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Forging a 5160 kitchen knife.


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hi gents, 

 

i come to you with a new inquiry... i want to make a kitchen knife. a chefs knife to be exact out of 5160 steel... i need all the necessary info to accomplish this task,

 

-is there is anything that needs to be done during the forge grind normalization, quench, temper etc that i need to know, that is different from forging a hunting knife?

-does anyone have a preferred video or tutorial they can share??? 

-would you rather do it out of 5160 o 1095 steel. which is the best choice out of the two (that's the only types i have) i can procure stainless. so that's out of the question... 

 

And if I could get any steel what would be your reccos for chefs knives?? Your ultimate go to steel, that is not a pain to forge and quench of course. 

 

thanks a million. 

Edited by Paul Checa
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I've not the experience to offer advice, but I'm willing to stick my neck out.  I say 1095 would be the better choice.   Higher carbon generally will translate into sharper edge.  Where as the 5160 is great for hard use and tolerating abuse.  The missus's garden knife is 5160 and it's seen a lot of work in rocky soil and still not chipped.

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If you don't have a fast oil like parks 50......I would stay away from 1095.

I am not saying its impossible to harden in canola or similar......but I don't think you are going to get the most out of that steel with it.

I have had a little success and failures with an interrupted brine then oil quench......and have also broken blades.

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4 hours ago, Kreg Whitehead said:

If you don't have a fast oil like parks 50......I would stay away from 1095.

I am not saying its impossible to harden in canola or similar......but I don't think you are going to get the most out of that steel with it.

I have had a little success and failures with an interrupted brine then oil quench......and have also broken blades.

Hmmm... So taking it to a higher temp than usual for quenching and then using cannola wouldn't get it hard enough you think?? 

I'm gonna have to look into this park's 50 oil to see what it's about... Can I use it with the 5160 steel too? 

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1095 should be ok in warm canola if the cross section is thin enough, which is the case in most kitchen knives. 1/16" or thinner at edge should be ok. 

 

5160 is good for cleavers but a bit soft for chefs. 

 

Do you have access to other steels?

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Just now, Joël Mercier said:

1095 should be ok in warm canola if the cross section is thin enough, which is the case in most kitchen knives. 1/16" or thinner at edge should be ok. 

 

5160 is good for cleavers but a bit soft for chefs. 

 

Do you have access to other steels?

I could try to get something else... What would you recommend?? 

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3 minutes ago, Joël Mercier said:

1080, 1084, 80CrV2, 15n20, O1 

Thanks! I will try to get a hold of one of these. 15n20 is out. I Have never been able to find it... And for easier forging and quenching which one of those would you go for? 

Edited by Paul Checa
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8 hours ago, Paul Checa said:

Thanks! I will try to get a hold of one of these. 15n20 is out. I Have never been able to find it... And for easier forging and quenching which one of those would you go for? 

Any of those but 1080/84 are the easiest if you don't have access to 15n20. 

Edited by Joël Mercier
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12 hours ago, Paul Checa said:

park's 50 oil

Parks isn't the only quenching oil out there.  You might be able to find oil through industrial suppliers and at much better prices then Parks.

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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So after reading all of your recommendations mor questions have arised... Maybe someone can clarify for me...

If higher carbon content hardens more and makes for a sharper blade why is 1084/1080 or even 1070 better for kitchen knives if 1095 has much higher carbon Content. 

I have so much to learn

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More that just carbon comes into play with depth of hardening.  You also run into issues with retained austenite and dissolving carbides.  Don't worry if that is a little difficult to understand.  There are lots of good threads on the forum that cover a lot of this stuff.  Keep reading, you'll get there.  

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In other words, 1095 is a tricky steel to properly heat treat. It also has about half the toughness of 1084 while getting just slightly harder and abrasive resistant.

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Hey Paul,

 

I've made several kitchen knives out or recycled leaf spring.  No guarantee that it is 5160, could be 10xx, although I can tell you that it is very tough stuff, and not the easiest to forge.  I'd say 5160 is fine for a kitchen knife.  Maybe not the Best, but it will work just fine.  What's more important is the edge geometry and heat treatment.  I've had good success with warm canola oil.  One of my small sharper knives made of leaf spring, I quenched in canola, and the tempered to 375 degrees (which is a bit low).  It's very sharp and hold an edge well, and does not take long to sharpen,  a few passess on a good stone.

 

Again, there is no guarantee with leaf spring,  I have no idea whether the one's I used are 5160, 10xx. 96xx, or other.  But I've had a lot of success with leaf spring.   

I usually do 3 normalizations, with a progressively lower temp each time (start high, then taper down).   Then my canola goes to about 120 - 140 degrees.   Then I quench.  I don't usually multi quench unless I get a bad warp, which I guess is beneficial to triple quench 5160, some people say.   But in real life, I don't think most people will actually notice any real performance difference.

 

What's the best steel for a kitchen knife? == big can of worms.    Use whatever works for you and what you can get.  

 

Depending on your skill and ability to scrap, you could look into bearing race steel or large ball bearings.  Some of the bigger, older ones are likely 52100, which is a great performing steel.   Any bearings/races made in china, or newer things, probably are case hardened or some other weird steel combo that won't do you any good.

 

But if you can get any leaf springs from older vehicles,  you likely have a good steel to work with.  I would avoid coil springs.

 

Good Luck.

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14 minutes ago, Bruno said:

Hey Paul,

 

I've made several kitchen knives out or recycled leaf spring.  No guarantee that it is 5160, could be 10xx, although I can tell you that it is very tough stuff, and not the easiest to forge.  I'd say 5160 is fine for a kitchen knife.  Maybe not the Best, but it will work just fine.  What's more important is the edge geometry and heat treatment.  I've had good success with warm canola oil.  One of my small sharper knives made of leaf spring, I quenched in canola, and the tempered to 375 degrees (which is a bit low).  It's very sharp and hold an edge well, and does not take long to sharpen,  a few passess on a good stone.

 

Again, there is no guarantee with leaf spring,  I have no idea whether the one's I used are 5160, 10xx. 96xx, or other.  But I've had a lot of success with leaf spring.   

I usually do 3 normalizations, with a progressively lower temp each time (start high, then taper down).   Then my canola goes to about 120 - 140 degrees.   Then I quench.  I don't usually multi quench unless I get a bad warp, which I guess is beneficial to triple quench 5160, some people say.   But in real life, I don't think most people will actually notice any real performance difference.

 

What's the best steel for a kitchen knife? == big can of worms.    Use whatever works for you and what you can get.  

 

Depending on your skill and ability to scrap, you could look into bearing race steel or large ball bearings.  Some of the bigger, older ones are likely 52100, which is a great performing steel.   Any bearings/races made in china, or newer things, probably are case hardened or some other weird steel combo that won't do you any good.

 

But if you can get any leaf springs from older vehicles,  you likely have a good steel to work with.  I would avoid coil springs.

 

Good Luck.

Thanks so much. I'll be on the lookout for leaf spring. And if there's anything worth trying I'll give it a go! 

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Old files, Nicholson or Diamond are great steel too.  Really old one's are w2 I think. otherwise they would be 10xx.   If you can forgeweld, then use old band saw blades, some of them are 15n20 or L6.    Or if you can find those old big circular blades from a saw mill.  That's good steel too.    But I've seen knives made from modern day circular saw blades too. 

 

No guarantee's with scrap.   Test your steels.  Heat up and quench a piece in water/brine or oil.  Then stick it in a vise and hit it with a hammer.  If it breaks instead of bends, then it is a hardenable steel and you did it right.  Then check out the grain structure.

 

I'm no expert, but I believe many old japanese katana's, amounted to no better than a 1060 steel, plus the iron of course.   So don't get caught up in the whole which is the best steel debate.   Like I said,  big can of worms...

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It depends on what your goal is. 5160 has a working hardness in the range of the cheap commercial stainless kitchen knives. While they certainty get the job done, the edge easily rolls and they must be honed quite often. This also means you will be limited in edge geometry and performance. No 12° per side or extra fine polished edges here.

 

That being said, older western chef knives were quite soft by today's standards, yet they're still appreciated by certain chefs. 

 

So, if you seek sheer performance (I do, because that's what I like :)), better find another steel with higher working hardness. But if you want to forge a beautiful and functional knife, 5160 will do. 

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39 minutes ago, Joël Mercier said:

It depends on what your goal is. 5160 has a working hardness in the range of the cheap commercial stainless kitchen knives. While they certainty get the job done, the edge easily rolls and they must be honed quite often. This also means you will be limited in edge geometry and performance. No 12° per side or extra fine polished edges here.

 

That being said, older western chef knives were quite soft by today's standards, yet they're still appreciated by certain chefs. 

 

So, if you seek sheer performance (I do, because that's what I like :)), better find another steel with higher working hardness. But if you want to forge a beautiful and functional knife, 5160 will do. 

what would you use??? so far based on previous answers from other smiths (and you) i'm between 1080, 1084, 80CrV2, O1 it all depends what i can procure... im sure 1080 and 1084 will be no problem to get but i don't know.

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1 hour ago, Paul Checa said:

what would you use??? so far based on previous answers from other smiths (and you) i'm between 1080, 1084, 80CrV2, O1 it all depends what i can procure... im sure 1080 and 1084 will be no problem to get but i don't know.

Either of these will do just fine.

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If you want to learn more about metallurgy, Dr Verhoeven has published a nfp free version of his book.

 

(Seems the link-site is temporarily down right now, try checking later).

 

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5160 - Mama Bear's porridge

1095 - Papa Bears porridge

1070/80 - Goldy Locks's porridge

:D

Sorry, couldn't resist

 

Just recently got 1070 for the first time, wish is was 108x but I'm very happy with the results.

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7 hours ago, Gerhard Gerber said:

5160 - Mama Bear's porridge

1095 - Papa Bears porridge

1070/80 - Goldy Locks's porridge

:D

Sorry, couldn't resist

 

Just recently got 1070 for the first time, wish is was 108x but I'm very happy with the results.

so you'd go for 1080 for kitchen knives??

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Because of the popularity and excellent results with 80CRV2, if I had a point it is probably that round about 0.8% carbon seems to be a sweet spot.

No idea what the real life figures will be but 1080/1084 should perform better than 1070 without the possible hassle with 1095. 

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