Knife Steel Guide & Chart

We give you an overview of the various steel types available on the market. Below we gathered the most popular steels and graded them in a user-friendly chart.

 

Steel Type

Carbon Steel is the most popular for artisan fabricated knives. It is known to be extremely sharp and retain an edge very well. While the increase in carbon seems more attractive, it's also more brittle. In additional, it's important to note that high-carbon steel knives will develop "patina" and are prone to rust if not maintained properly.

Stainless Steel is the most popular for added rust resistance and ease of maintenance. A very common steel used for the majority of the home kitchen knives due to it's lower cost. Stainless Steel will usually be softer and won't hold an edge to the same extreme as Carbon Steel.

Semi Stainless Steel is less common. The process used is to increase the chromium levels of high carbon steel making it Semi Stainless. This still time is still prone to rust if not maintained properly.

Clad Steel is not a steel type but worth being listed. The process is to crush a Carbon Steel core onto a Stainless Steel face making the core sharp and the face rust resistant.

Rust Resistant

Yes it will require less maintenance and if you forget to wipe down your blade, aside from perhaps the rare surface rust, it will not rust the actual metal.

No prone to built rust if not dried and maintained. For those, it's highly recommended to even oil the blades to remove them from the exposure of humidity.

Steel Hardness (HRC)

Steel hardness is often achieved by the heat threat and can vary for many for the same steel type, the below chart is a +/- estimate of the Hardness Rockwell C.

Low HRC: Under 55 
Medium HRC: Between 55 and 60

High HRC: Above 60

Sharpening Friendly

Sharpening steel can be a quite complex discussion, below we tried to simplify the friendliness of sharpening by creating 3 general buckets for an easier comprehension.

Red is difficult to sharpen and achieve a good burr. While it's not impossible, it might take more time and effort.

Yellow is challenging for beginners to properly sharpen however with a bit of practice you can master the process.

Green is easy to create a burr in a shorter amount of time with minimal pressure.