There are more than 150 types and grades of stainless steel. Though only ten are commonly used, the unique metal is made from some of the basic elements found in the earth. Iron ore, chromium, silicon, nickel, carbon, nitrogen, and manganese are key ingredients of the most popular varieties. Specific properties of the final alloy are tailored by varying the amounts of these elements.
At Austin Legacy Knives, we regularly source five U.S. suppliers for more than seven specific types of stainless material. In addition, there is a totally different provider for the Damascus product. In order to assure you the finest custom knife available as a finished product, the varied shapes, lengths, and thicknesses of the blades we offer—in addition to how they will be used—require different steel compositions.
Those compositions are listed with each knife, but for your enjoyment, brief explanations of some of the more obscure terms are provided below.
440C is considered a high-end stainless steel. It is very resistant to corrosion and is one of the most common stainless alloys used for knife making. 440C has highest carbon content in 440 group.
9Cr MoV is a steel designate with an exceptional level of carbon similar to 440, but with higher cobalt and vanadium content to add more strength and less flexibility to the blade.
High Carbon Steel has a composition of 0.55%-0.95% carbon and 0.30%-0.90% manganese which gives this blend a hardness and strength with an ability to hold “shape memory” well. In other words, High Carbon Steel is ideally suited to holding an edge when sharpened.
Cryogenic Steel is created by cooling the final shape of the steel to extremely low (cryogenic) temperatures, about -310 degrees. This removes residual stresses and improves wear resistance on the steel. And while all stainless steels are corrosion resistant, Cryogenic steel is especially so. In addition, though it retains the flexibility needed for a filet knife, the Cryogenic Steel is by far the hardest of any metal we drill for handle pins.
Damascus Steel is made by welding together slices of different types of steel, this is then heated and pounded down into the correct shape. Sometimes in order to give more layers to the steel, once it is pounded down it will be folded over, which doubles the layers. This can be done many times. The different types of steel and pounding down the layers give Damascus steel its unique and brilliant patterns.