Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 37
  1. #1
    The Razor Whisperer Philadelph's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Rhode Island
    Posts
    2,197
    Thanked: 474

    Default Blade Steel types for razors

    Ok, so I am seriously considering getting into making blades. I think I would be able to do it for the most part right now with the right equipment besides heat treating which I just know nothing about. I'll post on that later...

    Anyway, my question is this: I have been looking at steel bar stock for knifemaking on knife sites and really just don't know the difference between a lot of them. I have seen 440C, ATS34, CPM 154CM and S30V, Tool Steel and Forging Steel among others. What are all of the differences? What is suitable for a razor? How do you go about choosing between Carbon and Stainless? Which of these are Carbon? lol As you can see, I'll probably have a lot of questions coming up. I'd prefer people answer only if they really know what they are talking about rather than "I think this is...". So thanks for reading and I look forward to the responses!

  2. #2
    Razorsmith JoshEarl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    2,659
    Thanked: 316

    Default

    Alex,

    I think I'm about halfway into the "knows what he's talking about category..."

    Hopefully Joe C will show up to talk about stainless, because that's out of my range of experience.

    Carbon steels are more flexible in terms of what you can do with them. You can't really forge stainless, although there are a few who do. Carbon steels can usually be heat treated with simple equipment, while stainless steels need complex heat treating. Most of the stainless knife guys send their stuff out for professional heat treatment.

    Obviously, stainless is less rust prone. It also has different edge holding properties. That's about all I can do there.

    Forging steel, as far as I know, is usually a carbon or tool steel that is sold in bars or rounds that are suitable for forging, but not really for grinding or "stock removal." It might also mean blacksmith-quality steel, which is low or medium carbon and not suitable for blades.

    Carbon steel usually connotes a very simple alloy of carbon and iron, often with some maganese thrown in to help the hardening process along. Tool steels are also high carbon, but they have other alloy metals added to give them special properties. O1 has chromium, which I think is meant to slow the hardening process a bit.

    Carbon steels have an alloy number in the format of 10XX. The 10 means plain carbon steel, and the XXs will be replaced by a number that indicates the carbon content. For example, 1080 has .8 percent carbon. A low-carbon steel might be in the 1020 range.

    Tool steels have their own classification using letters and numbers. O1 means "oil hardening type 1." There are other series, like A for air hardening and D for... something.

    If you want to make a few blades, I'd recommend 1080, W1 or O1. All are good steels and will make nice knives or razors.

    Josh

  3. #3
    The Razor Whisperer Philadelph's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Rhode Island
    Posts
    2,197
    Thanked: 474

    Default

    Thanks Josh. That starts a nice explanation for me. Do you use bar for stock removal? That's basically what I think I'd get into for now. I'm having a tough time finding carbon steel stock bars though. Stainless is on all the knife supplies places, but that's most of what I can find besides Forging steel. I found O1 which I actually knew about since I read your thread about it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    701
    Thanked: 182

    Default

    from what i recall you would want to use nothing 1060 or less
    but anything bigger 10XX wise should be fine

    the key here being know your heat treat info ok steel with great heat treat is still good
    but super steel with poor heat treat still sucks

    i ll be using W2 for my high carbon razers but have used many other more "high tec" steels that just would not work for this app.(cpm10V rings a bell )

  5. #5
    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    32,559
    Thanked: 11012

    Default

    I am curious about steel too and I found some good info here in this knife forums steel FAQ..
    Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,292
    Thanked: 149

    Default

    I've been having great experiences with 1095 lately. Got mine form Admiral Steel, very reasonably priced and it gets hard as heck with a water quench.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,292
    Thanked: 149

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Philadelph View Post
    I have seen 440C, ATS34, CPM 154CM and S30V

    Which of these are Carbon?
    All of these are stainless.

  8. #8
    Knife & Razor Maker Joe Chandler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
    1,849
    Thanked: 49

    Default

    Pretty good information, so I'll just add a bit about stainless. I really don't recommend anything other than the CPM steels for razors. They have a finer grain structure than the "normally" produced stainless tool steels, which usually translates into easier honing, greater edge retention, and more flexibility, as well as better finishing characteristics. You get less carbide segregation and banding with the CPM steels, since each grain of the steel is, in theory, a perfect copy of the whole. Any of the ones you mentioned will make good razors, with the exception of S30V (This is just my opinion, based on my experience with that steel). S30V tends to be very brittle and chippy in thin sections like a razor's edge, and good luck getting other than a nice satin finish on it. It's good for knives, which have a much heavier edge by comparison, but I don't like it for razors. Definitely not a beginner's steel, or a steel for anyone without very good equipment, as it's very tough to work with. A dead soft bar of S30V will turn the teeth of a brand new hacksaw blade.

    Frankly, good carbon steel bar stock is probably the way to go. It's much less expensive and much easier to grind. You don't need to forge it, as forging really doesn't improve the steel...it just changes the shape. Forging is a much more economical (if labor intensive and chancy if you're new and don't know what you're doing) method of blade shaping, as you waste less steel, but in the end, all blademaking comes down to stock removal. The only way forging really improves steel is if you're working it down from very large stock, such as 3-inch ball bearings, a la Ed Fowler. I just wanted to add this to correct this seemingly widespread misconception about the relative benefits of forging vs. stock removal. Some guys see "forged" and automatically assume it denotes superiority. The thing is, all flat bar steel is forged about as much as it needs to be when it's rolled out into plates at the mill. Forging allows a person to make pattern welded steel, and to use steel from different sources (such as vehicle leaf springs...usually 5160 steel, which makes a darn near indestructible knife if heat treated properly, with good but not great edge holding properties), but doesn't automatically denote a superior blade. I certainly admire those who forge their blades...I used to do it myself. But I realized that for what I wanted a knife to do, stainless was just as good, and as Josh so rightly put it, stainless isn't a good forging candidate. I like carbon steel a lot, as well, and use some, but it's not my primary steel. I wish wootz and pattern welded were, but since I don't make it, that's an expensive proposition.

    In short, call a supplier like Admiral, Crucible, or any of the knifemaker supply houses and get you some 1095 and O1 bar stock. It's fairly economical, you know what you've got to work with, and if you accidentally get a blade right, you'll have a good razor at the end of the process, made out of good material.

    Good luck,
    Joe

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to Joe Chandler For This Useful Post:

    Philadelph (05-14-2008)

  10. #9
    "My words are of iron..."
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,857
    Thanked: 947

    Default

    Joe's summary can stand by itself without comment.

    Start with the "Old and unfashionable" steels. They are less expensive but still make great blades. That way you won't be out a bunch of money if you make a mess of the practice jobs.

    Mike

  11. #10
    Razorsmith JoshEarl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    2,659
    Thanked: 316

    Default

    I agree with Joe's comments, too, particularly about forging. I think there's some romance in it, but the guys who know their stuff seem to agree that it doesn't make for a superior blade.

    Like Mike says, "All steel is forged. If you heat it up and pitty-pat an edge on it, that's just more forging."

    Josh

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Chandler View Post
    Pretty good information, so I'll just add a bit about stainless. I really don't recommend anything other than the CPM steels for razors. They have a finer grain structure than the "normally" produced stainless tool steels, which usually translates into easier honing, greater edge retention, and more flexibility, as well as better finishing characteristics. You get less carbide segregation and banding with the CPM steels, since each grain of the steel is, in theory, a perfect copy of the whole. Any of the ones you mentioned will make good razors, with the exception of S30V (This is just my opinion, based on my experience with that steel). S30V tends to be very brittle and chippy in thin sections like a razor's edge, and good luck getting other than a nice satin finish on it. It's good for knives, which have a much heavier edge by comparison, but I don't like it for razors. Definitely not a beginner's steel, or a steel for anyone without very good equipment, as it's very tough to work with. A dead soft bar of S30V will turn the teeth of a brand new hacksaw blade.

    Frankly, good carbon steel bar stock is probably the way to go. It's much less expensive and much easier to grind. You don't need to forge it, as forging really doesn't improve the steel...it just changes the shape. Forging is a much more economical (if labor intensive and chancy if you're new and don't know what you're doing) method of blade shaping, as you waste less steel, but in the end, all blademaking comes down to stock removal. The only way forging really improves steel is if you're working it down from very large stock, such as 3-inch ball bearings, a la Ed Fowler. I just wanted to add this to correct this seemingly widespread misconception about the relative benefits of forging vs. stock removal. Some guys see "forged" and automatically assume it denotes superiority. The thing is, all flat bar steel is forged about as much as it needs to be when it's rolled out into plates at the mill. Forging allows a person to make pattern welded steel, and to use steel from different sources (such as vehicle leaf springs...usually 5160 steel, which makes a darn near indestructible knife if heat treated properly, with good but not great edge holding properties), but doesn't automatically denote a superior blade. I certainly admire those who forge their blades...I used to do it myself. But I realized that for what I wanted a knife to do, stainless was just as good, and as Josh so rightly put it, stainless isn't a good forging candidate. I like carbon steel a lot, as well, and use some, but it's not my primary steel. I wish wootz and pattern welded were, but since I don't make it, that's an expensive proposition.

    In short, call a supplier like Admiral, Crucible, or any of the knifemaker supply houses and get you some 1095 and O1 bar stock. It's fairly economical, you know what you've got to work with, and if you accidentally get a blade right, you'll have a good razor at the end of the process, made out of good material.

    Good luck,
    Joe

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •