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01 Tool Steel: A Most Underrated Steel



High carbon steels have properties that can easily outclass many other steels but they come with a set of demands on how they expect to be treated once formed into a knife or tool.

Namely, well-loved, well-oiled and well-dried.

Happy knife, happy life. It’s a reciprocal arrangement. You look after it and it will look after you!

And look after you it will. 01 steel is renowned for its ability to keep an edge as well as maintain its wear resistance and hardness.

Like the industrial roles it is made to serve, tool steel has a reputation for being a rough, tough high performance metal.

Whether it is a tool, a tool dye or a knife you want to make from it, you will find it is a very forgiving material and as such, it is perfect for beginner knife makers, by extension.

It is easy to form, to oil quench and to temper (and once tempered, it can range between 57 to 65 Rockwell hardness). You don’t need to fuss over tempering as much as other steels either.

You can even temper it in your oven while you have your Sunday roast on!

So why does 01 tool steel struggle, sometimes, to be truly recognised as a reputable and desirable knife steel?

Perhaps because it is relatively inexpensive compared to other steels and as such, people can erroneously attribute a lower value to it – but is an unfair assessment of this versatile and durable steel.

The reality is that is a wonderful material to work with, and use, both prior to and after forming your blade.

And, due to its high carbon rating you can also beautify your blade by applying a patina to it – something that can only be done with high carbon steel blades.

It is also easy to sharpen yourself on an ordinary whet stone or oil stone and you don’t need specialised diamond sharpening kits that will set you back an arm and a leg.

So, what’s not to love about 01 tool steel? We love it and recommend it to anyone who wants a blade that will go the distance.

The only proviso is you must always remember to hand wash, dry and oil your blade with a good quality vegetable oil after every use – otherwise the carbon that gives you that sharp cutting edge, will rust away on you.

So oil, oil, oil it!

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