Carbon = 0.54-0.64
Manganese = 0.75-1.00
Chromium = 0.70-0.90
Silicon = 0.15-0.30

The above is just a reference, refer to the source/vendor for exact chemistry.

5160 is a spring steel that makes good knives. It is very tough and makes excellent choppers. It is also used by the vast majority of bladesmiths to make test blades for the ABS Journeyman Bladesmiths test. Heat treating this steel is fairly easy and straightforward although it does benefit from a short soak at the hardening temp..

Heat treat;
1. Heat to 1525 and soak for 5 - 10 minutes.
2. Quench
3. Temper twice for 2 hours each time. Temper between 325 & 500 depending on the application.

This is just a starting point. You may need to adjust times and temps. to suit your equipment and needs.


Well-Known Member
I think Darrin mentioned early on he was trying to stay away from controversial issues such as what quenching medium to use. I see a couple of times he has mentioned quench in oil, but even saying "oil" is a lot of differences there - canola oil? motor oil? Preferable to use commercial heat treating oils, but for many of us hobby folks, that's not feasible. Canola oil seems to be a good "general purpose" quenching oil that works good on simple alloy steels like 1084 and perhaps even 1095. I suspect it would not be too fast for 5160.

The choice of quenching depends a lot on the thickness of blade and geometry..... edge quench or whole blade?

Lots of things to argue...... errr - discuss:) about quenchants.

Ken H>
Sorry about that, I keep forgetting that people that aren't familiar with these steels may be reading these threads. 5160 is best quenched in Parks AAA or any equivalent. Canola MAY be a tad fast but if it works for you then go for it.

Gary Miller

Well-Known Member
i have had real good luck with automatic transmission fluid for years it's best if it is warmed to around 100 degrees. parks is but in a pinch trans fluid will work . it is slow enough for 5160
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Gary Miller

Well-Known Member
canola oil will work if the blade isn't to thick. i am speaking from the hobbits point . if you are only making 10 or 20 blades a year i use what i can pick up at the auto parts store, it also helps me keep my costs down. but if you are professional you should use a professional qunick like parks or any of the quincking oils that match the steel you are using.
Thickness doesn't matter because 5160 is a deep hardening steel. Canola is a bit fast for 5160. It will definitely get super hard but you run the risk of cracking the blade in the quench.


I have been quenching 5160 in 120 degree Canola oil and achieving HRC of 56 after 1 hr temper at 400 degrees. Is this normal? Or should I expect more?