When choosing the right whittling knife, steel hardness is a key factor in determining if the knife is up to the task.
Knife hardness is often measured using the Rockwell C Hardness tests (HRC). This primarily measures how hard the steel is, but not necessarily how durable the blade is as durability is much harder to consistently measure.
The ideal hardness rating for whittling knives is between 58 and 62 HRC. Knives between this range will typically have the best balance of edge retention and durability.
Knives below 58 HRC will typically suffer from having a softer steel and will loose their edge faster and but have more flexibility preventing the blade from chipping.
Knives above 62 HRC can often be too brittle and the cutting edge may suffer chips during use and loose their cutting edge. They do however excel at being able to create a sharp cutting edge.
List of Knife Steels and Their Hardness Ratings
Below is a list of companies that make wood carving tools as well as some popular brands of knives with what steel they use and their hardness ratings.
|Company||Steel Type||Rockwell C Hardness|
|Case Cutlery||TruSharp Surgical Steel||54-57|
|Deepwoods Ventures||W1 Tool Steel||60-62|
|Drake Knives||O1 Tool Steel||58|
|Flexcut||High Carbon Spring Steel||59-61|
|Great Eastern Cutlery||1095 Carbon Steel||57-59|
|Helvie||High Carbon Steel||59-61|
|Lee Ferguson||High Carbon Tool Steel||60|
|OCC Tools||O1 Tool Steel||59-61|
|Opinel||XC90 Carbon Steel||57-59|
|Pfeil||Special Alloy Tool Steel||57-60|
|Schrade||65MN Carbon Spring Steel||53-55|
|Victorinox||Martensitic Stainless Steel||56|