Hand Tools

Consider fatigue as well

Steve D, CT
You were experimenting with 52100, which is a steel used in ball bearings. It has high fatigue resistance because that is the main failure mode for ball bearings that are properly cared for.

If you take a chisel or plane and make one cut like you would in a test and it doesn't chip, it's probably strong enough. If there is chipping after dovetailing a set of drawers or planing enough to need resharpening it could be fatigue failure.

Stress is force/area and a sharpened edge is approaching zero for an area. The stress at the edge is very high and could cause fatigue at a low number of cycles.

Maybe gathering info on fatigue rating of your materials will give you some insight to your results.

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