Frequently asked questions
What is 'stabilised' wood?
Stabilised wood is natural wood that has been impregnated with a resin. The resin fills in the pores of the wood and any cracks or flaws. It provides strength, makes the wood waterproof and thus prevents expansion and contraction due to moisture and also prevents warping. It's an awesome material for knife handles... however, it isn't perfect. Stabilised wood tends to lack the tactile feel of natural wood which is normally given by the open pores in the wood. Stabilising wood will also often dull the colors and depth (chatoyance) of natural woods.
What is carbon steel?
Carbon steel is steel with a very high carbon content. The carbon provides strength and flexibility to the steel so that a fine cutting edge that is tough and doesn't dull quickly can be achieved. However, carbon steel is not impervious to the elements and it will oxidise and rust. Sometimes very easily. Knives made of carbon steel require a bit of extra care. They should always be kept dry/dried properly after use and oiled. Even with proper care, through use, a knive blade made of carbon steel will discolour. This is oxidation and known as a 'patina' and is normally in shades of blue through grey to black. BALETA Handmade knives and tools are made to be used and I believe a patina can be aesthetically pleasing. It shows the knife/tool is doing it's job. On some of my blades I create a patina, this is normally for aesthetic/decorative purposes - often referred to a 'forced patina'. It has the added benefit in that the blade is already oxidised to degree and thus more resistent to further oxidisation/rust. Carbon steel blades also tend to be easy to sharpen.
What is the difference between carbon steel and stainless steel?
Stainless steel used for knife blades not only have a high carbon content to provide strength, but also normally have added elements to make it more resistent to oxidisation/rust. This is element is normally chromium. Although nore resistant to oxidisation, stainless steel is not impervious to it - it the right conditions, it will oxidise/rust. Knives made of stainless steel generally require less maintenance than knives made of carbon steel. however - there is always a trade-off. Stainless steel blades tend to be more difficult to get razor sharp than carbon steel. You are also limited to the type patina you can get on a blade - thus most factory knives in stainless steel with any patina or color other than the silver/grey stainless on them are painted.
Why is your lead time for an order 5 to 8 weeks?
As with all hand-crafted items - the process of hand making a knife from a bar of steel takes time. Not only is each step in the process time consuming, but there are many steps that if they are done correctly, require a wait time. A good example would be assembling the handle: high-strength epoxy takes 24 hours to cure properly before the next step can be done. Some knife designs require two or three handle assmbly steps. So it takes a few days just to assemble the handle and ensure the fit, finish, strength and toughness is op to the BALETA Handmade standards. The heat treatment (hardening and tempering) of stainless knives is outsourced, so this critical step takes more than a week. Also, some of the materials such as exotic/hard-to-find handle materials need to be sourced. This in itself could take a few weeks.
What is the best steel for a knife?
Best for what? Like with cars - there is no 'best' steel for a knife blade. A Formula 1 car is the best... on a race-track. But it wouldn't perform too well against a 4x4 truck on a dirt track winding through the desert. Metallurgy technology has come a long way since our forefathers were hacking away with bronze blades. It is continually evolving as steel manufacturers come up with new processes, recipes and technologies to enable harder, tougher, sharper and shinier steels. All good knife steel will serve it's owner well if put to it's intended use. Yes, some steels are better than others for a specific application - but this always comes at a price. It either is not as good at other tasks... or is more expensive. There is no perfect steel. Also - bear in mind thatknife steels are made by companies for profit... some are better at marketing thier products and 'secret recipes' better than others. Don't always believe the marketing hype. Finally, in the world of handmade knives with independent craftsmen/women, there are other factors - a big one is simply the availability of a certain steel and the sizes it is produced in.
Why are handmade knives more expensive than factory knives?
An analogy: Why is a Bugatti Veyron more expensive than a KIA hatchback? First of all, far fewer Bugatti Veyron's are produced. They are scarce. Arguably better (and more) materials are used in the production of a Bugatti. Bugatti's are all still hand built... by real people. Thus they take far longer to make than a mass produced car. Bugattis are quality, scarce and high value items with an aesthetic appeal. However - in many ways, a KIA is just as good a means of transport. Which would you rather go for a drive in?