An Introduction to Knife Blade Steel
There is a plethora of information about knives and knife blade steel available on the web and elsewhere, written by experts far more knowledgeable than I. My intent here is to provide some basic, perhaps rudimentary, information on what qualities you, as a prospective purchaser, ought to look for in a knife.
It goes without saying, although I'll say it anyway, that the prices of knives are as diverse as the number of knife models and styles available. Do not let price alone be a deciding factor ... there are as many great values available for a quality knife as there are overpriced knives of undesirable quality.
There are many factors that influence a knife's overall quality, and many of those factors are inter-related with other elements of the knife. A well crafted knife, made of good materials, properly utilized and maintained, can last a lifetime, without costing a fortune.
So as a prospective buyer, you must ask yourself what are you going to use the knife for? No knife will do everything; some knives are extremely specialized, while others are great choices for all-around duties. So your first task is to ask what purpose(s) will the knife be used for? Then, when looking at a knife, ask: for what purpose is this knife best suited?
Our task here is to clarify the elements of a knife, and to describe the different options of those elements, and why certain characteristics – especially the knife blade steel – lend themselves better to specific applications.
We will need to isolate the components of a knife, and describe the varieties of options for each of them. We'll begin with the Knife Blade Steel itself. Future articles will speak to other important considerations such as Knife Geometry, Blade Shapes and Styles, Blade Edge Styles, Folders and Non-Folders, etc.