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Thread: blade steel: 1095 or 52100 ??

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    Default blade steel: 1095 or 52100 ??

    I have been developing my own heavy bushcraft knife for a long time....years really. I am getting close to production and need a little advice from the knife makers or other experts here.

    I'd like to know your thoughts on a comparison between 1095 and 52100.
    pros and cons both ways please.

    Thanks in advance!
    Robert Jones, Custom Sheath Maker
    www.HandSewnLeather.Com
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    Hand Sewn Leather....under "Vendor Sub-forums" right here on BushcraftUSA

    "The joyful singing of the trees Shall make the forest sing" Psalm 96

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    No expert here, and not really knowledgable about the steels in a technical sense, but I would suggest making a trial piece from each material, and heat treating them individually. Then see which is the best combination of edge holding, ruggedness, and ease of manufacture.

    I am sure you can get lots of volunteers to help field test them !
    Heh, Mac and I will take first shot, though.
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    For a good technical discussion of these and other knife steels, take a look at Joe Talmadge's latest Knife Steel FAQ at

    http://zknives.com/knives/articles/knifesteelfaq.shtml

    I have an old Ruana skinner made of 1095, which has performed very well over many years. I also have a recreation of the Marble's Woodcraft knife in 52100, which has also been very satisfactory. I haven't pitted one of the them against the other, so I can't say more.

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    I haven't used the 52100. I make all my knives from 1095 and like the way it grinds and finishes. I also like that the heat treat is relatively simple and I can do it my own shop without sending it out for final heat treat. I think that for the price 1095 can't be beat and it is a proven steel. Many major knife companies use it as well.
    Sometimes life just kicks you in the Butt, get up and kick back!!!

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    I love 1095...have a BUNCH of knives in it.
    But...I am told Ed Fowler loves 52100...and he has my respect.
    Robert Jones, Custom Sheath Maker
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    Hand Sewn Leather....under "Vendor Sub-forums" right here on BushcraftUSA

    "The joyful singing of the trees Shall make the forest sing" Psalm 96

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    I am not an expert except for having a couple of knives in different steels. However I do hang around with a couple of knife makers. Rick Marchand always tells me that heat treat is more important than the steel. He also says that he only works with certain steels because he only has the technology to maximize his control of heat treat for them. I think he put it this way. Look, I might be able to obtain a ferrari but with my equipment I can only make it run like a mini-van. On the other hand, if I take a chevette and make it run like a Dodge with a hemi engine and both I and the client save a few bucks, its a pretty good deal!

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    I have worked with 52100 and it is a bear...I mean really. Mostly becuase I dont have a trip/air hammer or press, I just use my arms. But all of that pertains to forging it.

    Regarding the performance, its some pretty cool stuff. It has quite a bit of chromium, relatively speaking, and a dash of silicon that makes a difference. I mean it is easily three times harder to forge and thats while its 1800 degress...when heat treated well, which took me a while to figure out, it really performs.

    Realistically, it probably holds an edge about 1/4 longer at the same hardness. While the chrome may hinder its toughness, it also deepens it hardenability and I find that with the added silicon that it makes up for it. In all seriousness, your not going to see a %100 increase in performance for a %200 rise in cost.

    You would find simliar performance in 5160, although not the exact same.

    Regarding Ed Fowler, I will say only this: it does not, in any sense at all, take a week to make a 52100 knife. It does not take a three days to heat treat that steel. It does close to nothing to throw a knife in the deep freezer either. He does however make a tough knife and a lot of folks like them.

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    beo , in my opinion i really thought 52100 was the best stuff you can use, but until recently i have been so wrong. I just recently had the chance to use and have fun with a knife from my cousin which is made out of cmp s30v. This stuff is freaking amazing, although its wicked expensive, its toughness and edge holding abilities are second only to the cmp s90v metal, which is even better but even more expensive....the only downfall is that it takes a long time for the initial profile and its difficult to sharpen in the field if you only have a small stone. The only other drawback is that cmp s90v doesn't polish off that great so its more prone to corrosion or rust, cmp s30v is a bit easier to sharpen and you can polish off the metal better therefore its less prone to rusting or corrosion, but if its taken care of like any other carbon steel knife its perfectly fine(referring to both the cmp s30v and the cmp s90v metals). if it wouldn't cost so much, i would have myself a machete made out of the stuff, but alas i haven't the funds for that kind of thing. I actually opened up a savings account dedicated to saving money to have a machete made out of cmp s30v material but it will be a long time till i can save the money for that lol.

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    I am really leaning toward the tried and true 1095...unless somebody with experience in 52100 can talk me into it.....btw, I am not doing this knife myself...I am getting a full time maker to do it...he likes 1095 a lot...just thought I would kick around this idea.
    Robert Jones, Custom Sheath Maker
    www.HandSewnLeather.Com
    &
    Hand Sewn Leather....under "Vendor Sub-forums" right here on BushcraftUSA

    "The joyful singing of the trees Shall make the forest sing" Psalm 96

  10. #10
    TwinBlade
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    I have beat the ever livin' hell out of a couple 52-100 and 50-100b Bark river knives. The steel held very well in heavy abuse and use.

    The 52-100 and 50-100b steels take an exceptional edge (almost scary...very tough to describe it) and also take an admirable patina. I would venture to say that 52-100 is not as finicky about heat treat and initial quench timing. Past that, I am a staunch advocate of both steels if properly heat treated...say 57-59 Rc.

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