Titanium as a blade steel
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Feb-24-13 12:49 AM (EST)
This interests me. I had never heard of pure titanium as a blade metal.
Research on knife sites indicates that titanium is stronger than steel by weight but weaker by volume. It does not take a sharp edge and does not hold any edge very long compared to steel.
There are two primary advantages over steel. First, titanium is completely impervious to rusting even with repeated exposure to salt water. This is why it is used in scuba diving knives. Query whether this is important to any given paddler. Second, titanium has no magnetic properties. Hence it won't spark and is safer than steel to use around explosives by Navy SEALS. I don't this should be of any importance to any paddler.
Since very few people who are serious about knives would sacrifice sharpness and edge retention for anti-corrosion, the primary market for titanium blades is for scuba divers and spear fishermen, who are constantly submerged in salt water. However, some believe that H1 and N680 steels are corrosion resistant enough for these activities.
Dull and inexpensive knives are often serrated because serrations can retain partial sharpness in the "valleys" even when dull on the "tips" and hence give the illusion of being sharper than they are. Most (or maybe all) of the inexpensive titanium diving knives I see are serrated. In order hold an actual sharp edge on its high-end titanium plain edge blades, Emerson bonds a layer of tantalum carbide micro-crystals onto the cutting edge, but these knives are in the $200 range.
I think the issue regarding a titanium blade is how you value or weigh the importance of sharpness and edge retention vs. perfect anti-corrosion. Of course, if you only use your PFD knife for the occasional spreading of peanut butter and cutting cheese, it doesn't really matter. In that case, go for bling if that's your thing.
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