What is so special about a 3-layer steel knife?
Traditionally steel can be quite hard, making it a challenge to sharpen, so clever humans in around 1200 BC came up with a technique to layer the steel so the hard carbon rich steel is on the inside, and softer low carbon steel is on the outside, making it much easier to sharpen and take layers off from the softer metal.
Layered steel can also be referred to as laminated or piled steel. The history of this technique can be traced to the Iron Age, when the only option for good steel for swords was to pile it. Steel makers needed to obtain the right level of carbon, which was crucial to the quality of the blade. Not enough carbon and the sword would not hold its edge, conversely if the steel contained too much carbon the outcome would be that it is hard and brittle, which could result in an undesirable failure of the sword. (View Carbon vs Stainless Steel video to learn all about it)
The perfect sword was one that is strong enough to bend but not shatter, with a semi-hard sharp edge.
This technique was passed on through the centuries, and in modern day is used only by a few boutique knife manufacturers like Helle from Norway who uses it to produce top quality 3 layered steel outdoor and hunting knives. This triple laminated steel is used in the blade of many Helle knives. Helle also uses Sandvik 12C 27 steel - one of the best single layered stainless steel for knives – in some of their range.
In this video Bill the Knife Man explains the features of the Nordic style Helle Brakar knife, with its unique 3-layer steel and beautiful walnut and curly birch handle.
Helle have been making knives since the 1930s and, typical of the European knife making dynasties, Helle continues to be family owned. Helle takes a tremendous amount of pride in their product, making the best knives, which is mainly hunting and fishing knives, matched with specifically designed beautiful leather sheaths. Since its humble beginnings, the company has developed a high level of expertise that has been passed on for generations, and much of the production continues to be done manually. (Click here to watch documentary about Helle)
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