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What is Best Knife Making Steel? CRATEX Abrasives

This article is part of Art of Knife Making series.
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What is Best Knife Making Steel?


When choosing the knife, you should pay special attention to the type of steel used in the blade. Alongside edge geometry and design, steel is a crucial factor that determines how a knife performs.  Steel is a mix of iron and carbon that is often enriched with other elements to improve specific characteristics relying on the application.

All types of steel used for knife making must include these 10 core properties:

  • Hardness - A criterion of the steel's capability to resist sustained deformation measured on a Rockwell Scale;
  • Hardenability – Potential to be hardened by the heat-treating operation;
  • Strength – Ability to withstand applied power;
  • Elasticity - Capability to bend or flex with no breaking;
  • Toughness - Strength to absorb force before the shattering;
  • Sharpness - The initial blade sharpness functionality and usability;
  • Edge holding - Capacity to keep an edge with no iterative re-sharpening;
  • Corrosion resistance - Capableness to resist degeneration as an effect of reaction with its surrounding;
  • Wear resistance - The resistance capability to wear and corrosion during use;

Productivity - The simplicity that provides machined, cold-formed, blanked, forged, extruded,

Knife Steel Types

The best blade steel  typically falls into the 3 types:

1095 Knife Steel

1095 Knife Steel

1095 Steel is the main form of carbon steel and the most frequently used in the making in tons of knives. It has 95% of carbon, which boosts steel hardness and minimize the amount of wear that a blade gets during a lifespan.

Even with the wear's decreasing induced by the high carbon's presence, this type of steel isn't as hardened as other sorts of iron thanks to the small amount of manganese. Although manganese causes steel hardening, in higher concentrations, it makes a more fragile blade.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the typical knife-making steel and the best steel for resistant free knives. The benefit of using stainless steel is the inclusion of chromium and other alloys that increase corrosion resistance. Stainless steel knives are usually made from austenitic or martensitic stainless steel.

Austenitic grades like 316 (standard molybdenum-bearing) may also use for this purpose.  Low carbon sorts of austenitic stainless steel, like 304L (extra-low carbon stainless steel), should be skipped when making knives, except corrosion resistance is more important than the blade life.

Carbon Steel

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is excellent for knife making since it gives the blade hardness and strength required to hold up versus impact and wear. Still, Knives formed from carbon steel can be inclined to rust. It’s because carbon steel doesn’t have many alloying elements that protect against corrosion.

Standard carbon grades are C1045 (medium carbon steel), C1075 (high carbon steel), and C1090 (high-wear resistance carbon steel).

Categories such as 420 (high carbon steel with a minimum of 12% of chromium) and 440 (high carbon steel with the highest hardness) are typically used for knife making.