Ken Avery Knives – Steel Choices
Our Basic Series Knives– Are made from 440C or AEB-L high carbon stainless steel. 440C and AEB-L are proven performers in the kitchen and in the field. AEB-L is the steel that razor blades are made from and produces an exceptional knife. 440C has been around for many years and makes a great knife as well. 440C and AEB-L have fallen out of favor with custom knife makers as there are now stainless “SUPER STEELS” that perform a tad bit better. So why do I offer these more basic steels? Price. I needed to offer a good knife for home chefs, culinary students, and chefs that needed a knife at a decent price. There are fancier steels out there but 440C or AEB-L will give you the best bang for the buck!
Basic Series stainless steel knives are heat treated to 60+ HRC making them a great performer. Relatively easy to sharpen, take and hold a great edge, and are very durable. I offer most of the options available on my other knives, so you can truly build the knife that fits you best. If you want a great knife at a great price, this is it!
Our Pro Series Knives – Are made from the best modern high carbon STAINLESS SUPER STEELS. I use Stainless CPM154, Stainless Elmax, and Stainless CPM S35VN. These steels are so tough and so hard that it is a very difficult task to produce by hand. I offer CPM154 in a mirror finish and all other blades in a satin finish only, due to the extreme difficulty of creating a mirror polish by hand.
Pro Series stainless steel knives are heat treated to 61HRC+. They need to be professionally sharpened, or sharpened with diamond sharpeners, but will keep an edge for an incredibly long time. This is the top of the food chain for knife steel, but it doesn’t come cheap. The steel itself is very expensive, and the work that goes into it is three times that of any of our other knives.
I offer several high carbon steels for the Pro Series knives as well. There are still quite a few professional chefs that prefer a carbon steel knife. Carbon steels are 52100, W2, and CPM M4. All are super tough and can reach HRC63-64. I also offer AEB-L and 440C in the Pro Series Knives for clients that prefer those steels.
Our Circa 1874 Knives – Are made from basic high carbon steel similar to what they would have used at the turn of the 19th century. Knives back then were simple, effective, and many were hand-forged. Handles were also simple and effective. We keep it simple as well. All Circa 1874 series knives are hand-forged from 1084 , 1095, W2, or 1075 high carbon steel and heat-treated to approximately 60HRC.
These knives take a wicked sharp edge, they are exceptionally easy to sharpen, and they are a joy to use. Because they are high carbon steel, they need to be washed and dried after use. Handles and blades should have a food-grade mineral oil applied to it occasionally to keep everything in pristine condition. The blade will take on a blueish gray patina over time that will also help protect the blade. While most of today’s chefs prefer stainless steel, the Circa 1874 series are unique and perform exceptionally well.
Art Series Knives – Damascus steel is made by forge welding two or more different steels together to form an artistic pattern (also called pattern welded steel). Its properties are similar to our the other high carbon steel blades, but much more artistic. Each blade ends up with a unique pattern that sets these knives apart from the crowd. Damascus blades are heat treated to 60HRC, they are easy to sharpen, and they take an incredible edge. This is a knife that not only performs well but looks great doing it. Each knife is a unique creation.
I hand-forge all my Art Series knives and perform differential heat treatment to 60HRC+. When using W2 steel, the differential heat treatment provides a beautiful hamon line on the blade similar to Japanese Katana swords. I heat treat M4 blades the same way, but the hamon will be very faint compared to the W2 steel. The differential heat treatment also allows me to make the blade incredibly hard and sharp but keep the blade strong as well.
The Art Series knives take a scary sharp edge, they are fairly easy to sharpen, and they will stay sharp for a long time. They are the perfect knife for all-day use. Flawless balance and great design make our Art Series Knives as good as it gets for high carbon steel kitchen knives.