Knife Making

Why Steel?


Ever since I was a kid I wondered why most tools were made of some type of steel. A quick search online will show you I am not alone. It is a common and legitimate question. So why are most hand held tools (including weapons) made out of some type of iron based alloy otherwise known as steel? The answer is multifaceted but there is one reason in particular that stands out to this author.


Cost. Iron is cheaper than any of other the other base metals than could be considered for cutting and pounding. Seriously, go to a scrap yard. See how much you get for your steel scrap and then see how much you get per weight for your aluminum cans . . . and that is aluminum. Copper, titanium, magnesium, and just about every other metal up for consideration is more costly that aluminum or steel.


Workability. It took me until I got older to truly appreciate this one. Iron is easier than most metals/alloys to work with. The knowledge and tooling to do so is readily available (partly because of the above reason).  It is true that a few other metals are as easy, or even easier, to work with but most of those are not hard enough or strong enough for most applications.


Versatility. Steel is the most versatile alloy man currently uses. Depending on the alloying elements and the treating processes used, the characteristics of the steel produced vary greatly. The main element of iron remains the same but the changes to it make all the difference.
The above would be enough to explain why steel is so prevalent. Cost is king for just about everything and even if steel was not ideal, it would still be the go to alloy for the price. But there is another huge reason why steel is so prevalent for most things hand held:

Optimum Density

Iron is the Goldilocks element weight and volume wise. When you here that aluminum, titanium, or some other alloy/metal is stronger (usually tensile strength) it is so by weight. However, you can pack a lot more steel into a tiny space than you can most alloys for consideration.

There are a few exceptions. Molybdenum and Tungsten are “heavier” by volume. However, they are too dense/heavy and are much more costly.

Various brass and bronze alloys come fairly close to steel in terms of density (slightly heavier). Which is why bronze and brass are decent candidates for certain jobs. There was a Bronze Age. But even the hardest (heated treated) bronzes only compare to mild steels. And while not as expensive as titanium or tungsten, copper is still far more expensive than iron.

Titanium is often put forth in terms of knife and sword making. Just like bronze and even glass – it has it merits. It is non-magnetic, has excellent corrosion resistance, has an excellent strength to weight ratio, and its density is much closer to optimum (still light) for hand held objects. Here is an article that helped me on my metallurgic journey:

It does a good job explaining why titanium (and hence other materials) is usually not the right pick for a blade. The points made therein carry over to other hand held weapons and tools.

Simply put the answer is certain materials for certain jobs. For really small parts, tungsten might work (maybe even a part of a tool – say a spike). For a really big contraption, like an airplane, steel is too “heavy” or rather too dense. It is why those steel framed cars of yesteryear got under ten miles to the gallon. It is why the dinosaurs had hollow bones and the largest mammals live in the sea. Physics matters.

TTAK readers are fairly astute so much of what I just wrote is old hat. Sometimes though it bares repeating especially for those who have heard and seen these points mentioned before but never connected the dots. Steel meets the requirements better than most materials and probably will for some time. And what discussion on steel would be complete without the first stanza of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Cold Iron”:

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —

Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.”

“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

5 From the Grinder

5 From The Grinder with Karl B. Andersen, ABS Journeyman Smith

I am used to no one spelling my last name correctly. It’s the curse of my Norwegian ancestry. So naturally, while perusing the list of exhibitors at BLADE Show 2017, my eyes were drawn to one Andersen Forge. I’m glad I walked over, because the artistry of the knives that Karl Andersen had brought was fantastic to behold. Thankfully, I asked and he agreed to contribute to our 5 From The Grinder series. Without further ado… Continue Reading


Police Officer Stabbed by Man Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ at Flint, MI Airport


NBC News: Feds looking into Flint airport stabbing as ‘possible act of terrorism‘ as the story is headed. Wonder what their first clue was?

Police say an airport officer was stabbed in the neck Wednesday morning at Bishop International Airport in Flint.

The officer was taken to the hospital. Michigan State Police said the officer is in critical condition. However, his condition has been upgraded to stable.

The suspect has been taken into custody.

The FBI is leading the investigation. The Flint City Hall began operating under heightened security in an abundance of caution after the incident.

Good to know.

Fixed Blades

New From DoubleStar: Drakon Personal Defense Blade

Winchester, Ky. (June 2017) – DoubleStar Corp, manufacturers of high-quality, US-made AR components, rifles and pistols, is proud to announce the release of its new Drakon™ Blade.

Coated in DoubleStar’s Dragon Hyde™ DLC coating, the Drakon Blade was created with one thing in mind: to wreak havoc. The scalloped beveled edge allows this blade to slice through the heaviest textiles with ease. The finger loop ensures secure retention throughout the cut. The Drakon comes with a Kydex sheath with Tek Lok. It’s made in the USA and comes with a warranty.

Drakon Blade Specifications:

Weight Rigged:                  9.6 oz.
Blade Weight Alone:          6.6 oz.
Length Rigged:                  8.75″
Width Rigged:                   3.5″
Blade Length:                   8.25″
Blade Width:                    1.625″
MSRP:                              $177.21

The Drakon Blade is part of DoubleStar’s Hydra Edged Weapons Line, which has been designed by martial arts practitioner, Rob Cabrera, who is DoubleStar’s new director of its Edged Weapons Division, as well as owner of Filo Bladeworks.

About DoubleStar Corp.:

DoubleStar Corp., located in Winchester, Kentucky, was formed when customers of J&T Distributing, a leading manufacturer and supplier of thousands of AR15 parts and accessories, requested complete rifles and pistols crafted from the same high-quality, U.S.-made components. DoubleStar now supplies not only the commercial market but military and law enforcement forces across the world with rugged and dependable firearms.

Knife Stories

BLADE Show: There Are No Words. Or Are There?

[Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Todd Hunt of T.M. Hunt Custom Knives to our ranks. He has previously given us 5 From The Grinder and helped us find the best steel, but today he makes his full-length editorial debut on our pages. Please extend him a warm welcome and enjoy the read]

The beginning of June is a lot of different things for a lot of people. Here in southern Indiana summer is in full force. Farmers are planting their crops. The smell of neighbors grilling out and the constant hum of lawnmowers is so commonplace it almost goes unnoticed. My sons baseball season is in mid-season while my daughters swim practices are ramping up again.

But the first part of June is so much more for a certain group of like minded people and chances are if you are reading this, you are one of them. I am of coarse talking about the one and only BLADE Show held in Atlanta Ga. every year in the first weekend of June.

Continue Reading