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What is the difference between 1095 and 1084 ?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith, May 24, 2012.

  1. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    I have recently had a lot of steel type questions, and some queries about this steel vs that steel.
    I won't go into which stainless is best for what purpose, but the question of 1084 vs 1095 is a good one to post some info on.
    Replies to this thread should be from personal experience with it, or questions and comments about specific attributes and requirements of these two steels. Lets not get too far afield into discussing other steels, as that will quickly become a quagmire.

    Here is a recent response I sent a forumite on this question:

    1095 and 1084 sound like the the only main difference is .11% of carbon. But
    there is more than that to it.
    1095 is a shallow hardening steel, with somewhere between .90 and 1.00%
    carbon, .30% manganese, and not much else beyond traces of this and that.
    W-1 and W-2 are similar steels to 1095.
    These shallow hardening steels are trickier to get a perfect HT on, and
    require a very fast quenchant.

    1084 is the eutectoid steel, and has between .80 and .90% carbon, .90%
    manganese, and traces of this and that.
    The added manganese makes it deeper hardening, and being the eutectoid, a
    soak is not needed in HT. Any reasonably quick quenchant should work. Canola
    oil is fine for 1084.
    Aldo adds a little vanadium to his 1084 as a grain refiner, and it is
    usually about .89% carbon......so it is close to 1095 in carbon content, but
    easier to HT.

    OK, now as to telling them apart once the knife is made and hardened.....you
    probably can't. They should cut and last close to the same. A metallurgical
    laboratory making and testing 100 knives of each steel might get an average of 2-3% better
    edge retention results for the 1095, but the normal knifemaker may gain or loose that
    much in just HT error.
    Basically, if two identical 1084 and 1095 blades were made, and both had
    perfect HTs, and both were tempered to Rc59 - you could not determine which
    was which without an analysis.

    So, why use 1095 or W-2 if it is harder to HT and gives the same blade?
    It is because of the shallow hardening. That allows differential hardening
    and the attaining of a hamon or quench line. This doesn't make any
    difference in how the knife cuts, but can make it beautiful. It also proves
    the smith knows how to do the complex HT to attain it. It can be compared to
    fancy engraving on a old handgun or rifle. It doesn't make the gun shoot any
    better, but proves the quality and skills of the gunsmith who made it. These
    are aesthetic items, but add a lot of value to the knife or gun.

    Beyond the desire to make a blade with a hamon, or making springs, there is
    no reason that 1095 would be preferred to 1084 in function.....and the 1084
    will likely produce more consistent HT results. Since Aldo has introduced
    his improved 1084, many smiths use it as their stock steel. There
    is a lot of wisdom in using only one steel for all your carbon steel knives.
    I pretty much use Aldo's 1084 for all my carbon knives, and
    CPM-S35VN for stainless blades. The exceptions are swords from 1070, hamon
    blades from W-2, and super stainless blades from exotic alloys like Cowry-X
    and S90V.

    1084 also will make a better damascus mix than 1095. The deeper hardening
    1084 matches the properties of 15N20 very well., and shows a great contrast.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
  2. Nathan the Machinist

    Nathan the Machinist KnifeMaker / Machinist / Evil Genius Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 13, 2007
    I believe that W2 gets a pinch of vanadium and it is W1 that is the same as 1095, but cleaner and a narrower window.

    It is possible, within the specification of 1095, to have a pearlite nose that goes all the way over to the left and touches the left side of the graph. Low manganese and high carbon I suppose...
  3. jll346

    jll346 Knife maker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2006
    Very good info. Thank you Stacy.
  4. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    Stacy, does the vanadium in Aldo's 1084FG actually help to "refine" the grain? I was under the impression it helped stabilize or "pin" the boundaries to prevent grain "growth". I did not think it had refining properties.
  5. strahd71


    Jan 26, 2006
    thank you

  6. deloid


    Dec 19, 2007
    Nice post Stacy... should be pinned.

    I primarily use Aldo's 1084 but now, thanks to IKA, Andy Franco and Kelly Cupples I have 5 gallons of Parks 50. I ordered up some 1095 for the Hamon but I guess I should have ordered W-2. Next round of knives I guess though the 1095 will still do the job.

    1070 for swords eh? I had 5160 lined up for a short sword/dagger (Viking Seax)- what are your thoughts on 5160 versus 1070 (for swords)?

  7. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Rick , that's a common misunderstanding and among those who know a common misuse of words.
    Grain growth requires grain boundary movement as one grain absorbs another. That movement can be slowed [Zener effect] by particles .Vanadium is a strong carbide former and tends to concentrate in the grain boundaries .This tends to pin the grain boundary, retarding grain growth.
  8. deloid


    Dec 19, 2007
    Nicely stated Mete! I appreciate the scientific input from all metallurgists but you have a way of expressing concepts in a visual manner...that really works for me-
  9. P. McKinley

    P. McKinley KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 27, 2008
    Good Lord this forum is a wonderful place!!
  10. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    The answer posted was a simplified reply to a non metallurgical question.
    In the original reply I think I posted the similar steels as W-1 and W-2 ( I changed it now) , but you are correct that W-1 is super clean 1095, and W-2 has a tad of vanadium ( grain refiner).

    Thanks mete.
    Yes it RETARDS the grain growth. If you refine the grain by cycling the steel down in preparation to the final HT, the vanadium will help prevent the grains from growing larger during the soak.
  11. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    Thank you Mete... it is good to know I retained at least, a "primitive" understanding of this particular(no pun intended) bit of alloying. I grow weary of constantly having the carpet pulled out from under me. Stacy threw me for a loop but I realise his intention of keeping it simple.
  12. J. Hoffman

    J. Hoffman

    Jan 1, 2011
    Great post Stacy, thank you very much!
  13. boki_zca

    boki_zca Banned BANNED

    Nov 12, 2005
    Can a custom blade out of 1085 with superb heat threat outperform factory blades in vg10 or similar????
  14. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Yes it can, but performance needs to be well defined.
  15. tryppyr

    tryppyr KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 5, 2010
    Okay. My personal experience is based on two similarly sized bars. One was a bar of 1084 that was .25" x 1.25" from Aldo and the other was a bar of "hi carbon 1095" from Jantz (I think).

    As is so often advertised, I found the 1084 to be much simpler to work. People say it cuts like butter... I wouldn't go that far, but it WAS a smooth and easy bar to shape. Cutting it was a bandsaw was realtively effortless. The grinder removed material at a steady predictable rate. Files were very effective at refining the shape. It sanded out nicely too. The final product was very nice, but I would say the overall impression that was left when completed was that the knife was a little dull in appearance (i.e. not bright or highly mirrored).

    1095, on the other hand, was MUCH more challenging to cut with the bandsaw. The grinder had no real problems with it, but it did resist files more than 1084. Also, the particular bar I used had what seemed to me like uneven toughness. Near the rolled edge of the bar it got VERY tough to manipulate the metal, whereas the inner cut edge was somewhat easier to work. That was probably a leftover effect from the rolling of the steel. When sanded and complete, I felt 1095 was brighter and shinier.

    I had both steels heat treated by Peters, and I did no hardness tests on the HTed blades, so I can't speak to that aspect.

    - Greg
  16. Aldo Bruno

    Aldo Bruno KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 30, 2004

    Is there a point at which the amount of Vanadium becomes detrimental to the overall strength of a steel like 1084FG. The Fine Grain steels I've come across are usually in the .025 V range. If you push that to .050 would it help or hinder?
  17. Nathan the Machinist

    Nathan the Machinist KnifeMaker / Machinist / Evil Genius Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 13, 2007
    Oh absolutely it can. Not in corrosion resistance or abrasive wear resistance, but the fine edge stability and overall edge durability of the 1084 custom can easily out pace VG10. When you get so much free chromium in a steel that it is nearly stainless that element is displacing martensite.
  18. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Tryppyr, you don't know what the microstructure of the 1095 is ! For the hypereuctectoid steels [ 0.80 or higher] if you have a pearlite structure it will be difficult to saw , file ,etc. A 1200F subcritical anneal will usually help as it will change the structure to spheroidized ! That problem has been brought up here many times.

    Aldo, Alloying elements such as V, Mo, W, Nb are very strong carbide formers .Those carbides slow the movement of the grain boundary .The carbides work better if small . V at more than .025 % will produce larger carbides and more of them and they become important in wear resistance. I couldn't tell you exactly at what point there is a distinct change .It depends so much on HT .

    Zener pinning is the basic action of retarding grain growth and there are many examples of modern 'microalloying' where small amounts of various elements are added to control grain growth.Look at the two videos at the bottom of the link !

  19. boki_zca

    boki_zca Banned BANNED

    Nov 12, 2005
    My Bark River Bowie in 1085 simply outperforms all my knives in vg10 easily in all areas, ease of sharpening, sharpness , edge holding and toughness! I posted this on forums before but pple wouldnt believe it! And its not about blade geometry, just heat treatment!
  20. quint


    Nov 29, 2011
    I am new to this stuff but maybe had a misconception as I thought hamons were easier to get with 1084 or just as easy as with 1095. I guess from reading the previous posts that is not the case. Is this the case or are they just not as distinct with 1084 as with 1095.

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