List of blade materials

Blade materials are those used to make the blade of a knife or other simple edged hand tool or weapon, such as a hatchet or sword.

The blade of a knife can be made from a variety of materials, the most common being carbon steel, stainless steel, tool steel and alloy steel. Other less common materials used in knife blades include: cobalt and titanium alloys, ceramics, obsidian, and plastic.

The hardness of steel is usually stated as a number on the Rockwell C scale (HRC). The Rockwell scale is a hardness scale based on the resistance to indentation of a material, as opposed to other scales such as the Mohs scale (scratch resistance) testing used in mineralogy. As hardness increases, the blade becomes capable of taking and holding a better edge, but is more difficult to sharpen and more brittle (commonly called less "tough"). Laminating a harder steel between a softer one is an expensive process that to some extent gives the benefits of both types (see Damascus steel).


Alloy steels

Main article: Alloy steel

Popular sword manufacturers that use 5160 spring steel are Hanwei Forge and Generation 2. 5160 spring steel is mainly used on Medieval type swords.[3]

Tool steels

Main article: Tool steel

Tool steel grades used in cutlery : A, D, O, M, T, S, L, W. See also AISI Tool Steel Grades.
The following are tool steels, which are alloy steels commonly used to produce hardened cutting tools:

CPM Series

Crucible Industries[13] produces Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) tool steels using a powder metal forge process.[14]

Chrome steel

Main article: Chrome steel

Chrome steel is one of a class of non stainless steels which are used for applications such as bearings, tools and drills.

Semi-stainless steels

Steels that did not fit into the stainless category because they may not have enough of a certain element, such as chromium.

Stainless steel

Main article: Stainless steel

Stainless steel is a popular class of material for knife blades because it resists corrosion and is easy to maintain. However, it is not impervious to corrosion or rust. In order for a steel to be considered stainless it must have a chromium content of at least 13%.[21]

The principle of stainless steel is that in an oxidizing chemical environment the oxide (chromium and sometimes nickel and other metal oxides) is stable, and when in a reducing (shortage of oxygen) environment at least one metal is stable. This usually works, except in an acid environment.

Austenitic stainless retains its non-magnetic crystal structure at room temperature, usually because it has high nickel content. It is therefore not hardenable by heat treating as typical hard steels are. So as knife steel it depends on other hardening methods such as alloying elements and cold working. It is highly corrosion resistant, except to stress corrosion cracking.

154CM/ATS-34 steels

These two steels are practically identical in composition.[22] They were introduced into custom knives by Bob Loveless circa 1972.

The latter two are considered premium cutlery steels for both folding knives and fixed blades.[8]

300 series

American stainless steel manufactured by Allegheny Ludlum steel Co and Crucible Industries.[13]

400 series

420 series contain 4 types, which is defined by its carbon content. 420A / 1.4021, 420B / 1.4024, 420C / 1.4034, and 420D / 1.4037. 420D stainless steel has about 0.66 carbon content, this steel grade is widely used to make high end razor blades, surgical scalpels etc. It obtains about 57 HRC after suitable heat treatment. 420HC ( 420C ) is a higher carbon content 420 stainless. The HC stands for "high carbon" and it can be brought to a higher hardness than 420 and should not be mistaken for it. Buck Knives and Gerber Knives use 420HC extensively.[8] 420A ( 420J1 ) and 420B ( 420J2 ) are economical, highly corrosion resistant stainless steel grades. Knife manufacturers use this material in budget knives, also in diving knives due to its high resistance to corrosion.[8]

440 series has three types, 440A, 440B and 440C. 440A is a relatively a low cost, highly corrosion resistant stainless steel. In China, Ahonest ChangJiang Stainless steel developed 440A modified 7Cr17MoV, by adding more element vanadium.[31] 440B is almost identical to 440A, but has a higher carbon content range compared to 440A[31] 440C is considered a high-end stainless steel. It is very resistant to corrosion and is one of the most common stainless alloys used for knife making.[31] The once ubiquitous American Buck Model 110 Folding Hunter was made of 440C before 1981. 440C has highest carbon content in 440 group.[31] Böhler n695 is equivalent to 440C.

AUS series

The AUS stainless steel series is produced by Aichi Steel Corporation, Japan. They differ from the AISI 4xx series because they have vanadium added to them. Vanadium improves the wear resistance, toughness, and ease of sharpening.[8] In the alloy name the appended 'A' indicates the alloy has been annealed.

CPM SxxV series

The SxxV series are Crucible Industries[13] stainless steels produced using CPM process.[14]

VG series

Japanese stainless steels, manufactured by Takefu Special Steel.[42]

Due to small Vanadium content VG-10 has finer grain content compared to VG-1. Cobalt and Nickel improve toughness. Overall, it has better edge stability compared to VG-1. VG-10 is widely used in Japanese kitchen knives, several manufacturers use it in various folders and fixed blade knives, including Spyderco, Cold Steel and Fallkniven.[8]

CTS series

American stainless steels produced by Carpenter Technology using vacuum melt technology.

Mo/MoV series

Chinese and American stainless steels; the manufacturers are unknown with the exception of 14-4CrMo which is manufactured by Latrobe Specialty Metals.
(sorted by first number.)

the recommended hardness about 55/57 HRC.

Sandvik series[44]

DSR series

Daido stainless tool steels used for kitchen knives and scissors.

Other stainless

Several steel alloys have carbon amount close or above 3%. As usual those steels can be hardened to extremely high levels, 65-67HRC. Toughness levels are not high compared to CPM S90V steel, however, they have high wear resistance and edge strength, making them good choice for the knives designed for light cutting and slicing works.

Hi-speed steel

CPM REX series

treatable to HRC 68-70. Its high carbon, vanadium and cobalt contents provide abrasion resistance comparable to that of T15 and red hardness superior to that of M42.

abrasion resistance, and cobalt for good red hardness, and is used for cutting difficult to machine materials where high frictional heating is encountered.

Super stainless steels

The steels in this category have much higher resistance to elements and corrosion than conventional stainless steels. These steels are austenitic and non-magnetic. They are used in knives designed for use in aggressive, highly corrosive environments, such as saltwater, and areas with high humidity like tropical forests, swamps, etc.[57] These steels can contain 26% to 42% chromium as well as 10% to 22% nickel and 1.5 to 10% of titanium, tantalum, vanadium, niobium, aluminum silicon, copper, or molybdenum etc., or some combination thereof.

Carbon steel

Main article: Carbon steel

Carbon steel is a popular choice for rough use knives. Carbon steel tends to be much tougher and much more durable, and easier to sharpen than stainless steel. They lack the chromium content of stainless steel, making them susceptible to corrosion.[8]

Carbon steels have less carbon than typical stainless steels do, but it is the main alloy element. They are more homogeneous than stainless and other high alloy steels, having carbide only in very small inclusions in the iron. The bulk material is harder than stainless, allowing them to hold a sharper and more acute edge without bending over in contact with hard materials. But they dull by abrasion quicker because they lack hard inclusions to take the friction. This also makes them quicker to sharpen. Carbon steel is well known to take a sharper edge than stainless.

10xx series

The 10xx series is the most popular choice for carbon steel used in knives. They are very durable.

Often recommended for novice knife makers or those without more advanced heat treating equipment due to the ease of heat treating it successfully in such conditions, yet also used by many professional bladesmiths for various kinds of knives as it can make excellent knives.

V-x series

a Japanese exotic, high-end steel made by Hitachi. The "Blue" refers to, not the color of the steel itself, but the color of the paper in which the raw steel comes wrapped.

Kigami/Yellow-Series Steel
Other proprietary steels
Other carbon steel

These steels did not exist in a series.

Unassigned steels

The group of these steels is unknown at this time. Please move them to their proper group and provide a description.

Common blade alloying elements

Carbon (C)
Chromium (Cr)
Cobalt (Co)
Copper (Cu)
Manganese (Mn)
Molybdenum (Mo)
Nickel (Ni)
Niobium (Nb)
Nitrogen (N)
Phosphorus (P)
Silicon (Si)
Sulfur (S)
Tantalum Ta
Tungsten (W)
Vanadium (V)


Main article: ceramic

Ceramics are harder than metals but more brittle. Ceramic knives can be sharpened with silicon carbide or diamond sandpaper but chip when sharpened on a hard stone or lap. Good for those who do not sharpen their own knives. Needs discussion

The harder ceramics may be used in composite form to make them workable.

Aluminum oxide ceramic(Al2O3)

Marketech AO series

Zirconium oxide (ZrO2)

Very hard and strong, but expensive. Used by Böker.

Other materials

These materials did not fit into the aforementioned steel or ceramic types.


This natural glass chips sharper than other stones but is more brittle.


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