JMG SteelWorks

​Craftsman Knives & Razors. Handmade. With No Compromise. 

You Have Been Fed Lies


I’m sorry to have to tell you this. You have been lied to.

Let’s start from the beginning though shall we?  (Fade Screen)

Way back in 1821 a French metallurgist, Pierre Berthier first recognized the corrosion resistance of iron-chromium alloys. This was the beginning of Stainless Steel. At the turn of the century into the 1900’s the development of this new alloy was in full swing. Finally around 1914, things went full tilt and a true industrialized process was created, to make Stainless Steel as we know it an easy to manufacture and widely used method. It became the everyday steel. And the world changed.

Stainless steel became the new rage. Industrialization of the global economy had begun.

This is not a bad thing, and if truth is told all of us have benefited from the wonders of that period. Our standard of living was greatly increased, the costs of household items was greatly decreased, and all in all, in general, our lives have been made better for it. But there is a cost to this. And part of that cost is the lie that I'm about to reveal to you.

You see part of what makes industrialization work, is being able to sell the product that you're making to a huge mass of people. The creation of stainless steel utterly changed the landscape of cutlery. Suddenly a knife could be made that no longer needed to be oiled or be treated with the dedicated care that knives had required for the last several thousand years. By the 1960s the blacksmith had virtually disappeared from the face of the world. (But that is another story.) This wonderful magical stainless and sometimes in the early days called, “stain free” steel was all the rage. It took over the world.

But there was a cost to this. That bit of chromium added to the iron and carbon which helped create a shiny oxide layer that prevented rust better than anything ever before, also softened the steel if but just a bit. For many applications this was no big deal. But for some it had serious effects. And for a few, well they wouldn't even touch the stuff.

Take your forks and spoons. No big deal if they are stainless or high carbon or made of aluminum. Your teeth don't know the difference and it has really no effect on the food you eat. Now look at a woodworker. A person that requires a ridiculously sharp tools and needs that tool to remain sharp for the duration of its job. You will never find a stainless wood chisel. Ever. No woodworker worth his salt would even give one a try. They already know what I am telling you now. A stainless chisel could never hold its edge.

And so we come to the common knife. It turned out that for most users in homes and households a stainless blade was just fine. Sure you have to sharpen more often because they dulled up far faster. But the advantage of their stainless qualities overrode that.

Then the manufacturers in their zeal to increase profits and sell to more people began telling their little white lies. They started to try and convince consumers that this magic stainless steel was in fact just as hard as any high carbon. And sadly, the consumers believe them. Marketing efforts being creatively generated by some of the shrewdest minds began to sway the opinion of the masses. And so it was, that people began to believe that this miracle stainless steel could in fact match the hardness and sharpness of the high carbon blade.

It can't. A high carbon blade can and will always outperform a stainless blade in that category. It's simple physics. The high carbon blade is simply harder. Harder steel makes for a sharper edge. Harder steel makes for an edge that lasts longer. Chefs that demand a razor edge to go the distance for their work will only use high carbon knives.

Besides , you still can't find a woodworker with a stainless chisel.

Remember that the next time you're looking for your, “go to” blade and you require a level of sharpness and a level of performance that needs to be unmatched. High carbon requires more attention, but gives you so much more in return.

John M. Glueck
The Maker