I am thinking about trying to make a few pocket knives this winter . I can get O-1 readily . I would appreciate any comments on using this steel of some other . I do not have an oven so I am thinking to do the initial heat with a rosebud tip ? Anyone have any bits and pieces , blade or handle stock they are looking to dump ? How rust resistant is O-1 ? thanks Ken Cutt
Rust resistance and edgeholding ability are contradictory terms. Stainless steels will not keep a sharp edge. High carbon steel can be hardened very hard and hold a razor edge, but is very susceptible to rust. My personal favorite all-round tool steel is car or truck leaf springs. They are dirt cheap at salvage yards and you can make almost any tool with it. Bugs
440C and ATS-34 both have excellent edge-holding qualities when properly heat treated. Their stainless properties aren't as good as the low-carbon stainless steels, however, even when passivated.
Some of the guys on bladeforums or rec.knives might have more (and better) information.
Myself, I keep a Victorinox Tinker in my pocket for important uses and a
3-dollar cheapie with it for general abuse.
On the other hand, I have a dagger I made from OCS, (Old Chevy Spring)
5160, which hasn't rusted in 10 or more years while sheathed in a pocket in a leather pouch. It's also still hair-popping sharp.
In the Even-a-blind-hog Dept: There's my PPOS (Pakistani POS knife-like object) a merchant gave me for helping her out. She sold those for $6.00 US. It's still both bright and sharp after being thoroughly abused, cutting everything from tent stakes to beef steaks. Sue's $6 Boot Knife is legendary in the SCA.
You are right, Don. Even if you had no first-hand experience with ATS-34, I would believe you are correct because you are quoting performance and attributes from modern steel charts. IMO, quality of the legendary truck spring steel lies mostly (no pun intended) in the minds of those that have made cutlery from them. If someone goes to the trouble to grind out a knife shaped object from a piece of raw steel, he is "bound" to believe it is wonderful stuff. If the same individual made a comparison blade from ATS-34, for example, he probably would not be quite so high on truck springs.
Personally, I prefer my blades be made from the axels of a 1937 Plymouth; dipped nine times in panther piss during odd full moons.
I'm not a knifemaker. My everyday "carry" is a blade made of ATS-34: the "gentleman's folder" from A.G. Russel. Its thin, weighs about zip, wasn't expensive for a good blade, one-hand opener, easy to have in my pocket.
I've been very happy with it. I use it for anything and everything one might use a pocketknife for -- stripping wire, cutting cardboard, opening the mail, cutting rope, shaving wood, yada yada. It is not a "tactical" or "fantasy" blade, just a useful everyday pocketknife.
A couple of licks on the crockstick every few days is all it needs to stay boxknife-sharp for several months. When the edge does need to be restored by honing, it takes a while.
I carry a real cheap pocket knife just in case I lose it . Good ones I lose fast but cheap junk seems to hang around forever . I gave my sons all Victorianox knives last Christmas as a stocking suffers . My preference for a knife is a Boker but the pocket knives go for around
175 here . Too much if it gets lost . Anyway time for me to learn how to heat treat steel Ken Cutt
About what I want . I carry a " Stockmans Pattern " so this is what I want to make . Nothing fancy , just a good serviceable knife . I will have to look at where ATS-34 is available . I am sure not locally though Ken Cutt
You forge truck springs into tools. Grinding is a slow, expensive hobby. I can't count the number of 'surgical' steel knives people have shown me. Not one of them had an edge. The Chromium makes the edge break down as it approaches a keen edge. Thos who are happy with Stainless may have other bad habits. Bugs
If you lose good knives all the time then you need to spend a lot more money on your next one. I have found that if you don't spend enough on a product you tend to "forget" about them and the next thing you know you don't have it any more. On the other hand, when you spend a ton of money on something you are a lot more aware of where it is. Buy a knife that is really expensive and I'll bet you keep real good track of it and take real good care of it too.
You absolutely do not want to do this, Ken. Making a knife is like eating a Lay's potato chip. You cannot stop with one. Or even, as you mentioned, "a few." before you know it, every square inch of wall space is covered with knives; they'll fill every drawer in your workshop and your office; you will find yourself carrying two or three or four everywhere you go simply because you have no place else to put them. You will, and I use the term advisedly, become a "knife knut." A chronic condition for which there is no known cure.
That said, check out some of the newbie and other forums over at