Opinion on hardness

Nov 15, 2018

You know we do a lot of heat treating for our customers - and we proudly aim for all but the most outrageous requests.  I just wanted to take a moment to addrerss a trend that seems to be increasing - toward REALLY hard blade requests.  Seems a growing number of makers want their blades hardened to the max.  Now some of these are just people who don't know - and that's OK.  We all started there.  One customer wanted the backspring on a slipjoint so hard it would never break.  Another maker wanted his 400C between 70 and 80.  Those are pretty easy to smooth out with some research references.  (Ask me how I found those references).  :-)

We're getting lots of requests though for stainess at 62.  Now, with most of them we can hit that - but I'm going to suggest just because it's possible, doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea.  For steels like AEB-L or CPM154, that hardness is on the edge of performance - and while it's nice to have good edge retention, it would be a shame if your blade chipped out in use - or even if the new owner couldn't sharpen such a hard blade and just gave up on it.

Things like edge retention are largely what sets our craft apart from the products from the big box store, but there are other pathways to performance other than hardness.  Alloy selection, cryogenics and edge geometry come to mind. 

Just wanted to suggest that reaching the max capability of an alloy is good - but can also be risky.  Just my opinion though.  Thanks for reading.