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White paper steel


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Hey i had a thought the other day snd wondered if anybody has ever tried this ? 


My crazy idea was to start with 1095 stock and seal it up in a box with charcoal as a carbon donner. Then case harden it to attempt to acheve the carbon content of white paper steel 1.1-1.4%

Anyone think this might work?

just a crazy thought



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I did the same with wrought iron many years ago.  It worked; both introduced enough carbon to be able to harden the wrought iron and gave a nice layered pattern when etched.  

Beyond creating a possible pattern, what do you hope to gain?  1095 is a great steel.


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hardness/sharpness  is almost the same for 1070 and up, it is carbides and abrasion resistance that increase with higher carbon.  There is much more to changing steel performance than carbon content, that is why basic metallurgy is a 4 year college degree not just a weekend course

Of course it wont hurt you to try to carborize the 1095

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About two years ago I typed in a long quote from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization  (F.A.O.), series of blacksmithing.  (second volume?)

The article described how to pattern weld mild steel together with cast iron to allow the carbon of the cast to migrate into the mild steel in order to get a steel suitable for forging into knives etc.

Search for it as it is too long to retype.

If you want to carburize 1095 steel may I suggest that you get some commercial case hardening powder instead of charcoal or hoof trimmings or vine cuttings or blood meal,  etc. etc.

Please note that case hardening takes a long time while expending a lot of fuel to keep the heat up. 

But for a flyer,  what the hay,  give it a go, and good luck with your noble endeavor. 



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Increase the carbon content of 1095 high carbon steel? it has already 1% Carbon!..

Steve said it already,  Why?.......for what?......whats the point in this?

I just dont get it.....thats not crazy, please forgive me with all due respect...thats very close to silly.....but I will not offend You, dont get me wrong here.

It is contra productive.....it will go at least 0,10mm deep from both sides of the blade.

Youre edge and tip will pop off due the lack of toughness, it turnes out super-brittle....and you can temper as you want....it wont change anything.

Dont waste your time and money, dont ruin good American high carbon steel!

do and try something more reasonable instead.....but like I said, no offence.

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Not to mention you can go to far!  As an experiment I once put some pieces of real wrought iron in a steel pipe filled with charcoal powder and folded the ends shut. I then put it on the "cooler" side of my propane forge and kept track of how many hours it spent glowing red. as a side effect of my regular forging.  We then tried to forge weld it to a wrought iron core for a spear point only to find we had increased the carbon content---and it was pretty much cast iron at that point. 20+ hours was too long!

Now if you want to really get into this sort of thing may I commend to your attention: "The Cementation of Iron and Steel" Federico Giolitti and "Steelmaking Before Bessemer, Vol 1 Blister Steel" Charles Barraclough

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  • 1 month later...

An increase in carbon with the lack of most other carbides lends to edge stability. A 1.2 or 1.3% C edge can be slightly thinner at the same hardness as 1095, which is why these types of steels exist. White and blue paper and various german file steels rely on these slight metallurgical differences to squeeze out as much as you can from steel for high end cutting edges. It is also important to not that these steels were designed for this specific purpose, as opposed to being an alloy we use that was first developed with a different application in mind, like 52100 for example, which is arguably one of the best western steels used in cutlery.


As far as the cementation process, yes it can be done. It depends on time and temp. You may even have some neat banding in the end.

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