A poor craftsman blames their tools. This is an old quote but one that is true. Before tools are introduced to a job, you must first get your tools. When purchasing tools, one of the things you need to consider is what material your devices will be made from. Taping knives and putty knives are made from three different kinds of metals: stainless steel, carbon steel, and blue steel. You must ask yourself which kind of material is the correct one for you to use?
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is the most common steel used in manufacturing tools such as taping and joint knives. Stainless steel is created from infusing chromium into the steel during the smelting process. Chromium is a metal that is more impervious to oxidation than iron.
What is Oxidation?
Oxidation is the process of atoms or compounds losing electrons. This means that iron-based materials will turn into a red-brown colour, commonly known as rust. The technical term for rust is iron oxide. Iron oxide forms as iron is left alone with oxygen and water for a period of time.
The Pros of Using Stainless Steel Taping Knives
The most apparent positive of using stainless steel instead of any other steel is that it is more rust-proof than different steel types. Stainless steel is also much more durable material than other kinds of steel.
The Cons of Using Stainless Steel Taping Knives
Stainless steel taping knives are less flexible than joint knives made from different materials. If your goal is to feather the mud, you may want to use a carbon steel joint knife.
Dewalt 4″ All Stainless Steel Joint Knife w/ Welded HandleDrywall Finishing CAD $24.31
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What is Carbon Steel?
Carbon steel has a carbon content ranging between 0.05% – 2.1%. When comparing carbon steel to stainless steel, carbon steel is much more flexible than stainless steel. Taping knives made from carbon steel are the ideal tool for feathering and smoothing tasks. However, joint knives made from carbon steel are much more susceptible to rusting and oxidation.
The Pros of Using Carbon Steel
Carbon steel is more flexible in certain areas, so a carbon steel taping knife is preferred in these cases. Carbon steel also has a higher tensile strength than stainless steel, and carbon steel drywall putty knives can withstand higher tension over stainless steel drywall knives. Carbon steel knives also cost less than stainless steel knives.
The Cons of Using Carbon Steel
The biggest con to using a carbon steel knife over a stainless steel knife is that carbon will rust faster than a stainless steel knife. If you do not take care of your tools, or if you leave them at a job site overnight and it rains, your tools will degrade faster than stainless steel tools.
Dewalt Joint Knife w/ Soft Grip Handle – Carbon SteelDrywall Finishing CAD $17.27
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What is Blue Steel?
Believe it or not, blue steel is not only a joke from Zoolander.
Blue steel is carbon steel made from the process of passivation using a black oxide coating. This black oxide coating turns the steel from a black carbon look into a dark blue hue gained from the passivation process. Blue steel is considered a middle ground between stainless steel and carbon steel because of its inherited traits.
The Pros of Using Blue Steel
The positives of using blue steel over stainless steel and carbon steel are that it provides the best of both worlds. Blue steel is more flexible than stainless steel allowing professionals to have a nuance to their profession. Blue steel is also more rust-resistant than carbon steel.
The Cons of Using Blue Steel
The cons, on the other hand, are similar to carbon steel. Blue steel is not as rust-resistant as stainless steel. Similar to carbon steel, you will need to take care of your tools made from blue steel.
Should I Use A Stainless Steel, Blue Steel or Carbon Steel Taping Knife?
If you are a worker that takes care of their tools, a carbon steel taping knife should suit your needs. However, if you work in more damp conditions, you should choose stainless steel instead. Contractors who use stainless steel and have been thinking of using carbon steel may want to try blue steel before moving onto carbon steel.
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