Steel Knowledge Basics For Blades And Tools

One of the first challenges that you will face when it comes to the knife or tool, you need to choose the right steel. Steel is considered the essence of a blade and tool. Moreover, this is responsible for the performance of the knife or tool. As an alloy, steel may come with various mixtures. Most often, steel is a combination of iron and carbon. However, other elements may be added to improve the characteristic of the blade basing on its intended purpose.


There are various kinds of steel created, and they come with different elements. Moreover, they are created in a variety of ways like how the blade and tool are heated or rolled. The steel utilized in a knife blade and tool possesses five key properties.

Toughness Of Material

This property is described as the ability to resist damage like chips or cracks when used heavily. Toughness is measured in a less standardized way compared to hardness. When the steel is stronger and harder, this is likely less tough and most prone to breaking when flexed.


This is the ability to resist any deformation when an object is subjected to an applied force or stress. When it comes to knife or tool steels, hardness is referred to as the strength of the steel. This is measured using the HRC or the Rockwell C scale.

Corrosion Resistance

This describes the ability to resist corrosion like rust caused by elements like salt, moisture, and humidity. It is important to take note that high resistance to corrosion may have a direct effect on the overall performance of the steel.

Wear Resistance

This is the ability to withstand damage from the adhesive and abrasive wear. Adhesive wear occurs when debris is removed from one surface and sticks to another surface. On the other hand, abrasive wear happens when a rough surface is exposed to a smooth surface. Resistance wears correlates with the hardness of the steel. However, this is also influenced by the chemistry makeup of the steel. Steels with larger carbides or wear resistant particles resist wear better compared to those that have smaller carbides.

Edge Retention

This describes the span of time that the blade retains its sharpness even when it is subjected to long periods of usage. The measurement of this property may be subjective as this does not follow a set of standards. For some people, this is the combination of resistance to wear and resistance to any form of deformation.

Upon noting the five key properties that make up a knife’s and tool's steel, this does not mean that maximizing all five elements make up the best steel for any knife and tool. It is important to make sure that there is a proper balance in all five properties. For instance, blades or tools that are made exceptionally hard will most likely crack or chip if they are exposed to a hard surface.

On the other hand, a blade or tool that is extremely tough and flexible may not be able to hold its edge. In making a knife or tool, it is also essential to take note the purpose of the device. Knowing its purpose can help determine the best balance of properties for the steel to use a knife or a tool.

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Jose A. Brown

Jose A. Brown is a mechanic engineer and an enthusiastic blogger whose mission is to provide the readers with the best tips, guides in the Home Improvement, DIY Project, and Industry.

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