Hand Tools

White steel for...well you know......

David Weaver
..you can't make any joke these days without being taken the wrong way, but figure that you can't buy much white steel because Japan has laws about not just making a few tons of it and sending it offshore. That means generally, I can find only a little bit of san mai (pre-laminated) material that slips out.

We also can't easily get 115crv3 or some similar common DIN rod that's probably about $3-$4 a pound in europe, but yesterday, I finally found a supply of higher carbon steel to try.

26c3 - the knife community calls it "spicy white". it's got ever so slightly more hardening alloying in it than white 2 and white 1, but a tighter impurity limit than white 1. 1.25% carbon, which is kind of a lot of an unlaminated chisel, but we can leave it partially hardened after the first 3 or 4 inches and eliminate brittleness at the tang.

What's the virtue? The more carbon you have in a clean steel, the higher its hardness will remain after temper and the harder it will usually be out of a just-over-critical quench in a fast quenchant. It looks like it's made by bohler and voestalpine, so it should be available as long as a couple of knife supply places can continue to sell it. Snice it's out of the ordinary, it doesn't appear to have a stock issue (most of the more common knife steels are overbought right now), either, and it'll cost about $50 to make a set of 5 chisels, which isn't that expensive.


I'll report back how it works out. If you're used to looking at the charts, it's about as tough as white steel (which makes a good chisel because it's high strength despite low toughness), but retains decent toughness through higher hardness levels (the 1% carbon steels are not forgiving if you go above about 62 or so)

I suspect that this will be like some of the file steels, but with slightly less alloying. Is there a need to play with this? No. Is there curiosity about it? yes. Is there strip versions of it thin enough to make plane irons? Yes. Maybe later.

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