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High carbon steel for kitchen knives

Discussion in 'Kitchen Cutlery & Tools' started by Sprayman, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    Hello Bladesmiths:

    I'm finishing up a run of hunters and plan on making some kitchen knives next. I do stock removal with 1084 and 1095--not ideal for kitchen knives, I know, but it works for me and my set-up. The last kitchen knives I made out of said steel are too thick and don't work well as slicers. That said, what is the thinnest stock you would use? I won't be making any filet knives, but rather slicers, paring knives, and the like. Thanks!
     
  2. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 1, 2013
    I use 3/32" for Parers Slicer's and even a good deal of my Chef knives.

    As far as Carbon steel knife issues.
    Remember to tell each of your customers!

    Do not leave this wet in the sink! :mad:
     
  3. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    1/16" for parers and slicers, 3/32" for most everything else.

    1095 makes a good kitchen knife if heat treated well. There are better options, but nothing wrong with 1095.
     
    milkbaby likes this.
  4. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    Thanks for the reply, Lawrence. Fortunately, I'm my only customer....just a hobbyist. I do give my knives away as gifts, though, so it's important to remind people that the knives will patina, and even rust if left wet. So, is 3/32 inflexible enough?
     
  5. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    What would you recommend? I use 1084 and 1095 because they heat treat pretty easily. I heat them up to non-magnetic. Is there another high-carbon steel that would serve me better?
     
  6. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    To get the most out of 1095, you need to get to 1465-1475, hold it for a 10 min soak, and quench in a fast oil like Parks 50, or Maxim DT-48. You can use brine but you will lose 1/4 to 1/2 of your blades to cracking during quench. If you have temp control, W1/W2, or Hitachi White have similar composition, but are cleaner and more desirable (you can sell them for more.) 52100 and hitachi Blue are great, but REALLY need temp control for the extra alloying. 115W8, and cruforge v also work well. Without temp control, stick with 1084.

    Go to the shop talk forum, and there are discussions in the stickies on different steel types, specifically for kitchen knives too.
     
    milkbaby and hughd like this.
  7. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    Excellent information. Thank you. I think sticking with 1084 is my best bet, then. I've made a few blades out of 1095, with mixed results. My set-up is pretty simple--a converted bbq grill for a forge, a magnet, and a tub of oil, so I guess the 1095 blades that hold an edge are the results of beginner's luck.
     
    Willie71 likes this.
  8. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    15n20 is pretty easy to heat treat and comes in thin stock. Use that before 1095 or other hyperutectoid steel. It really shines with temp control, but doesn't suffer too much in a forge, 8670 from AKS is pretty forgiving in a forge too.
     
  9. AF

    AF Hobbyist Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 14, 2000
    80CrV2 comes in thinner stock. I'd go with that over 1095 and 15n20.
     
  10. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    Are the steels you speak of high carbon?
     
  11. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    Is 15n20 a high carbon steel?
     
  12. AF

    AF Hobbyist Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 14, 2000
    Yes
     
  13. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    15n20 out performs 80crv2 when heat treated well for kitchen use. You need a kiln to the the most out of 80crv2, and it's meant for toughness, not a fine edge. You can thermal cycle it down to a really fine grain, but you need precise temp control for that. 15n20 needs no thermal cycling, and is fine grained to start with. It's also known to kitchen knife users and name recognition helps when trying to sell knives.
     
  14. daizee

    daizee KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 30, 2009
    1084. No big carbides to weaken the edge at show sharpening angles. And you can run it pretty darn hard.
     
  15. milkbaby

    milkbaby

    172
    Aug 1, 2016
    ^This! :thumbsup:

    1084 is great for backyard HT, and because it's a simple carbon steel, it's so freaking easy to get crazy sharp. Edge retention might not be as great as other steels, but in my experience simple stropping on newspaper, color cardstock mailer ads, or stiff magazine covers gets the edge sharp again pretty easily.

    I use a simple two brick forge and canola for HT and have been happy with my results with 15N20 too, and it's been easier for me to source thinner stock than 1084.
     
  16. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    Does 15n20 have any advantages or disadvantages over 1084?
     
  17. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    15n20 has 2% nickel, which greatly aids toughness. This means you can run it a couple Rc points higher than 1084 without it getting chippy. It also has high quality control and is consistent in composition and grain size.
     
  18. Sprayman

    Sprayman

    187
    Nov 15, 2014
    I sure appreciate you answering all of these questions for me. Since I'm a hobbiest and am entirely self taught, this Q&A takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process. I'm at the point where I'm tired of some of my knives being decent, and some being mere paperweights. That said, I have a couple more questions if you have a moment. Does the magnet test work for 15n20 like it does for 1084? Also, would 3/32'' be a good width for a big chef's knife, or would you go for the 1/16''?
     
  19. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Magnet test works the same. Don't go quite as hot for 15n20, it's optimum heat treat is 1465f, where 1084 is 1500. 15n20 uses much cooler tempering temps. Look at the chart at AKS. 275-325f is the range you are looking at. For a larger knife, go with 3/32". I've done a few in 1/16", and it's a challenging grind. They work great, but it's easy to warp while grinding. Do a distal taper on the 3/32" stock and you are golden.
     
  20. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    As another knife maker, I agree with Warren on the benefits of 15n20, along with his material thickness suggestions. It is a VERY underrated steel. His numbers match my numbers. I'm actually doing 1480F (kiln is about 7 degrees off, so really it's about 1473F), short soak, fast oil quench as well. Tempering at 325F. Around 63HRC. Performance of 15n20 in a thin edge is excellent at this hardness level. 1084 is a little more "chippy" at this hardness. We're splitting hairs here, anyway. Any of these steels will work well in the kitchen, and most (I have my hand raised too) probably couldn't tell the difference. Other than 15n20 finishes a little brighter than the other steels. Of course geometry and HT dialed in! O7 and Cru Forge V are the best performers, tho!
     

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