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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 resistance.
Carbon-0.45-0.50%, Manganese-0.40%, Chromium-14.50-14.80%, Vanadium-0.10%, Molybdenum-0.60%

1070, 1095

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.

1095 Cro-Van

An easy to sharpen carbon steel used in knife making. Proven to be one of the most popular steels used in KA-BAR knives.
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 56-58


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, Cr-14.00, Mo-4.00.


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%, Molybdenum-0.60%,


This is a stainless steel. CRKT has used this steel in their Guppieand 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 corrosion resistant.
Carbon-0.15%, Manganese-1.0%, Chromium-12.00-14.00% Rockwell-49-53


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% Molybdenum.


0.75-0.95% Carbon, 1.0% Magnesium, 16-18% Chromium, and 0.75% Molybdenum.


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 torch.

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%, Nickel-0.35%,
Vanadium-0.45%, Molybdenum-0.80%


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.
Carbon-0.98%-1.10%, Managanese-0.25-0.45%. Chromium-1.30%-1.60%

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%,
Molybdenum-0.60%, Cobalt-0.40%


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 0.1-0.31% Molybdenum.


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. Carbon-0.40-0.45%, Manganese-1.00%, Chromium-13.00-14.50%, Nickel-0.49%.
Rockwell 55-57


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.

Damascus Steel

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 wonderful.


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 Powder Metal.

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 as Gingami-1.
Carbon-0.90%, Manganese-0.60%, Chromium-15.50%,

G-2 Stainless

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 swords.Carbon-0.65-0.75%, Manganese-0.25-0.80%, Chromium-0.60-1.20%,Nickel-1.25-2.00%, Vanadium-0.20-0.30%, Molybdenum-0.50%


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 2.0 Vanadium.


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 again.


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% Vanadium


Adds strength and toughness. Expressed as NI.

Nickel Silver or German Silver

A alloy of copper, zinc and nickel.


Used in place of carbon for the steel matrix. The Nitrogen atom will function in a similar manner to the carbon atom but offers unusual advantages in corrosion resistance. 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% Manganese, 5% Chromium and .5% Tungsten. It is a great general purpose tool steel and is very forgiving to the inexperienced knifemaker. This oil-hardening tool steel can be used by both the blacksmith and the stock removal makers.


A "Super High Speed Steel" Not suitable for knives.


A stainless steel, most likely a variation of 440C. Carbon-0.5%, Chromium-14.0%, Vanadium-0.15%, Molybdenum-0.35%


Expressed as V. Helps to produce fine grain during heat treat.


A very hard to find steel, with a high vanadium content. It is extremely difficult to work and very wear resistant.
Carbon-1.12%, Manganese-0.30%, Chromium-7.75%, Vanadium-2.40%, Molybdenum-2.40%, Tungsten-1.10%


0.95 - 1.05 Carbon, 0.5 Manganese, 14.5 - 15.5 Chromium, 0.10 - 0.30 Vanadium, 0.90 - 1.20 Molybedenum. A serious rival to 154CM and ATS-34. Users report superior performance in edge holding. Presently available only in knives made in Japan.


W1 is basically simple high carbon steel with no vanadium and is easily hardened by heating and quenching in water, just as with plain carbon steel alloys. W1 is commonly used for hand operated metal cutting tools, cold heading, embossing taps and reamers as well as cutlery. Carbon-0.70-1.50%, Manganese-0.10-0.40%, Chromium-0.15%, Nickel-0.20%, Vanadium-0.10%, Molybdenum-0.10%, Tungsten-0.50%


A tool steel that is not stainless. Shallow hardening, rather weak, and makes durable knives only if held below 54 HRC. Rusts very easily due to the lack of chrome and vanadium. Only alloying elements are carbon and manganese. Carbon-0.85-1.50%, Manganese-0.10-0.40%, Chromium-0.15%, Nickel-0.20%, Vanadium-0.15-0.35%, Molybdenum-0.10%, Tungsten-0.15%

White Steel

With traditional Japanese "Shirogami" or "White Steel" blade and bamboo handle and sheath, he has created for us another traditional Japanese hunting knife. "White Steel" and "Blue Steel" are terms that have only recently come into use in the U. S. Created by Hatachi, the terms actually refer to the color of the paper wrapper in which the raw bar stock is shipped. The chemical breakdown for White Steel is 1.4% carbon, 0.1% silica, 0.2% manganese, 0.02 phosphorus and 0.004% sulfur. This is significantly more carbon than is found in most U.S. steels which tend to have about 1.0% carbon. This added carbon allows the blades to be hardened in the mid-60s Rc. allowing for a thin razor edge. With no chromium, this steel is definitely not stainless


A clean high carbon stainless from Sweden. Higher in Nickel and Molybdenum than AUS-8, with a little less Carbon. Chosen for a balance between ease of sharpening and edge retention.

Carbon 0.6 to 0.65%, Manganese 0.45%, Chromium 14%, Nickel 0.15%, Vanadium 0.15 to 0.2%, Molybdenum 0.55 to 0.6%


One of the new powder metal steel of Japan. The only information I have shows 3.0 Carbon and 20.0 Chromium. Rockwell up to 65-67 Rc, great edgeholding and toughness. Brought to the market place by William Henry Knives.


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