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"How to Dull Bright Polished Steel Knife Blade"

March 31, 2010

I'm trying to dull a highly polished steel knife blade. I don't want to damage the steel, as it is valuable... just want to tone it. Any suggestions other than leaving it outside for a few months.

Joyce Osborne
hobbyist - Silver Spring, Maryland

April 1, 2010

Hi, Joyce. How do you know that it is polished steel rather than nickel plated steel or stainless steel? Normally, steel won't polish very bright and won't stay bright for long at all.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

First of two simultaneous responses -- April 2, 2010

If it is a knife of value, it probably is not plated. It reasonably could be a 440 SST that is polished. You could have it bead/grit blasted with a very fine media to produce a matte/dull finish, or chemically etched. You might want to determine if 'dulling' will reduce its' value.

Willie Alexander
- Colorado Springs, Colorado

Second of two simultaneous responses -- April 3, 2010

Well I have sharpened knives as part of my business for about 25 years. I suppose it is just another way to justify having a $2000.00 belt sander and buffing wheels. In all the years I've been at it I've seen very few plated knives. Most of them were fob knives like letter openers or fake swords. Most high quality knives are of carbon steel. O1, A2, M2 or D2. These steels simply hold an edge better but they can not be polished to a high finish. 1000 weight is usually the highest and beyond that the finish begins to pin and tortoise shell. Also tool steels rust so they are seldom used for kitchen knives. Most kitchen and chef knives are made from 440C which is a stainless steel. It holds an edge reasonably well, resists chipping and point snapping and can be polishes to a mirror finish which is some what desirable where cleanliness needs to be observed. If I had to take a guess I would have to say your knife is probably made from 440. I have no idea why you would like to dull it but in my industry the customer is always right even if they are really really wrong! To that end the simple method is to get some Scotch Brite. The red stuff should be about right and rub the blade with it till the shine goes down to an expectable level. 1000 weight wet and dry sandpaper with water or olive oil will give much the same finish. Both of these items are available at your local hardware store. You can do the same with tool steel but I tend to discourage it as it encourages it to rust even faster than normal. From what you have described you probably are dealing with 440 so by all means have at it.

rod henrickson
Rod Henrickson

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


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