This is a carbon, martensitic stainless steel with
moderate corrosion resistance, good strength and the ability
to obtain and keep excellent hardness (RC 55-57) and wear
Carbon-0.45-0.50%, Manganese-0.40%, Chromium-14.50-14.80%,
Simple tool steels with 7/10 of 1 percent of carbon or
.95 Carbon and little else in the alloy. Makes good springs,
knives, tools etc. Much used in old time production knives.
An easy to sharpen carbon steel used in knife making.
Proven to be one of the most popular steels used in KA-BAR
Carbon-0.95-1.1%, Manganese-0.30-0.60%, Chromium-0.40-0.60%,
Nickel-0.25%, Vanadium-0.161%, Molybdenum-0.06%. Rockwell
14-4CrMO is a wear resistant, martensitic stainless tool
steel that exhibits better corrosion resistance than 440C.
The combination of the high carbon and molybdenum contents
results in the formation of hard, wear-resistant molybdenum
carbides in the microstructure of the steel. The molybdenum
carbides provide superior wear resistance and edge retention
for cutting tools and knives. C-1.05, Mn-0.50, Si-0.30,
A high-carbon, high-alloy, space-age, stainless steel
first used for knives by R. W. Loveless about 1972. At that
time it was vacuum melted. After a few years the quality
declined and makers followed Loveless to the Japanese
just-alike ATS-34, using the same formula. The quality has
been restored and this steel is not only being used by
makers, it is also being used in high-end production knives.
Carbon 1.05%, Manganese 0.5%, Chromium 14.0%, Molybdenum
0.4 - 0.55%.
A highly wear resistant, powder metallurgy stainless tool
steel with a unique combination of high wear resistance,
high corrosion resistance, good impact toughness, and
excellent polish ability. 20CV contains 20% chromium and 4%
vanadium, which is the highest level of chromium in any high
vanadium stainless tool steel available today. These
qualities make 20CV well suited for a wide variety of
industrial and custom knife applications. Carbon-1.90%,
Manganese-0.30%, Chromium-20.00%, Vanadium-4.00%,
This is a stainless steel. CRKT has used this steel in
their Guppie™and the Zilla-Tool™. The
Dogfish™ and both Triumph N.E.C.K.™
models also have this steel.
0.32% Carbon, 12.00-14.00% Chromium, 1.00% Manganese,
0.04% Phosphorous, and 1.00% Silicon with a 54-56 Rc.
A mild stainless, the knife makers choice for bolsters
and guards; not suitable for blades but will take just
enough hardening to make it suitable for engraving.
A stainless spring steel much used in inexpensive
production knives from Taiwan. Very useful in tantos and
other knives. Also should be outstanding for axe heads. If
you use this steel you must have an analysis as it can range
in Carbon content from 0.15 to 0.6% the balance is 1.0%
Manganese and 12-14% Chromium.
An improved form of 420 that works well with high
production tooling; much used by Buck, Gerber, etc. Carbon
0.5-0.7%, Manganese 0.35-0.9%, Chromium 13.5%.
A stainless steel that has a low carbon and high chromium
content making it a shock absorbing steel that bends instead
of breaking. 420J2 has excellent resistance to corrosion and
fair edge holding capability. The Rockwell hardness is seen
at 54-56. A common use is as liner material for folding
knives. It has a low hardness and wear resistance for a
cutlery stainless steel but is fairly tough and very
Carbon-0.15%, Manganese-1.0%, Chromium-12.00-14.00%
A high-carbon stainless steel with about .7% Carbon, used
in most American production knives and in some handmade
knives as well; works well through tooling. 0.60 to 0.75%
Carbon, 1.0% Manganese, 16.0-18.0% Chromium and 0.75%
0.75-0.95% Carbon, 1.0% Magnesium, 16-18% Chromium, and
The most popular high-carbon stainless used by custom
knifemakers for many years. First used by Gil Hibben about
1966. This is a great steel when properly heat-treated. It
cannot, however be heat-treated with a blow-torch or welding
0.95 - 1.20% Carbon, 0.40% Manganese, 17.0% Chromium,
0.50% Vandium, 0.50% Molybdenum.
SeeThe Knifemakers Steel Chart
An air-hardening alloy with high carbon and high chromium
content. It is corrosion resistant and can be described as a
high hardness 440C stainless steel or corrosion resistant D2
steel. Possesses corrosion resistance equivalent to 440C.
Carbon-1.60%, Manganese-0.50%, Chromium-16.00%,
A steel popular with forgers, it is extremely popular now
and a very high-end steel. It is essentially simple spring
steel with chromium added for hardenability. It has good
edge holding, but is known especially for its outstanding
toughness. Often used for swords (hardened in the low 50s Rc)
because of its toughness, and is also used for hard use
knives (hardened up near the 60s Rc).
Carbon-0.56-0.64%, Manganese-0.75-1.00%, Chromium-0.70-0.90%
A ball-bearing steel used by forgers. It is similar to
5160 (though it has around 1% carbon vs. 5160?s-0.60%), but
holds an edge better. It is less tough than 5160 however. It
is used often for hunting knives and other knives where the
user is willing to trade off a little of 5160?s toughness
for better edge holding.
6061 Aircraft Alloy
Probably the most commonly available, heat treatable
aluminum alloy. Used in the manufacture of heavy-duty
structures requiring good corrosion resistance, in general
structural and high pressure applications, wire products,
and in pipelines. Capable of being hot forged. Easily cold
worked and formed in the annealed condition. Stamping,
bending, spinning, deep drawing are accomplished using
standard methods. Machinability in the harder T4 and T6
tempers is good. In other words, it makes great folder
handles, fixed knife pommels, screws, etc.
9Cr13CoMoV, a Chinese stainless steel, seems to perform
slightly better than Japan's AUS-8 (which has slightly more
cobalt) and is fast gaining a very favorable reputation as a
top quality steel.
Not a widely known Japanese alloy, ATS-55 is similar
to ATS-34, but with the Molybdenum content reduced and
new elements added.
It appears the intent was to get ATS-34 edge holding
with increased toughness and decreased cost.
Carbon-1.00%, Manganese-0.50%, Chromium-14.00%,
A high-carbon, high-alloy, stainless steel, a
Japanese copy of 154-CM, preferred because it is vacuum
melted, and 154 is not. Carbon 1.05%, Manganese 0.4%,
Chromium 14.0%, Molybdenum 4.0%.
0.95-1.1% Carbon, 0.5% Magnesium, 13-14.5%
Chromium, 0.49% Nickel, 0.1-0.27% Vanadium and
Also designated 4A, a Japanese stainless steel,
roughly comparable to 440A (AUS-6, .65% carbon),
440B (AUS-8, .75% carbon) and 440C (AUS-10, 1.1%
carbon). Used by CRKT in several of their knives.
Another Japanese stainless, fits between 420 and
440A. Carbon 0.55 - 0.65%, Manganese 1.0%, Chromium
13.0 -14.5%, Nickel 0.49%, Vandium 0.1 - 0.25%.
Widely used by top Specialty knife makers like A.
G. Russell™, Spyderco, etc. The addition
of vanadium fits this steel between 440A and ATS-34
in performance. Carbon 0.7 - 0.8%, Manganese 1.0%,
Chromium 13.0 - 14.5%, Nickel 0.5%, Vandium 0.1 -
0.25%, Molybdenum 0.1 - 0.3%.
An outstanding knife steel, a high-carbon,
high chrome tool steel which is often used for
the steel cutting dies in every tool and die
shop in the U.S.; with 1.5% Carbon, 1%
Molybdenum, 12% Chromium and 1% Vanadium, D-2
can be hardened far beyond the favored 60-61 Rc.
The first heavy user was Jimmy Lile; the
strongest convert has been Bob Dozier. This air
hardening steel takes a really good edge, and
holds it. This steel has been recently made
popular by the great results in the performance
of D-2 heat-treated by Dozier.
There is more mis-information about Damascus
steel than about any other subject in the knife
world. Bill Moran, the man credited with the
reintroduction of Damascus said that if a knife
was going to be used then the blade needed a
center core of tool steel between two outer
layers of Damascus. This statement applies to
"layered Damascus" not to what may have been the
original Damascus, that is Wootz which is
believed to have originated in India. Wootz has
been brought back by a group of professors
assisted by blacksmith Al Pendray. Layered
damascus, that is layers of different steels
welded together, was made in Scandinavia, Japan,
India, Toledo, Solingen and maybe even in
Damascus. Today it is made in all parts of the
world for handmade knives, swords and even for
production knives. Quality ranges from poor to
In the 1970s Era Steel in Sweden and Crucible
Metals in U.S.A. patented a process of making
steel by blowing finely divided powdered iron,
carbon, and other materials into a billet and
then applying heat and pressure until a steel is
achieved with finer grain, finer carbides,
therefore greater strength and better wear
resistance. This process is what we know as
The Swedes went on to invent a method of
blowing the particles into patterns; the result
is "Damasteel". It has the look of pattern
welded Damascus yet is actually a superior,
powder metal stainless tool steel.
A stainless steel with slightly less Carbon,
slightly more Chromium, and much less Molybdenum
than ATS-34. GIN-1 has no Nickel, Tungsten or
Vanadium. Slightly softer than AUS-8. Also known
Carbon-0.90%, Manganese-0.60%, Chromium-15.50%,
When seen on the blade of an older Spyderco
knife it means one thing, used today it means a
Gingami (Japan) steel of very high quality
A high carbon, band saw steel that is very
tough and holds an edge well, but rusts easily.
It is, like O-1, forgiving steel for the forger.
If you're willing to put up with the
maintenance, this may be one of the very best
steels available for cutlery, especially where
toughness is desired. Typically used in
High-Speed Steel that works well
between 62-66 Rc. First used in
American Cutlery in kitchen knives
and folders by Gerber Blades in the
1960s ...85 Carbon, 6.35 Tungsten,
5.0 Molybdenum, 4.0 Chromium, and
A high speed steel,
very hard to work but
makes a great knife
blade that is very
difficult to sharpen.
Very like M-2 except 1.3
Carbon and 4.0%
Vanadium. When I first
used this steel in the
1970s I hardened it to
64 Rc and was unable to
finish grind it and it
took forever to get an
edge on it. With today?s
ceramic belts I think it
would be worth trying
Bohler N690, the
equivalent of 440F,
which is 440C with a bit
of Cobalt. It is
imported from Austria.
1.07% Carbon, 17%
Chromium, 1.5% Cobalt,
1.1% Molybdenum, 0.1%
Adds strength and
A alloy of
copper, zinc and
Used in place
of carbon for
will function in
a similar manner
to the carbon
atom but offers
Expressed as N.
Probably the most
popular knife steel
of the 20th Century.
The first choice of
almost all beginning
knife makers and
still the primary
steel for the famous
Randall Knives. O-1
is a simple and
basic tool steel
that can be hardened
to well over 60 Rc.
With .9% Carbon, 1%
Chromium and .5%
Tungsten. It is a
purpose tool steel
and is very
forgiving to the
steel can be used by
both the blacksmith
and the stock
Expressed as V.
Helps to produce
fine grain during
A very hard
to find steel,
with a high
content. It is
work and very
14.5 - 15.5
0.10 - 0.30
0.90 - 1.20
or "White Steel"
blade and bamboo
sheath, he has
created for us
Steel" and "Blue
Steel" are terms
that have only
into use in the
U. S. Created by
refer to the
color of the
paper wrapper in
which the raw
bar stock is
White Steel is
sulfur. This is
more carbon than
is found in most
which tend to
have about 1.0%
blades to be
hardened in the
allowing for a
thin razor edge.
A clean high
Higher in Nickel
than AUS-8, with
a little less
for a balance
between ease of
Carbon 0.6 to
0.15 to 0.2%,
I have shows
to 65-67 Rc,