Chandlery November 2008 Issue

Best Boating Knives

Boye knife and Klawhorn sharpener.

David Boye, the Arizona knifemaker whose unique folding boat knife of cast dendritic cobalt won our June 2000 sailors’ knives bench test and was a reference standard for our March 2004 revisit, recently introduced a new model Basic 3 Cobalt knife. These knives doggedly retain a cutting edge when going through tough, blade-resistant materials like rope, cardboard, or even old rugs. Others give up long before the job is done. In our experience, Boye’s cobalt knives last much longer—and when they finally do slow down, they can be resharpened with just a few strokes on a medium stone. The difference, we reason, is in the metallurgy. Boye’s cobalt blades are "cast to shape and retain the pristine crystal network of highly dendritic (branching) bonded carbide throughout the blade, which aids in cutting and maintaining the structure of the cutting edge," according to the maker. Most knives are from steel that originally contained a similar crystal microstructure, but then underwent rolling, stamping, or forging to shape. This process breaks down the original carbide microstructure of the metal. The carbides at the edge are then no longer rooted into the overall microstructure. Complex heat treatment is then applied to develop properties such as hardness and toughness.

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