Is 1080 Steel Good For Knives? 7 Facts You Should Know

1080 steel is often the go-to choice of steel for those looking for an affordable metal for knifemaking. This is because in the manufacturing industry, it is often used in the creation of cutting tools, particularly those used for agriculture. 

So, is 1080 steel good for knives? For the most part, yes. Due to the high carbon content, it is not going to be the easiest steel in the world for the machine. However, once it has been machined and fashioned into a knife, it is incredibly durable and makes brilliant steel for knives.

What is 1080 Steel?

5160 Steel

1080 steel is what is known as a high-carbon steel. This affordable steel is often used in the manufacture of springs and various small components. However, it is also a steel that many knifemakers will turn to when they are looking for something that is more on the affordable side of things.

1080 Steel Composition

The 1080 steel composition can vary ever so slightly due to manufacturing techniques. However, in order for something to be classed as 1080n steel, it will have to fall within these limits.

  • Iron content is between 98% and 99%
  • Carbon content is between 0.75% and 0.88%
  • Manganese content is between 0.60% and 0.90%
  • Sulfur should be a maximum of 0.05%
  • Phosphorous should be a maximum of 0.04%.

What is 1080 Steel Properties?

1080 steel holds many of the same properties as other high carbon steel. Outside of knifemaking, 1080 steel can gain elastic qualities when treated properly. This is why it is often used in the manufacture of springs and the like. However, don’t worry. These elastic qualities are not going to impact your knifemaking. You will still end up with a solid knife that is able to cut through most materials with ease.


Due to the high carbon content, 1080 steel is incredibly durable. It is can consistently be knocked against hard surfaces without causing chipping to the steel. For this reason, 1080 steel makes a good steel for knife users that will be using hardened cutting surfaces, or are even cutting directly onto a granite surface. While the blade may suffer a small amount of blunting, it is never going to break. 

Low Ductility

1080 steel is low ductility steel. This means that it edges closer and closer to its tensile strength, it is more prone to breaking. Although, this is unlikely to pose that many issues when it comes to knifemaking.

High Tensile Strength   

The reason why the low ductility of the 1080 steel will not cause any issues for knifemaking is due to the high tensile strength of the 1080 steel. It is able to put up with a huge amount of force before it comes close to breaking. No knife user is ever going to come close to being able to break 1080 steel.

Able to Maintain a Sharp Edge

High carbon steel like 1080 steel is able to resist wear. This means that it is able to hold its edge for a lot longer than comparable steels. High carbon steel is able to maintain an edge, even when it is put under a huge amount of force. This is why many major cutting machines will use high carbon steel. If it is good enough for those, then it is good enough for knives.

Is 1080 Steel Good for Knives?

Some will see 1080 Steel as the ‘jack of all trades’. This means that it is never going to be the best steel that you can use in knifemaking. However, it is going to be a good steel for ‘all purposes’. So, you can really use it for all types of knifemaking and it will perform quite well.

There will always be better steel options available to you, though. These better steel options will likely be more expensive, hence why most people end up using 1080 steel in their knifemaking.

1080 steel will work best for those knives where keeping a sharp edge under certain conditions is an absolute must. For example, many people will use 1080 steel for creating knives for being used outdoors where there may be a lot of cutting of harder materials e.g. wood. However, it also works well for food cutting on hardened surfaces such as granite.

Will 1080 Steel Rust?

If not properly cared for, then 1080 steel will rust very easily. This means that after use, it has to be wiped down to prevent rust. Any knives made from 1080 steel will also have to be stored in a cool, dry location to help keep rust at bay. However, no matter what you do, 1080 steel will eventually rust.

How Strong is 1080 Steel?

As 1080 steel is high carbon steel, it is incredibly strong and knives treated well that have been constructed from 1080 steel have the potential to last many, many years.

1080 steel has high wear protection. This means that it is able to keep a knife-edge for a whole lot longer i.e. it is going to require less sharpening. The strength of the steel also means that it is unlikely to break under high-pressure applications. This is why this steel is often used in vehicle components that are under an extreme amount of pressure, particularly on the vibration front.

Is It Easy to Sharpen 1080 Steel Blades?

One of the major benefits of 1080 steel blades is how easy they are to sharpen. Once they have been sharpened, knives made with 1080 steel will retain their edge fairly well. This means that they will need to be sharpened far less often. This is something that applies to the vast majority of non-stainless, high carbon knives. It is not a unique feature to 1080 steel blades.

What Are The Best 1080 Steel Knives in the Market

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Word 

While 1080 steel is likely to never be the best steel option for knifemaking, it is certainly never going to be the worst option. 1080 steel is a steel that performs well under most applications. It is able to hold its edge well and is a strong material once forged. The affordable price of 1080 steel means that it is often a top choice for those making knife blades as a hobby, or even as a commercial project.



I’m Ahmed, the guy behind I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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