4034 steel is a low-end steel which contains carbon. It is frequently used for knives.
4034 is on the softer side, but still makes a decent knife which isn’t too expensive. If a knife is made from 4034 steel, it is likely mass produced and is definitely not a very high-end knife.
This being said, if you are looking for a somewhat cheap knife, one made from 4034 is not a bad choice.
Kitchen knives made from 4034 steel can be found, but it is more common to find pocket knives made from 4034 steel.
What is 4034 steel?
4034 steel is quite a soft steel that makes a decent choice for knives because it takes an edge well and is easy to sharpen.
It is a pretty cheap steel so if you have a knife made from 4034 it will not be high end, but it will certainly be usable and is a fine choice if you are a casual home chef or need a pocketknife for random applications.
4034 Steel Composition:
4034 steel contains 0.5% carbon, 14% chromium and 0.1% of manganese. Since it contains more than 12% of chromium, it is technically a stainless steel.
Each component does something different in terms of the blade:
- Carbon: improves hardness
- Chromium: helps with edge retention and enhances corrosion/wear resistance
- Manganese: though a very small amount, increases the hardness and brittleness
What are the properties of 4034 steel?:
As mentioned before, 4034 steel is in no way high end or expensive. It is often mass produced and any blade made with this steel is likely quite cheap. This is not always bad though – not everyone is in the market for a professional knife that might cost them a few hundred dollars.
4034 is generally easy to sharpen and takes an edge quite easily. This is good because it means that if you purchase a lower-end 4034 knife and it wears down on you, you can sharpen it easily and not worry about tons of upkeep.
Because it contains chromium, it has a great resistance to corrosion – another bonus of 4034 because even if the knife is cheap, you know it will last for a good amount of time because it won’t corrode.
It does not have great edge retention but again for many people this won’t really be a huge problem, you can sharpen it quite easily. If you are someone who is not into sharpening your knives and just buys new knives when they get dull (no judgement!), you can at least know that you aren’t spending a ton of money on 4034 blades each time they get dull.
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What is the hardness of 4034 steel?:
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4034 is a 54-55 on the Rockwell scale. It is not a very hard steel but is okay in terms of being used for a knife.
Since it is not very hard, it is easy to sharpen as mentioned earlier.
Will 4034 steel rust?:
The chromium content of 4034 steel means that it is not likely to rust or corrode. All stainless steels in general are unlikely to rust which is why they are so widely used in so many different applications.
In general, most stainless steel knives will become dull before the rust. Note: any steel that contains more than 12% of chromium is considered to be a stainless steel and is unlikely to rust.
How strong is 4034 steel?:
4034 steel is quite durable and will definitely lose its sharp edge before it actually breaks. It is quite solid and is unlikely to get broken or dented.
It is strong enough to be used in many work-type knives such as pocket knives or boot knives. Many people use a 4034 type steel blade daily for work related tasks and do not have an issue other than eventually needing to sharpen the blade.
Most everyday knives made from stainless steel are not likely to break or snap, but rather the issue lies in how long it maintains a sharp edge.
Is it easy to sharpen 4034 steel blades?
Because 4034 steel is not as hard as other steels, it is easy to sharpen. You can sharpen most knives (4034 included) on a grit stone.
Many people prefer to use a 1k grit stone which has been soaked in water for a few minutes to sharpen their knives. A good tip is to draw on the edge of the knife with sharpie, and as you sharpen the knife’s edge, that sharpie will wear off as a sharper edge is uncovered.
If the sharpie is not going away as you sharpen, you will have to sharpen at a steeper angle to really access the edge of the knife.
Though 4034 steel blades do not retain their edges forever, they are easy enough to sharpen and you may actually start to enjoy sharpening your knives so that you can keep them in good working order.
So, is 4034 steel a good choice for knife blades? If you are looking for a modestly priced knife that is of decent quality, the answer is yes!
Many people use 4034 steel blades (in the form of pocketknives) for everyday use and do not have a problem. A 4034 knife is not going to be the fanciest, sharpest or most durable on the market, but it will definitely work for most applications.
Other bonuses are that 4034 steel knives will pretty much never get rusty, and they are easy to sharpen and care for.
If you are someone who is not concerned with having the sharpest, most expensive and fancy knife you can get, then 4034 is in no way a bad choice. Many of us are just looking for a decent, usable knife that is not going to cost an arm and a leg.
4034 steel is an especially good choice for a pocketknife that you might just toss in your truck, or something you may use at work to open boxes or cut rope.