Companies need to start issuing verified third-party HRC tests.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Comeuppance, Jun 27, 2019.

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  1. T.L.E. Sharp

    T.L.E. Sharp Oatmeal Pecan is better than Chocolate-chip. Platinum Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    I kind of agree.

    Case's trusharp is about as hard as the butter knives in my kitchen, but they'll still get sharp and cut stuff. Sharpening it, while more frequent, takes about 30 seconds.

    It annoys me that the market seems to be moving away from edge retention for some reason. We keep seeing new steels, but we rarely see a real performance increase.

    I know I can trust Spyderco's numbers because Sal's a steel nerd and would likely throw out an entire batch of blades rather than selling them with a poor HT. I know I can trust Rockstead because their ridiculous HRC is half of their sales model. I figure I can probably trust customs that were treated by Peters...

    Sounds like plenty of options to me. I'll just buy those.
  2. coinbuysell

    coinbuysell Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 29, 2014
    This is exactly where I was going, shows the relevance of relying too much on HRC without at least as much regard to steel type, geometry, etc. I get there is a "sweet" spot for most steels but imho this HRC issue has gotten WAY out of hand.

    I guess that this does show that it is possible to check every knife without much added cost (unless this guy would have been free w/o the testing) :confused:
    danbot likes this.
  3. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    For the knife in this thread, the hardness actually is whatever the Rune reading was. :D

    It hardened most of the areas I wanted...tested with a file.
    It's hard getting an optimal heat treat with a hole in the ground filled with charcoal, and a hairdryer to blow air in. ;)

    My other knives were heat treated professionally at an industrial heat-treater with decades of experience.
    It's nice knowing they are at 57 Rockwell like I wanted.

    Of course, when I made this and had it heat-treated...

    ...they couldn't get a good hardness reading because no place on the blade is flat, and the handle has some weird coating from the annealing material that melted on. So is it 57 Rockwell? Maybe...time for more Runes perhaps?

    Funny thing is, the original knife I heat-treated myself (differentially hardened at that) has seen more insane abuse than any other knife I own for many years. It has been a trusted camping companion many times (and demolition tool around the house at times).

    Hardness is an important attribute (although I don't want it too hard at the expense of strength), and if the manufacturer provides a range it should fall in that range (ranges allow for variation within limits). However, the entire knife is more than just the steel used, hardness achieved, or handle material.

    But hey, I say go for it on hardness testing for those with the cash for knives and testing equipment. :thumbsup:
    I mean, why not?
    danbot and Banter 247 like this.
  4. PirateSeulb


    Jun 6, 2017
    Besides M390 I haven't seen or heard many major issues with the majority of blades and their HT coming from some of the companies blasted here ie LionSteel. I am not trying to poke holes in the ship but M390 isn't all that new why has this crying foul come so late. Most all the content I am seeing regarding this is all from 2019 yet the LionSteel Roundhead came out it in 2017 iirc and LionSteel and many other names listed have been using it since before that knife came out. We need to see to the problem but we must examine where the problem is stemming from. Do we know who is doing the HT for these particularly those that fail to meet expectations? I expect any outsourced work particularly if it is part of a long standing working relationship to mostly be accepted as meeting specifications just as we currently expect a knife sold as 59-60 HRC to be as state and most don't send theirs out for testing.

    For the idea OP put forth it is interesting but I am skeptical of implementation mostly due to working in politics and knowing that even when rules and regulations are put forth those who wish to deceive and skirt those rules and regulations will find a way around them. The old saying where there is a will there is a way so a company lacking the morals and wishing to deceive for a boost to profits will find a way to do just that.

    I am slightly biased as I find myself partial to many of the Italian knives which seem to be the ones taking a lot of heat and understandably as they have typically been very well respected up till now. I don't doubt that they have some M390 issues and I want them fixed. I do hesitate when I look at some of their models I seek that are in M390 but I am still trusting them with the steels they have been using for longer.
    danbot likes this.
  5. danbot

    danbot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    I'm glad I didn't TL;DR this post. I agree wholeheartedly.
    palonej likes this.
  6. HappyDaddy

    HappyDaddy Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    I am unashamedly nothing more than a collector of knives that I like because of how they look, feel, and sound. I doubt that I have a single knife that I have used to cut something more than 50 times. For me, this debate is akin to demanding that fountain pen makers test and report the gold content of their nibs. If I like the way it looks, feels, and writes, I don’t GAF what the gold content of the nib might be. YMwill clearlyV.
  7. marrenmiller

    marrenmiller Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    Higher hardness doesn't just buy higher wear resistance. It also allows for greater edge stability, so you can run lower angles without failure.
    willc, AmosPaul and Edgeoflife like this.
  8. Converge


    Oct 4, 2014
    I can do HRC testing at work for free. Though the blade would be destroyed as I would need to section it to get a sample to mount it for our tester. Though it would be possible to simply cut a small section off the end of the blade leaving the rest to be reprofiled to a different shape. I guess if anyone's interested let me know.....
  9. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Please document the "lower than advertised" Rockwell test results. Do you have data or do you just "think it is low".

    For a number of years, I had access to the Rockwell tester in the lab at work. The chief metallurgist was a friend and let me test knives. I never found a hardness that was out of spec.
  10. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    They’re documented here:

    Most of the testing done has yielded in-range hits, like yours.
    marrenmiller likes this.
  11. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary

    Jan 12, 2013
    Aye, a few companies - Kizer and Lionsteel - have a poor track record on that spreadsheet, albeit with an abysmal sample size that makes it hard to really draw conclusions. That said, the few data points they do have are alarming. M390 seems to be the steel that the most companies miss the target range with.

    I think Spyderco has the most data points and a very high in-spec rate.
  12. John_0917


    Apr 15, 2014
    I bet Spyderco would do this if not for the cost and also the incessant requests they would get for “special runs” at different hardness...

    As to softness, I was not surprised when the S35VN LA police gear folder came in extremely soft, I knew they had to have cut corners somewhere, obviously HT was it!
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  13. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    Per Sal’s comments on related matters elsewhere, they’re not planning on publishing advertised ranges. They have done occasional in house testing, and shared that. They’re doing a stand up job at Spyderco, though. Their commitment is evident.
    Mo2 likes this.
  14. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    As someone who uses their knives similarly as well as a collector and user of fountain pens, I agree with this 1,000%.
  15. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    I think some of the problems with the low ht is that the hrc testers they are using aren't calibrated correctly or they are and there is something wrong as it's not tested VS another machine that is properly working and calibrated. Hence why some companies have now upgraded hrc testing equipment based off the results from the spreadsheet here. There machine may show 60hrc but in actuality they are 58hrc. And with the performance testing we're seeing, it's showing its probably the case in some of these instances.

    Other issue is the knife companies don't know 58hrc is low for the steel. They just know it's m390. And they are providing a steel that's popular. Or they were recommended that hrc because it's basic ht for a different market. And they do no research into heat treatment for that steel in cutlery.
  16. HappyDaddy

    HappyDaddy Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    I went down the fountain pen road for a while too. It got too expensive, so I switched to knives. Funny how similar the experience has been. Won’t belabor it here, but I’d bet we could commiserate on the similarities.
    Quiet likes this.
  17. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    Now that's a claim that absolutely requires evidence. Which companies aren't researching the steel? What evidence do you have to support that?
  18. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    Everything lionsteel has commented thus far has provided me with that suggestion, they go off of what bohler told them to do. Which is a ht based on stamps and tool and die industry. So they seem to think there is zero other ways to make this steel.

    But I'm fairly certain they don't do alot of testing in general in China. I mean I've seen no proof of it. They mostly have someone else do there ht. They have to trust its done right.

    I know spyderco test alot. It's a general statement of the wide base of knife cutlery companies not just one in particular.

    If you want to belive that every company has tried Hardness ranges between 58 and 62 and did performance testing and user testing on the steels, you'll be sadly mistaken.
    marrenmiller likes this.
  19. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    A suggestion isn't evidence.
    palonej and marcinek like this.
  20. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    Wait. You've decided that LionSteel saying they heat treat it per the steel manufacturer's recommended protocol means they know nothing about heat treatment? Do you understand how ridiculous that is? The knife industry isn't a huge market segment for steel manufacturers, but if you think that Bohler doesn't know how to treat their own steel for blades I honestly don't know what to say.
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