Saturday, September 22, 2012

Forcing a patina on a carbon steel Mora knife

I got a new toy in the mail. A Mora MG Companion. Mora knives are known as inexpensive, but reasonable quality, fixed blade knives for outdoors or light utility work. I used to have a Benchmade Fixed Griptilian knife to serve as my very-hard-to-break knife. But while it has been pressed into service to do such tasks as batoning wood and much food prep, reality is I don't do the kind of camping where a good quality, reasonably thick fixed bladed knife was useful. And instead of it languishing in my car trunk, I identified a worthy owner who has started outdoors excursions worthy of it. And I replaced it with the MG Companion.

The Mora MG Companion seems to be the successor to the Mora Clipper. Known as the cheapest quality fixed blade knife for use in outdoor survival (meaning light woodwork and food prep for backpackers and hikers). Also very light, so lightweight backpackers who wanted a fixed blade knife (because of strength and safety) would either get a small neck knife or a Mora. It is everything expected. Lightweight, handles like a rugged kitchen utility knife. And cheap so I don't worry about beating up on it. One problem. It has a carbon steel blade. This is ok in the kitchen where you can clean it right after use, but in the outdoors it is susceptible to rust. One way to handle it is to make the steel oxidize on purpose before it can rust. That is a patina.

Mora MG Companion as received

There are a lot of descriptions on how to do such a thing in the internet. Other than use (because it would develop a patina naturally, if you used it for a few years and prevented it from rusting first) the way is to apply acid to the knife. While blood works (from meat!), normally you find fruits. Popular food items to stick a knife into include apples, oranges, and potatoes. Another way to do this is to apply vinegar. And this is what I did.

1. Apply vinegar to a lanyard. I used the strap from a conference ID holder. I put a small amount of rice vinegar into a bowl, and used the lanyard to take it out of the bowl.
2. Wrap lanyard around knife blade
3. Wrap knife in a paper towel (to keep from making a mess)
4. Wait one hour.

 And voila! a carbon steel knife with a patina. So instead of shiny steel, it is a grey-blue-brown pattern. And I had to sharpen the knife when I was done. I think I rather like the fact that it is not shiny anymore. Some internet forums comment that the resale value on the knife will drop, but for a < $20 knife, that is not exactly a consideration. Especially since I have every intent to beat on this every now and then. So now, this knife lives in my car, ready for going hiking on a moments notice, or being around when we need another knife to cut food (without scaring everyone when I pull it out!).

 Mora MG Companion with rice vinegar patina
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