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White #1 & High Carbon - EDGE - HRC & WOOD

Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:57 am


I am new here to the CKTG Forum and have read some of the threads and becoming a little more knowledgeable. This is an exceptional forum with many sharing their expertise and experiences about everything knives. At this point, my contribution are some questions related to White #1 and/or higher carbon (HC) and keeping a sharp edge and edge retention / durability - HRC range and Wood hardness on the board. I was hoping to receive some feedback from any that have had some personal experience with the 2 questions below.

1 - For White #1 and HC can be hardened to different levels - ballpark - usually range HRC 61 to 65 most of the time.

Is there certain performance that might be expected with White #1 and HC at HRC 61 compared to HRC 65 with keeping a sharp edge and edge retention / durability? It seems most everyone is more or less in agreement about the positives for White #1 and exceptional sharpening.

2 - Wood Hardness - End Grain - cutting board / butcher block

Wood used can vary for cutting boards / butcher blocks with each wood having a different hardness on the janka scale. There of course are a variety of woods that can be used - for illustration below are 3 examples of wood with Janka hardness rating.

Maple = 1450
Black Walnut = 1010
Black Cherry = 950

Has anyone had feedback or experiences with their knives - White #1 and/or HC and sharp edge and edge retention / durability with wood harder of softer wood on the Janka Hardness Rating? For example, I heard possibly that White #1 and/or HC steel may have some challenges with keeping a sharp edge and edge retention / durability when using wood that is ranked harder on the Janka Hardness Rating. In the illustration above, is it better to use White #1 or HC knives on Black Cherry (950) as compared to Maple (1450) to keep the sharp edge and have longer edge retention?

Most certainly, the Wood and Board choice is as personal as the knife choices - I suppose it is a matter of knowing what you are using and what you can expect with the type of steel and the board wood. I thought it might be helpful to possibly receive some feedback about this as edge retention has much to do with the steel / carbon, knife making and construction. and also the cutting board / butcher block wood hardness, and of course the user's technique.

Mark, thank you for the great service and approach with CKTG and the Forum, your website, videos, etc. Top notch!

Forum, thank you for taking the time to consider my question.

I welcome your insights and perspectives and experiences.

Best regards,


Re: White #1 & High Carbon - EDGE - HRC & WOOD

Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:27 am

HC is a rather generic term and is used when the maker isn't going to market the steel used as a marketing point. Since the actual steel is not known, I'll refrain from making any comments about it's properties unless you would like to narrow it down to a specific knife.

A knife that is harder should hold a thinner edge better, but will be more likely to be chippy. A softer edge will not hold as thin, but be less likely to chip. This is true of white steels at 61 versus 65. I find the highest HRC for white steels among the easiest to sharpen as well....but I don't prefer them over the knives I've had in the 62-63 range. Now, that's splitting some really freaking fine frog hairs right there.

IMHO, the glue that's used is at least, if not more, important than the wood used. Glue gets hard and can provide for a chipped edge. Any of the woods you listed will make a great board if used with a proper glue like Tite-Bond III

Re: White #1 & High Carbon - EDGE - HRC & WOOD

Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:14 pm

I have BoardSMITH cherry and walnut boards and a LoneStar Artisans walnut board. I cannot detect any difference among the three in terms of edge "friendliness" to my Masamoto KS wa-gyuto or any of my Carters.

Re: White #1 & High Carbon - EDGE - HRC & WOOD

Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:22 pm

Hi Adam,

Thank you for the quick reply. Good perspective on the HRC. My question was based on comments / feedback from an excellent Board maker who had a client with carbon knives - believe 52100 steel - not sure of the exact HRC maybe it was at the high end of the range. The client was using a Maple Board and the carbon was chipping as you say. They thought it was the knives and so they were sharpened and the problem repeated. The Board was switched to Black Cherry and the chipping problem apparently does not occur now or as much.

You raise a good point about the glue which is most certainly another key factor to consider. I was attempting to ask about the wood hardness and its impact on the White #1 or Higher Carbon steel edges. Its possible that user technique or the specific food prepared may have impacted the chippy edge.

I was thinking that maybe there was experience with White #1 and High Carbons where there was less chippy with a slightly softer end grain wood of reasonable high quality construction.

Maybe there is less correlation between using a harder wood board and the White #1 and high carbon - due to other factors like the user technique, food, etc. Thank you for your feedback on my current post.

I took your previous advice awhile back and picked up a Tanaka Sekiso Damascus Gyuto. Excellent blade! Appreciate that feedback as well.

I like your knives and handles the look first rate - fine fine craftsmanship!


Re: White #1 & High Carbon - EDGE - HRC & WOOD

Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:17 am

Glade you like the Tanaka!! :)

And thanks!
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