What thickness of steel should I use for knife making (2023)


What thickness of steel is best for starting out when knife making. If the steel is too thick you will have difficulties heat treating and profiling, but if the steel is to thin, the blade might be too weak.

Quick run down on steel thickness for knife making or forging knives.
1/8 thick steel is easy to work and heat treat. Good for most knives and best for skinning knives.

3/16 thick steel, is an all around knife steel. Good to keep around in case you want to make a Bowie knife, Skinner, or chopper. But I would recommend not using this thickness before you buy a belt grinder of some type.

1/4 thick steel, is for your largest projects. Difficult to profile unless you have a decent belt grinder and heat treating requires a good forge. This thickness is not beginner friendly and can wait until you gain skill enough to utilize the extra size.


Hello and welcome back to my knife making channel, or perhaps you're new and you're, just discovering knife making well, I hope to kind of point you in the right direction on what thickness of steel to use, because that was one of the things that I had difficulties finding when I first started.

And one of the biggest things was what thickness of steel and I've made skinners where they've used too thick of a steel.

And it was just working it down.

And it just was not working out well for me or I'd have to go back and regrind.

It is if you're starting out and you're new.

You've got a slight budget.

You don't have a very good heat source to heat treat your metal.

And you've got mediocre kind of grinding equipment or you're, even using a filing jig, stay with 1/8 it'll, create skinners.

And you can even get up to about a 6-inch count knife.

And this is 6 inch by inch and a half or 6 inches by inch and a half by 1/8.

This was a piece of leaf spring, and it does a fairly decent size and good feel more on the leaf spring, that's, not a very good one that one holds a good edge.

This one doesn't I've got a scanner that holds a really good edge again, they're, very all over.

So this is actually a leaf spring.

This is a piece of stainless steel.

I can't, remember the type, but anyways, 1/8 works out very good for beginners or smaller.

Knives, where you want thinner kind of knife blades for a sharper cutting edge and longer life.

So 1/8 is going to be easy to work with it's going to be much easier to heat.

So if you've got a low end Forge, you may not be able to heat your knife to treat it or even work with it on the Forge.

So you're gonna need the 1/8 1/4 inch.

You probably won't even touch.

It quarter-inch takes a lot of effort to grind it.

It takes a lot of effort to move it on a forge, or it takes a lot of effort to also heat treat.

So you need to soak that really thoroughly, and if you don't have the proper equipment and even just, you know, cheap, forges type of thing if you're trying to do this with a 1 brick, it's, probably not going to work out very good for you or even a coffee can Forge 316th is in your middle ground.

This is going to create your EDC's it's going to create your camp.


It can be your buoy it's, a fairy in the middle.

If you're doing Skinner's you're, just gonna do a full grind.

So in other words, basically instead of taking this line and going there, you're gonna do a full grind all the way up and that's how you get away with it, or you can do a concave on a round grinding stone.

So three sixteenths, though you're gonna start kneading and I failed with that.

One I had to break down and use my Forge on a budget knife making for this particular knife that I was making.

It would heat up on my torch I, even had two torches blowing in like this and trying to heat the coffee can.

And it was trying to heat this, and it just wouldn't want to heat it.

I mean, it was warming up inside, but I'd be able to get areas that would heat, and then as you're trying to move it around and get to other ones.

This would cool off before the whole thing would heat up the game, whereas a 1/8 I suspect, I have I haven't used it, but I suspect, the 1/8 wouldn't have done that to me because I would have been able to move it around Oh where's.

The 3/16, it was like I'd, pull it away, and it would start cooling and I put it back in.

They would cool at that end.

And then just it was like nailing a board that was twisted.

It would pop it down here.

Pop it up there, pop down, whereas 1/8 when I heat treated with my other knives in my Forge.

It was it was red-hot right away.

It was very consistent very even it was easier to deal with in the heat and I just found it much easier to deal with that.

Whereas this one, even in the Forge I still had to let and I've got a two burner knife Forge.

Even this I have to play around with quarter-inch I have to babysit though so the thicker your thicker you go.

The better heating equipment you really need.

And typically when you're going to be dealing with quarter-inch, thick steel, you're gonna be dealing with longer knives for this one example, even though I've got a two knife burner.

I had to really kind of babysit that and kind of walk that back and forth in the flame.

So covering what these guys are going to be good for is these are going to be your all around in the middle.

You need something or that.

Now, quarter-inch that's, where you're gonna be getting into your specialty, sort of things Kura, Keys, buoys larger.

Choppers machetes are actually gonna use these if not 1/8, because you want thin easily sharpened, even if you're making a machete, though you can use a long blue or a lawnmower blade you're, really not intending those to be anything better than that kind of quality.

So you're gonna be looking at choppers and heavier-duty things like that, fancier build you're gonna be forging, a curriki and that's gonna be what you're gonna be getting with those guys I'm, hoping that this gave you a little bit of an idea of what to go for what to aim for and hopefully it'll save you a little bit of money or it'll, just save you frustration and get you going in the right direction and drop a little bit information that you're not really unsure where to go what to do just a helping hand.

And if this helped out or you've got us, actually, you know what I'd love to hear stories from you guys so drop that in the comment, if you've done exactly what I did where I grab too thick of a steel jammed it in there, and it just didn't want to heat up and do right so look forward to that video as well.

But if you have a story like that drop that in the comment and just share it with us, maybe we can also learn from everybody as well.

Alright? And hopefully you guys have a good day and see you next time.


How thick should steel be for knife making? ›

For the beginner, a blade thickness of no more than 1/8 inch is good because there is not as much material to grind off. The tendency today is to make hunting and utility knives out of 1/4-inch-thick steel. I don't agree with this and usually choose 1/8-inch- or 5/32-inch-thick stock for my working-type knives.

What size steel do I need to forge a knife? ›

1095 forging steel is an ideal steel for knife making as well as many other metal smith type hobbies. 195 steel is a high carbon steel that is very easy to shape through a process called forging. This steel lacks some of the manganese of other steels and as such has a lower harden-ability.

What grade steel is good for knives? ›

Kitchen Knives

Typical stainless steel used in knife-making includes 420 (cutlery grade stainless steel), 440 (higher grade cutlery stainless steel that has more hardness and edge retention) and 316 (a common food and surgical grade stainless steel, comparable to 1045 surgical steel).

What is the best thickness for a combat knife? ›

A good general rule is about 3/16 - 1/4 of an inch thickness is the best for survival knives. A knife of that thickness will be extremely solid and able withstand the abuse of wood chopping, batoning and prying.

What is the best steel for a beginner Bladesmith? ›

So just to summarise, 1084 and 1075 are great steels for beginners because they can be done with very rudimentary equipment. It's because the temperature to heat treat it isn't terribly high, 815 to 830 degrees. It's just past the critical temperature and will becomecome non-magnetic.

How thick is a Chinese chef knife blade? ›

Since it's a practical all-purpose knife even in a Western kitchen, it is gaining in popularity outside of China. The Chinese cleaver is very similar to a Western cleaver, with its thick blade (around 5 mm), thick geometry and thick, wide angled cutting edge.

What is the hardest steel to make a knife? ›

Vanadium carbides are among the hardest that form in steel, and chromium carbides are in between iron carbide and vanadium carbide. Steels with very high vanadium content like Vanadis 8, CPM-10V, K390, CPM-15V, etc. have extremely high edge retention.

Is rebar good for forging a knife? ›

Rebar is a common material used in blacksmithing. It is affordable, easy to find, and good for practice. It is also low quality, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous to work with. Most projects require higher quality metal, but feel free to make novelty items and practice pieces with safe rebar.

What is the hardest metal to blacksmith with? ›

Carbon Steel

Due to these impurities and high-carbon content, high-carbon steels can be some of the hardest to forge and are also very brittle. However, they are still a popular choice for forging where strength is concerned. Because of their variety, these forms of steel are suitable for forging a variety of items.

What grade of steel is Damascus? ›

Types of Steel Used to Make Damascus Knives

Some commonly used steel grades include VG1, VG2, VG10, AUS8, and AUS10. AUS8, a Japanese steel produced by Aichi Foundry, is a stainless steel considered to be a mid-level steel when compared to the superior VG10 or AUS10.

What is the best steel for a survival knife? ›

The most popular carbon steel often used in survival knives is called 1095, or slight variants thereof. It's a great steel for your survival knife because it's not only tough but easy to sharpen too.

What knife holds the best edge? ›

In general, carbon steel knives are sharper, harder, hold an edge for longer and are easier to re-sharpen.

What steel are military knives made of? ›

1095 Steel: an Overview. 1095, which has 95% carbon content, is a highly popular knife making steel, especially if your niche is combat knives. It's the steel of choice for the U.S. military when producing its fighting knives.

What knife do Navy SEALs prefer? ›


They specifically designed the Ontario 497 Mark 3 Navy Fixed Blade Knife to handle the elements. During operations, Navy SEALs need to rely on their equipment to get the job done. The Mark 3 has several features that make it ideal for special operations.

What is a military grade knife? ›

A fighting knife has a blade designed to most effectively inflict injury in close-quarters physical confrontations. The combat knife and the trench knife are examples of military fighting knives.

What is the metal most commonly used for professional knives? ›

Carbon steel in general

We, however, often see that manufacturers call everything that is not stainless steel, carbon steel. Carbon is the element that gives the knife its hardness. All other additions ensure that the steel is more corrosion resistant or tougher, but this is at the expense of the hardness.

What is the best metal for a combat knife? ›

In almost all cases, you will have to choose between a stainless steel blade, a carbon steel blade, or some type of hybrid. Stainless steel offers the best corrosion resistance.

What type of steel do blacksmiths use? ›

There are three main types of steel that we work with as blacksmiths and bladesmiths, Mild steel, carbon steel, and stainless steel. Mild steel generally comes in two grades, A36 and 1018, with 1018 being the purer of the two.

How thick are most knives? ›

0.35 mm is a perfect thickness for a carving knife. For a chef's knife that deals with more pressure, the thickness can be a bit higher: 0.45 mm is then still perfect. The thickness of the spine depends on the height of the knife. For chef's knives it can be 3.5 mm maximum and for carving knives ca.

What size knife do most chefs use? ›

Chef's knives range in size from 15cm to 30cm (6” to 12”), with 20cm (8”) being the most common size. Utility knife: A versatile knife for everyday tasks, though not quite as versatile as the chef's knife given its shorter length. Can be used for slicing meats or chopping smaller vegetables.

What is the thickness of a Japanese knife? ›

The thickness of the blade is usually between 1.5-5mm.

What is the most forbidden knife? ›

A ballistic knife is essentially a blade attached to a hollow handle that fits inside of another outer hollow handle, which contains a coil spring.

What steel stays sharp longest? ›

That rust resistance of stainless, though, comes at a price. First, stainless tends to be a softer form of steel, which means it often won't hold an edge as well as carbon steel. That's right: carbon steel stays sharper longer than stainless.

What metals Cannot be forged? ›

What metals cannot be forged? Because of their limited ductility, some metals such as cast iron and select high-carbon steels, cannot be forged. Furthermore, some metals such as high-strength alloys may be too brittle to endure the forging process.

Which steel Cannot be forged? ›

The carbon percentage of cast iron is around 4.2 wt%, which is the soluble limit of carbon in iron. As a result, while cast iron is resistant to wear, it is very fragile and cannot be forged.

What is the disadvantage of forged steel? ›

Disadvantages of Forging:
  • Lack of control over microstructure.
  • Greater need for secondary machining, which adds to the project's cost and lead time.
  • Cannot produce porous bearings, sintered carbides, or parts with a mix of multiple metals.
  • Cannot produce small, finely designed parts without machining.
Apr 11, 2019

What temperature is knife forging? ›

The forging process involved molding the knife at a critically high heat level (typically 900 - 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) to improve its hardness.

What is the cheapest but best metal to use for blacksmithing? ›

Stainless steel is very inexpensive and easy to manufacture. Furthermore, it is particularly effective for applications, such as cutlery materials, because it is very durable. The addition of chromium and other alloying elements to stainless steel give knives impressive corrosion resistance.

What do blacksmiths hold hot metal with? ›

Tongs. Tongs are like an extra set of hands for the blacksmith, used to hold hot metal while it is being shaped or placed in the forge.

Why is blacksmith metal black? ›

The "black" in "blacksmith" refers to the black firescale, a layer of oxides that forms on the surface of the metal during heating. The origin of smith is the Old English word smið meaning "blacksmith", originating from the Proto-Germanic *smithaz meaning "skilled worker."

How thick should knife spine be? ›

0.35 mm is a perfect thickness for a carving knife. For a chef's knife that deals with more pressure, the thickness can be a bit higher: 0.45 mm is then still perfect. The thickness of the spine depends on the height of the knife. For chef's knives it can be 3.5 mm maximum and for carving knives ca.

Is 440 steel bad for knives? ›

440c is mid-range (that used to be a high-end) stainless steel that offers great corrosion resistance and great wear resistance, and will take a great mirror polish so the answer is YES, It's a good steel for knives, but It has low toughness.

How thin should a knife edge be? ›

So, the most thin — and delicate — edge is ideal. Generally, an edge that's 0.01″ or 0.25mm thick is the absolute thinnest edge you want put on a knife. Any thinner edge will result in chipping and damage almost immediately, even with light cutting.

What is a good thickness for a Bowie knife? ›

Most later versions of the Bowie knife had a blade of at least 8 inches (20 cm) in length, some reaching 12 inches (30 cm) or more, with a relatively broad blade that was one and a half to two inches (3.8 to 5.1 cm) wide and made of steel usually between 3⁄16 to 1⁄4 in (4.8 to 6.4 mm) thick.

How thick are butcher knives? ›

On the other hand, a butcher knife is thicker than a normal kitchen knife. However, it's not thicker than the cleaver's blade. Its thickness also depends on the height of the blade. Since it's a carving knife, the best blade thickness is around 0.35 mm, but you can also pick up to 0.45 mm.

How thick is a Japanese chef knife blade? ›

The thickness of the blade is usually between 1.5-5mm.

How thick is the spine of a Japanese knife? ›

The most common spine width for Sujihiki is 2.0mm although spine thickness can carry widely from 1.95mm to 3.0mm.

Which is better 440 or 420 steel? ›

The main difference between stainless steel 440C and 420 is the carbon content. Stainless steel 440C contains 0.95-1.20% carbon, while stainless steel 420 contains 0.26-0.40% carbon. This difference in carbon content gives stainless steel 440C better hardness and wear resistance than stainless steel 420.

How do you know if a knife is good quality? ›

Sharpness. Every knife is expected to be sharp right from the start. But only a good knife remains sharp. Prerequisites for a high edge retention capability are high-quality steel, consistently implemented heat treatment, and naturally precise workmanship to create the edge.

Should I use 15 or 20 degree knife edge? ›

If you are using a given knife for heavier cutting or chopping if probably is best sharpened at 20 degrees. If you use a small or medium size knife only for light work such as paring, peeling, or light slicing you may prefer to sharpen it at 15 degrees in order to take advantage of its increased sharpness.

What angle is a chefs knife edge? ›

So what angle is best? Sharpening your knives at a 15 to 20 degree angle will provide the best results when preparing food. This angle makes the blade edge sharp enough to provide a clean cut through foods whilst retaining durability through constant use.

How thick is a chefs knife? ›

For meat carving knives, the ideal thickness appears to be around 0.013”, which supports a clean slice. Chef's knives used to chop vegetables and other thicker foods call for a slightly higher blade thickness, with 0.017” being sufficient for most uses.

Why are bowie knives illegal? ›

They were regulated the same as a butcher's knife. Bowie knives and many others were often regulated like handguns. Both types of arms are concealable, effective for defense, and easy to misuse for offense. For Bowie knives, handguns, and other arms, a few states prohibited sales.

What knife does Rambo use? ›

Its large, rectangular blade is something between a machete and a butcher's cleaver. The knife in the fifth installment, Rambo: Last Blood, was dubbed “The Heartstopper.” The 15-inch hunting knife boasts a 9-inch blade and a Micarta handle. You can even buy your own Heartstopper from Sylvester Stallone's online shop.

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