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Picking the right steels

Posted by cKc 
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cKc
Picking the right steels
May 25, 2020 03:34PM
Why i choose the steels i do




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It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
June 01, 2020 12:11PM
Yes we need some actually more accurate measurements of ratio between cutting lifetime and time to reshapen..
It would be interesting what kind of steels would show the best ratio..

www.instagram.com/jscuttingtools
Re: Picking the right steels
June 01, 2020 03:41PM
Quote
JSCT
Yes we need some actually more accurate measurements of ratio between cutting lifetime and time to reshapen..

This is an interesting question, I have brought it up a few times and there is usually a serious backlash because people will argue :

-IF the knife isn't damaged
-IF the knife has a consistent bevel
-IF you have ideal abrasives
-IF you are of sufficient skill / experience

Then resharpening time doesn't significantly change, and I agree if all of those IF's are true. However, look at this :

[www.youtube.com]

That is ~20 mins regrinding minor damage, and while he isn't ideal, he is likely better prepared than most, and more skilled/experienced than most and it still takes him that long. If you step down the equipment/skill even a little, that time will explode.

The ideal data set would be something like :

-a wide pool of sharpeners of various skill levels
-different abrasives

And then people could look at this and kind of judge, and see something like - wow, for me, it would take 1-2 hours to sharpen that knife with just minor damage and that's a tiny knife with a tiny bevel.
cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
June 01, 2020 03:59PM
I've been bringing it up as long as i've been doing youtube and making knives, and im pretty sure i gained good traction with my viewers and people that supported my work. but the sheer fact that most youtubers, forumites etc, that discuss steels never discuss sharpening time.

OR, when they do discuss sharpening time, they dont show the time of the simpler steels that they are claiming the high carbide steels are better.

As much as people will bash Victorinox, Case, etc as being companies that haven't upped their game and are falling behind, i very much disagree.. they are keeping up with demand, victorinox being the largest knife manufacturer on Earth i believe, producing 45,000 knives a day and doing it with a knife steel formula that i suspect has the best ease of use/longevity ratio.. its not like high carbide steels that people are playing with now didn't exist way back when.. its just that they made a call on what will be practical.

i guess there would be a few factors to knife eash and longevity

1 is the effort to resharpen, or touch up..
then the wear rate increasing how often you may need to grind off more..

but then i also follow the murray carter model of thinning the primary a little each time it starts thickening so you dont degrade performance

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It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
June 01, 2020 07:03PM
I don't know how many knives they produce a day but Tramontina of Brazil has about 8.500 employees making it the largest knife manufacturer in that respect.
cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
June 02, 2020 05:50AM
Yeah that's massive

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It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
June 03, 2020 12:43AM
Great video, thanks for sharing. One comment, your vids lately seem to have very weak volume level... I find myself having to crank the videos volume extremely high just to barely hear what you're saying.
Re: Picking the right steels
June 03, 2020 02:57AM
Tramontina have this large amount of employees but is a conglomerate that produces knives, tools, kitchen utilities, etc, etc, etc, but yes, is the largest knife industry in Brasil.

Their prime lines of knives ( Century and Professional Master ) uses 1.4110/1.4116 steel, 55 to 58 Rc and very good blade geometry. Very easy to sharpen, relative good edge retention and very, very easy to maintain the edge.

Here a video that I show how easy to restore an edge with a carborundum stone ( SiC ) or ridged steel for those who love barbecue:

[www.youtube.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/03/2020 02:58AM by cabraljr.
cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
June 03, 2020 05:17AM
Quote
Nothingman
Great video, thanks for sharing. One comment, your vids lately seem to have very weak volume level... I find myself having to crank the videos volume extremely high just to barely hear what you're saying.

Yeah. sorry about that.. its a limitation of using the phone and having the airconditioners running.. the phone is using audio filtering i think and unless i shout, it is dampening things.

other times. i am speaking quietly because the time i have to record is when people are sleeping very near me.

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It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
June 14, 2020 05:07PM
Quote
CliffStamp
Quote
JSCT
Yes we need some actually more accurate measurements of ratio between cutting lifetime and time to reshapen..

This is an interesting question, I have brought it up a few times and there is usually a serious backlash because people will argue :

-IF the knife isn't damaged
-IF the knife has a consistent bevel
-IF you have ideal abrasives
-IF you are of sufficient skill / experience

Then resharpening time doesn't significantly change, and I agree if all of those IF's are true. However, look at this :

[www.youtube.com]

That is ~20 mins regrinding minor damage, and while he isn't ideal, he is likely better prepared than most, and more skilled/experienced than most and it still takes him that long. If you step down the equipment/skill even a little, that time will explode.

The ideal data set would be something like :

-a wide pool of sharpeners of various skill levels
-different abrasives

And then people could look at this and kind of judge, and see something like - wow, for me, it would take 1-2 hours to sharpen that knife with just minor damage and that's a tiny knife with a tiny bevel.

Yes, sure. I have in mind to exclude the damage..

I am thinking of this:

I have seen lot of data whats the actual thickness of the apex after Pavols rope cut test..
So If I have a basically few identical blades from various steels (all angles and thickness same)
tested by him.. I may ask him to measure time needed to achieve initial sharpeness as before the test..

As a 2nd part I can dull the edge into the stone to the same thickness of the apex again
and sharpen by hand (repeat several times) and see how it will all correlate(not).

Beacuse some materials are easier to grind after ht (N77) than others (AEB-L),
perhaps they held an edge longer on rope which is interesting..
That kinda indicates it could have better ratio in this aspect..
Or f.e. I dont find RWL-34 to be much harder to grind than AEB-L
too but also can hold an edge for much longer.
(all similar HRC of course)

I cant say I measured that ever that just what it feels like when I work with them..
I may be wrong..

www.instagram.com/jscuttingtools
cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
June 14, 2020 05:32PM
Quote
JSCT

I cant say I measured that ever that just what it feels like when I work with them..
I may be wrong..

This is the tricky part to me, because if I take any steel I have worked with..

T15 67RC,
Elmax 61RC
AEBL-62RC
O1 62rc
CALMAX 60 RC
N690 59rc
d2 60rc


then in spyderco etc s30v, s90v, s10v, zdp189


if I am just doing a rope cutting test and cutting until some of these people call it "the working edge" is blunt, and the edges have not really suffered damage then I find very little effort difference to get them all sharp again. many can be restored on my steel hone or strop, or a few light passes on a dmt x-fine plus strop.

because I normally run thin geometries and tiny apex bevels, it makes no difference (in my mind) to restore any of these steels..

also.. because I am often running 12dps bevels, I don't mind making it 12.5, then 13 etc on a micro to get a fast sharpen and restore during the day, and still have excellent performance.

its a bit of a different story if you are running full length 15dps bevels to 0.020 or even 0.010 thicknesses I think as far as the effort to restore the edge if you don't micro bevel for a speedy recovery. or lets imagine if the testing was being done and all the knives were 12-13dps Scandi grinds and you had to rub the entire face of the steel to restore the apex. then we are really going to start noticing some issues.

but the real surprise will be restoring the ding.. lets say each knife was pressed into a tungsten carbide hone to the point of an 0.002" depression and we which to cleanly restore the entire edge to fix that.. this is where we will really start to notice things.

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It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
June 14, 2020 05:45PM
cKc,
How to you get dings in a knife? The only time I get dings is if I hit a piece of metal, rock or concrete. My life is basically how everyone else is living on lockdown, with short trips to the store, doctors or pharmacy. My cutting is light, the hardest thing I have to do is break down boxes for recycling, or open a box from shipping. Every now and then a box might have a staple that might cause a small bit of damage. I haven't done and hard use cutting for years, and this really messes up how I think of knives and steels (in use), since I basically have glorified letter opener type use.

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage." -- Cliff Stamp, May his memory be a blessing
"Life is GOOD", -- Stefan_Wolf, May His Memory Be A Blessing
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cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
June 14, 2020 06:00PM
Quote
jasonstone20
cKc,
The only time I get dings is if I hit a piece of metal, rock or concrete.

pretty much this.

if I'm fishing then I may often be cutting on concrete or other things "carefully" to cut bait.. this will do a lot of rolling, sometimes chipping.

prising open shell fish on the wharfs.. possibly popping an oyster off a rock etc..

if I'm in the garden or yard. depending on where you live and the environment, wind will lift dirt, dust, volcanic dirt is just rocks.. sand.. and if its just rained it all sticks to the bark, trees etc.. and forms a mud and dries.. you start cleaning up your yard and some of the cuts in limbs 1/4" or 1/2 that you are taking fast cuts too might have some grit or sand etc on the plant..

might need to cut roots off near the ground, weeding etc.

partners that throw the kitchen knife in the sink, or just accidentally bang them on other cutlery when moving things around..

my pocket folders will rarely ever suffer much damage for the office/city use ones, but I wont shy away from cutting Gib Board or whatever.. slicing some sandpaper if I have nothing else to do it.

opinels really come into their own for a lot of these hard tasks as they restore so easily and don't take a lot of damage.

my yard machetes can look serrated after cutting roots and trimming off concrete edging grinning smiley

too much of the knife world and youtube world focuses heavily on just pocket jewelry, and bushcraft and a few focus groups.. not the real stuff tools have to do.

and in those jobs most of the time people don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a disposable commodity that works worse, and breaks faster.

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It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
June 27, 2020 10:03PM
According to Murray Carter in his now free sharpening instruction course now available on YouTube, the reason Japanese knives are considered to be an example of fine design/craftsmanship is due in large part to the easy to grind & maintain nature of the san mai blade design. It is interesting to note however, that while the outer clad layers are generally mild steel or something very soft and easy to grind... the inner core is often quite hard and upwards of 62 RC.


This would seem to give the best of both worlds in my eyes, as it allows easy grinding/thinning of the primary grind with even very basic waterstones. Yet allows for the hardness to be at or above hardness of silica at the edge, where it counts to resist slow wear to the apex and of course the added strength to allow for very acute edge geometries. I would say that while there are definite drawbacks to the clad san mai, it does certainly allow for easier maintenance and thinner edges IME.
Re: Picking the right steels
June 28, 2020 01:12AM
Knives used outside can get damaged on a regular basis as materials are not clean. It is ok to do edge retention tests on fresh rope from the store, do it on dirty rope. A lot of these people are promoting "survival" knives, well those knives are going to be used on scavenged material and unless you are camping in a mall, as-found materials are often very dirty. This is one of the main reasons I tend to prefer durable/easy to grind steels for that type of work. That being said, if you can carry more than one knife, it is nice to have 1095 at ~67 HRC with a very light grind for clean materials.
Re: Picking the right steels
June 28, 2020 12:49PM
The right steel is rarely S30V.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Picking the right steels
June 30, 2020 02:10PM
Just saw this thread now... I collect (and make) custom Victorinox swiss army knives and have the exact same opinion as you cKc.

When I do stonewashed customs and have to resharpen a SAK from a seriously dull edge it takes me only a minute or two on a Sharpmaker with Fine or Medium + Fine rods, which isn't even a remotely fast cutting abrasive choice. I have long said I think the relatively soft stainless steel is actually what makes these great working knives because they're so easily maintained.

All that said, it's also obvious to me at least one of the reasons other people see this so differently and it has everything to do with the comparative rarity of sharpening skills. Most people in the knife world (in general - not the sharpening-heavy part of it people on this forum exist in) simply don't maintain their own tools. They either send them out, or just buy a new knife by the time the old one is dull.

If you look at it from that perspective, a knife that doesn't need sharpening for a comparatively long time is attractive versus one that could go dull in an afternoon's work.

-----

-Jay
Re: Picking the right steels
June 30, 2020 06:34PM
jloden,
It isn't really that the steel is softer, it has a higher grindability vs a higher carbide steel with a lower grindability.

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage." -- Cliff Stamp, May his memory be a blessing
"Life is GOOD", -- Stefan_Wolf, May His Memory Be A Blessing
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cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
June 30, 2020 08:26PM
Well it's also about 56rc on a ask so it is on the soft side based on trends

----------------------------------------------------------------------
It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
July 01, 2020 12:55AM
Quote
jasonstone20
jloden,
It isn't really that the steel is softer, it has a higher grindability vs a higher carbide steel with a lower grindability.

Quote
cKc
Well it's also about 56rc on a ask so it is on the soft side based on trends

Point taken Jason, you're right - but yes, that too grinning smiley

Side note but while we're on topic of usage trends for working knives... what's interesting to me since I go through a lot of vintage and used SAKs for parts donors building customs, is how many blades I find that are:

1) broken tips, and not just on the blades, awl/reamers too. People sure do seem to pry with these a lot and/or use the blades as screwdrivers. I always find that highly amusing considering there's a flat head screwdriver on the same knife. Neither implement is designed for prying force of course, but I know which one I'd use as a prybar first...

2) Horrifically mangled edges from "sharpening" attempts. I've seen clearly dremeled edges, badly filed ones, pull-through sharpener use, large unintentional recurves, etc. What's interesting to me isn't the results so much as that at least plenty of people were willing to give it a go - whether they knew what they were doing or not. Price probably factors in quite a bit as does the fact many of these are from 30+ years ago, and attitudes about them as working tools were pretty different.

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-Jay
Re: Picking the right steels
July 01, 2020 03:20AM
cKc,
I would take a properly HT'd knife, i.e. for knife use, of a blade at 55-56 HRC than a steel that was HT'd to 64-65 HRC, but wasn't a HT optimized for cutlery use.

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage." -- Cliff Stamp, May his memory be a blessing
"Life is GOOD", -- Stefan_Wolf, May His Memory Be A Blessing
WordPress YouTube Facebook Patreon Locals Instagram Twitter
cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
July 01, 2020 07:01AM
Quote
jasonstone20
cKc,
I would take a properly HT'd knife, i.e. for knife use, of a blade at 55-56 HRC than a steel that was HT'd to 64-65 HRC, but wasn't a HT optimized for cutlery use.

hehe. I'm not sure what "not optimized for cutlery use" really means.

the steel is HT for the steel properly or not, being good as cutlery really comes down to the steel just being a suitable choice.

i think there is definitely merit of harder steels, just personally not in high abrasion resistance that make grinding hard.

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It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
January 27, 2021 09:59PM
I suck at sharpening, however SAKs are pretty easy to get hair shaving sharp quickly.

This is where Cliff says... if you can get one knife sharp just apply the same techniques etc., but some steels are just easier to sharpen. My old USMC chopper, that Cliff guessed is something like 1040, is really easy to sharpen. It's like a giant SAK spinning smiley sticking its tongue out


Chumgeyser on Youtube
E-nep throwing Brotherhood. Charter Member
Re: Picking the right steels
February 02, 2021 12:57PM
I used to pick steels based on marketability. Slowly and painfully I found it wasn't the main factor in marketing a product. Personally I now look for grindability and simple heat treat... but I do have this chunk of cpm10v someone gave me to make a hatchet head!

If there were a way I could machine Ti alloy on a larger scale it might replace most of my stainless (haven't found a source for 420 yet, nor do I have a large HT oven)
Re: Picking the right steels
February 02, 2021 02:31PM
Quote
wnease
If there were a way I could machine Ti alloy on a larger scale it might replace most of my stainless (haven't found a source for 420 yet, nor do I have a large HT oven)

I'd definitely like to see more done with titanium as well as 420.


Chumgeyser on Youtube
E-nep throwing Brotherhood. Charter Member
Re: Picking the right steels
June 11, 2021 07:35PM
Quote
CliffStamp
Knives used outside can get damaged on a regular basis as materials are not clean. It is ok to do edge retention tests on fresh rope from the store, do it on dirty rope. A lot of these people are promoting "survival" knives, well those knives are going to be used on scavenged material and unless you are camping in a mall, as-found materials are often very dirty. This is one of the main reasons I tend to prefer durable/easy to grind steels for that type of work. That being said, if you can carry more than one knife, it is nice to have 1095 at ~67 HRC with a very light grind for clean materials.

I have been thinking more about this statement lately and it makes a ton of sense. It raises the question for me though, are you referring to the fact that steels such as.... Infi, 3V, CPM 154 and other medium wear type steels aren't really the best choice as a whole? I mean, Infi might be the least likely to fail catastrophically but what are the odds of that scenario being a factor vs. just a simple 'it's just terribly taxing trying to keep this thing sharp enough for work".
Re: Picking the right steels
July 14, 2021 10:52PM
Wow, looks like this last question I had won't be answered then. Sorry to hear of the news of CLiff's death, what an amazing person and I'm glad to have learned much from him here. RIP
cKc
Re: Picking the right steels
July 17, 2021 03:22PM
Well, it wont be answered by Cliff, but I can give an answer from my perspective as I am personally a major advocate of avoiding most of these classes of steels in outdoor hard use. all steels do have a place though in different environments. i guess it just depends on what level of effort you want to apply to maintain them.

I wouldn't put INFI in the same categorization as steels like 3V and CPM154 which are high carbide (medium i guess based on the current trends)
INFI is actually a very easy to grind steel from my experience in thinning my own ones down. I think the Busse knives are too often way over built because thats part of their marketing strategy etc. but thinned down they work great, and are easy to sharpen and maintain.

I personally only like steels with very high grindability, and will always take this over an edge retention gain that while it might be goon on paper, is not that good in dirt and debris.

One of my more interesting tests on this front was a machete style blade I made out of O1 triple tempered and cryo'd which was 61/62 rc. the particular HT i was doing i found made the o1 more likely to bend than snap with brittle failure so the edges were tougher for shock.
i tested that machete extremely hard in yard work cleaning up a major overgrowth over stone pathways and gravel filled dirt. i used it for limbing, weeding, edging, and plain out hard cuts directly into vine like roots grown over the concrete, hitting the concrete hundreds of times. when it got blunt i was just using the side of the step to rough the edge back and keep going. This worked amazingly well because of a combination of easy to grind + very thin.
the knife edge was not the nicest by the end of the session, but it didn't take much effort at all to put a reasonable paper cutting edge back on the 14" blade when it was done..
Apart from anything else. the type of work i was doing was pretty representative of what you might need to do in a harsh survival environment if you didn't have time to "care" for the knife. it is also the type of work that in testing would take major chips, or total failure to steels like D2, 154 etc.

in the list of steels above. i would never want to use 3V for that kind of work, or cpm 154.. even if they didn't break, there would be a lot of chipping all over the edge that would be extremely hard to grind out by hand in the field as you are not going to carry a wide assortment of stones in the field, or big stones either that are easy to work. INFI i'd have no problem using in my testing.

the nice thing i find about all the low carbide steels in general. o1, calmax, aebl, 1095, 12c27 etc etc. is that short of major chip removal damage, almost anything i do to the edges of a knife up to 10 inch typically take me almost no time to fix on a rough and fine stone.

i've tried knives in so many steels up to the T15 and S110V grades etc. and all of these knives are not really hard to resharpen if you have a diamond stone or other suitable thing. but that is a resharpen.. where the edge looks fine, but has dulled from wear.. the moment you have to regrind an edge, or thin a knife down. these become an immense burden by hand.

i bought an s35vn CRK Impinda last year. i tried to thin down the BTE with a DMT coarse hand held diamond sharpener. i got almost no were any time fast and work out the diamond trying to speed it up... doing the same to a swiss army is not that hard relatively speaking.


I think some of these high carbide steels are for some people a fantastic thing for them to enjoy. Wako in japan, virtuovice loves 3v because he wants to take 1 knife, do x many skinnings without a resharpen and not worry about it until he gets home.. so he might like a 3v knife that does 4 deer, where the A2 knife or O1 was only doing 1 -2 deer. this sounds like a reasonable argument.. i hear it a lot.. but i personally disagree with it as an argument to being a good knife steel..what if you are going on a 5 day trip and none of the knives will last? now you have to sharpen in the field... i know that some people have sharpening routines that take 20 - 30 minutes.. thats unfeasible in the snow, in the wild. i also know that given a 4" dmt diamond double side, i can take an 01 blade and have it from zero edge to skinning a full deer in 1 minute - 2 minutes.. so if im just touching it up after doing one deer and there is no damage its like 20 - 30 seconds to do another deer. to me.. this is a more versatile knife because no matter what happens, its easier to restore and fix.

now there might be something cool in doing knives like BBB is doing, and others using very high end steels in kitchen knives etc and testing the limits. maybe that knife now, with careful use, could go months and months without a sharpening session for someone vs 1 month or 2 months with a basic knife. is it cool. yes. is it useful? not to me when even a whustof grade steel can go 6 months to a year without a real sharpen and just a few seconds steeling before each use.

Id also argue that I have no need for a ferrari and all its cost an hassle vs a toyota. they all have their place. but it just depends what you want out of it.

i think for me, Calmax was one of the steels i was most happy with for outdoor tools. really nice fine edge. really tough. a bit of corrosion resistance, but not much.. super easy to resharpen.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
It's not Cliff, its Dr Stamp
#kebabstickcut, it's a thing - make it happen
Re: Picking the right steels
July 17, 2021 06:43PM
Thanks for the reply, Kyley. Still trying to come to accept Cliff is gone, life can be pretty short.

I appreciate your thoughts on Infi, I haven't used enough high carbide steels to say about the grind ability of Infi but it did seem a bit harder than say AEB-L or 52100 at similar hardness.
Re: Picking the right steels
July 23, 2021 01:02PM
Kyley,

I guess I got a bit confused reading this about INFI on Bussecombat.com

"Edge Retention


Many so-called knife experts have heralded the "wear resistance" of a steel as the key to edge retention. This may very well be true if a knife is designed and intended for the cutting of soft materials ONLY. However, we have never inspected a dull knife and found the edge to be perfectly smoothed away, like a ball bearing. Instead what we find are microscopic chips where the edge has broken or chipped away like glass after having impacted against bone, gravel, or other hard surfaces. This micro chipping dictates that the edge be reground during the resharpening process, which will ultimately lead to a thicker edge and a radical change in overall blade shape. Steels with high wear resistance normally score fairly low in shock resistance, lateral strength, and overall toughness. INFI scores very high in ALL of these categories."

I took that to mean INFI scores high in wear resistance and maybe it does in fact (last sentence). Something I read about the new CPM Magnacut made me think that perhaps grind ability and wear resistance are not mutually exclusive and you can get good wear resistance while still having good grind ability. I seem to remember reading Magnacut performed similar in wear resistance to Elmax and such yet was much more easily ground than those steels. Interesting phenomenon or am I missing something here?