The steel I use is 1095 high carbon tool steel. It is .070 thick or a bit thinner than 1.8 mm. This is about the thickness of a quarter. In my experience, this thickness provides plenty of stock for a kitchen knife. The thicker the stock, the heavier the knife and on the balance scale next to cost – for me the thickness of .070″ is the perfect solution to an affordable hand made knife. Cost goes up markedly when the steel I start with gets thicker and one has to forge it out to get it close to where the taper looks good. In the mid-80’s, I knew an older man who was an Air Force vet and had been a flight mechanic for his whole career. He was truly a genius, one who could do or create anything with his hands and mind- a true problem solver on another scale. He was helping me design and create a line shaft and so he learned my process.
I told him about my making kitchen knives and how they cost so much because they took so much time and labor. I was not selling them either. He proposed an experiment, knowing what would happen. Here is what I did.
I made 4 different kitchen knives without a handle, using various thicknesses and materials.
One was 1/4″ thick tool steel, and forged out. One 1/8″ thick tool steel and same treatment. Then one .070 thick tool steel which was just machined and one made from not heat treated, .070″ thick 440-C stainless. All carbon steel was 1095 HCTS. When done I used them to slice up a phone book (until dull) by wrapping the handles in a thick rag. They all pretty much performed the same.
Believe it or not the stainless that was NOT heat treated performed as well as all the others. That stainless was very very tough. What it all came down to in the end, was the price I would have sold the knives for. The forged blade would have easily cost 60% – 75% more than the machined units, due to all the extra labor and cost of the steel.
By this time I had been forging for years and years. All manner of wood carving tools and knives. This experiment was life changing. Why not find a high quality thinner steel (.070″), avoid the hassle of coal forging and all the extra time to grind out such thick blades, and offer clients a much more affordable, high quality kitchen knife at a great price. The universe loudly said – BINGO. I had a new plan for my business, which I still use today.
If you want the blade that you order to be made out of thicker stock, I also work with 5/64″ (2mm) or 3/32″ (6/64″ or 2.38 mm) – your choice. This stock is made from O-1 tool steel, with 1095 carbon versus 1084 of the 1/16th” thick stock. Thicker stock weighs more and is still machined.
If I do not have the thicker steel in stock, I can order it and have it on my workbench usually within a week.
You can choose either thickness for your custom knife, and there will be an extra charge above the cost listed in the price list depending on the size of the kitchen knife you want to order.
⇒Email me if you want a firm quote⇐.
You may notice that on my ⇒Price List⇐ there are some knives which automatically come with this thicker steel – such as 3″ wide Thai Cleaver and all 12″ long blades. For these, the cost of the steel is already rolled into the price.