Determining the Best Budget Knife Steel

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Larrin, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
  2. Storm W

    Storm W KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 19, 2019
    Great article like always. You have done so much to to improve the industry thanks for all of your hard work.
    kdnolin, Willie71, tkroenlein and 3 others like this.
  3. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Thanks Larrin. A really great read. While “best” is hard to pin down, as different needs are weighed differently by people, this does a good job of finding a balanced recommendation.
    Larrin likes this.
  4. fishface5

    fishface5 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Yes to this!!!
    Bigfattyt and Larrin like this.
  5. AVigil

    AVigil Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Platinum Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    I have used a fair amount but will be changing to something else soon.
    AEB-L will move days and even weeks after heat treatment.

    I will have perfectly flat slip joint parts after HT only to find it days and weeks later no longer flat. I now will leave it clamped in a vice for a week to help mitigate it.

    That stuff moves!

    The time getting it flat again is getting annoying.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
    Bigfattyt and P.Brewster like this.
  6. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    Thanks again Larrin. It's good to see that my impressions and growing fondness of AEB-L is backed up by some testing. I have tried a lot of new steels the last several years and find myself settling in on a few that serve my needs very well, and AEB-L is one of the couple stainless steels that I seem to gravitate towards. But not because of the "budget" aspect ... that is just a nice bonus. It really is a well rounded choice for a user.
    Bigfattyt, Ken H> and Larrin like this.
  7. J-T-K


    May 11, 2020
    Does it go in the best budget knife?
  8. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    I’m ordering a bunch of a8mod next order.
    Bigfattyt and DeadboxHero like this.
  9. Scaniaman


    Jun 15, 2012
    This was a very nice read, thanks Larrin!
    I am happy my shop has a lot of 14C28N and AEB-L.
    As for availability here in Europe, it is the inverse of what you have. 14C28N can easily be found in 2, 2.5, 3.0 and 4.0 mm thickness. AEB-L on the other hand is hard to come by in other than 3-3.5 mm.
    Larrin likes this.
  10. Scaniaman


    Jun 15, 2012
    The HT scares me, but done right this must be a great steel for choppers etc. It is the same as Uddeholm Viking no?
  11. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Not sure about Viking, but I hasn’t really thought about using A8mod much, as it was marketed as poor wear resistance. It beats the simple steels in edge holding, and toughness is 3v level. Avoiding oil quenches is a bonus too. The balance of properties is quite good, and it’s an economical option.
  12. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    Another great article Larrin!
    I am a fan of Aebl, but I don’t do the heat treat lol. Just wondering though, does 14c28n have the same warp issues? @Scaniaman?
    Willie71 likes this.
  13. Scaniaman


    Jun 15, 2012
    From my very limited experience, I cannot notice a difference when it comes to warpingness. I have made and heat treated too few blades to even take guess at a conclusion. When I have done e few hundred I'll report back :)
    I know @PEU has done a ton in 14C28N and also @Stromberg Knives uses this steel a lot, but I don't
    know if they use AEB-L.
    kdnolin likes this.
  14. Spyke


    Jun 18, 2003
    Great article, as always.

    I do have a question about the last graph comparing the toughness and cutting tests.

    This is an amalgamation of "ideal" toughness vs the CARTA testing you've done, correct? i.e. for 14C28N it's unlikely to get a knife with 30ft/lbs and 400+mm as those results come from different hardness samples (62RC for the CARTA testing, and sub-61RC for the toughness test).
  15. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    I used the data that I have. Some values could be adjusted slightly estimating the change from hardness. It wouldn't greatly affect the analysis in this case but there can always be discussions about how values should be adjusted and how relevant different datapoints are.
    Spyke likes this.
  16. PEU

    PEU Gaucho Knifemaker

    Aug 6, 2006
    14c28n? about 200kg :D

    Yes it does warp if you go from bought sheet to hardening, what I do, by @Larrin suggestion is heat it to 900C let it cool and then do the hardening, this prevents warping a lot, a lot not totally, but 95%+ not warped is better than almost all blades...

    Scaniaman likes this.
  17. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    Great stuff! AEB-L is one of my favorites, I'm using Nitro-V on my latest group of 350+ blades.

    What hardness do you like to run Nitro-V at?
  18. Scaniaman


    Jun 15, 2012
    I'll try that at some point. So you just pop the blades in at 900 and let them soak for a bit and then cool in room temp?
  19. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    Larrin ,
    I see 5150 in toughness charts, but donr believe ove seen it in any of your edge retention/Carta tests.

    I may, very well be overlooking it.

    Is there data on its edge retention on your site?

    I have used it on three blades (one 'shade tree heat treat in charcoal to non magnetic and quench in oil, and two professionally heat treated), and have more to use. I may try forging it in the near future, and heat treat in a gas forge with thermocouple temp guide.

    My guess is that edge retention will be poor, below 1095?
  20. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    I'm sure he means the quench Hoss (Larrin's Dad) developed for AEB-L. Heat oven to 1725F (around 940C) and heat for 15 to 20 minutes, plate quench. Allow oven (or have 2nd oven available) to stabilize at your HT's temp, insert blade and heat for 10 minutes, then plate quench.

    The 1725F quench seems to relieve stress in metal helping prevent warp, and also makes for a smaller grain in metal.
    Scaniaman likes this.

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