O-1 tool steel vs. 1095 high carbon steel

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by Jbiasca, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. Jbiasca


    Apr 12, 2016
    I just signed up in blade forums and I'm not sure if I am doing this right. Anyway, I have made a handfull of knives using O-1 tool steel. I am thinking about experimenting with 1095 high carbon steel, mainly because it looks to be easier on the pocket book. I would like to know how the properties are different in these different steels and also if the heat treating process is different for 1095. Any information would be much appreciated. I have a few videos on youtube if anyone is interested.
  2. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    The only thing that you really need to be aware of is that 1095 is a very shallow hardening steel, while O1 is a deep hardening steel. What this boils down to is 1095 needs a VERY fast quench medium....like water/brine or a fast oil like Parks 50. O1 doesn't need as fast of a quench medium, and is quenched in a slower oil. You can use the search function, it is a sticky thread on the Shop Talk page. It is extremely helpful.
  3. Jbiasca


    Apr 12, 2016
    Awesome, thanks for your help. Are there any major differences in the steels properties as it pertains to a knifes performance?

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  4. Willie71

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

    Feb 23, 2013
    Assuming proper heat treat for both, O1 has more alloying and will hold an edge a bit longer. 1095 is a bit finer grained (O1 is fine grained too) and can get a hamon if the smith wants one. O1 won't get a hamon. Both are good performing steels that have excellent results for many smiths. Without a kiln, or PID forge, I would go with 1084 instead of either O1 or 1095. 1084 has a wider window for austentizing temp, and does not require a soak. Small difference in performance for those with optimum equipment, but much better for those with less precise equipment.
  5. Jbiasca


    Apr 12, 2016
    1084 does not require a soak? Does that mean it doesn't need quenched?

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  6. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    1084 needs to be heat treated properly. It just means it is more forgiving in temp tolerances and soak times etc. With more highly alloyed steels or steels with higher carbon content than 1084 they require time held at austenitizing temperature for the carbides and alloy elements to spread out within the steel to a more even dispersion. Do a little reading on eutectoid, hypereutectoid and hypo eutectoid steels. 1084 is in the eutectoid range and doesn't require a long soak. By the time 1084 comes up to temp everything is spread out nicely. But it still benefits from proper normalization procedures before austenitization and quench in a proper medium.

    What kind of equipment are you working with for heat treating your blades?
  7. Willie71

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

    Feb 23, 2013
    Yes, it needs to be quenched. The difference is that O1 and 1095 need to be held at correct temp for 10 minutes to get everything into solution before quench. 1084 just needs bringing it to correct temperature, no holding temp for 10 minutes before quenching. O1 needs an oil quench. 1095 needs fast oil (expensive) or brine (risky) to harden. 1084 can be quenched in heated canola oil, as can O1. 1095 can be quenched in heated canola, but it's not optimum. It might not harden, or not fully harden.
  8. cognitve001


    Apr 20, 2016
    Is there a huge difference in the end result if you're outsourcing your heat treatment anyhow?
  9. TonyRV2


    Feb 21, 2007
    Here is a link to a relatively easy read, and by easy, I mean easier to read than my SME manual, that every knife maker should take a peek at. Its all about metallurgy, written by a faculty member (emeritus) at Iowa State University , and written with the knife maker in mind! Its an incredible amount of information, 200 pages long and free to whomever would like it. I probably got the link from someone here on the forum, but I've forgotten who or I would give them credit for finding this...sorry about that, and thank you, whoever you are. :rolleyes: http://www.hybridburners.com/documents/verhoeven.pdf

    P.S.....I did see a mistake on the last page of chapter one, a typo really, where 912 degrees Celsius is referred to as the same as 1167 degrees Fahrenheit. That should read 1674 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016

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