Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel Grinder Knives?

Wyatt from Adamsville, TN asked

Are Stainless Steel grinder plates and knives better or Carbon Steel? What's the difference?


This is a tough question and not easily explained so I will do my best...

By definition, a steel cannot be labeled Stainless Steel unless it contains at least 11% Chromium. Chromium is a very hard element that helps keep the steel from rusting. Because Chromium is very hard, if you put too much of it into a steel when you are making a knife, grinder plate or any other product, it gets so hard that you can't get a good cutting edge on it. This is why no matter how hard you try to sharpen a kitchen butter knife you will never get it to take or hold a razor edge like a knife designed to cut meat. It won't rust, but it also won't take a sharp edge and maintain one.

On the other side of the spectrum, Carbon is soft and will rust. Carbon is the compound used in knives that allow you to get that wire sharp edge. This is why a perfect balance of Carbon for sharpening and Stainless for rust prevention is required to make a great knife. For example, Outdoor Edge Knives uses a lot of 420 Stainless and AUS8A Stainless to make knives. This steel has a high concentration of Carbon so you can get a razor sharp edge on them, however you have to take care of the knives, oil them and keep them dry or the blade will get rust spots on it.

Grinder blades are made in the exact same fashion. They all have Carbon and they all have Chromium - they label them Stainless Steel because they have the Chromium anti-rust material, but they will still rust because of the Carbon content.

To summarize: Get yourself the Carbon grinder knives if you want 'em sharper, but know that they will rust easily. If you're worried about rust, get the Stainless, but still remember that you have to take care of them and dry them thoroughly after washing. No matter which you get, I recommend buying some Weston Silicone Spray to help prevent rust and take proper care of your plates & knives.

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood


  1. Can i use a carbon steel plate with a stainless knife?

  2. Typically, you'll want to use the same material for your plates and knives. If you use a stainless knife with the carbon steel plate, the knife could grind away at the plate since carbon is softer than stainless.

    If you mixed a carbon knife with a stainless plate, you would likely wear down your knife pretty quickly, for the same reason.

    You CAN mix them. You're just going to experience some wear, more quickly.

    I recommend getting a stainless plate to go with that knife. The Hunter's Butcher Shop has them for $12.99-$24.99 (depending on your grinder size):

    Click here to take a look at Grinder Plates & Knives