Know Your Steels: Links For The Pocket Metallurgist

File:Steel pd.svg

Study this graphic carefully, because there’s going to be a quiz at the end. Not really; none of us could pass it, except maybe Will Woods. Since I dropped out of Engineering school before I got to metallurgy, I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree when it comes to the real nitty-gritty of chemistry. I need other, more knowledgeable people to translate this kind of quantitative data into something simpler that I can understand and use.

Toward that end, I’ve put together a short list of links about knife steels, their compositions, and their qualities and applications.

These are the sources I go to when I’m researching an article, in more or less the order I check them. I hope they’re as interesting and useful to you as they’ve been to me.


  1. Bob Damon says:

    Wow, no comments.
    I have read many of the steel guides on your list.
    When I really became interested in knives, I thought I should learn about the different steels. Well, seems like it’s the same as the caliber debate: 9mm vs 45,
    SV30 vs 8Cr13MoV. I’ve decided I don’t care, if I like the knife, I’m not gonna worry about the steel.

  2. Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    OK, what do you need translated?

    It’s a very well known phase diagram to us engineers. Every engineer who takes the intro course to materials science has to know it. All it is showing are the phases of material within steel for different alloying concentrations of carbon, vs. the temperature of the steel.

    NB that is applies to only simple carbon steels, and that few knives are made from anything higher in carbon than about 1% carbon. Above 0.70% carbon, steels start becoming so brittle when hardened that they might not survive day to day use without being drawn back and losing a significant amount of their hardness.

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Know Your Steels: Links For The Pocket Metallurgist

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