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Author Topic: How Long Should A Knife Last  (Read 2042 times)
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B.K. Mains
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« on: February 21, 2012, 07:13:07 PM »

This thought skipped across my brain today as I was thinking about knives, (I do that alot... Wink ), and I just wondered, how long do you expect your knife to last? I have a razor that was made about 200 years ago and came across the ocean to the America's some way and lasted long enough to be found by me in a thrift shop display case, thrown in with a bunch of junk costume jewelry.

It is engraved with gold on the face, an eagle on steps. I can't begin to imagine the journey this blade has taken, and it will still shave you closer than any disposal if you know how to use it. All it's owners took good care of her until someone died and it ended up in this case.....

How long will a blade survive? And the other side of the question, what will cause a knife to die?

BK....... Cool    

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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 11:21:10 AM »

Good Question!

Once I was going to test an old knife to destruction, then I was told that knives made 50 years ago would probably have changed over time due to the fact that steel is kind of like glass, while it appears to be a solid, it is actually in a very slow state of change and testing an old blade would only reveal what the blade is now.

This is one of the reasons we give our blades so many thermal cycles in the hope that our blades will be stable enough that in 100 years they will not change to any significant degree.

A knife will last as long as the maker provides the potential for longevity in his treatment of the steel and handle material as well as the adhesive materials he uses. Given good care and knowledgeable development there is is no reason for one to self destruct provided the owners give them a chance.

Most knives age beyond being usable condition due to neglect.
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Dennis Mashburn
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 01:00:56 PM »

I want to make sure I am understanding this right.

Steel changes as it ages so a 50 or 100 year old knife would not perform the same as when it was new? (not counting rust or deep scratches) Does it gain or loose some elements?  Or, did I just mis understand.
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B.K. Mains
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2012, 05:26:37 PM »

Ed..........

Quote
Once I was going to test an old knife to destruction, then I was told that knives made 50 years ago would probably have changed over time due to the fact that steel is kind of like glass, while it appears to be a solid, it is actually in a very slow state of change and testing an old blade would only reveal what the blade is now.
[/color]

See, ya learn something every day here. I didn't know that until you told me Ed. So the chemical composition of the steel will change. I didn't know that. So my old Green River is what it is and it was what it was.  Smiley

That's sad in a way because we will never know what it really was like when it was new. Will the chemical tests Rex is doing give us an idea about what it was? That's the reason their being done right, so we can see if the reputation thru the west was based on a real good knife or a mass production cheap knife.....

I just don't see it though. I saw the hammer marks on the handle when I cleaned it up. I was a carpenter for 8 years, so I know what hammer blows look like, and he covered his marks with the handle. I mean I took out the brass pins, there was rust all over under that handle because once the handle broke, the elements started pouring in, highlighting the hammer blows from the forging.

I just like to look at it and admire it. I hit it some good blows when I reset the brass pins in the handle, and could of broken it then. I guess Ed's really right. Abuse and neglect are the main reasons for knives to fail.....

I would still use it though. It makes a good brushwacker....... Grin

Quote
A knife will last as long as the maker provides the potential for longevity in his treatment of the steel and handle material as well as the adhesive materials he uses.
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Now Ed, if we're going to talk about handle materials, the Greener's original wood handles couldn't make it thru the years, but in my restoration I put the extra time I had to make it look really nice and sealed. Water won't affect it for a few years, that's for sure.........

I want to ask, when you guys forge a blade, do you think it will last as long as 200 years? A hundred years? What is the place you see your blade in a hundred years from now? I never really thought about it too much until I found out I had a Greener. At it's birth, how many attended to her? How many different hands did she travel thru to arrive at the sellers table? How many since have wiped her clean, shaped her back to a fine edge, and been glad to have such a fine piece that did any job it was asked?

To me that's history, the stories of our ancestors and owning a piece of that history. I feel so fortunate to have met this blade. It reminds me that simple is best........ Smiley

BK........
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2012, 09:24:58 PM »

The chemistry will not have changed, just the structure. Retained austenite converts to martensite over time and this martensite is untempered martensite because it formed after the blade had been tempered, thus is untempered martensite.

The benefits of many thermal cycles cycles multiple quench and multiple tempering give the steel a chance for more complete transformations, therefore lessening the influence of time. The time in the household freezer provides the opportunity for developing a more highly refined blade.

Unfortunately we won't be able to live long enough to see if our theory is correct, but the probability is great due to the fact that Rex can find no measurable retained austenite in our blades.
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 08:31:58 AM »

I find this conversation very interesting, but I can't bring any kind of expert information into the mix. Still I know what I know. I know that an unused knife can get dull all by itself. I've heard explanations as to why this can happen. I can't explain the why here. It's happened to be too many times for me to doubt that is true.

When BK asked to see the tang on my Russell Green River, I hadn't seen that knife in at least 7 years. The knife was stored in it's sheath, (not a good idea). I was surprised how well it had retained it's edge, because I've had knives lose their edge in a fraction of the time. I couldn't tell you what steel was used, and I don't know if it's a better or worse knife than when it was made. I can tell you I'm impressed with this blade today. It leads me to believe Russell knew what they were doing, and were making a quality product.
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