 100% made in Germany. The quality of this material is beyond any doubt.
A truly handforged knife made of individually forged Damascus steel...
differs in the name not of industrial products, since the terms Damascus, Damascus steel, Damascus, Damascus Steel, Damascus, Damascus, Damascus, etc. are not protected and everybody is allowed to interpret as he thinks.
For us at Schmiedeglut it means the production of a hand-forged Damascus, that it actually forged by one person. It means in the production of the Damascene several hours of work , and a lot of expertise is required ... sore muscles and sweaty work clothes in the evening ... much attention to detail and a serving of creativity to each unique knife making. With our knives , we draw back on the best raw materials and selected steels, combine these to optimum alloy and forge it into a unique blade that makes each knife unique. We combine these to individual customer requirements with exquisite handle materials to a great knife. All knives of Schmiedeglut combine hard facts and quality with artistic combinations to your individual desire knife.
What is hand forged Damascus steel made of?
The production of damascus steel requires the mastership of blacksmithing!
Our damask consists of two (or more) steels that have different characteristics.
One is very hard and wear, the other tough and flexible. Thus, it is possible to create a blade that is both flexible and resilient at very high sharpness, edge retention and hardness. The typical damascus pattern is created by multiple "folds" and "fire welding" of steel, making that the blade often consists of several hundred layers of steel!
Our damask consists of quality carbon-steel and is hardened (depending on knife and function) to approximately 60-64 HRC (Rockwell).
Which steels do you process?
In principle, we are open to any steel as long as it brings any improvement in practice!
That's why we forge for each blade its own Damascus steel, which is perfectly matched to the intendet use.
To achieve outstanding results, we combine mostly the following steels in different "mixing ratios".
Below you will find some steels we use frequently.
1.2519 (close to japanese "blue paper" steel)
An excellent blade steel (not stainless) for high cutting efficiency combined with high sharpness.
hardness approximately 62-64 HRC Rockwell.
In Damascus patterns It may be found as a gray element.
This steel brings excellent toughness and stability.
hardness approximately 60-61 HRC
In Damascus patterns It draws silver-grey.
Good "all-rounder" with high hardness of 61-62 HRC
In Damascus patterns It draws dark black.
spring steel with improved edge retention
Hardness approximately 62-64 HRC
It also may be found as a gray element in Damascus steel.
60N20 (special alloy)
Pure superfine structure for extremely fine cutting with high flexibility! I use it for selected blades have to withstand extreme loads and / or for very strong contrast pattern.
Hardness approximately 60-62 HRC
In Damascus patterns it is characterized by an extremely bright silver.
A little less hard, with higher edge retention.
Hardness approximately 54-56 HRC
Almost as bright as the 60N20.
1.1274 - C100
Superfeine structure for extremely fine cutting. Perfect for razors or sushi knife!
Hardness about 63HRC
Stainless steels can not be welded to one another under normal air atmosphere. The production of stainless damascus therefore requires special techniques, equipment and know-how. We have indeed already frequently made stainless damascus itself, but right now we do not produce it anymore.