Direct from Mike:

I got into knifemaking about a year ago. I became fascinated with "carbidized" edge technology where a layer of very hard tungsten carbide is micro-welded on one side of the edge. The softer substrate (e.g. steel or titanium) wears away more quickly, constantly revealing a fresh carbide edge. The result is a knife that is largely self-sharpening when used on some materials (e.g. cardboard), and has superior edge retention on just about everything else. It's modeled after a beaver tooth, where the enamel on the front of the tooth is harder than the rest of the tooth. Carbidized blades have kind of a toothy edge that excels in slicing, but is only mediocre for push cuts. But slicing is precisely the action you want in hunting, fishing, and river knives. It doesn’t work well for whittling, batoning, bushcraft, etc., especially with a soft Ti blade. And, the toothy edge texture means that it will never get razor sharp. I've carbidized a bunch of knives with various edge geometries, but the self-sharpening effect is optimized with a "chisel" edge, hence the right and left handedness of the knife. To make these, I designed and built my own electro-spark deposition carbidizer to micro-weld TC onto steel and Ti blades, tuning the voltage, current, pulse width, and pulse energy to get just the right deposition properties. I use 6Al4V titanium for my knives as that alloy generally has the best properties for a knife. Titanium usually makes a poor knife blade material because it is much softer than steel and is subject to edge deformation. But, by carbidizing a Ti blade, you can overcome this limitation, provided you limit the knife to slicing. If you try to chop wood with these knives, you'll damage the edge.

So there's the essence:

  1. titanium blade for ultralightness;
  2. carbidized edge for slicing trout, birds, and food prep;
  3. self-sharpening;
  4. made in a garage with an "electro-spark deposition carbidizer" which is just way, way beyond cool, even just to speak the words;

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • The Technology
  • The Application
  • My Experience
    • RJ: Was the main reason for doing this project the edge technology? Or something else?
    • RJ: What were you trying to accomplish with building the "trout" knife? Design goals? Anything quantitative?
    • RJ: Are you going to continue this project? If so, what's next in the evolution of the "Martin Knife?"
  • In Action?

# WORDS: 1280
# PHOTOS: 1

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