What Steels Do You Avoid?

We are truly living in a golden age for cutlery. There is a knife out there for everyone. From the working poor to the well-heeled collector, there are worthwhile and useful knives at every price point across the spectrum. Which leads to this question: since we are spoiled for choice, what steels out there aren’t worth your time?

I know my choice. To paraphrase a knifemaker friend of mine, (who shall remain nameless for the sake of keeping the peace) D2 has no business as a knife steel whatsoever.

D2 has a reputation of being difficult to sharpen… a reputation rightly earned. My own experiences have certainly borne that out – most notably when I had to reprofile an uneven edge on a Smith & Sons Pioneer. Rockwell hardness on that knife was admittedly very high, but even with power tools it took me nearly 3 hours to get the job done!

And it just isn’t worth the trade-off. How does the saying go? “D2 takes a crappy edge and holds it forever?” With the steels available to us now, I say “Why bother?”

In the days when 440C was considered a super steel, D2 may have had a place, but today it is just more trouble than it is worth. I truly think the only reason D2 is able to persist the way it has is because of the name recognition.

For all the above, I just have no desire to own another D2 knife.

Are there steels out there that turn you off of a particular knife?



  1. firehawk308 says:

    There’s nothing on my “do not buy” list, but I pay close attention to price vs steel. $125 for an AUS-8 folder? Pass.

  2. I just don’t use any steel that will rust, period. 440C hasn’t got much in it, nor do any of the low alloy stainless steels below 1% carbon. I put the most effort into forging a blade and I expect the most out of it, and my customers do the same.

  3. Sam L. says:

    I avoid the ones too expensive for me.

  4. reese says:

    D2 for sure! There is one out there selling for over 3 Benjamins!!

  5. William Burke says:

    Anything beginning with 8Cr. There is just nothing worthwhile about this steel. It relegates any knife that uses it to junk.

  6. Prepper says:

    CrMo or AUS-8 or 420/440 anything. I also don’t light my house with coal gas, wear spats, or write with a quill pen. I understand that some people are very poor, but I refuse to lower myself to buying a knife at Walmart. I’d rather use my TEETH or borrow a REAL knife.

  7. cmeat says:

    lotta haters, join the club. i don’t mind having to dry and oil a carbon blade. stainless properties are pretty far down my list of desirable knife steel attributes. muslin or bamboo over silk linens, though. having said that the big deal ss stuff is so tough and durable that it is hard to reconcile anything else for most users.
    d.a. has been disparaging d2 for some time now. mine hold up well once they are sharp. getting them there is more effort than m390, s35v or 154cm, but only the latter has ever chipped from use (555 gript). i’d like to try some s90v. i’m okay with 12c27sandvik and i would only hesitate on aus8.
    but yeah, the 8cr’s and 440’s i’d pass on as well as vg10.

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What Steels Do You Avoid?

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