I met Bob at a gun show in Frederick Maryland. Bob is a bladesmith from Middletown Maryland and forges knives from different steels including 52100, 1095. He does his own leather work and even creates the stain used in his scales.
I have added videos for the Work Sharp products. They make it much easier than looking at a photo to figure out how the sharpeners work!
I am going to put information on the new FBKnife site a little differently than before. There will be more photography and tips on how to use the sharpeners as well as information about new things.
WOW! We had a super weekend at Chantilly Virginia this weekend. We ended up selling Damascus from Bob Stumphy and several knives from LT Wright. I just got off of the phone with Elaine, ordering more knives. We ran out of many of the highly popular sharpebing systems from Work Sharp!
It really isn’t important which type of steel a knife blade is made from. From 440 through to the latest S30, you can find knives made of steels that will prove worthy of consideration. In most cases, I believe that how difficult a knife is to sharpen will show how well a knife will hold an edge. If a knife is easy to sharpen, it is easy to dull.
I was able to talk to Ray Beers at the Maryland Custom knife show. To this day, he only uses 440 for his knives. He says that some of his customers find the knives hard to sharpen and will provide that service. I have been working with 440 type steels since I started dealing with Frost, Kershaw, and Buck knives.
As a user of the Lansky sharpening system, I haven’t found any of these knives to be hard to sharpen. Most of the difficulty comes in the first time that you sharpen the knife. The problem here will be the blade’s geometry. If they ground something that looks like an axe, you will have to do more work than if they built the knife with the plans of using it to cut things.
When I first tried to sharpen my Sportsman, from Al Mar Knives, I found that it was the hardest thing that I had ever tried to work. The knife was ATS-34, heat treated to a hardness of RC60. With my Sportsman, I am able to do a lot of work before I have to sharpen it. Many of the Custom knife makers today still use ATS-34. I have two knives from Edmund Davidson that I have used at home and at work at the Goddard Space Flight Center. ATS-34 has an American counterpart in 154CM. The formula for 154 is only slightly different, but will stand up as well as the Japanese steel.
The two new-comers in the steel market are VG10 and S30V. If the retail prices are any indication, these steels are tougher to work and sharpen. On the positive end, they might not need to be sharpened as often. My last SERE from AMK was a tough knife. Part of this was Mar’s design. He made this knife to stand up to the rigors of the Survival Evasion, Resistance and Escape school. The new VG10 based SERE 2000 combines single hand opening with the glass smooth action to
I have been buying, selling and using knives since I was at the NASA tracking station on Guam. The year was 1985 when I started selling Frost knives. I then found a way to get Al Mar, Spyderco and Cold Steel through several sources. With over seventy knife users at the station, I was able to get a good idea of which knives worked and which didn’t.
When one of the guys broke the tip off of his Buck 110, we decided to do some testing. We took his knife and put it into a bench vise. With a calibrated spring hook, we pulled the knife sideways. At seven ounces the knife broke! We checked out this knife with another 110 that was said to be at least eight years older and found out that the new blade was much thinner than the older knife. This set off a fury of testing with Frosts, Cold Steel knives with San Mai III, a Buck 500, Blackjack and an Al Mar Sportsman in ATS-34.
To their credit, the Frost Bearclaw performed well above what we expected for a knife that retailed at $32. We had a fun little test to see how sharp we could get a knife. Using Lansky Deluxe sharpeners, we would see if the knife could get sharp enough to cut free hanging half-inch Mylar tape. This isn’t as easy as it might sound for any breath of air will cause the tape to move out of the way.
Cold Steel’s San Mai is good steel! We tested Shinobus, Master Tantos, Clipmates and all of these blades survived every one of the trials that we put them to. I was at a beach party and had to cut a board in pieces to put it into a bon-fire. After my German made, nine inch bladed Bowie gave me a blister across my palm, I pulled out my Master Tanto and finished the job. The next day, the knife could still shave hair off my arm.
This isn’t to say that I am totally enamored with Cold Steel’s Carbon V. I have tried Trailmasters, Master Hunters, SRK, ATC and found that the only knife that will work to my satisfaction (in that steel) is the Trailmaster. Each of the others had to have the grind angle changed to something less like an ax. After all, a knife should perform like a knife.
I have had the chance to work with other carbon steel knives like the French Opinel. This twist lock folder comes in both stainless and carbon steels. The Opinels come in sizes from under two inches to a whopping 11 inches. The tempering of the blade holds a good edge. It is rare that I have to sharpen mine on anything more than my Spyderco crock sticks. The geometry on this and my Boker Stockman make them good knives, as they are able to cut without their own steel getting in the way.
The end result of this cutting is that with over twenty years of cutting things, I really can’t say that one type of steel is better than another. Carbon or stainless, if the geometry of the blade is set up right and the steel is tempered properly, you will get a good knife.
Here are my rants, raves and things that make me go hmmm…