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Thread: Black blade coatings

  1. #1
    Spyderco Forum Registered User flash900's Avatar
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    Black blade coatings

    Do any of the black coatings on Spyderco or other blades stand up to use?

    I see an awful lot of badly scratched black blades.

    Spydies: Caly 3 & Jr.; Michael Walker; Dragonfly, 2 & G10; Delica 4, FFG, G10, & Wave; Endura G10 & Wave; Rookie; Ambitious, Persistence, Tenacious; Sage 1, 2, 3; CAT CF & G10; Chicago CF; Ladybug; Bradley; Manix 2, Blue & XL; Native 4, 5 & Forum; Balance; Rescue; Salt I & Pacific; D'Allara; Junior; PPT; SuperLeaf; Urban Safety Orange; Para 2; Matriarch 2 & Lil'; Techno; Southard; Tuffthumbz Sage 2 & Para 2 mods; Cuscadi Pingo; Domino

  2. #2
    Spyderco Forum Registered User unit's Avatar
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    You have seen some scratched up blades probably, but I bet they were not Spyderco black DLC blades. DLC is TOUGH...if you scratch it, you likely scratched the steel under it too!

    Over much time, it wears, but in one year of hard use the only scratches mine has are from diamond sharpeners!
    Thanks,
    Ken (my real name)

    ...learning something new all the time.

  3. #3
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    My Para's black blade looked used and abused after the first 2 weeks of owning it.

  4. #4
    Spyderco Forum Registered User markg's Avatar
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    Black coatings wear, however it is really only a problem at first. The first few scratches are notable, however in time it resembles faded denim. I find the faded black coatings to actually have a special appeal.

  5. #5
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Water Bug's Avatar
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    This is my opinion... the whole purpose of black coatings on s, Leathermans, Chris Reeve One-Piece Range, etc., is to...

    1) Prevent the reflection of light (whatever form it may be) because you're trying not to draw attention to yourself (think military in a war zone and SWAT law enforcement).

    2) Provide additional protection from rust and corrosion.

    Although black coatings look cool and tactical, that was not their intended purpose. Their intended purpose was to subdue light reflection. So, it matters not that a black coated blade gets scratched up from use... what matters is that it doesn't reflect light to draw the crosshairs of a sniper your way.

    Again, my opinion. Just use the knife and chalk up the scratches as "war scores."

  6. #6
    Spyderco Forum Registered User unit's Avatar
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    IDK what to say. I have two DLC knives from Spyderco and every mark I ever go that I THOUGHT was a scratch turned out to be bits of metal embedded in the surface. i.e. cutting through aluminum sheeting left silver streaks of aluminum embedded in the blade...liberal use of a rubber pencil eraser removed the "scratches".

    Also after food prep the blades appear gray or even white...this is again material on the blade and not wear to the coating...a quick wipe of vegetable oil and the blade was dark black again.

    I will not say it is impossible to scratch (I have done it), but if you succeed in scratching it you are also probably scratching the metal underneath.
    Thanks,
    Ken (my real name)

    ...learning something new all the time.

  7. #7
    Administrator TazKristi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Water Bug View Post
    This is my opinion... the whole purpose of black coatings on s, Leathermans, Chris Reeve One-Piece Range, etc., is to...

    1) Prevent the reflection of light (whatever form it may be) because you're trying not to draw attention to yourself (think military in a war zone and SWAT law enforcement).

    2) Provide additional protection from rust and corrosion.

    Although black coatings look cool and tactical, that was not their intended purpose. Their intended purpose was to subdue light reflection. So, it matters not that a black coated blade gets scratched up from use... what matters is that it doesn't reflect light to draw the crosshairs of a sniper your way.

    Again, my opinion. Just use the knife and chalk up the scratches as "war scores."
    It might be worth noting, a coating can (and often does) actually make rust/corrosion worse. Water Bug, you are correct, the intended purpose is light discipline.

    Kristi
    There is nothing more important than this one day.

  8. #8
    Spyderco Forum Registered User flash900's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TazKristi View Post
    It might be worth noting, a coating can (and often does) actually make rust/corrosion worse. Water Bug, you are correct, the intended purpose is light discipline.

    Kristi
    Thanks, Kristi.

    Since I don't worry about light reflecting off my folders or want the mall-Ninja look, I also don't need to pay extra for black coated blades.

    Spydies: Caly 3 & Jr.; Michael Walker; Dragonfly, 2 & G10; Delica 4, FFG, G10, & Wave; Endura G10 & Wave; Rookie; Ambitious, Persistence, Tenacious; Sage 1, 2, 3; CAT CF & G10; Chicago CF; Ladybug; Bradley; Manix 2, Blue & XL; Native 4, 5 & Forum; Balance; Rescue; Salt I & Pacific; D'Allara; Junior; PPT; SuperLeaf; Urban Safety Orange; Para 2; Matriarch 2 & Lil'; Techno; Southard; Tuffthumbz Sage 2 & Para 2 mods; Cuscadi Pingo; Domino

  9. #9
    Spyderco Forum Registered User HellHound's Avatar
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    There is that awesome stuff dura coat for guns and etc. If you apply it to the blade and wait a week before rough use it should be as good as dlc coat.
    thewannabesurvivalist

  10. #10
    Spyderco Forum Registered User defenestrate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Water Bug View Post
    Although black coatings look cool and tactical, that was not their intended purpose. Their intended purpose was to subdue light reflection. So, it matters not that a black coated blade gets scratched up from use... what matters is that it doesn't reflect light to draw the crosshairs of a sniper your way.
    Would like to point out that subdued light relection *is* a tactical feature. Not to be confused with Tacti-Cool mall ninja appeal.
    I don't get mad. I get..Stabby.
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  11. #11
    Spyderco Forum Registered User bladese97's Avatar
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    DLC is one of the toughest coatings I ever tried! It does show signs of use, and I too, find it to be !
    The coating on my Para pe is wearing kind of quick, but it is my fault; I use my wifes' hair dryer to dry me knives after cleaning, and the first few times(not knowing much about them), I used it too close, and didn't know you could deliver cooler air. Now I know lol

    John
    "Spyderco...does a pocket good"
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  12. #12
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Water Bug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TazKristi View Post
    It might be worth noting, a coating can (and often does) actually make rust/corrosion worse. Water Bug, you are correct, the intended purpose is light discipline.

    Kristi
    Thanks for the clarification, Kristi! Wasn't aware of the potential for rust/corrosion with regards to blade coatings.

  13. #13
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Water Bug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by defenestrate View Post
    Would like to point out that subdued light relection *is* a tactical feature. Not to be confused with Tacti-Cool mall ninja appeal.
    Ah, yes, very good point and a big difference! Thanks for the clarification!

  14. #14
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    I have one DLC Spyderco and I do not like the DLC. The DLC adds just a bit of friction when cutting.

    For the record I am not, and never will be a ninja or special op's and do not need light supression for my EDC knives.

    I greatly prefer the shiney ones for their slightly easer evey day cutting ability.
    Not really all that slick

  15. #15
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    Coming from a company where almost all our blades were black--and where I personally did a lot of warranty repairs--I have seen how various coatings stand up to hard use.

    Black Teflon is the least expensive and least durable. I have worn it off blades by cutting corrugated cardboard. It does reduce cutting friction somewhat, but doesn't last and is somewhat shiny.

    PVD (physical vapor deposit) is basically an industrial paint. It's tougher than teflon, but is still a surface application and will scratch and wear pretty readily.

    Epoxy Powder Coat is applied as a powder and then baked to fuse it to the blade. It's economical, but it shows scratches pretty easily. It won't necessarily wear down to the bare steel easily, but it shows surface scratches. It also causes a lot of drag when cutting.

    TICN (titanium carbonitride) is a higher-quality coating that is much more durable than simple surface coatings. It will scratch, but is pretty tough. It's what you'll find on most of Spyderco's Japanese-made knives.

    DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) is an IonBond coating that is actually bonded to the steel at a molecular level. It also has a higher hardness than most blade steels, so what often appears to be a scratch on it is actually the "other" material that rubbed off onto the DLC. The tough part with DLC on blades is keeping it looking good. By nature it has a "flat" look and can appear blotchy. A good oil or lubricant can give it a nice, uniform "wet" look, but it's hard to maintain. Over time, it can still scratch, but it's pretty tough.

    There are other coatings out there, but these are the most common.

    I hope this helps.

    Stay safe,

    Mike
    Michael Janich
    Spyderco Special Projects Coordinator
    Founder and Lead Instructor, Martial Blade Concepts

  16. #16
    Spyderco Forum Registered User I. M. Nutts's Avatar
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    Scratches on knife blades are a badge of honor.

    No trees were harmed in the production of this message. However, a rather large number of Electrons and Magnetic Particles were somewhat inconvenienced.

  17. #17
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Evil D's Avatar
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    I'd love to see pics of heavily used black blades just to get an idea of how bad (good?) they look when well used.

    SHARPEN IT LIKE YOU LOVE IT, USE IT LIKE YOU HATE IT
    ~David

    Official plea to Sal: Can we PLEASE get a DLC Yojimbo 2? PLEASE!!?

  18. #18
    Spyderco Forum Registered User flash900's Avatar
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    Mike,
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Sounds like you are saying that DLC is the best coating available for anyone who wants a black blade.

    As for me, I don't go looking for trouble so I will try to stick with uncoated blades made of the more rust-resistant steels.

    Spydies: Caly 3 & Jr.; Michael Walker; Dragonfly, 2 & G10; Delica 4, FFG, G10, & Wave; Endura G10 & Wave; Rookie; Ambitious, Persistence, Tenacious; Sage 1, 2, 3; CAT CF & G10; Chicago CF; Ladybug; Bradley; Manix 2, Blue & XL; Native 4, 5 & Forum; Balance; Rescue; Salt I & Pacific; D'Allara; Junior; PPT; SuperLeaf; Urban Safety Orange; Para 2; Matriarch 2 & Lil'; Techno; Southard; Tuffthumbz Sage 2 & Para 2 mods; Cuscadi Pingo; Domino

  19. #19
    Spyderco Forum Registered User angusW's Avatar
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    I'm looking forward to my first DLC blade when the all black Manix 2 comes out.
    Member of the LH Military club.

    My Spydies

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by flash900 View Post
    Mike,
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Sounds like you are saying that DLC is the best coating available for anyone who wants a black blade.

    As for me, I don't go looking for trouble so I will try to stick with uncoated blades made of the more rust-resistant steels.
    I'd say it's the best of the commonly available coatings used on commercial blades. There are other coatings that have been and are still being used on mid-tech and custom pieces that are also very good. REKAT used to use Walter Birdsong's Black-T coating, which is excellent. Zirconium carbonitride provides a milspec flat dark earth color and appears to be pretty solid. I know a custom maker who uses Cera-Kote on his blades.

    Bottom line: There are many coatings out there. My experience has been based on personally working with some of the most common ones and seeing what they look like when they come back for warranty repair. To really judge them, you'd need some form of empirical testing that's relevant to your needs and actual use.

    Stay safe,

    Mike
    Michael Janich
    Spyderco Special Projects Coordinator
    Founder and Lead Instructor, Martial Blade Concepts

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