There are so many things that go into making a great knife. Each knife was crafted with a specific purpose in mind. Not only is the design important, but also the elements that go into the knife.
What I’m talking about is the steel of the knife. For people who don’t know about knives, it’s easy to believe that steel is steel – that there is no difference between types of steel. This is not true. As a knife enthusiast, I always pay attention to what type of steel I’m getting, and you should too.
One of the most common types of steel in knives is 1095 steel. What is 1095 steel? Is it any good? What is it made for?
Let’s answer all of these questions for you right now.
1095 Steel Properties
What makes 1095 steel 1095 steel? To understand what it is and why it is different from other types of steel, you need to know its properties.
The properties of 1095 steel are:
- 0.95% Carbon
- 0.4% Manganese
- 0.04% Phosphoros
- 0.05% Sulphur
- Iron: Balanced
Together, all of these chemical elements form 1095 steel. But what do these percentages mean and how do they affect the steel? Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1095 is simple steel that doesn’t have a lot of other elements mixed in. It belongs to the plain carbon steel family.
At 0.95% carbon, this type of steel has a high carbon percentage. Yes, less than 1% might not sound like a lot, but for steel, it is. To give you an idea of how high this is, stainless steel only about .2% carbon.
This extra carbon makes this steel very hard and sharp, perfect for knives. This is the reason why 1095 steel is so common in knives today.
But not everything is perfect. When forging a knife, you always have to find the perfect balance between hardness and softness. If your blade is too hard, it becomes brittle. And that is precisely the problem that 1095 steel knives run into a lot.
Manganese is another element that forgers add to harden the steel. Because 0.95% of carbon already makes this steel quite hard, not a lot of manganese is needed.
That’s why only .4% of manganese is used. In other types of steel, you’ll see a much higher percentage of this.
Phosphorous and Sulfur
Phosphorous is a strengthening element. This provides some much-needed toughness to 1095 steel. Sulfur, on the other hand, makes the steel easier to cut and mould. This, in turn, makes the steel weaker.
In case you didn’t know, the rest of the steel is made of iron. Almost 99% of 1095 steel is made of iron.
Is 1095 Steel Good for Knives and Katanas?
Yes. If you’re wondering why 1095 is so popular, it’s because all the chemical elements in this steel making it one of the best for knives. No wonder so many knives today use this steel.
But why exactly is this steel so good for knives?
For one, 1095 is very hard steel. With this, you can get that razor-sharp blades we all dream of as knife enthusiasts. Because it’s so hard, 1095 takes a long time to lose its edge as well.
Its hardness is also great because it won’t bend easily. That said, it is prone to shattering. We can’t have it all, hard steel is also brittle steel.
This is why when getting a 1095 steel knife, it is very important to check the thickness. You want to avoid thin blades with this steel. Without extra thickness, the blade will snap easily.
For katanas, 1095 is okay. It is hard and can slice through anything you come across. That said, if you were to compare a 1095 steel katana to an authentic Japanese katana, it doesn’t compare at all.
If you fought a samurai with your 1095, your blade will shatter after a few hits. Authentic katanas are made with more than one type of steel. After mixing different types of steels and folding it over and over again, the Japanese forged a sword that is both hard, sharp, and also strong!
That’s why I say 1095 steel is okay for katanas. For most of us, this is even good. But for the samurai, only using 1095 steel on their sword is not enough.
How Strong is 1095 Steel?
It’s one thing to say that 1095 is hard, it’s another to tell you exactly how hard it is. Also the strength of the blade. The strength of your 1095 steel knife depends on how thick the blade is.
To give you an idea of how hard and strong this steel is, check out this video from Rougeua Knives:
Here we see that even though it was hammered into wood, the 1095 steel blade still retained its sharpness. There were no chips and cracks on the blade at all because of this.
That said, the 1095 blades didn’t fare too well in the strength test. Two of the four 1095 blades snapped easily when they were bent. And keep in mind that these blades are quite thick. If you use a 1095 thin steel blade, it is sure to snap.
Will 1095 Steel Rust?
One of the biggest problems with 1095 steel is the fact that it is not stainless. So yes, if you don’t take care of your 1095 knife, it will catch rust. Not only will it catch rust, but it will catch rust easily.
The good news is that most 1095 steel knives come with a protective layer. Most manufacturers will coat their knives with oil to prevent rust from popping up. Once the protective layer is gone though, this steel will catch rust fast.
This is why it is very important to take good care of your 1095 steel knives. Make sure you wash and wipe your knife clean after every use. It is also important to oil your 1095 steel knives every now and then. I do this once a week to create a protective barrier for the blade.
With these simple steps, you should avoid rusting on your 1095 steel knives. Yes, this is a type of steel that catches rust easily. So make sure you take good care of them. The best way to deal with rust is to prevent it!
1095 Steel vs Stainless Steel
One discussion you’ll surely run into in the knife community is what is better, high-carbon steel or stainless steel? The answer to this depends on what you are using your knife for. If you need that extra hardness and sharpness, then high-carbon steel like 1095 is better. If you want a long-lasting and anti-corrosive blade, stainless steel does the trick.
Stainless steel is composed of around 10% chromium. This is what gives it it’s stainless capabilities. This comes at a cost of course. Stainless steel blades are not as sharp and go dull quite fast.
This is why there is no correct answer. It all depends on what you plan to use your knife for.
Is it Easy to Sharpen 1095 Steel Blades?
Another great thing about 1095 steel is that it is super easy to sharpen. Again, a hard blade means a razor-sharp edge. Compared to stainless steel blades, 1095 knives can get a lot sharper.
When you have a knife or sword with this blade, you also won’t have to worry about sharpening so much. This is another great thing about hard blades. When they are razor-sharp, they stay razor-sharp. Even when you use them a lot, they will retain their edge. Contrast this to other knives that you have to sharpen after every few uses.
As for the sharpening, this is very easy to do. These blades are harder than most, so you may have to do a few more strokes. Other than that, sharpen like you would any other blade.
What is the Best Sharpener for 1095 Steel Blades?
Any sharpener will work for your 1095 steel blades. For me, using a good old oilstone is the best option. But that’s just my preference. Whatever sharpener you have in hand, use that to sharpen your 1095 steel blade!
Now you know all you need to know about 1095 steel. It is truly wonderful steel, that’s why it is always used.
With the knowledge you have now, you can also make better decisions when it comes to choosing your knives. Is 1095 steel for you? Well, if you’re looking for a hard sharp blade, you should go and get it. But if you’re looking for a stainless and strong blade, this may not be the best steel choice.