The science of a steel knife. A good well made knife will not only look cool it makes cooking more enjoyable. The making of a quality knife requires following specific parameters regarding the physical composition of the steel and how the steel is cooled from a semi-liquid state to solid steel. A good knife will have a sharp edge which maintains it’s sharpness over time. To accomplish this the steel will contain a higher amount of carbon or carbide which makes the steel “harder” (see Mohs scale of hardness) it also makes it more prone to oxidation (rust). This physical property which makes the steel hard also makes it more brittle which is directly related to the level of hardness, more hardness=more brittle. So a knife completely made out of this type of steel will cut excellent but would most likely not last long as it would crack apart due to the brittleness of the steel. To overcome this problem most of a knife will contain steel which is “softer” than “hardened” steel with the cutting edge comprised of hardened steel. The softer steel provides the structure or backbone of the knife. Another factor is how the steel is cooled from a semi-liquid state to solid steel and how the sharpness is applied to the edge.
All steel is not the same and the same is true for stainless steel. The element Chromium is used to make regular steel into stainless. There is an industry standard of using at least 12-13% Chromium for the steel to be classified as stainless with up to 26% Chromium to create high quality stainless. Chromium when compared to steels other main elements; iron, carbon and nickle is relatively expensive. A quality knife will have a high % of Chromium in it’s stainless steel.
The two process used to shape the knife are forging and stock removal. During the forging process the knife is pressed or hammered into its shape. During the stock removal process the knife is grind-ed or cut into its shape. Cheap knives typically use the stock removal process and will not hold a sharp edge compared to a forged knife. Forged Knives are more difficult to sharpen due the hardness of the cutting edge but also keep their edge longer than a stock removal knife. Both methods require heat treatment and be tempered as the final process. During the heat treatment and tempering process different heating temperatures are applied to the blade. A high temperature will be applied to create the soft steel backbone of the knife with lower temperatures used for the cutting edge. The methods used to cool the steel will also affect the physical properties of the knife.
The last factor to consider in a knife is the handle. A quality knife will have the steel extend completely thru the handle taking the shape of the handle. The best knives will be forged out of high quality stainless steel with a carbide edge with the steel going completely thru the handle.
Full Disclosure: To comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) I need to disclose that this page contains links which are affiliates and I make a 4% profit on any purchase (Of which the IRS, Visa and web site hosting will take a % leaving me with peanuts). I only list links to products which I feel are quality and useful. Clicking on and using the links will not increase or affect the cost of the goods, it only helps me maintain this site. I also don’t solicit or send out unsolicited emails, however I will personally respond to email; rick”at”kitchenhui”dot”com. I hope you noticed that there were no pop-up ad’s I can’t stand pop-up ad’s that’s why there are none on my site and there never will be, cheers
PS I also don’t store your data, add cookies or feel it’s polite to track what others do online.