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How to Dull Bright Polished Steel Knife Blades

Intro / synopsis: Shiny knives are probably type 440 stainless steel and, although deliberate dulling is not suggested, red scotch brite or 1000-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper should reduce the shininess.





Q. I BOUGHT A WW2 GERMAN DRESS DAGGER [adv: ww2 daggers on eBay]. THE VET THAT BROUGHT IT BACK POLISHED THE BLADE BY PUTTING IT TO A BUFFER. IT NOW HAS A MIRROR FINISH -- HOW CAN I TONE IT DOWN??
THANKS, JACK

Jack Wells
- SARASOTA, Florida
November 13, 2023


A. Hi Jack. You should probably assure yourself that it doesn't have irreplaceable value before doing anything. But once you have decided to proceed, Rod's suggestion of using red/maroon scotch brite sounds like the way to go. Good luck.

Luck & Regards,

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


A. Ted I would suggest the grey scotchbrite pad which has the grit equivalent of about 600 grit sandpaper, it is noticeably finer than the red/maroon scotchbrite pad which is their medium grit pad. The pads will work slower than good quality sandpaper, but will impart a better finish and generally last longer than sandpaper. Sandpaper (wet and dry) dulls remarkably quickly on hardened steel.

Andrew Speer
- Ballarat, Australia


thumbs up sign Thanks, Andrew.
I don't have hands-on experience in this, so if you feel that grey scotchbrite pads [on eBay or Amazon affil link] are more appropriate for reducing a dagger's shine than the red/maroon pads or wet sandpaper that Rod had mentioned, we appreciate the input!
Luck & Regards,

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




⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩



Q. 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
March 31, 2010


A. Hi, Joyce. It's possibly nickel plated steel, but most likely stainless steel rather than steel. Normally, plain steel won't polish very bright nor stay bright for long. Assuming it's stainless, you could lacquer it or bead blast it.

Regards,

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


A. 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


A. 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 hold an edge better but they cannot 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 polished to a mirror finish which is somewhat 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 [on eBay or Amazon affil links] should be about right and rub the blade with it till the shine goes down to an acceptable level. 1000 weight wet and dry sandpaper [1000 grit on eBay or Amazon affil link] 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
gunsmith - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada




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