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This is my first post here but I’ve been learning from this website for some time. To date I’ve been using mystery steel for my knives. I’ve decided to buy some real steel and was wondering what you people would recommend.

 

I can choose from - L6, 1050, 5160, 1075/80 or1095. If someone with experience with theses steels could give me any info on them it would be good.

 

I will mostly be using the steel to making bowies and smaller knives, And It would be best if the steel works easily because my anvil and forge aren’t the best.

 

All help is much appreciated.

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This is my first post here but I’ve been learning from this website for some time. To date I’ve been using mystery steel for my knives. I’ve decided to buy some real steel and was wondering what you people would recommend.

 

I can choose from - L6, 1050, 5160, 1075/80 or1095. If someone with experience with theses steels could give me any info on them it would be good.

 

I will mostly be using the steel to making bowies and smaller knives, And It would be best if the steel works easily because my anvil and forge aren’t the best.

 

All help is much appreciated.

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hello jim..

imho id say 1095....its a fagivening steel easy to work with high carbon content and relatively inexspensive.....i also like 5160 ...5160 is what your car leaf springs are made from..L6 a alloy steel used in lumber bandsaws is commonly used for thin fillet knives..

 

playing around steel i find free are car springs,leaf springs,chain saw chain,old harley davidson primary chain,hay rakes...i hear washing machine shafts are good?

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Jim,

 

I've had some experience using the 10-- series when I was begging and I found that 5160 worked much better for me. I've made both large and small knives that function very well. I recommend that you get small pieces and try them. Find what you like best.

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They're all about the same, insofar as none of them are realy high alloy steels. I prefer the 1095 because it's easy to heat treat and it takes a really tough edge when you heat treat it properly. I'ts not very flexible, though, unless you get the heat trat perfect IMO. The 5160 is a 1060 steel with about 1% chromium. It's good stuff- moves easily under the hammer, takes a good edge and polishes up real pretty. Last I checked it's the steel that more than 80% of the ABS smiths were using on thir JS tests. I'vebeen using coil springs that are made of 5160 and my only complaint is that my 1095 edges get harder more easily.

 

1050 might have too little carbob on its own, and might make a better pattern welding steel, I don't really know. But the carbon content sounds lower than I'd want to use.

 

I have no experience with the lettered steels.

 

1080 is supposed to be an excellent steel. I imagine it has more flexibility than 1095 and more edge holding than the 5160.

 

Now, the caveat. Regardless of what steel you choose, try to stick with it. Every steel can be formed and heat treated to pass the ABS test (just for a fram of reference). It's all in knowing the steel. I'm enjoying scrounging and trying new steels, but I know that if I needed to make a product that perfromed to a specific standard I'd want to be doing everyting approximately the same every time- including having a consistant source for my materials.

 

May I ask who the supplier is? I'm trying to find some fairly priced 1095 in a reasonable size and if I can't find it I may switch to something that's readily available.

Edited by Kristopher Skelton
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Thanks for the info everyone, ill probably go for the 5160 or the 1095. How are theses steels for forming a hamon I’m guessing there both good maybe the 1095 is a bit better?

 

May I ask who the supplier is? I'm trying to find some fairly priced 1095 in a reasonable size and if I can't find it I may switch to something that's readily available.

 

I’m getting my steel from the Australian knife making supplies catalogue. Its probably to expensive ($56aud/m for 5160 and $66 for the 1095) but I don’t know any other suppliers in Australia.

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oh, nevermind :D The shipping from OZ would kill me, even if they were giving the stuff away :lol: Sadly, the best fabricator for parts for the car I race is in Melbourne and shipping is a killer, even by boat :)

 

As for the hamon, forget about 1095. I can't recall the exact reason, but it doesn't make hamon very well, the 5160 would be better... I think :unsure:

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This is my current understanding so if there are any areas that need corrected or elaborated on someone with more experience will, hopefully, post as well. The 5160 is a "deep hardening steel", because of the addition of alloying elements, chromium in this case, and usually cracks when quenched in a manner necessary to make a hamon. Hamons are the province of shallow hardening steels because they are essentially the interstice of hardened and unhardened areas of steel - difficult to do when the steel you are using wants to get hard all the way through and under the areas you've covered with a nice clay heat reservoir. MOST hamons are done in the 1060 to 1080 range, they can be done in 1095 and are spectacular but, it takes more skill, as you have only a few seconds to get the steel cooled below the temperature at which martensite starts to form. The steel used to create hamon is made by craftsmen in a traditional manner and is very different from steel made in a modern method. The big difference is that the traditional steel has an absence of alloying elements, besides carbon, something nearly unheard of with modern steels. I am not saying that they cannot be made with modern steels, because it is possible, but you should select a steel as devoid of alloying elements, besides carbon, as you can get.

Edited by B. Norris
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This is my current understanding so if there are any areas that need corrected or elaborated on someone with more experience will, hopefully, post as well.  The 5160 is a "deep hardening steel", because of the addition of alloying elements, chromium in this case, and usually cracks when quenched in a manner necessary to make a hamon.  Hamons are the province of shallow hardening steels because they are essentially the interstice of hardened and unhardened areas of steel - difficult to do when the steel you are using wants to get hard all the way through and under the areas you've covered with a nice clay heat reservoir.  MOST hamons are done in the 1060 to 1080 range, they can be done in 1095 and are spectacular but, it takes more skill, as you have only a few seconds to get the steel cooled below the temperature at which martensite starts to form.  The steel used to create hamon is made by craftsmen in a traditional manner and is very different from steel made in a modern method.  The big difference is that the traditional steel has an absence of alloying elements, besides carbon, something nearly unheard of with modern steels.  I am not saying that they cannot be made with modern steels, because it is possible, but you should select a steel as devoid of alloying elements, besides carbon, as you can can.

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why not use clay ? i think a great old friend (may he rest in peace)Bob Engnath (glendale ca.)used a refracory type cement..i have many pictures of how he did it but there huge 35mm ones..

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For a hamon, you want to use 10XX steels. Anywhere from 1050 to 1095 will yield a hamon if you forge and HT it properly. 5160 can get you a quench line, but you can't "paint" a hamon with clay as with the shallow hardening steels.

 

I'd recommend you do some research on the net for the characteristics of various steels. Kevin Cashen's site has good info on the characteristics of alloys. It's opinionated, but it's very enlightening.

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Have you looked through Don's site? Here is a link to a page about the process with a link to a second page at the bottom. The second page has a link to information about hamon but, reading the other two first will be more enlightening. There is much more to be learned on Don's site, tucked into the odd corner. IMHO, before trying to make a blade, one should read through the entire thing at least several times.

 

Don's Hardening Page

Edited by B. Norris
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Thanks for all the help. Kevin Cashen's site had some good info on it. I think I will go with the 10xx and just do a lot of testing on small blades.

 

Have you looked through Don's site? Here is a link to a page about the process with a link to a second page at the bottom. The second page has a link to information about hamon but, I reading the other two first will be more enlightening. There is much more to be learned on Don's site, tucked into the odd corner. IMHO, before trying to make a blade, one should read through the entire thing at least several times.

 

I’ve already read through don site a few times, great info I couldn’t have got into blade smithing with out it.

 

The hamon thing isn’t really important to me I just want it as an option to experiment with in the future.

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You can get steel out of the states for much cheaper than you can off Akc, just have to be paitent.If you get it surface shipped it brings the cost right down but can take up to three months.

Next alternative is to go to a spring works and get some SUP 9.I have been told on other forums it is the same as 1060. And from my playing around with it it will take a nice Hamon.

Hope it was some help.

Jas

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If you want to give 1095 a try, see if you can find a nice big Nicholson file, grind the teeth off of it, and have at it. It's good clean 1095, give you a chance to check it out before commiting to a big purchase.

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If you want to give 1095 a try, see if you can find a nice big Nicholson file, grind the teeth off of it, and have at it. It's good clean 1095, give you a chance to check it out before commiting to a big purchase.

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nicholson files you are saying are 1095? ? .

 

.ive always been told files are made of W1 or W2....

please correct me if i am wrong on this. i am no exspert.

 

why go to all the trouble of totaly reforgeing a case hardened file with a zillion stress cuts when one can just get car leaf springs or car coils?

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I had some problems with Nicholson brand files at one time. The older ones I had would get screaming hard but, the new ones did not. I assumed (dangerous I know) that the newer ones were case hardened in an effort to reduce material costs and ever since I have had an aversion to that brand of file. At the time, I bought some imported files from Germany and Switzerland to compare to the Nicholson files and they outlasted them by a factor of about three to one. I only buy the Nicholsons now if I absolutely have to. This was about thirteen years ago, have they made some changes since then?

 

Compared to a file, leaf or coil springs get far more abuse and have a much higher potential to have microscopic stress fractures that do not show up until you etch the blade you already put twenty hours of work into. Testing a file to determine if it hardens properly, or not, is much simpler and less time consuming. Take it from someone who's been there and has a pile of rejects to prove it! You do have to grind all the teeth off the file first to avoid cold shuts. Angle grinders do this very quickly and save your expensive belts!

Edited by B. Norris
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I had some problems with Nicholson brand files at one time.  The older ones I had would get screaming hard but, the new ones did not.  I assumed (dangerous I know) that the newer ones were case hardened in an effort to reduce material costs and ever since I have had an aversion to that brand of file.  At the time, I bought some imported files from Germany and Switzerland to compare to the Nicholson files and they outlasted them by a factor of about three to one.  I only buy the Nicholsons now if I absolutely have to.  This was about thirteen years ago, have they made some changes since then?

 

Compared to a file, leaf or coil springs get far more abuse and have a much higher potential to have microscopic stress fractures that do not show up until you etch the blade you already put twenty hours of work into.  Testing a file to determine if it hardens properly, or not, is much simpler and less time consuming.  Take it from someone who's been there and has a pile of rejects to prove it!  You do have to grind all the teeth off the file first to avoid cold shuts.  Angle grinders do this very quickly and save your expensive belts!

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? question why use a file for a knife or any used steel and take a chance that it has defects for a knife when you plan on selling it? brand new steel is not that costly for something that you risk your reputation on?..

 

grant you i will use leaf and coil springs,but never as a knife i would sell. i will never use a file ,the effort in time and labor not worth it ..leaf or coil springs for something i am going to use or a non critacal object imho its ok....

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