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Best Steel for knife making

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by PlayMaker, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. PlayMaker


    Nov 4, 2007
    What is the BEST steel for sharpness and edge retention used in knife making?
  2. nate1714


    Apr 16, 2005
    no such thing it depends on how u use it...some make it able to hold edge but makes it brittle...its a personal choice...
  3. Ilovetoolsteel


    Jul 28, 2003

    Hands down it has to be 420hc. That has to be a reason so many companies use it.
  4. Keith_H


    Jul 20, 2007
    Edge retention- cpm15v, toughness- S7, sharpness- lots are sharp it depends on edge geometry. INFI is a good production knife steel.

    There is no real "best", most good knife steels are good; A2 is good but that doesn't mean that 52100 is crap.
  5. beluga


    Nov 17, 2001
    Personally I like properly heat treated 52100. Makes an excellent edge. But I guess it's a metter of personal preference.
  6. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod Staff Member Super Mod

    Apr 6, 2000
    Welcome to Bladeforums!

    I've moved the thread to the knifemakers' area, since they have an expert's view of what works best.

    It does depend on what the knife will be used for, under what conditions, what cost constraints are involved ... not an easy question.
  7. SteelSlaver


    Feb 17, 2007
    What type of knife is a main consideration. What will it be cutting? Where will it be used?
    A knife use to chop the tops off pineapples will not need the same properties as one used to fillet a king salmon. A really hard steel that slices through things will keep its edge for a long time, but, if I start using it to hack at stuff it may chip off and I will lose my edge that way. Am I building a thin knife with a very acute edge or a heavy blade with a more reinforced edge. Will it be used in a corrosive area or on corrosive items?
  8. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Welcome to the forums.
    Filling out your profile helps a lot, so please complete it.

    The dreaded "B" word (BEST) is avoided when talking about things like women and steel.

    There are many GOOD steels out there. Some are available anywhere and some are harder to get. Most makers start with a simple steel such as 1075/1080/1084. This steel is the simplest formula and has the lowest ( and most forgiving) heat treatment.Another good starter steel is 5160. HT is simple, the steel works easily, and it is CHEAP. In stainless steels there are several choices. CPM steels are quite popular, with CPM154, CPM S30V, CPM 3V,and others being easy to find. The old standards such as O-1,D-2, 440C, 1095, 52100, .... are used in many great knives. There are many sources, but two of the main ones are Admiral Steel, http://www.admiralsteel.com/ ; and Crucible Steel, http://www.crucibleservice.com/index.cfm . The amount of technical information may be confusing, but there are a lot of steel choices there.

    Reading the past posts on this forum about steel discussions may help,too.
    Reading and studying some basic metallurgy may not sound fun, but will put you miles ahead when picking a steel, as well as understanding HT (which is where many makers fail).
    Again, welcome,
  9. Barkes Knife Shop

    Barkes Knife Shop

    Jan 2, 2006
    1095-1084-52100 is the best for a using knife in my book. Just look around and see what people are using and check out the books on knife making. Hope this was of help to you and have a safe day. :thumbup::)
  10. Leu Custom

    Leu Custom

    Jun 2, 2007
    Properly heat treated anything (cept for a few steels) will work best! There is my vague answer to everything :D
  11. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod Staff Member Super Mod

    Apr 6, 2000
  12. Teknition


    Mar 11, 2006
    I read this on a knife forum (cant recall which one or I'd give credit).....

    in summary.........

    "The best steel for making a knife is the one that the maker knows the properties of, has an intimate knowledge of (tested), and can heat treat properly"

    Words to live by in my books.

    I'd rather have a knife made from 1084 carbon steel that was heat treated properly, than to have a knife made from a high tech stainless like s30v or cpm154 that was improperly heat treated.

    Alot of makers were making great knives long before the "super steels" came along. Research your steels, pick one to make knives from, and stick with that steel until you master it.

    If you are just starting out making knives I would recommend you pick a plain high carbon steel to begin with (10XX series) as heat treating is much easier to do.
  13. Rob!


    Feb 9, 2000
    S30V may have been the first steel actually designed for knife blades. It has outstanding edge retention, toughness and corrosion resistance. Just about anything else will sacrifice one of those to get more of another.

    It would be my choice for the 'top' blade steel, if there is such a thing - and there really isn't until you have defined all your needs as well as the makers capabilities.

  14. SteelSlaver


    Feb 17, 2007
    The thread given by Esav Benyamin says about all there is to say on the subject. Tons of solid information on which to base your steel selection on. Best I have ever seen.

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