Date Thursday, 23 June 2022, at 9:58 a.m.
It appears to be. There's another potential route to the modified structure before quenching - a very slow anneal. I didn't read much before experimenting - it gets in the way unless you're addressing a specific problem, so the idea of modifying some basic things just seems reasonable. The long-held wisdom is that higher carbon steels are harder to get right. I think that's backwards, but it may have to do with what people are thinking when heat treating. O1 is advised as a steel that's hard to get right. I've had trouble getting it wrong. 1084 is the suggested starting point, but it's actually less easy to do well unless you give it a simple anneal and heat and quench - and the quench needs to be in parks to be useful. Otherwise, it's subpar.
Point being, I checked larrin's page about annealing and structure after a steel cools and there are industry methods to cool extremely slowly to get a fine carbide structure (spheroidized). The follow-up to that is filled with comments about some steels being hard to get completely transitioned in a furnace at suggested temperatures, but none of that discussion applies with a forge and careful initial heats and an overshot on purpose to quench. Another good reason to experiment, discern and solve problems rather than reading something not directly applicable hoping it will apply. that, itself is a big problem with people heat treating by eye - the advice always starts from someone who is trying to adapt what they learned using a furnace. Only larrin has confirmed that my desire to overheat for very short duration to get better hardness is actually in practical use elsewhere (industrially), but had he not confirmed it, it wouldn't matter - I had results in hand with very noticeable hardness difference and no lack of toughness. Everything else you read talks about drastic grain growth - assuming that it will occur because it would in a furnace.
The point of this with the short heats is in discussing a slow anneal in vermiculite with lower carbon steels, Larrin mentions that higher carbide content makes it easier to get the transformation to fine carbides as they will seed the transformation from pearlite structure better and tolerate faster cooling and still do it. 26c3 just seems to be ideal, 1095 and O1 work "well enough" and I had poor results from 1084, overshot hardness for tempering temperature, and toughness way low. Never experimented with it or snapped samples, though, so no reason to expect it would like the same process. Or put a different way, 26c3 seems to get the benefit of modification due to the high carbide content whereas maybe the classic blacksmith's method of overnight anneal will work better with steels like 1084 and below.
1095 itself suffers from a lack of alloying - but the versions actually used in commercial knives (a 1% steel with small additions of chromium and vanadium and a few other things like nitrogen) aren't sold in volume - I doubt many knives are actually made of true 1095. Toughness is low enough in 1095 that at same hardness as O1, it will chip more often in regular planing, and it doesn't become very tough just by tempering further. I see exactly one source for 50100B sharon steel that was a special order and is sold retail - at a size not ideal for me, but seeing the poor results from 1095. I just ordered some - not for chisels, but to see if I can make a good very plain plane iron.
Bill's right on the money with his last comment - the discussion around all of this wasn't to brand anything for sale. It was to try to find something that works well so that other people would do it, and get past the myth that it's not doable. The discussion makes the process sound more complicated than it is. We use tools - when the tools work better, it makes it easy to tell that the results are better. Testing to get formal results can follow later if needed. when I make a chisel, I can do something similar to proofing a rifle barrel. Use it with an unreasonably stiff malleting. Anyone else could do the same thing.