Steel guide for Knifemakers and Blacksmiths
Steel guide for creating Knives, Swords or other Tooling
Are you a knifemaker or blacksmith beginner or just interested in the characteristics of steel when heat treating them and creating things with it?
Find here a choice guide for especially beginners which steel to choose and for advanced creators a detailed description of steel type, description/use, hardening quench speed (Austenitising) and heat treatment device. Download your pdf version of the Steel guide for Knifemakers and Blacksmiths here.
When we are with our team at a knife show somewhere in Australia to exhibit our goods to knifemaking, blacksmithing interested people or even in our shop in Sydney, Australia often people come to us that with the simple wish “I want to make a knife but I have no clue which steel I should use.” In the shop and at shows most of the time(!) we have the resources (time and well trained staff, knifemakers or blacksmiths themselves) to point them in the right direction but it is a different story on the web. I can’t remeber how often people told us, “I searched on Google but I couldn’t find any advice about the right steel for my project.” But to be honest as a beginner or even advanced person it is hard to find the right forums, websites or platforms with the right information for your projects.
After listening to a cry for help and complaint that there is a lack of information on the internet (our website was also a part of this lack) we sat together with our knifemakers in the company and thought about on how to make an easy steel choice for beginners with a detailed steel description for advanced people.
And this is the result:
The main question for a beginner is “what do you want to create?” You can choose between making a knife, sword or tooling. After this questions make a choice weather you have a forge or kiln for heat treatment available. The source of heat treatment decides if you are better of choosing stainless steel or carbon steel, which guides you to a range of steel that is suggested for your creation. Down below we put a list of 25 common steels available in Australia, that indicates next to it the type of steel, a description and use, hardening quench speed (Austenitising) and the heat treatment device.
Be aware that all values intended as a guide only! This Steel guide for Knifemakers and Blacksmiths will not replace research and personal experience.
For more information about the steel including price information, click on the steel number.
Description / Use
Hardening Quench Speed (Austenitising)
Heat Treatment Device
|1045||Simple Carbon Steel||Blacksmith tooling e.g. hammers||Medium / Fast||Forge, kiln|
|1075||Simple Carbon Steel||Blade material||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|1084||Simple Carbon Steel||Blade material||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|1095||Simple Carbon Steel||Blade material||Fast (Hougton’s K)||Forge, kiln|
|15n20||Nickel Tool Steel||Blade material, bright layer in damascus||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|D2||Chromium Tool steel||Blade Material, some rust resistance||Air / Oil||Forge, kiln|
|H13||Cr-Mo Tool Steel||Blacksmith Tooling e.g. punches||Air||Forge, kiln|
|80CRV2||Chrome Vanadium Tool Steel||Large Blades, swords||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|52100||Chromium Tool Steel||Blade Material, high wear||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|O1||Cold Work Tool Steel||Blade Material, high wear||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|W2||Tool Steel||Blade material||Fast (Hougton’s K, Water)||Forge, kiln|
|5160||Spring Steel||Large blades, machetes, swords||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|SUP9||Spring Steel||Large blades, machetes, swords||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|9261||Silicon Spring Steel||Similar to 5160/SUP9||Medium / Fast||Forge, kiln|
|8660||Cr-Ni-Mo Spring Steel||Axe head bodies, swords, shock resistant||Medium Houghton G||Forge, kiln|
|A2||Cold WorkTool Steel||Blade Material||Air/Plate||Kiln w/foil|
|440C||Stainless Steel||Blade Material ( Great for begining stainless)||Air/Plate||Kiln w/foil|
|AEB-l||Stainless Steel||Blade Material ( Great for begining stainless)||Air/Plate||Kiln w/foil|
|12c27||Stainless Steel||Blade Material ( Great for begining stainless)||Air/Plate/Oil||Kiln w/foil|
|154CM||Stainless Steel||High performance stainless||Air/Plate||Kiln w/foil / salt|
|CPM3V||Stainless Steel||High performance, wear and rust resist||Air/Plate||Kiln w/foil|
|CPMS35VN||Stainless Steel||High performance, wear and rust resist||Air/Plate||Kiln w/foil|
|CPM154CM||Stainless Steel||High performance, wear and rust resist||Medium Houghton G||Kiln w/foil|
|RWL34||Stainless Steel||High performance, wear and rust resist||Air/Plate/Oil||Kiln w/foil|
|DAMASTEEL||Pattern Welded (Damascus) Stainless||An ultimate combination of art and practicallity for your blade, RWL34 and PMC27 pattern welded together||Air/Plate||Kiln w/foil|
In our second glass course session with Penel from fire and beads I came up with the idea to make an octopus out of boro glass. I saw on an online shop this beautiful boro creature and ever since then I am thinking off buying it or DIY.
- 15cm of clear glass
- We used Boro Trautman Art Glass 33
- Long road of neutral colour (Opaque WYSIWYG) for body (500mm)
- Long rod of boro colour glass for body and tentacles (600mm)
- Rod of other colour to make the eyes (10mm)
- Any other colour you want to add to make it look more spectacular
- Torch & Kiln
- Peters Tweezers for the eyes
- Eye Protection
- Graphite Paddle
- Graphite Reamer
We used for our octopus boro Trautman Art Glass 33 colours. As a new glass distributor in Australia and lots of sample colours we were able to dig into glass heaven and use as many colours as possible. For the octopus you can use clear glass or colours.
- Put your eye protection on and start your torch. Take the rod and melt a big mass, around 20mm in the flame. Always make sure to keep the glass when melting in the flame around 70mm away from the burner that no glass get onto the burner head. I used for the body a WYSIWYG colour and melted it with a colour changing colour – Double Mai Tai. Colours look much more intense and exciting if they are over a neutral base rather than over clear glass. You can use a Graphite Paddle to form the hot mass on a heat resistant piece of material.
- When you melted a 20mm round ball cover it with a spectacular colour. For this take the colour road, make the mass and the road glow in the same red, yellow colour and melt the rod from the top to the bottom downwards. Heat the mass with the attached colours up that no more black shade is visible. The two colours have to be well melted together.
- Attach a rod of clear glass on the head of the octopus. The longer the clear rod the less heat your hands will be exposed. I suggest a long clear rod (30mm). With two handles now attached it is much easier to rotate the mass and heat it up.
- Heat the mass until you can form a long peanut shape. This works best when you pull the two handles softly apart.
- When you are satisfied with the peanut shape remove the colour rod from the bottom and keep the clear handle on the top / head.
- Heat up the bottom of the peanut shape until it glows and press it on a heat resistant material that the bottom is flat. Use the graphite paddle to flatten the bottom. Heat up the bottom until it glows and keep flattening it. In the next step we will cut the glass and attach the tentacles to the bottom.
- Heat up the bottom until it glows, take your pair of shears and cut the glowing flat bottom in 8 pieces. Don’t put the shears into the fire. After every cut the bottom of the mass has to be heated and glowing.
- After cutting the flat bottom in 8 pieces choose either the same colour rod that you have used before to attach the tentacles or choose another colour. For my second octopus I used for every single tentacle another colour, mainly to see the variations of colours that we have.
- Heat up the cut piece until it glows, same as the rod and attach it to the body. Pull the rod straight and make a twiddle at the end. Repeat this 8 times until you have beautiful tentacles attached to the body.
- Heat the part of the body where you want to have the eyes of the glass octopus, use your tweezers to make two holes. Take a rod in another colour, heat it up and melt it into the two holes.
- Now it is time to make the balance test for your octopus. Make sure it stands straight; otherwise you can just heat the tentacles up again and put them in the right position.
- To remove the handle on the head of the octopus, heat up the top until it glows
- Form the tentacles with your graphite reamer in the flame in the right shape that the octopus balances on his tentacles.
- Hold glass octopus with tweeters and heat up the spot where the clear glass handle is attached and melt it off.
- Quickly into the kiln.
In the video talented Penel made the boro glass octopus and I filmed her. Ryan and me were watching and made after that our own octopus.
The Australian Knifemakers Guild Is Australia’s premier association of custom knife makers.
Min the first weekend in May every year they hold the guild show in Melbourne. If you appreciate custom made knives this is a show not to be missed. Gameco-Artisan Supplies is proud to support the AKG knife show and you will see is there in force!
In 2014 The International Cutlers Exhibition came to Sydney and became the biggest knife show Australia had ever seen.
Well the show is back in 2016! Attracting custom makers and knife sellers from around the world this show is not to be missed by anyone that uses cutting tools!
The new venue is Rosehill Racecourse.
Tables and booths are selling now and are likely to sell out.
The Knife Art association is again hosting the event and the prospectus is now available for download.
Be sure to come by and say hello to Gameco Artisan Supplies at the event!
The Knife Art Association Blade Symposium 2016
On the 5-6 March 2016, there will be a blade symposium in Tahmoor about an hours drive south west of Sydney.
This will be the third Blade Symposium hosted by Journeyman Bladesmith Keith Fludder, and proudly supported by Gameco.
These events are non hands on educational sessions on the finer points of knife making in Australia. With topics such as bladesmithing, Knife Grinding, Sharpening, axe making, power hammer forging, folding knives, heat treating, kitchen knife design, knife photography and much more, this is an event that is not to be missed.
This even is run by the not for profit Knife Art Association and all proceeds of events such as this go towards running more great blade industry events!
Application forms can be downloaded using the following links:
Editable Word format
Please see more on the event page on Australian Blacksmiths, Bladesmiths and Knifemakers Group on Facebook.
We were very proud to be a part of the recent blade tour of Japan by a contingent of Australian knife makers.
In Australia when you tell a person you make knives, one of the most common comments is “who do you want to stab”. The ignorance and disdain for what we do is sincerely disturbing.
It was refreshing to visit a country where the reaction was the exact opposite. Knifemakers in Japan are held in reverence. Many of their Bladesmiths are declared as National treasures and their work respected and sought after by chefs across the country. Their sword smiths are respected for the works of art that they produce. They have literally hundreds of words and sayings related to knives and blades, for which there are no translations to English.
There were over 15,000 people at Seki knife festival, all searching for the perfect blade or cutting tool. From all ages and walks of life.
Here is the promotional video for Seki City.
Have a look at the pictures at #australiajapanbladetour on Instagram.
To get involved in the next one, follow Tharwa Valley Forge on Facebook.
Next Sydney Knifemakers and Blacksmiths Meet Up 2018 to be announced.
Pictures from March Meet Up 2018
Karim of Tharwa Valley Forge has been holding regular knifemaking meets in Canberra for well over two years. In discussion with him, he convinced us that it would be worth trying Sydney Knifemakers and Blacksmiths Meet Up.
The concept is simple. Provide a venue where knifemakers can get together, talk shop, share ideas and get to know each other face to face. Something that is not so commonly done in the digital age.
Sydney Knifemakers and Blacksmiths Meet Ups are social in nature, running for 2 hours on a Wednesday night monthly. Knifemakers bring their completed, and works in progress and can discuss any issues or successes they may be having. Gameco Artisan Supplies hosted our first meet was in May 2015 in our Sydney store and for 2018 we met on the 21st of March 2018 and next one will be announced shortly.
Timetable for the Meet Up:
- 6pm early arrivers meet at the Melton Hotel for Socialising and Get Together
- 7pm move on to the Gameco-Artisan Supplies headquarter to present each others work, demonstrations, discuss and socialise
- Demonstrating new products, showing your work and looking at each others work.
Check on our Events page our upcoming Meet Up dates.
The meets are regularly attended by between 35 and 50 knifemakers and bladesmiths, but not all are from the Sydney region. We have had people attend from up to 4 hours drive away. Places including the Hunter Valley, Huskisson, Nowra and Canberra. This was something that was not expected.
Many local association members attend these events. You will find members of the NSW Artist Blacksmiths Association, Australian Knifemakers Guild, The Knife Art Association, American Bladesmith Society and Traditional Tool Group.
The meets are promoted on many forums, but the key place to get information, is the
Facebook group “Australian Blacksmiths, Bladesmiths and Knifemakers Network”. This group has over 12000 members, mostly comprised of new, or people interested in becoming, knife makers.
Canberra Custom Knife Show is an annual event held in Tharwa ACT.
This year it is being held on Sunday 6th December.
Come and see the huge range Gameco Artisan Supplies offer for Knife Makers and Blacksmiths. It is a fantastic opportunity to purchase custom made knives, perfect gifts for Christmas!
Gameco Artisan Supplies will be there with a few tables and providing equipment for knifemaking and blacksmithing demonstrations. Be sure to stop by and say hello!
The blacksmiths tongs are one of the most important items in a blacksmiths shop.
If you cannot hold the red hot steel firmly, it is next to impossible to effectively manipulate and shape it.
Gameco Artisan Supplies stocks the biggest range of tongs and took available on the shelf in Australia for blacksmithing and knifemaking.
Until Christmas 2015 Gameco Artisan Supplies in Australia is having a sale on many blacksmith tongs and tools! Get in quick and get a full set to hold all the materials you normally need to hold.
Also stock up on specialty tongs for scroll work and multiple pickups.
Blacksmithing is often called a dieing art. Is it though? Are we letting it die?
At the numerous shows and demonstrations Gameco Artisan Supplies attends across Australia, we are always amazed by the amazing work being completed by Aussie Artisans.
Artist Blacksmiths, Tool Making Smiths and Bladesmiths, demonstrating their arts, attract so much interest at public events. Is it the sound of the hammer on anvil, beating its rhythm? The colour of the hot metal as it fluctuates between white hot and black? Perhaps it is the movement of the smith as he controls the hammer and the piece he is working in perfect unisen?
Blacksmithing in its simplest forms is an art not difficult to learn, but to master? One soon learns that blacksmithing is an art without boundaries. There is no limit to what can be sculpted, formed and manipulated by the skilled smith. There are endless techniques to mould, shape, cut and joint steel.
The creation of beautiful and function pieces of art, that will be handed down for generations as treasured possessions is the result.
Interested in learning more? Check out “Australian Blacksmiths, Bladesmiths and Knifemakers Network” on Facebook, and see the work of beginners through to advanced. You will be amazed by what is happening, possibly in your very neighborhood.
Gameco Artisan Supplies proudly supports all Australian blacksmithing associations.