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Is Elmax Hard To Sharpen? All You Need to Know

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Elmax is stainless steel that also exhibits qualities more commonly associated with high carbon steel, which makes this steel very popular among knife makers. The edge-holding capability of this steel and the level of hardness to which it can be hardened and tempered contribute to its popularity. Stainless steel already has a reputation for being difficult to sharpen, so does this trait of stainless steel carry over the Emax steel, making it difficult to sharpen?

Elmax steel is harder to sharpen than a carbon steel knife is. This is because Elmax steel is stainless steel which is resistant to wear. However, it is not more difficult to sharpen than some other stainless steel and sharpens in a similar way to another popular stainless steel, S30V.

Stainless steel has been a popular knife-making steel for a long time, and it has its place in the knife world for knives for a particular purpose.

Advancements in the manufacture of stainless steel have improved their quality and given them some of the characteristics of carbon steel. But has this made them easier to sharpen? Elmax is one of the new generation stainless steel types; how easily do knives made with this steel sharpen?

If you are interested in checking out the best Elmax steel knife we recommend and use you can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).

Is Elmax Hard To Sharpen?
Is Elmax Hard To Sharpen?

Stainless steels have been used for some time in knife making, but they have shown some characteristics that make stainless steel not great for all knives. Stainless steels have a reputation for not holding their edge, as well as a knife made from high carbon steel.

Stainless steel was generally chosen for knives that would be subjected to moisture, humidity, or that were intended for use in a corrosive environment.

In these conditions, stainless steel makes a lot of sense, and the trade-off between edge retention and difficulty in sharpening was acceptable.

The additional alloys added to stainless steel make them resistant to wear, staining, and corrosion, which has resulted in this steel becoming popular for knives.

Our choice: If you are interested in buying the knife with Elmax steel we use and recommend Enzo Trapper 115 Fixed Blade Elmax (Amazon link). This knife is built well and it is good for all outdoor activities.

Is It Difficult To Sharpen Elmax Steel Knives?

Is Elmax Hard To Sharpen?
Is It Difficult To Sharpen Elmax Steel Knives?

Stainless steels are known for their high corrosion and wear resistance, which is provided by the chromium, vanadium, and molybdenum content in the steel. These additives to the steel are what make traditional stainless steel hard to sharpen.

Elmax stainless steel is resistant to wear, making it harder to sharpen. The abrasives used in many sharpening systems cannot cut this steel effectively. Sharpening a knife is wearing the steel away on the edge using an abrasive substance, and this wear is what stainless steel is designed to be resistant to.

Elmax has a higher chromium content than most other stainless steel. For a steel to be called stainless, it must have a minimum of 12% chromium. Elmax has a total chromium content of 18%, which is high compared to many other stainless steel alloys.

This gives Elmax Steel a high resistance to wear, but many other high-quality stainless steels have similar chromium content.

As a result, a knife that is made from Elmax stainless steel is no more difficult to sharpen than any other knife that is made from high-grade, good-quality stainless steel. 

Most stainless steels are more difficult to sharpen than high carbon steels because of their resistance to wear, but it does not mean they are difficult to sharpen. What it does mean is that you need to use the right tools to sharpen stainless steel knives.

Does Hardness Affect Sharpening?

Elmax steel is a new generation stainless steel that can be hardened to between 61 and 62 HRC, which is significantly harder than most other stainless steel types.

Generally, most other stainless steel knives can only be hardened to 58 or 59 HRC. An HRC of above 60 HRC is normally the domain of carbon steel knives which is why their edge is more durable than that of most stainless steel knives.

The hardness of the Elmax steel, as a result, does not make it more difficult to sharpen than other good quality stainless steels such as S30V. In fact, most knife makers report that Elmax sharpens in a similar fashion to S30V, and the level of difficulty to sharpen these two steel types is about the same.

Elmax steel has changed this perception of stainless steel knives since the unique way in which it is made gives it a hardness that is generally more commonly associated with carbon steel blades.

But does this additional hardness that is characteristic of Elmax steel make it even more difficult to sharpen?

The hardness of the steel is generally not a contributing factor to the difficulty in sharpening a knife made from that steel. Carbon steel knives are harder and tougher than stainless steel knives, but they are easier to sharpen than most stainless steel knives.

The difference between the two steels is that the Emax steel will have better edge retention than a knife made from S30V will have.

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Painting a Knife Blade: Decoration or a Protective Coating?

What Is The Best Way To Sharpen Elmax Steel Knives?

The secret to sharpening stainless steel more easily has always been in choosing the right tools to sharpen with. Steels that are hard-wearing, such as the stainless steel types, are resistant to having steel removed by abrasion.

This means that many sharpening tools that are not made from abrasives that will easily cut the stainless steel will have difficulty in sharpening these knives.

Abrasives that use aluminum oxide as the abrasive medium are generally not tough enough to effectively remove material from Elmax steel and other high-quality stainless steel.

The best way to sharpen Knives made from Elmax steel is to use sharpening systems that use silicon carbide abrasives or diamond abrasives as the cutting medium for sharpening. Whetstones can be used to sharpen Elmax as well, but unless they are high quality, the going will be slow.

While it is possible to sharpen Elmax steel knives on the sharpening systems that you would normally use to sharpen carbon steel blades, the process will take longer since the removal of material will not be as easy as with a carbon steel blade.

But you don’t need fancy equipment to sharpen Elmax knives. You can purchase wet and dry silicon carbide sandpaper from your local hardware store and tape it to a smooth, flat surface such as a piece of tempered glass or a granite block. This will give you a cheap and effective way to sharpen your Elmax steel knife!

The action that you would use to sharpen your Elmax knife in this way would be the same action that you would use on a normal whetstone.

Pros And Cons Of Elmax Steel Knives

Elmax steel, known for its high wear resistance and ability to retain a sharp edge, has become a popular choice among knife enthusiasts and professionals. Like any material, it has its strengths and weaknesses. The following table is a  breakdown of the pros and cons of Elmax steel knives.

1. Excellent Edge Retention: Elmax steel can maintain its sharpness for extended periods, reducing the need for frequent sharpening.1. Sharpening Difficulty: Due to its hardness, Elmax steel can be more challenging to sharpen than some other steels.
2. High Wear Resistance: The steel is resistant to wear, making it durable and long-lasting.2. Price: Knives made from Elmax steel can be pricier than those made from other materials.
3. Good Corrosion Resistance: With a high chromium content, Elmax steel offers good resistance to rust and corrosion.3. Weight: Elmax steel knives can be slightly heavier than knives made from other materials, which might be a concern for some users.
4. Versatility: Suitable for various applications, from everyday tasks to specialized uses.4. Requires Specialized Tools for Sharpening: Not all sharpening tools are effective for Elmax steel, requiring users to invest in specific sharpeners.
5. Consistent Quality: Elmax steel has a uniform distribution of carbides, ensuring consistent quality and performance.

Additional Questions About Elmax Steel Knives

1. What sharpening tools work best for Elmax steel? Sharpening systems that use silicon carbide abrasives or diamond abrasives are most effective for Elmax steel. High-quality whetstones can also be used, but the sharpening process might be slower.

2. How often should I sharpen my Elmax steel knife? The frequency of sharpening depends on the usage of the knife. Due to Elmax steel’s excellent edge retention, it may require less frequent sharpening compared to knives made of other materials.

3. Does the hardness of Elmax steel affect its sharpening? Yes, Elmax steel can be hardened to between 61 and 62 HRC, making it harder than most stainless steels. While this contributes to its edge retention, it also means that sharpening requires a bit more effort and the right tols.

4. Can I use a honing rod for my Elmax steel knife? Yes, a honing rod can be used to maintain the edge of an Elmax steel knife. However, ensure that the honing rod is suitable for harder steels to achieve the best results.

5. Is Elmax steel corrosion-resistant? Yes, with a chromium content of 18%, Elmax steel exhibits good corrosion resistance, making it suitable for environments where the knife might be exposed to moisture.

6. How does Elmax steel compare to other popular knife steels like S30V? Elmax steel offers similar sharpening characteristics to S30V. Both are high-quality stainless steels, but Elmax tends to have slightly better edge retention due to its unique alloy composition.7. Are Elmax steel knives worth the investment? While Elmax steel knives might be pricier than some other options, their durability, edge retention, and corrosion resistance make them a worthy investment, especially for those who value premium knife quality.


Elmax steel is a tough stainless steel that has become popular as knife-making steel for its similarities in edge toughness and retention to carbon steel, yet with the corrosion and wear resistance of stainless. 

Because Elmax is stainless steel and resistant to wear, it is more difficult to sharpen than carbon steel knives, but not more difficult to sharpen than other stainless steel.

The only downside to a knife made from Elmax steel is the price. Because of the benefits that Elmax steel brings in the form of durability, the cost of this steel is generally higher than other stainless steel.

An Elmax steel knife is, however, a pleasure to use and own, and the edge retention will require less frequent sharpening than most other stainless steel knives!

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