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
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.
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
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.
Go figure steel. :)
FWIW, check at automotive spring shops too. One local to me gives away
5160 and 9260 end cutoff drops. Both make very nice and sturdy tools as
The one here has given a friend and me pieces up to 4 feet long in
several thicknesses and shapes.
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
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
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
You forge truck springs into tools. Grinding is a slow, expensive
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.
xm sez: " There are knife blanks you can buy, you just need to finish them
blanks are in different forms/styles..."
Yep! There are blanks for everything. The other day, at my friendly metal
supply store, I saw some file blanks.
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
Aren't you required to make some "knife-shaped objects" first? You
know, something that looks like, but decidedly is not, a knife?
Didn't work, at least for me. Maybe he's better at it.
So, I've got these worn out files, ...