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PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades

03 May 2017
@ 02:27 pm (GMT)

G. Woodsman

Does anyone have any experience with PSF27 or VG10 steel in a knife blade? I've found a few comments in this forum regarding VG10, and it seems like a good stainless option, but I can't seem to find much at all about PSF27. It is apparently a spray-formed steel with 1.55% carbon, so I guess that would qualify it as a carbon steel, but it also has 12% chromium, not far from what would be considered stainless, so I'm wondering if it's some kind of hybrid. Seems like it might be a decent compromise between stainless and carbon for a hunting/survival knife. Or maybe the concept of a hybrid just doesn't make much sense in a knife? I never guessed that the number of different versions of steel available could be so dizzying, but certainly very interesting.

Replies

13 May 2017
@ 02:26 pm (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Have you thought about contacting Warrick Edmonds at Riflebird Knives? He's a true artisan, and could probably help you with what you need. Lots of guys think that they have to have stainless when something like 52100 carbon steel might fit the bill. I like the 52100 because it sharpens up really easy, and I mean sharp.

Have you looked at RWL34? I like it because it polishes up really good. Just a thought or two. Have a good one!
14 May 2017
@ 11:21 am (GMT)

Warrick Edmonds

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
G.Woodsman

Lane contacted me and said you had a question, thanks Lane.

From what I can gather PSF27 is very similar to D2, as you say a hybrid between stainless and carbon. I haven't worked PSF27 but have had poor results with D2. It demands a lot from heat treating to get it working well. I know others who love D2, so there is personal opinion involved. But my view, from experience is that like all compromises it is just a compromise! I have used VG10 and find it quite good. It can heat treat to quite hard so carries its edge well. Often it's the central core of Japanese style san-mi blades, where the cladding of stainless adds toughness to the otherwise brittle core. Also, for a while it was the darling of the folder collectors.

In general, the battle between stainless and carbon steels was made null and void with the advent of modern martensitic steels or particle formed steels. When you get to the top end of these products, made by Damasteel of Sweden or Crucible of USA or Bohler Uddeholm or Hitachi of Japan (for examples you can Google) you end up debating minute differences. I've used many of them and they all very good and the choice comes down to fine details, which may include price. They don't come cheap! A raw bar of RWL34 or CPMS35VN is around $300/meter

So, my personal preference as a knife maker and also as a hunter who uses knives is to avoid the compromises inherent in hybrids because the martensitic steels are so much better. However if you like carbon there is a beauty called 52100 which is fantastic, I use it a lot.

yours
Warrick Edmonds
Riflebirdknives.com
14 May 2017
@ 04:20 pm (GMT)

G. Woodsman

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Thank you Lane and Warrick for the ideas. I found some more of the old threads on this site regarding knife steels as well as your web site Warrick, and they are all packed with great info.

What prompted me to ask about PSF27 is that Gayle Bradley, the Texas custom knife maker, has collaborated with Spyderco on a couple of fixed blade factory knives using that steel, which he speaks very highly of, saying he finds it much better than D2 due to different way it is made. I also found an extensive thread on bladeforums where some of the early users liked it a lot.

Of the steels you both recommended I don't see a lot of them in factory knives where I'm at (U.S.) except the occasional VG10. Is that because the others you mentioned (52100, RWL34, CPMS35VN, etc.) are utilized more in custom knives? And is that due primarily to cost? I had planned on getting a good quality factory hunting knife, but I must admit that all the reading about knife steels is making me think a bit about the custom possibilities.

Also, most of what I found about RWL34 seems to suggest it mainly for kitchen knives. Is there some reason why it couldn't also make a good hunting knife?

Never thought when I started out that I would get in this deep with knife steels, but I must admit I find it kind of addicting. Interesting stuff.
14 May 2017
@ 05:48 pm (GMT)

Warrick Edmonds

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Frankly, I find most things better than D2, so I'm not surprised Gayle does too. But as I said in the previous post one man's poison is another man's treasure, so without any trouble at all you can find someone who thinks the exact opposite to me. But, D2 is around one quarter the price of the high end steels which is telling you something.

Regards RWL34, the main reason you see it in culinary knives is that it lasts in the kitchen environment better than any other steel I've come across, especially when it's polished. I've got cooks knives I made in 2004 that have had hard daily use in our family kitchen and they still have a serious polish. It's also easy to sharpen which is an attractive asset for regular use knives. There's no reason it can't make a good field knife as well. From a makers point of view RWL34 is a gem, it grinds to shape consistently and easily and doesn't miss-behave during heat treating.

Why are you not seeing these steels in consumer knives? Well you can find them if you look around, but be prepared to shell out the folding stuff. Yes, cost is a factor but the factory makers are using more and more of the good stuff in their high end product. You are also seeing special proprietary steels popping up here and there, milled just for one of the factory makers. But keep in mind, by the time you're forking out for one of these special factory jobs you're probably talking the same money as a custom knife.

To give you some perspective. raw bar 440C and ATS34, two factory standbys, cost in the $100/meter range whereas RWL34 and the like are three times that. Damascus is an order of magnitude above that again. Damasteel stainless damascus, as one example, is around $1200/meter and the more common production run carbon damascus from USA are in the $30/inch sort of range.

Talking high quality steel in general. Can you tell the difference in performance, hell yeah. But that depends mostly on the quality of heat treating. Without good HT, (and if you can, cryo-treatment) it doesn't matter what steel you use.
14 May 2017
@ 07:51 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
G. Tell Warrick what you want in a knife and I bet you he'll make you a fantastic work/hunting knife that will last for a lifetime as long as you don't loose it.
15 May 2017
@ 04:41 pm (GMT)

G. Woodsman

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
I may do that. I've been looking through some of the photos on Warrick's Rifflebird site and that is some fine looking work. I already have a larger big game fixed blade and a smaller folder, both factory jobs which are functional but with cheaper steel and certainly not custom quality. What I'm looking for now is a fixed blade on the smaller side that I can use for small game hunting (things like grouse, rabbit, and snowshoe hare in the western U.S. where I live). I'll be just starting out small game hunting this fall when the season starts so I'm still trying to figure out what will work best. A nice blade for the kitchen would be tempting too. Thanks Warrick for the info. I'm still going through all the info/pics on your web site and will definitely be in touch if I decide to go the custom route.
15 May 2017
@ 10:18 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
If you're looking for a small game knife you can't ignore the Victorinox pairing knifes. They're sharp! Easy to carry. hygienic, easy to sharpen when someone cuts on the stainless steel bench with it!!!!! Use a diamond stone. You can shave with them if you're stupidly brave! Buy 4 of them. .... because your wife will want one, her mum and your mum too. which leaves you with your one. I know guy's who skin and bone a whole deer with them.

https://www.victorinox.com/global/en/Products/Cutlery/Paring-Knives/Swiss-Classic-Paring-Knife-10-cm/p/6.7703

No offense to the fantastic craftsmanship required to make a life long hunting tool. Just that for $8.00 dollars you get a lot of use.....
16 May 2017
@ 04:22 pm (GMT)

Warrick Edmonds

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Funny thing knives. A bloke will spend as much as he can possibly afford on the 'perfect' rifle, then put in days at the range honing the hand load and maybe a few grand on the hunting trip itself. And yet the knife is a $8 Chinese jobby? I see the same thing with culinary knives, though it's changing rapidly as cooking becomes the new black. The dining table, the fancy plates and glasses, the oven and kitchen, it all costs thousands and yet the knife they use on the roast, the tool they use to prepare every meal of every day for years cost less than the bottle of wine served with dinner.

There are very few areas of life we elect to buy goods just for the sake of utility. Do you just wear nothing but pinafore overalls, do you drive a Tata Nano? Why would you want your knife to be the exception, the one facet where you tough it out?

So, yep, you can skin a red deer with a box cutter but do you want to? I thought this whole hunting thing was supposed to be for the pleasure of it. There is a certain satisfaction comes from owning and using high quality tools. It's where the smile comes from.

There are some very good production run knives out there, If you're not after a custom one then look into those, I reckon you'll enjoy your experience a lot more than if you settled for some cheap disposable dross.
16 May 2017
@ 07:45 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Warrick ,you make a good point re cheap knives. over on another Kiwi forum there is a thread with something like 200 pages/3500 posts all about Bacho knives. they sell for between $6-15 and they come in a nifty wee plastic sheath. thereis one in each of my vechiles,haved dressed out 2 deer and a pig with one without needing more than a quick steel between animals.
funny thing is same knife with mora brand on it sells for $40-60 same knife,same sheath,same steel......
mercator folders are another that are great cheap reliable blades.
if money wasnt an issue I would have a custom knife...but is is so I dont.....quite happy with good quality knives I have,the peasant knife from svord is one of my favourites and that cost me nothing as it was picked up in a gateway.
16 May 2017
@ 11:37 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
You are right with every word Warrick. I guess it comes down to knowledge and personal choices. How many guys have you met who can't sharpen a knife. Or F#@k one trying. Growing up on a farm sharpening tools and fixing things was taught and needed in many ways. I have a freezing works skinning knife that's been reshaped to halfway between a boning and skinning knife. It works for me and I found it In a wrecked car. Horses for course's I guess. Your craftsmanship and awesome knifes are Fine Tools. Being caught in a jam without a knife is probably the worst thing ever. Two river rocks smashed together gave me a sharp edge to gut a trout for supper as a teenager. I remember thinking This must be how cavemen did it.!
17 May 2017
@ 10:53 am (GMT)

Warrick Edmonds

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Mike and Warwick, reading your replies does make me realize I'm coming at it from my urban cowboy point of view. There is an old saying, "the best knife you own is the one you have with you when you need it"
17 May 2017
@ 12:26 pm (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
HI guys very interest read.
On the sharpening knives side of things Warrick recommended a book called " the razor edge book of sharpening" that book changed everything.
My wife complains about using other people's kitchen knives now, I have friends asking me to sharpen their knives.
Have done few chisels for work mates but I try to keep that quiet as it can be a time consuming process.
I do use a meat works style knife that I reshaped to meat my needs for both pig hunting and deer hunting.
It does the job but when I was reshaping it is when I realized just how soft they are.
It works well but you got to keep on top of the edge.

There is a discussion somewhere on here about knives and one of the factory ones that came up being a good option was a laminated falkinver or something like that.

18 May 2017
@ 06:11 am (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Quote:
If you're looking for a small game knife you can't ignore the Victorinox pairing knifes. They're sharp! Easy to carry. hygienic, easy to sharpen when someone cuts on the stainless steel bench with it!!!!! Use a diamond stone. You can shave with them if you're stupidly brave! Buy 4 of them. .... because your wife will want one, her mum and your mum too. which leaves you with your one. I know guy's who skin and bone a whole deer with them.

https://www.victorinox.com/global/en/Products/Cutlery/Paring-Knives/Swiss-Classic-Paring-Knife-10-cm/p/6.7703

No offense to the fantastic craftsmanship required to make a life long hunting tool. Just that for $8.00 dollars you get a lot of use.....


Warwick, I was in a shop yesterday and found a supply of these Victorianox pairing knives and bought 5 of them. All passed the paper test right from their box,but I did tweak them each a bit more. Very impressive for $11.95 Canadian funds for each, plus our taxes. I never did shop around either since I visited a dozen stores before finding any.
20 May 2017
@ 01:15 pm (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Quote:
Funny thing knives. A bloke will spend as much as he can possibly afford on the 'perfect' rifle, then put in days at the range honing the hand load and maybe a few grand on the hunting trip itself. And yet the knife is a $8 Chinese jobby? I see the same thing with culinary knives, though it's changing rapidly as cooking becomes the new black. The dining table, the fancy plates and glasses, the oven and kitchen, it all costs thousands and yet the knife they use on the roast, the tool they use to prepare every meal of every day for years cost less than the bottle of wine served with dinner.

There are very few areas of life we elect to buy goods just for the sake of utility. Do you just wear nothing but pinafore overalls, do you drive a Tata Nano? Why would you want your knife to be the exception, the one facet where you tough it out?

So, yep, you can skin a red deer with a box cutter but do you want to? I thought this whole hunting thing was supposed to be for the pleasure of it. There is a certain satisfaction comes from owning and using high quality tools. It's where the smile comes from.

There are some very good production run knives out there, If you're not after a custom one then look into those, I reckon you'll enjoy your experience a lot more than if you settled for some cheap disposable dross.


Warrick,

As you well know, I agree with you. I'm a practical fellow, but a really, really good knife is something that is necessary if you hunt a lot. Just like one really, really good rifle/scope, good boots, etc. so it is with knives.

I could afford one custom knife and I shopped everywhere. Ended up purchasing a hunter/skinner made from stone washed 52100 carbon steel, and a handle made of budgeroo burl from Warrick. If I ever get another knife it will be another one from Warrick.

Not sure if Nathan will allow too much more in the way of an endorsement, so I'll stop now, but I'm glad I purchased it.
21 May 2017
@ 05:04 am (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
I agree with Lane, for certain. I already own a dozen custom knives for hunting uses. Several will likely not see blood as they are display queens. My favourite knife has done three elk and two moose and I can still shave with it. Very nice stuff and a pleasure to own them.

These knives mentioned by Warwick are too lightweight for the heavy stuff, but I like them for caping and other fine work. They do indeed get sharp with little work and so far hold an edge well.
21 May 2017
@ 07:44 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
I gave a VG10 knife to a friend for xmas a couple of years back. He had been helping edit the Shooting book so it was the least I could do. This knife is still going well.

I am currently using my Warrick Edmunds knife and thats probably how it will remain for me.

I went out last night with my hunting buddy Kelvin. It was a wet day, hard rain in the early part of the day but it eased up to showers and sleet later. We got into position in the evening and no sooner had I pulled out the binos, I found a pig and it was all on. The wind was terrible, plus the rain and sleet. I kept an ongoing dialogue of wind and range as the young boar moved from spot to spot, each position too dicey for a good shot but I needed to stay in the zone if we were to be successful in this weather. Kelvin was using the same rifle he used in the Precsision Platforms vid, but now with the 225gr ELD-M.

As the sun came down, it flared the lens, made worse by head on sleet. We covered and uncovered the rifle often, to ensure the muzzle would be protected. How I would have loved a brew of coffee in the cold but again, I needed to stay on task.

Finally the sun passed over the ridge, the wind backed off for a moment and the boar turned broadside, bang, holy hell that hit hard. Nice shot Kelvin.

By the time we got to the pig, my hands were numb. I removed its piston, ring gear and ball bearings and gutted it. We did the autopsy (necropsy is the correct term for animals), but then had to discard the front end as the ELD-M did not leave anything remaining from the center shoulder shot. No surprises there. To remove the front end, I cleaved straight through the spine in one good whack with the big knife Warrick had made for me. Job done, off home in the dark. When kelvin gets out of bed soon, he will singe the remainder and prep it for rib meals while the legs will probably become Thai red curry which we both agree is a great way to flavor 'gamey' wild pork.

It was freezing weather and it was good to get the job done quickly with what I had asked Warrick to create for me- a general purpose bush knife design, 52100. This one has some weight in the front of the knife so it has momentum in the blade if I swing it, holding it by the rear of the handle. A large blade takes some getting used to but it can be done and work can be carried out tidily with due care.
21 May 2017
@ 08:15 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
I should mention, if we are killing sheep for the extended family, the Victorinox dulls off first, the Green river next while I get through the entire day with Warrick's knife and just a few licks on a steel. I don't know what is wrong with our older Vic knives but they would cause an RSI if we were to keep using them. My father in law has put aside the Vic and uses the Green River while I use the Edmunds blade. A friend who works in a boning room complained about the same some years back. He spoke about the switch from carbon to stainless and how stainless caused many RSI's at that time.

But as Warrick said, the steels have evolved. Our Vic knives may be different to what is about today. Alas, once bitten...
21 May 2017
@ 12:18 pm (GMT)

Warrick Edmonds

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Hey Nathan, when you're finished with this ballistics research stuff, you should take up writing about the hunt, the next Hemingway. I was there with you and Kelvin.

I've learned something today. I never got why the old style bowie until reading what you said about swinging it through the carcass. Weight forward seemed like an extra burden to me, a lever against your wrist, something to slow your skinning strokes down, not to mention the extra mass on long walks. Now I see how you use it.

Given what is being said in the previous comments, possibly we should do that stainless experiment after all. What do you reckon?
21 May 2017
@ 03:53 pm (GMT)

Andrew Murray

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Experimentation is a great thing. Regardless of the result it's always very rewarding.[b]
21 May 2017
@ 04:21 pm (GMT)

G. Woodsman

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Pardon my ignorance, but what is RSI?

And thanks Lane for mentioning Riflebird. A gem of a find.
21 May 2017
@ 05:12 pm (GMT)

Andrew Murray

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
RSI stands for Repetitive Strain Injury. A fatigue syndrome caused by doing a type of motion over and over again.
22 May 2017
@ 07:23 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
I reckon that would be perfect Warrick. Just perfect.
22 May 2017
@ 01:14 pm (GMT)

Warrick Edmonds

Re: PSF27 and VG10 steel for knife blades
Nathan

I don't have that bowie drawing you sent me anymore, (I thought that was the one and only bowie I'd ever make, so chucked it. Smile emoji) Can you post me another sketch with dimensions etc, plus any changes you'd like to canvass. Email me if you don't have my postal address on file.

I've got some ideas for the sheath I've been working on so you should see improvement there.
 

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