1055 Carbon quality

Apr 21, 2008
I am new to collecting, as you can tell. What is the quality of 1055 Carbon and how well does it hold an edge.

If hardened in the typical knife blade range, it's an excellent blade steel. Edge holding will vary depending on hardness, but it sharpens easily as any carbon steel, and is on the tough/durable end of the scale.
Just read a thread on Cold Steel and that is what I was posting about. Some of there knives are 1055 Carbon. I am looking at some for general use and just wanted an honest opinon about the steel before mentioning a name. IN your opinion stay away from or get, prices like 25-50$.


Has nothing to do with quality. Has to do with properties. So it depends on what kind of blade you are looking at as to whether 1055 is an appropriate alloy.

1055 is a plain carbon steel that has about 0.55% Carbon (range is 0.5% - 0.6%)

Good for blades that must survive repeated impacts such as swords, tomahawks and throwing knives. Very tough stuff.

Not so good for edge retention in something like a skinning knife.
If you search for Joe Talmadge's steel FAQ, you will get a basic grounding in the different knife steels.
It's a great steel for large, mass produced working blades, like machetes. It is also used by some american bladesmiths for swords. Best used in the 50-57 RC range for toughness.
With carbon as its only real alloy and content below .6 you can not quench it fast enough to form a real high martensite content. More martensite = better edge and edge retention
1055 is fine for general use, unless you demand high corrosion resistance. Okapi pocket knives from Ragweedforge are 1055, and are fine users. I believe Cold Steel's 1055 offerings are more like throwing knives, which may not have a reasonable profile for general use.
I like the Okapis. Not as refined as the Opinel but they make good, down-n-dirty yard work knives. They look neat, they're easy to reprofile and are cheap to replace.

A friend of mine uses an Cold Steel 18" Barong machete in 1055 carbon steel for a great pizza cutter and sharpens it with a drag sharpener which, due to the soft steel, works very well. 1055 is a good machete steel among other uses.
Wow. Never thought of using a machete as a pizza cutter. Would probably be faster than a pizza wheel.
Then again, a pizza wheel is great for other things
I don't know if I own anything in 1055. Take that back, I think that my CS Pole Axe is. It has a decent edge, for a pole axe.
Yeah, you'd probably be fine with a CS 1055.
Everybody is hereby banned from posting links to Ragweed Forge. I am on a fixed allowance here! (And I think I can afford them, but I buy more and more and more)
I think the Cold Steel True Flight thrower takes a pretty good edge and it is 1055. It also has a pretty good profile. Not heavy enough to make a good chopper, but it would make a good camp knife. Ragnar at Ragweed forge says pretty much the same thing and he has worlds more experience than I do. If you are looking for a hard use knife on a budget you could choose a lot worse.

Just my opinion,
I would suggest that there is a BIG difference between 1055 as a mass produced factory item and 1055 in the hands of a Custom maker or Bladesmith who does his own heat treating. I suspect that commercial production 1055 knives, etc are probably right at the edge of too-soft; OK but not really happy-making. 1055 at its maximum achiveable harness as HT'ed by an experienced custom maker/smith is of course softer than the maximum achiveable harness of, say, 1095, but the 1055 is considerably tougher at any temper; still plenty hard to temper back slightly from full hardness to a very tough and practical edge.