Switching to AEB-L

Posted by Administrator on 4/13/2014 to Knives
For the last couple of months I have been in the process of switching many of our knives to a new steel. For years our standard stainless steel has been 440C, a high quality cutlery steel. After considerable research I made the decision to switch to AEB-L. This steel has some of the same characteristics as 440C that made 440C a good choice. Great corrosion resistance, workability, polishing ease, toughness if heat treated right, etc. But there are two characteristics where AEB-L really surpasses 440C in my opinion. These two characteristics are why I choose to switch steels. That my price for the raw steels is similar is just an added bonus. 

AEB-L was designed originally as a razor blade steel. In fact if you shaved this morning you’ve used AEB-L already. A steel used to make razor blades has to be able to support a very fine, thin edge. It is this characteristic that AEB-L does so well that makes it a great choice for Horsewright knives. Most of the knives I make are basically small slicers, that is their design, thats their job. Whether you’re cutting hay twine, opening a sack of grain or cutting a calf thats what we do with a knife in a ranching situation. My knives are small and compact so that you can have it with you all the time. The more knives I make, the more convinced I become of the superiority of a thinly ground blade over a thicker ground blade in this situation. When I say thinly ground blade I am talking about the thickness of the cross section of a blade. This isn’t rocket science and we all know this already. If cookie needs to slice up some tomatoes he doesn’t grab an axe, he uses a thinly ground kitchen knife. Same principle applies here. A thinly ground knife will out slice a thicker one every time, all the time, its just geometry. 

AEB-L is a great choice because it was designed to support thinly ground blades and it does this very well. The edge holding ability of AEB-L is superior. In fact my testing has shown it to be downright: Wow thats cool! A round knife is a leather cutting tool. The design has been around for centuries because it works. I use one almost on a daily basis and have had many over the years. I made a round knife from AEB-L. Cutting leather is a tough job, it can wear on an edge pretty quickly. Most leather workers will cut leather damp to ease this. Round knives are noted for their ability to cut curves so if you will pardon the pun it cuts circles around any other round knife I’ve ever used. I have 5 different ones right now and have owned many more over the years. Edge holding ability of this steel is simply superior. Edge holding ability is sometimes a two edged sword, if you’ll pardon another pun. In simple practical terms, often the better a steel holds an edge, the harder it is to re sharpen. I just haven’t found that to be the case with AEB-L, nor does it have that reputation in the knife making community. Getting back to geometry, a thin knife re sharpens easier than a thick knife. Literally just a few strokes as there is simply less metal to remove. In my mind its a win win situation for AEB-L and Horsewright knives.

Add Comment