View Full Version : A-2, D-2, or ATS-34 (crucible 154CM)?

06-28-2010, 11:52 AM
hey everyone, i plan on starting work on my second knife and i plan on choosing between these 3 steels to use for the blade. im not really sure which to go with and the sources i have to buy them from have them all for around the same price range so i was wondering if someone could give me a recommendation. any other steel suggestions (along with a place to buy it haha) would be appreciated. thanks.

06-28-2010, 12:30 PM
what kinda knife you building?


try: www.njsteelbaron@gmail.com

James Terrio
06-28-2010, 12:39 PM
All three are very good steels and can make really good blades; none can be properly heat-treated with backyard methods so if you don't have a kiln you'll have to send it out for HT.

They do have somewhat different properties. What's the intended use of the knife you want to build? What's most important to you, edge-holding, toughness or a pretty finish? These things will help folks give you good recommendations.

If you decide on D2 or 154, I would recommend the CPM versions. They have the same basic chemistry as the "regular" versions but are even more uniform and finer grained, which means extra toughness and edge-holding.

06-28-2010, 01:30 PM
well i plan on doing a more tactical style knife, maybe even try a folder or balisong. i mean the only length i can get for the A-2 and D-2 is 18" and the only length i can get for the 154CM is 24" so i plan on making a few knives with the steel i buy. and i am not going to be forging and i will send it out for heat treatment. i want to get a very sharp edge that would also hold for quite some use. the finish isnt so important to me and i would be going for a satin finish anyways unless i post a thread on here asking how to finish a blade and get it to a darker finish (im not sure whether or not that is possible haha). one thing that i am worried about is that the D-2 or A-2 i would be buying from this website


and i dont know what version of D-2 or A-2 they have, but if i got the 154CM i would be buying it from USAknifemaker so i know that it would be the right type of steel to use for making a few knives.

James Terrio
06-28-2010, 03:20 PM
I've never bought from Metals Depot so i don't have an opinion. Looks like they're marketing mostly to tool-and-die makers, industrial stuff, and there's nothing wrong with that. Their prices for A2 and D2 seem to be a bit on the high side. One thing to consider though, both alloys are listed as precision-ground, which is a very good thing. That will save you time and belts... mill scale is very hard on belts and takes a while to grind off. Precision-ground stock comes very flat, straight and clean.

Keep googling and compare prices, there are MANY sources for good knife steel, including Admiral, Knifekits.com and Texas Knifemaker Supply, all of which sell a lot of steel directly to knifemakers. USAknifemaker is a great supplier, I always check there first. Tracy (BossDog) is the owner, and he does NOT goof around when it comes to keeping his retail site updated and shipping orders quickly. 2thumbs

No matter who you buy from, you generally get a better price when buying a 3' bar, and have more options to cut several knives out of one bar with minimal waste. Wider sheets are even a better deal per square inch, but you have to be able to resaw to the dimensions you want.

You've already decided to send your blade(s) out for HT... check out Peters Heat Treating forum here on Knifedogs or google their main website and ask for a quote. They're very well-respected and have good prices, especially if you have them do several blades of the same steel at once.

Looking to make a tactical knife, personally I would go with either D2 or 154CM. They're very similar in toughness (both pretty darn good) but 154 is more wear-resistant (keeps its edge longer, but is a little more difficult to sharpen... not ridiculous, though). 154CM is significantly more resistant to corrosion (although D2 is also pretty decent that way, it's "almost stainless" with 11% or so chromium) and takes a much better polish.

Honestly, from what you've said, I'd say get either D2 or 154CM in the size closest to what you want, for the best price. They're both dang good steels for knives that can work hard and don't need a lot of maintenance.

There are options for graying and even blackening these types of steels, but I have no experience with that.

06-28-2010, 03:27 PM
thank you so much, ill be sure to check out the other steel suppliers.

06-28-2010, 06:27 PM
i decided to go with 1/8" thick and 2-1/2" wide D-2 from metal depot because the only 154CM i could find in the width i wanted still had some bark from the foundry that would have had to get grinded off and it would have had deep marks on it that i would have had to grind out and i only have files so i figured it wasnt worth it. so the D-2 is being delivered on friday and im going to start a fixed blade and a balisong that ive been itching to try and make and then maybe if i have any steel left over ill go for making a folder too haha. thanks for your help everyone.

James Terrio
06-28-2010, 07:32 PM
Sounds like a good plan. D2 can make a very good rough-use blade and I think it will make you happy. Keep your files clean. You can remove steel with a good file almost as fast as you can with a belt grinder, with less chance of making an "oops". You seem like a reasonable person with reasonable goals, and clearly have done some research, that's a huge start towards making a successful knife. Let us know how it goes! :)

06-28-2010, 07:54 PM
thanks haha i will be sure to post the finished product. and im not really looking into the belt grinder because i want to remove metal faster, im looking into it because when i used files on my last knife the file didnt give me the nice sharp plunge lines that i was looking to get which is why i want to invest in a belt grinder, i mean if anyone knows how to get crisp plunge lines with a file i would love to learn but at the moment i believe that i would be best off buying a relatively inexpensive belt grinder (found one on harbor freight for around ~$80 and with the right type of quality belts i believe it should fair quite well with grinding steel (the reviews have shown that some people have used it for metal work without a problem and hey for $80 compared to $400+ for a quality belt grinder its worth a try lol)).

06-30-2010, 07:41 AM
You should be able to get just as crisp a line with a file as a belt grinder. Probably better with a good file than a low cost 1" belt grinder. Both methods require that you keep the surface absolutely flat and steady as you make your pass. You are draw filing correct? That is where you hold the file on each end and draw it down the length of the blade. Done correctly this can be very precise.

06-30-2010, 09:06 AM
yes the is the method i am using. are there any techniques or any technological aids i could use to get more crisp plunge lines? any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.