Date Wednesday, 22 June 2022, at 1:23 p.m.
I edited that to be shorter before the long post I already put up.
before editing it, I wrote that there are probably a bunch of reasons that they were softer and none of us will ever know for sure why things were the way they were. of course they wanted them softer, or they would've been harder.
It is absolutely the case that if you choose 0.8-1% steel and try to chase high hardness with it, it doesn't perform better. 0.8% steel will perform (getting acceptable hardness) about the same at 60 hardness as 26c3 will at 64 or O1 at 61/62.
If I edited it out, I also mentioned mahogany and woods that hadn't seen kiln drying. Of the chisels that I worked with in the unicorn article, the sorby chisels are fine if you use them in softwood or good quality mahogany. I don't think they were made to do that, I think they're made with lower carbon steel because it's easier and hits an ASTM spec or something (to be harder to break for site work). Cherry is enough to make them look bad.
All that said, if I dropped a 64 hardness chisel on someone using sandstones and slate, they'd have not been able to deal with them. And the quality of 1800 razors (which are higher carbon) isn't very good, so I don't know how much harder it was for the English to make steel that had significant excess carbon.
Voestalpine doesn't have a problem with it, but they're also able to roll their stock easily. It isn't the case that any 1800 steel was better than voestalpine or hitachi's offerings.
If there is some remaining myth about how much better the steel was due to forging, it's addressed above. Knives may have some case in very extreme cases where a forger starts with a large ball bearing and heavily forges it over and over to try to get rid of the original grain orientation. But Larrin changed his statement about heat treatment based on what I sent him - the forged samples he's received generally suffered from grain growth that wasn't properly addressed or forged steel that didn't undergo a full anneal (or both). larrin suggested to me that forge heat treatment won't result in a good sample.
The last time he sent an article out to patreon subscribers, he changed that statement to "I wouldn't recommend it as I've only seen a success rate of about 20% on forge heat treatment".
it's fair to say that:
1) I'm not a re-enactor and my chisels and planes adopt aspects of certain time periods
2) I'm not inclined to argue further with people who can't produce a sample of steel that matches mine. that may sound harsh, but at this point, why should I. I've probably owned or tried more than almost anyone on here, I've made more tools than most (especially by hand and I), and looked at enough to continue to be curious but be a little bit dismissive until given a reason not to be.
larry and I don't have a lot in common. he's probably a better guy than I've given him credit for being - that's a personal fault of mine, so that statement is not a slight to him. I will speculate, but speculation isn't proof. Speculation is necessary as a first step if you're looking to prove something, but 1800s steel isn't going to be a specialty of mine with the quality of rolled material like voestalpine's and the bohler and starrett O1.