A6 steel

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Jun 8, 2011
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Are they any good for knife blades? I'm also curious if it is considered as a high carbon steel. just trying to learn more about this steel and I appreciate your two cents about this inquiry.
 
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If it is what I think it is, it should work OK for knives, but there are much better options unless your only requirements are cheap and stainless.
 
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Geek, A6 isn't stainless or cheap junk.

A6 is an air hardening cold work tool and die steel and should make a very tough blade with medium edge holding. Because of its air hardening it would be much easier to work by stock removal then forging.

Best
Steve
 
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heres the chem....pretty respectable
0.7% C, 1.8–2.5% Mn, 0.9–1.2% Cr, 0.3% Ni, 0.9–1.4% Mo
 
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wow. just wow. I thought he was talking about aus-6 becuase I had seen aus 8 referred to as 8a. *facepalm*
maybe this will teach me to do my reaserch on something i'm not totally sure about. :rolleyes:
 
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Thank you much guys. With 0.7C, looks like it's a high carbon steel also. Does anybody here know if it will harden on room air, or forced air? I usually buy steel from Admiral steel but can't find it as one of the product they sell. Where could I find this kind of this steel? Thanks again.
 

A C Richards

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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A-6 has been used by a few makers. Tai Goo introduced me to it almost 20 years ago. He used it for his Damascus with great success. I have done a couple of blades and made some Damascus from it too. It is a low temp (1500f) air hardening tool steel and it will harden in still air. I got mine from MSC though Mcmaster used to have it also. I sold all of mine though as it was not easy to anneal without a ramping kiln. I do not have one and do not intend on getting one. So I stopped working with it.
 
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Tai Goo

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I used to use it a lot, when I had the electric furnace set up. It's easy to forge and makes a great knife,... super tough and holds a decent edge. Scott Shoemaker used to use it a lot too.
 
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http://www.speedymetals.com/information/Material18.html


"A6 de-carb free tool steel is an air hardening tool steel with higher manganese and lower chromium and carbon than A2, offering moderate wear resistance and toughness.

It has the advantage of hardening from a lower austenitizing temperature for easy heat treatment. A6 hardens with very little movement or distortion. A6 offers medium resistance to softening at elevated work temperatures, medium to high resistance to decarburization, and has good machinability. One main advantage of A6 is its deep hardening with high safety in hardening."​
 
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Thank you all for the great response. Looks like it's a good steel for beginners with simple knife making equipments to play around with.:) The best characterisitcs that I like on this steel is the low temperature and just still air quenching that's required for hardening. It also does not require too much heat to temper. I would like to try out this particular kind of steel but seems like it's not being sold in the size I want.:( Anyway, I'm just wondering why a steel as such won't be improved in its chemical composition to cater to the desire of knife makers. Looks like it's not a popular steel for knife making because of its not so good edge holding ability. Would an increase in its carbon content maybe improve its ability to hold an edge? What do you think?
 

Tai Goo

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A2 is the next thing, but it has some workability draw backs if you like to forge etc...

I have made some kitchen knives with the A6 and wasn't too disappointed with the edge holding. You can do a lot of cutting with it. It's also great for working thin.
 

Tai Goo

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Here's a couple A6 and meteoritic iron, pattern welded pieces of mine form a while back.


Tai%20Goo%20Presentation%20Dagger%2003-1.jpg


Tai%20Goo%20Presentation%20Dagger%2003-2.jpg


Tai%20Goo%20Presentation%20Dagger%2004-1.jpg
 
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A2 is the next thing, but it has some workability draw backs if you like to forge etc...

I have made some kitchen knives with the A6 and wasn't too disappointed with the edge holding. You can do a lot of cutting with it. It's also great for working thin.

Hi there Mr. Goo,

That's actually what I gathered from my readings that A2 seems to be the upgraded A6. I don't know about A6 but, is it true that A2 can't handle a very thin or steep blade edge angle? I read somewhere(don't know now where) that below a 30degree edge angle, it has a tendency to break or chip when subjected to some heavy cutting.
 
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Kelsil,

In my day job shoeing horses I use hoof knives that I make of a couple different steels, one of those steels is A2. My knives are hollow ground on one side and are buffed to a very thin razor sharp edge. Most hooves are loaded with dirt, rocks and sometimes old nails and I have never chipped an A2 blade. I am sure you have no intention of doing any extreme cutting or abuse to your knife that I put mine through everyday. If you want to see how thin my blades are I will be happy to send you a photo.

Good luck
 
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Kelsil,

In my day job shoeing horses I use hoof knives that I make of a couple different steels, one of those steels is A2. My knives are hollow ground on one side and are buffed to a very thin razor sharp edge. Most hooves are loaded with dirt, rocks and sometimes old nails and I have never chipped an A2 blade. I am sure you have no intention of doing any extreme cutting or abuse to your knife that I put mine through everyday. If you want to see how thin my blades are I will be happy to send you a photo.

Good luck

Hello Mike,

Yeah, I would be happy to see some pics of your thin A2 knives. So contrary to what I've read, they actually could hold a very steep or thin edge angle. What do you think of them in the DUCTILITY department, can they withstand some side to side bending like the 5160?(See thread "Testing 5160"). By the way, did you get my email about the damascus pattern? Thanks.
 
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I know this is an old thread but perhaps someone will see this and will have an answer. Since on the subject of Air Hardening tool steels like A2 and A6, I'm also curious about A8. For years I would look at charpy impact graphs and at the very top I would always find steels like L6 5160, and A8. Most steels would be at the bottom in the area of about 20foot pounds of energy to break them. Then you would have a huge gap and then near the 80 foot pounds of energy you would find steels I mentioned above. Yet in 20 years or so I haven't been able to find anyone who uses A8. Only found one custom maker in over 25 years who made knives in A8. Tom Johhanning I believe. He made tanto like blades. The reviews I read all said its an extremely tough steel. They did a comparison to Sog Seal knife made in AUS6 I believe. While pounding the spine with a sledge hammer they shattered the Sog Seal knife. Where the knife made out of A8 just suffered spine deformation. So I'm wondering why no one uses this steel. I recently purchased a large combat/ survival blade made from A8. But from a foreign makers. No one in US seems to use this steel. I'm curious why. Perhaps some one will have an answer to my question. Thanks.
 

ace

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I haven't seen anyone use A6 or A8, but at least one company uses A8Mod or something very similar successfully.

A8 sort of falls into a no man land where knives are concerned. It is not as tough as S7, 5160, or 1V, but doesn't have the wear resistance of 3V. For smaller knives 3V toughness is arguably all one needs and the added wear resistance is nice.

As far as pounding knives through stuff with sledge hammers. Unless we know the geometry and the heat treat of the tested knives very little can be said about differences in steels as exactly the same steel can act very different when geometry and heat treat is different.
 
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