D2 and S35 are the most popular knife steels in the world of knife enthusiasts. People often end up having debates on S35 vs. D2: Which is perfect for you? If you are one of the explorers in this realm, you are in the right place.
This article compares knife steels: Crucible Particle Metallurgy’s S35VN (CPM S35VN) and D2. We’ll explore their composition, hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening to determine which is better for knives.
Characteristics of D2 and CPM S35VN
D2 and S35VN have earned their popularity in the realm of knife enthusiasts, but don’t be fooled into assuming they’re interchangeable. Despite their similarities, these two steels are significantly different.
To better understand how D2 and S35VN knives differ, the next section will delve into their specific traits, benefits, and drawbacks in the next section. Here, we will discuss the steel background and composition of both.
Before you think of choosing a steel type, it’s essential to understand the nature and production methods of each steel type. This foundational knowledge will pave the way for a comprehensive analysis of their differences and merits.
Designed to be tougher than CPM S30V, this stainless steel—known as S35VN—was a joint effort with renowned knifemaker Chris Reeve. It’s celebrated as a premium-grade knife steel, made using Crucible Industries’ unique Crucible Particle Metallurgy process, renowned for creating consistently high-quality steel.
The S35VN knife provides satisfactory toughness, a noteworthy ability to hold its edge, and outstanding resistance against corrosion. It’s important to note that this exceptional quality comes at a higher cost than the D2 knife.
In tests conducted by Crucible and CATRA (Cutlery & Allied Trades Research Association), S35VN showed improved performance compared to 440C steel. The results were similar to those seen with D2 steel, suggesting no significant difference in edge retention between S35VN and D2.
S35VN steel is made using the CPM process, which creates consistent, high-quality steel. These characteristics make S35VN great for various blades like pocket knives, kitchen knives, and larger blades. On the other hand, D2 steel is weaker for bigger blades.
- Chromium: 14%
- Vanadium: 3%
- Molybdenum: 2%
- Carbon: 1.4%
- Niobium: 0.5%
- Manganese: 0.5%
- Silicon: 0.5%
- Phosphorus: 0.02%
- Sulfur: 0.02%
- Respectable edge retention
- Solid corrosion resistance
- Sturdy and tough
- Exceptional overall performance
- Simple sharpening process
- Crafted from high-quality steel
D2 is a tool steel with lots of carbon and chromium. It’s called “semi-stainless” since it’s below the required chromium (13%) for full stainless. It’s famous for being very hard and having decent rust resistance. D2 has been here a while and is liked by custom knife makers and big production companies.
The D2 knife steel strikes a good balance between being tough and holding its edge well. This means you won’t need to sharpen it as often. However, while D2 is decently tough, it might not be the best option for really tough tasks because it’s only moderately tough.
The D2 knife steel provides satisfactory corrosion resistance, making it suitable for wet environments. However, extended exposure might lead to rusting since it’s not fully stainless. D2 steel knives are budget-friendly, appealing to users seeking top-notch performance without breaking the bank. Remember that this steel’s higher wear resistance can make sharpening more challenging.
In 1999, a study published in the National Library of Canada examined how Heat Treatment and Toughness of D2 Tool Steel impacted its performance in cutting blades. It was found that as the Rockwell hardness of D2 steel increased, its wear resistance also improved. However, this increase in hardness led to a trade-off, making the steel more brittle.
- Chromium: 12%
- Carbon: 1.5%
- Vanadium: 1%
- Molybdenum: 1%
- Silicon: 0.6%
- Manganese: 0.6%
- Iron: Balance
- Good edge retention
- Limited corrosion resistance
- Balanced qualities
- High performance
- Prone to rust in prolonged corrosive conditions
- Difficult to sharp
- Less sturdy
Observation: Analyzing the provided compositions above, it’s evident that CPM S35VN contains lower Carbon content and higher levels of Chromium, Molybdenum, and Vanadium than D2. These differences account for its enhanced toughness, increased wear resistance, and improved ability to withstand corrosion.
D2 Vs. CPN S35VN Comparison in depth
When comparing D2 and S35VN knives, consider key factors:
- Corrosion Resistance: D2 is semi-stainless; S35VN offers robust rust resistance.
- Toughness: D2 and S35VN vary in handling impacts and stress.
- Ease of Sharpening: Evaluate how readily they regain sharpness after use.
- Edge Retention: Assess how long the edge stays sharp with regular use.
- Price: Choose based on tasks; different qualities suit different needs at the best price.
These considerations will guide your choice, ensuring your knife performs well. This section will detail each point in brief for both steels.
S35VN knives excel in corrosion resistance compared to D2 knives. Due to the ample chromium content in S35VN steel, these knives meet the criteria for stainless steel classification. This results in robust corrosion resistance, making them a great choice for environments with high humidity and exposure to saltwater. Their ability to withstand staining and rusting ensures worry-free use in such conditions.
Due to being semi-stainless steel, D2 steel knives don’t provide optimal corrosion resistance. With 12% chromium content, they fall just short of the 13% threshold needed for full stainless steel classification. While D2 knives can resist corrosion to a certain extent, prolonged exposure to corrosive environments can lead to quicker rusting.
Note: However, it’s important to remember that proper care is essential, even with good corrosion resistance. To prevent rust, wash and dry your S35VN knives after each use.
As per Crucible Industry, S35VN’s composition achieves balance by replacing some niobium carbides with vanadium carbides. Consequently, CPM S35VN knife blades boast enhanced toughness compared to D2 knife blades, thanks to these carbides that enhance resistance against edge damage.
D2 steel provides limited toughness due to its high level of hardness. This hardness results from its composition with high levels of carbon and vanadium. While its blade toughness might not be the highest, it still fares decently. It can endure challenging tasks such as light chopping and batoning without succumbing to chipping, cracking, or breaking.
CPM S35VN is comparatively easy to sharpen, although achieving an extremely sharp edge might be more challenging than other steels. Its fine grain structure generally makes sharpening easier than knives with similar hardness. It’s an excellent option for knives intended for everyday tasks.
Because of its high levels of carbon and chromium, D2 can pose more challenges when sharpening compared to CPM S35VN. Nevertheless, it can achieve a sharp edge if maintained effectively with proper tools and techniques. D2 is particularly suited for knives intended for rigorous cutting and chopping duties.
Note: No matter how good steel you have, you must use the top knife sharpening stone to keep your knife steel at its best
CPM S35VN retains its sharp edge exceptionally well, perfect for slicing and cutting tasks. D2 also offers excellent edge retention, best for tough cutting and chopping. However, remember, D2 is trickier to sharpen than CPM S35VN.
CPM S35VN, a top-tier knife steel, comes at a higher price than D2. The increased cost reflects its exceptional attributes and the meticulous Crucible Particle Metallurgy process.
On the other hand, D2 is a more budget-friendly alternative to CPM S35VN. It’s ideal for those seeking a high-performing knife without breaking the bank.
The differences are as clear when choosing between CPM S35VN and D2 knives. CPM S35VN knives take the lead with their robust toughness, impressive corrosion resistance, and hassle-free sharpening. On the other hand, D2 knives, being semi-stainless steel, tend to show signs of rust quickly. Now, if you get into the debate of S35VN vs. D2, which is perfect for you? You have the answer already.
The key is to assess how toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and ease of sharpening align with your knife’s intended tasks. So, whether you’re looking to slice, dice, or conquer culinary challenges, understanding these steel distinctions can enhance your kitchen experience.