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Good 5160 hardness for a knife?

Dave B. Martin

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Non-magnetic is about 100 degrees too cold for 5160.  Non-magnetic does not mean it is austenitized, it just means that it is above the Curie temp, which is about 1414F.  Other than that, final hardness is really dependent on intended blade use.  Make it softer if you plan on giving it some rough usage (chopping, hitting hard things, etc.) so it will dull faster rather than chip or break.  If it is going to get more delicate use then you can go harder and not have to sharpen as often.  56 HRC is generally closer to machete hardnesses, where-as a kitchen knife (slicer) would be over 60 (possibly just under though, user/maker decides).  Quite a bit of room for personal preference.  

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First, I'm curious to know how you tested the hardness?


Now, 56hrc is in the working range for that steel. The sweet spot seems to be near 59hrc. Harder than that will drastically reduce the toughness.


If you want higher hardness, like in the 60-62hrc range, I'd rather chose another steel like 1084 or 80crv2.


Here's a complete article on how to HT 5160. But you can ignore the parks50 and cryo parts as they're not required. 



Edited by Joël Mercier
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