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contrasting steels


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Hi, I'm fairly new to knife making and have a bit of trouble in NZ with purchasing steel going on the names of some of the types I commonly see used on the site. My next blade is going to be a mix of 01,1040 and a steel I've found over here called S1 = C=0.6 Si=0.6 Cr=1.1 V=0.2 W=0.2 am hoping to get three shade of colour. Any Suggestions or advice?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I do not know wot you have for materials there but let me tell you a couple of choices in the USA that I like and then you may be able to look up the ingredients and see if they match up with something you can find there.

My favorite is 1084 and 15N20..they are both good steels used by them selves in a blade and weld together nicely, even by me.

0-1 is a great steel but some folks have trouble heat treating it and that may cause you trouble in a billet also. Maybe not,., just something I have heard about.

One thing that may help is if yo stick with the ten series steel like 1084 1080 1095. They weld nice and heat treat easy.
Both of the steels you use must be heat treated in a similar manner.
S-1 steel to me here means a shock resistant steel and that may not lend itself to something I would put in a blade.

Look up my suggestions and see if any steels yo can get there match up. 15N20 and L6 are used to make band saw blades for cutting wood. That may help you track something down there. Good luck.

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try to find a steel with nickel and carbon above 40 points. Even better, nickel and carbon above 60 points. That way, it will fully harden. Nickel does not etch much and stays more shiny or siver-gray. Higher carbon steels become darker gray (so two basic tool steels will contrast slightly in that more carbon becomes darker). Manganese makes carbon steel get DARK.

people in US use 1080 and 15n20 or 8670 or 8620. 1080 is a high-carbon tool steel with more manganese than any of the others, 15n20 is just 1070 plus nickel. 8670 is a good alloy with nickel (kind of like L6) and 60 points of carbon. 8620 is the same, but with only 20 points of carbon.

People here used to use a203E, which is a pressure vessel steel that has not enough carbon but a lot of nickel.

If you have to mix in a steel with little carbon in order to get nickel, then make sure the average proportion of carbon in the blade is greater than 60 points. Do this by balancing the mix ratios of the nickel bearing and the high carbon steels.

Or, you can mix barely different steels like 01 and w2, or 1080 and w2, to get a very subtle pattern. It really looks like a hada from a japanese sword. Go to Walter Sorrell's website and look closely at the description and surface of his blades.

Also, go to www.atar.com
This is Dr. Jim Hrisoulas's website, and read what he says, look at his pics and process description. Buy his books, buy his vidoe, shake his hand, etc.
he has great info for starting out through seasoned pro.


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You may be able to order through McMaster Carr. I don't know if the delivery will kill you.

you can get all of the steels that Steve mentioned and many of the ones I mentioned through them.

Try to find something with nickel if you want a bright steel color in the mix. If you go to sorrell's site, he has some subtle hada on swords from mixes sort of like you are planning.

best of luck,


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