The Correct Steel Grade for a Boning Knife

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When buying a boning knife, it’s essential to pay close attention to the steel grade that was used to make the knife. Alongside all the other critical factors such as design, maintenance and price, steel grades play a substantial factor in how the boning knife performs.

Ultimately, when looking at the tool steel grade a boning knife was made from, or if you’re looking to make a knife yourself, you should pay attention to these properties:


Make sure to pay close attention to the hardness of the tool steel your boning knife is made from. The hardness of tool steels corresponds directly with the strength of the blade. Therefore, when looking for a high quality and strong knife, you should measure using the Rockwell C scale.


Toughness is often overlooked when searching for the correct tool steel grade; having a high-quality grade allows for cracks to be less likely. For example, a sudden impact on bones when cutting meat. When searching for toughness, you should measure using Charpy or Izod. However, a good rule of thumb is that the better the hardness of the steel, the tougher it will be.

Wear Resistance

Finally, the last factor you should inspect when choosing a boning knife is the steels wear resistance. Wear resistance allows the blade to withstand damage from adhesive and abrasive wear. Again, the harder the steel, typically means a more wear-resistant blade.

Although there are other factors, you should take into account, such as corrosion resistance and edge retention. The three listed above will help you when buying a boning knife.

Common Boning Knife Steel-grades

Tool steels are well known for their hardness and resistance to abrasion and deformation. They are one of the most popular options when constructing knives and they come in a range of different grades, some of the most common include:

  • O1: is the most popular tool steel grade worldwide and an excellent choice for boning knives. It’s remarkably tough and suitable for a range of different purposes. The whole O steel family would be a perfect choice when buying a boning knife.
  • D2: If more durability is required, we would recommend using the D series grades. It is often referred to as “semi-stainless” due to the fact it does not contain the full chromium required to make it completely stainless.
  • 420: is stainless plastic mould steel, and although it is on the lower end of the quality spectrum, its corrosion and acid resistance properties make it an excellent choice.
  • M4: is technically classified as high-speed steel, but it can make a fantastic choice for boning knives due to its high wear resistance. 

Overall, when choosing a boning knife, you should pay attention to the steel grade it was made from as it plays an impact in its toughness and wearability. However, steel grades are not everything, and all other factors should be taken into consideration when searching for the right blade, such as safety, design and the manufacturer.