A bit of history... Damasteel's RWL34™ 06 October 2020
Damasteel's RWL34™ steel : exceptional properties, and a story to match.
RWL34™, made by Damasteel, is an exceptional knife-making steel in more ways than just one. It combines all the advantages that a knife-maker can seek in the manufacture of knife blades, whether fixed or folding : easy to work, it guarantees tenacity and resistance, while ensuring an excellent cutting edge. An ideal product, for knives that aim for excellence. The fruit of a long and beautiful history of enthusiasts, which we will present to you in this blog article.
East meets West: at the origins of RWL34™, the ATS34 steel
The story of this stainless steel shade takes us to Japan. It was in the land of the rising sun that the first version of the RWL34™ steel was born. Forged and manufactured by the company Kobe Steel, it was used to make the stainless steel cages that surrounded the ball bearings. Its exceptional resistance properties enabled the ball bearings, which were constantly subjected to friction, to maintain their efficiency over time. No one was thinking of using this steel in knife making : it took nothing less than a visionary to take this jewel of Japanese craftsmanship and transform it into a steel that would offer knife-makers everything you would expect from a stainless steel grade. This visionary ? Robert W. Loveless.
Bob W. Loveless, at the edge of progress
But who is this man, that history affectionately calls "Bob" ? Born in 1929 and deceased in 2010, Bob Loveless was an American knifemaker with a long list of accomplishments. Legend has it that, as a minor, he changed his birth certificate in order to join the Merchant Navy. His many travels took him to bars all over the world, where he would have witnessed many battles with knives - from these exploits would come his interest in knives and knife-making, in all its forms. He made "Delaware Maid" knives for Abercrombie & Fitch, which remained among the brand's best-sellers for a long time, and co-founded the Knifemakers' Guild alongside Blackie Collins and John Nelson Cooper, His thirst for innovation in forging and manufacturing led him in turn to introduce the use of micarta for the manufacture of knife handles, but also to popularise drop point hollow ground blades and hollowed out full tang knives. History will also remember him for having introduced and popularised the use of the steel, which is of interest to us today, in knife-making.
From USA to Sweden, one common goal : excellence
The story of Damasteel, like the life of Robert Loveless, is a perpetual quest for excellence. Knifemakers and blacksmiths from all over the world now know the reputation and forging talents of the legendary Swedish manufacturer. Pelle Billgren, the company's founder, was interested in the promise of a stainless steel that was easy to use and had all the qualities that made it so special. Thanks to Bob Loveless, Damasteel put all its know-how into the development of a new steel grade, a further improved version of the ATS34. As a tribute to the American visionary, this new grade is named RWL34™, after the initials of the man who introduced this grade to cutlers around the world.
Improved? Indeed, Damasteel was the first company to produce ATS34 by powder metallurgy, a process that guarantees an exceptional quality and purity of steel. A complex process that we have detailed in our blog article on this subject. The result of this long and beautiful history is an exceptional grade of stainless steel, ideal for demanding cutlers.
RWL34™, a martensitic steel with exceptional properties
RWL34™ is a compendium of the combined know-how and talents of two countries. To the basic "recipe", developed by the Japanese and taken over by Bob Loveless, Damasteel adds Vanadium to the process of powder metallurgy, which raises the qualities of ATS34 even further:
- Its design guarantees solidity, hardness after quenching and purity at all times;
- It is particularly resistant to corrosion;
- The cutting edge is maintained over time, and the quality of cut does not weaken;
- It is easy to work, grind and polish.
Its properties make it ideal for cutlers who are adept at mirror polishing. For advice on suitable polishing pastes at RWL34™, and on how to use them for optimum results, please contact SPAP Soucille, specialists in abrasives and polishing since 1962.
How to work RWL34™ steel ?
Wanting to be up to date with the history of this steel, Eurotechni provides you with the technical data sheet of RWL34™, which you can find on its product sheet. In the latter, you will find precious advice on how to work the RWL34™, but also all the necessary data to carry out its tempering and heat treatment.
If you are not equipped to carry out the latter correctly, Eurotechni can take care of the heat treatment of your blades at RWL34™. You can find all our rates and our different services in our documentation, accessible by clicking here. And if you have any questions, our team remains at your disposal by e-mail or telephone.
Convinced by RWL34™ ? Why not give it a try!
A trusted partner of Damasteel for many years, elected distributor of the year in 2017 and 2018, Eurotechni offers RWL34™ steel bars for sale, in many dimensions to suit all your needs: no less than 6 different thicknesses are available immediately from stock, cut into 1-metre or half-metre bars, in various widths, depending on the type of blade you wish to forge. We also offer this grade as sheets, for the most ambitious projects (contact us for any request).
Find all our steel bars RWL34™ from Damasteel on our website, and order them now !
For your visual pleasure...
Here are some knives, made by our customers, from RWL34™ steel. Many thanks to them for their photographs !