View Full Version : What steel to use?

12-01-2010, 03:00 PM
After an interesting year full of hiccups and bumps in the road, I am finally going to try making my first knives from scratch. I was wanting to see what people recommended for a blade steel. I am going to make a couple of skinning / hunting knives. I figure they will be a good test as my whole family hunts. They are going to be made by stock removal and done by hand filing. I like the idea of a stainless for the obvious reason of rust resistance, but was not sure if a stainless like 440c wold be a good idea doing everything by hand or if I should go with something like 1084 instead and not worry about the stainless aspect for now. These knives will be sent out for heat treat regardless of steel. Thanks for everyone's input.

Dan Pierson
12-01-2010, 03:29 PM
If you're sending out for heat treat you'll have more choices with an air hardening steel. Either air hardening tool steel or stainless is in that respect. Peters Heat Treat has their own forum on this site and will process oil hardening steels as well.

That said, you've defined your intended use so your next question is: How thick do you need the steel to be? Aldo has several different thicknesses of simple carbon steels, but in general precision ground tool steel with give you the greatest choice of thickness. It will also give you a clean, flat surface to start filing on.

Personally, I would suggest either O1 (oil hardening) or A2 (air hardening) precision ground tool steel as a good starting point. If you really want stainless, look at what Aldo, Alpha Knife Supply or USA Knife Maker has in a size and price you're willing to accept.

Mike Carter
12-01-2010, 06:30 PM
440C is what I started out with and I still use it a lot. It's a great all-purpose steel, it's readily available and cheaper than the "super steels". It grinds pretty easy, takes a good edge and if you like a polished finish it polishes well.