For our standard blades we use Crucible Powder Metallurgy (CPM) S35VN steel. This steel is produced from a fine powder of high alloy content steel which allows for uniform distribution of carbides (hard secondary phase particles) within the steel matrix. CPM steel also has high contents of elements such as vanadium, molybdenum and niobium. As a result, the steel is highly wear resistant without being excessively brittle. In a knife this means high edge holding ability and sufficient toughness for heavy duty cutting.
For our highest end knives, we partner with renowned steelmaker Chad Nichols for his stainless damascus.
Chad manufactures his ultra-high-quality damascus in his own shop in Blue Springs, MS. Damascus refers to a contrasting structure of many layers of two or more kinds of steel that have been pattern welded and forged to create a unique design when the steel is hardened and etched in acid. The etching process reveals the more corrosion resistant of the multiple steels in the damascus, while the less corrosion resistant steel turns black. Because of the skill, craftsmanship and extensive labor required to create and work with damascus, this type of steel is more expensive than other blade materials.
We use ATI 425 (Grade 38) titanium in the construction of our knife handles and hardware. ATI 425 features similar strength to other popular titanium alloys (Ti-6Al4V), but has significantly improved formability (resistance to cold work fatigue). Titanium provides an excellent balance of high strength and low density. It is commonly used by knife makers because of its low weight, wide availability, and mechanical properties that are very similar to spring tempered steel. Using titanium for the spring/lockbar in folding knives does come with some trade-offs, however. Traditional titanium alloys are high-strength and thus are difficult to cold work. Practically, this means that the lock bar of a titanium liner lock or frame lock folder may experience fatigue cracking as the result of repeated opening and closing or due to suddenly applied shock. Because of this we use ATI 425, with its superior resistance to such fatigue, in order to prevent our knives from wearing out prematurely.
Carbon fiber actually refers to carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP), a composite material of woven strands of carbon fiber embedded in a polymer resin matrix. Because most of the strength of CFRPs is the result of the carbon fibers embedded in the polymer matrix, the mechanical properties are highly directional. When loaded along its ‘strong’ direction, carbon fiber is capable of outperforming most other engineering materials in terms of rigidity and strength to weight ratio. Because the manufacturing process of CFRP involves the laying down of woven fiber strands followed by pouring of the polymer resin and subsequent pressing and curing, voids are common defects that reduce both the performance (strength) and visual appeal of carbon fiber. As a result, we only use more expensive LVA (low void aerospace) carbon fiber sheet in our knives.