O1 Tool Steel- This is a very good all around work horse steel with exceptional edge retention and toughness. O1 takes and holds a very sharp edge which has made it a standard in the bushcraft world. One problem with some of the more modern high alloy tool steels like 3V is that they can be very difficult to get sharp enough for a good woods knife especially while in the field; this is not an issue with O1. It can be heat treated for a wide range of applications and is very easy to sharpen and maintain in the field. I heat treat my O1 steel to a 60-61RC. O1 is a high carbon steel and it will need to be looked after to prevent rust.
80CRV2 Spring Steel- This is a German spring steel that has gained a reputation for being tough as nails with good edge retention. The simplest way to explain its performance is 5160 toughness with 1095 to O1 edge retention. I heat treat this steel to a 60-61RC for a good balance of performance. Easy to sharpen, holds a good edge and with toughness that won't let you down its hard not to like this steel! At the moment due too the limited suppliers of 80CRV2 in the US I do not take custom orders for it at this moment. It will need to be cared for to prevent rust.
1084fg High Carbon- This is a simple carbon steel with around .84% carbon. 1084 is my go to steel for hand forged knives due to its simple compassion and fine grained structure which makes it easy to work and gives you a good fine edged knife. Edge retention is very close to 1095, but with added toughness and edge stability from the finer structure. Very easy to sharpen, but will rust if not taken care of. I heat treat this steel to 60-61RC.
CPM 3V Tool Steel- This is one of the toughest tool steels suitable for use as a knife. With large amounts of Chromium and Vanadium this steel is extremely tough and holds an edge for a very long time. It also has some rust resistance although it is still a carbon steel and will need care. The largest downside to 3V is it is very hard to sharpen, especially in the field. Without diamond or ceramic based sharpeners you will not be able to sharpen this steel to a good edge. You'll also notice that it just doesn't get quite as sharp as the simpler carbon steel like O1 and 80CRV2, so if a razor edge is your cup of tea this may not be your steel. I have this steel heat treated by Peters Heat Treating to a 60RC.
A2 Tool Steel- This is an old tried and true high carbon tool steel with great toughness and edge retention. Basically this steels performance is between 3V and O1 in almost every category although closer to O1 than 3V. Better edge retention than O1, but not as good or as hard to sharpen as 3V. It also is slightly rust resistant as well, but not as mush as 3V. I have this steel heat treated by Peters Heat Treating to a 59-60RC.
1095 High Carbon- It doesn't come anymore proven than 1095 when it comes to steel. Whether its a Mora, an Old Hickory, or a USMC Ka-Bar most people have had some use with this steel or its equivalent at one time or another. Good toughness, good edge retention, and easy to maintain in the field has made 1095 a go to steel for many people over the years. I mostly use this steel for Hamon work, but on occasion I use it for forging for the same reasons I like 1084. I heat treat this steel to a 59-60RC.
AEB-L Stainless Steel- This is a fine grained stainless razor blade stainless steel from Sweden. AEB-L is know for its extremely fine grain and carbine structure which results in a steel that can take and hold a very fine edged and for it's high edge stability. Its quite often jokingly called stainless O1, but that's basically what it is from a performance stand point. Great edge retention, good toughness, easy to sharpen to a scary sharp edge, but it's stainless! I have this steel heat treated by Peters Heat Treating to a 60-61RC.
CPM 154 Stainless Steel- This is a more modern powder steel that is considered by some to be the best all around steel available. With more alloys than AEB-L it has added edge retention and toughness, but at the down side of being slightly harder to sharpen, although not has hard as 3V. So far this steel seems to resist chipping with hard use which some stainless steels are known for. I have this steel heat treat by Peters Heat Treating to a 60-61RC.
CPM S35VN Stainless Steel- This is also a powder steel from crucible. With the addition of even more alloys this steel is a step above cpm154 in all categories. A little tougher, better edge retention and more rust resistant. This steel is more like 3V to sharpen due to its high edge retention, but its not nearly as tough. I have this steel heat treated by Peters Heat Treating to a 60-61RC.
Convex Grind- The Convex Grind is a good all around grind that will perform a lot of tasks well and is easy to sharpen and maintain. While not quite as good at slicing as a flat grind, it is tougher and works better for battening and wood carving. The Convex Grind is a better bushcraft grind than a flat grind, and is very easily to maintain your edge in the field. In my opinion the Convex Grind is the best do it all grind for hunting, bushcraft and utility work. I grind my convex grinds with a small secondary edge and a thin grind. What this means is that you can just sharpen it like a normal flat grind on a stone and a hard back strop. At the same time, the secondary edge is well blended into the bevel so if you prefer to sharpen on a mouse pad it will work very good as well. This grind preforms best in 5/32" stock for bushcraft tasks because it allows me room to work the convex geometry correctly while still being able to put a very fine edge on the knife. 1/8" and 3/32" are a little better slicers, but they don't preform as well in bushcraft related tasks.
Flat Scandi Grind- Probably the best all around Bushcraft grind this grind is a pure wood carver. While it's not as good of a slicer as other grinds, if your looking for a purebred wood carving knife, than the Flat Scandi is the way to go. This grind is a standard in the bushcraft world due to its fine sharp edge and easy sharpening. One way to improve it's slicing ability is to keep the stock thin. I think that 1/8" is the best balance between strength, carving and slicing. The scandi also has more strength for the thickness than other grinds because so little metal is ground off for the bevel. If you balance the thickness right you end up with a knife that is good for just about anything and is sharp as a laser. Another nice thing about the Flat Scandi grind is that due to the zero degree grind with no secondary bevel it basically has it's own angle guide for sharpening. simply put the bevel flat on a stone and begin sharpening. DO NOT PUT A SECONDARY BEVAL ON THIS GRIND!!!!!!!
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