Press Release August '15


Solving the riddle of steel with powder metal.

 Since the iron age, metallurgists have tried to solve the "Riddle of Steel." At New West Knifeworks we believe the steel in our G-Fusion line solves that riddle on the cutting board.

 So, what is that riddle?

 In its simplest recipe, steel is basically iron and carbon. But even in this most basic form, you must choose HOW MUCH carbon you are going to put into your steel. You see, the more carbon you have, the harder the steel can be and the harder you make it the sharper it can get. Seems simple enough.

 So what's the problem?

 The problem is carbon is a wonderfully reactive element. It reacts to oxygen, it reacts to moisture. The common term for these reactions is RUST.

Aside from rusting, the harder the steel is, the more prone it is to chipping or even worse, shattering. For example, ceramics are very, very hard, but if you were to drop your favorite piece of pottery, it will shatter. So, for millennia, bladesmiths have sought to mitigate this problem in the forging process. By TEMPERING the steel, the bladesmith attempts to add TOUGHNESS to HARD steel.

You can imagine a samurai or knight's dismay when they pull out their razor sharp blade only to find it smashed into a thousand bits on someone's shield.

Fundamentally, the same problems are even more apparent on the cutting board. A kitchen knife does more work than any other kind of blade, enduring endless hours of abuse! Plus, kitchen knives are constantly exposed to water and other corrosive substances in food. So in addition to the old riddle of trying to balance hardness and toughness, bladesmiths also must try to work in some STAIN RESISTANCE.

That makes things even more difficult! You will notice that your butter knife is no good for chopping vegetables. This is because the ALLOY that makes a knife stainless, Chromium, in large amounts, interferes with how sharp it can get.

There are many other alloys which bring out different characteristics in steel- vanadium, manganese, sulfur are a few examples. The riddle is that each time you add an alloy to enhance one aspect of the steel, it may be effecting OTHER aspects of the steel as well. So, you may gain hardness but sacrifice toughness. Or you may make it tough but impossible to sharpen. Or you might make it dishwasher friendly but unable to slice onions.

In the past, the knowing customer would ask questions about the carbon content of a knife or ask if certain alloys were present to ascertain what the pros and cons of a given knife were. Powder metal steel has made MANY OF THOSE CONCERNS IRRELEVANT.

At New West Knifeworks we have been obsessed with solving the riddle of steel for the last two decades. We have travelled the world looking for the best blades- we've made knives in Seki, Japan the famed city of Samurai swords. We've collaborated with the best custom knifemakers in the world. And after all of that searching, we've come to discover the finest steel for kitchen cutlery is made right here in America by Crucible steel.

Crucible's S35VN is a special steel originally developed for the aerospace industry. It is what is known as a POWDER METAL STEEL.

What is powder metal? Well, basically, at very high temperatures, the molecules of molten steel are very compact, so the trick is to try to maintain some of the compact grain structure in its solid form. Problems arise when you try to do this in the forging and smelting process.

Powder metal steel solves the problems by utilizing the elegant power of nature. You know how water molecules when freezing in the air form the beautiful and intricate crystalline structures  we know as SNOWFLAKES? Well, liquid steel will do the same thing when it "freezes" in contact with the air.

So, we take molten steel and SPRAY it into a cold canister where individual molecules of steel instantly freeze into intricately patterned "powder" in the air. This process allows us to mix alloys in new ways. The molecular bonds formed using the powder metal process are exponentially stronger.

All of this adds up to A PARADIGM SHIFT for fine kitchen knives. Our new G-Fusion Knives represent a solution to the age-old riddle of steel.   

What does this mean for you on the cutting board? It means the best of all possible worlds in one knife. Sharper than a Japanese samurai sword, tougher than a German blade, and better edge holding than either. Stain resistance and ease of sharpening. Finally, the COMBINATION of these characteristics allows us to do new things with the BLADE GEOMETRY. So, in addition to all of the other benefits, the knives can be very thin and lightweight which adds another level of sharpness and agility on the cutting board!!!

All the science aside, the proof, ultimately is in the pudding. At New West Knifeworks we are so convinced you will experience the difference for yourself that if you're not satisfied with the results, you can return your knife for a full refund.

 At New West our mission it to turn your food prep into an aesthetic experience!

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