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Vintage or Carbon Steel Knives Hold a Better Edge

Updated on February 9, 2013

1095 high carbon steel


Nothing Like Carbon Steel.....

Long before today's world of knives or (Stainless steel Knives), carbon steel was the main king of cutlery. Today Carbon steel still IS the best steel you can have in a knife especially if the heat treat is done properly and the owner of the blade or blade's maintain's the edge on a regular basis.

I'm not here to say you can't sharpen a stainless steel knife or it is impossible to re-sharpen. It can be done on a diamond stone with some practice and if you prefer it, so be it.

I am of the opinion that a carbon steel blade can be re-sharpened much easier in the field or home on a nice oil or whet stone with very little effort and will hold an edge for long time. I use 1095 high carbon as my main blade steel and have used some others in the past and can say I stick with 1095 because once a good old fashion temper is put to it, it holds up very well.

If your not familiar with high carbon steel I would say the best thing you can do is to do some more research on the steel or try a carbon steel knife out and see if you agree.

Caring for carbon steel

Yes. You should take care of your carbon steel knives. Carbon steel is NOT like stainless and requires an occasional oiling. (I prefer and recommend mineral oil but other oils can be used as well.)

Something like taking care of your firearms, If you leave your beautiful rifle out in the rain and never clean or oil it, then you will not have a decent properly functioning fire arm.

Another unique and beautiful thing about carbon steel is Patina. If you look at the last photo in this article you will see one of my kephart knives that has the forge pattern left on the upper portion of the blade and a beautiful patina on the lower half.

This patina I put on the blade but, even a cleaner carbon steel blade will form a beautiful patina with use and time. This Patina can form from cutting food elements in the air or forcing a patina on the blade with acidic things such as mustard.

A patina on your blade not only will be unique to your special knife but also helps protect your blade.

A Kephart knife with pattern and patina aged blade.
A Kephart knife with pattern and patina aged blade.


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    • mlesniewski profile image

      mlesniewski 4 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hi William:

      If your looking on Ebay look for an old Carbon steel butcher knife such as a forgecraft or foster brothers. Matt

    • profile image

      William 4 years ago

      Hi - I don't have any carbon steel blades right now. I've looked a bit on eBay but have not pulled the trigger. Do you have a recommendation about a good starter carbon steel knife for the kitchen? I have several other high quality knives so I am curious to see, feel, and experience the difference in the metal.


    • profile image

      Ausseye 4 years ago

      Hi Jimiron: Carbon pollution is an annoying comment by me…but your steel is true. Ex chef so know your view as a part of a good kitchen. Built FA18A’s so steel is part of the carbon fibre of life… steal the show every time………….hey me agreeing with you just a bit silly, it's just an Aussie way. Good hub made off real steel.

    • mlesniewski profile image

      mlesniewski 4 years ago from Upstate NY

      I agree, carbon steel is great. I love the steel and use it in all of my custom work. 1095. K-Bar has been around for a long time, nice choice.

      thanks for posting.

    • jimmar profile image

      jimmar 4 years ago from Michigan

      Can't beat the look and feel of good quality vintage knife. One of my favorite knife to carry when wilderness camping is my short USMC K-Bar. It is 1095 Cro-Van (Chromium-Vanadium) a slight enhancement to the traditional carbon steel.