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I Forge Iron

Knife making metal

Ignis Forge

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Thats a hugely open ended question. Thats like asking what is the best car to drive, whats the best type of knife there is, etc. And the answer is it really all depends. Depends on the knife size, shape, style, intended use, if your doing monosteel blades, pattern welded blades, full hardening, differential hardening, what kind of heat treat setup you run, your individual skill, and personal perefrence.

There are many good steel grades and alloys for knife making and each have their own special characteristics and attributes. Some of the most common and widley used steels are 5160, the 10xx series (1050, 1060, 1075, 1084, etc, all the way up to 1095), O1, W1, W2, L6/15N20, and 52100. Each of these steels if heat treated properly will make a fine blade. However some are more suited for certan applications than others. For instance the higher carbon steels, like 1095, harden a bit more and are not quite as suitable for a blade that will be long and required to flex and absorb more stress. At the same time, the lower end of the high carbons are more shallow hardening, and will not reach the same hardness for use in a small blade that you want to hold a great edge. Additionally some of the steels are a bit more friendly to work with, 5160 is a pretty forgiving steel both under the hammer and durring HT, however 52100 is a bear to move under the hammer and is a bit more picky with its HT. There is also some cost differences in steels as well that one has to consider. As you can see there are a lot of variables and things to consider in choosing the right material for a blade. The best thing I can recomend is to get some of the different steels, research the steel, how to HT it etc, then play around with it until you get a feel for it and can achieve good performance in the HT. If you can find a steel that works well for you, then it is a good steel for a knife. There is no one best steel that performs well for every type of knife.

The old files you are working with are probably either 1095 or W1 and make very good knives. Additionally I would say that for a good tough knife, you cant go wrong with 5160. 5160 is pretty forgiving durring forging, it HT's well, and if your starting out is a pretty good steel to learn with. The 10xx series high carbons are also good for starting out. W1 and O1 make super knives as well. Like I said, they all make good knives if you know how to work with and HT them.

Research and experiment.


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I am new to this forum. I hope to post first forged knife and brief into about me soon. All I can really say is that I like 1095 so far.

However, I have spent a lot of time trying to track down resources, and I am pasting a link to a site from Cashen Blades that is really helpful.


(if the link does not work, just search around the cashenblades.com site)
good luck,


Edited by kevin (the professor)
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