How Good is 1095 Steel?

Steel comes in a variety of forms. This is because steel needs to serve a variety of functions. It is alloyed with many different kinds of metals for a myriad of different purposes. The different types of metals used in the creation of steel lends it different properties, which is why there are different kinds of steel available. Common to all types of steel is carbon, which can be found in varying quantities, depending upon the intended use of the steel being processed.

Properties of 1095 Steel

1095 Steel is a basic form of carbon steel and is most commonly used in the construction of various kinds of knives. It has a carbon content of .95% which serves to harden the steel and reduce the amount of wear that a blade will experience over time. Despite the reduction in wear created by the high presence of carbon, 1095 steel is not as tough as other types of steel due to the lower levels of manganese, which serves to harden the steel. Yet, although manganese hardens steel when used in certain levels, in higher levels it makes for a more brittle blade overall.

1095 Steel for Knives

1095 steel, when used in knives, holds a great edge and is very easy to sharpen. However, the properties of this type of steel give it a tendency to easily rust. These kinds of blades will usually have some kind of coating to combat rusting, but so long as the blade is properly cared for, rust should not be too great a problem for anyone.

Because 1095 steel can be considered more brittle than other types of steel, it is generally good for blades that are not too thin. It is easy to sharpen, but if a blade made with this type of steel doesn’t have a decent amount of thickness behind it, it is liable to break easily. For an example, it is not an appropriate grade of steel for tools, folding knives, or sushi knives.

1095 can be heat treated to increase its overall strength, but if 1095 steel gets brittle after that point, there is not much that can be done about it and it may break on you. Though it can be used in tools such as chopping knives, it is not necessarily the most effective choice. It shines, but there are other steels out there which are better formulated to be used in such objects. 1095, though not alloyed with chromium like stainless steel, takes a great polish very easily.

How to care for 1095 Steel

To keep your 1095 knife rust free and working for the longest time possible, rinse it off after every use, wipe it clean, and oil it once a week. The oil forms a barrier that prevents moisture from reaching the steel. It also gives your knife a very shiny look.

Good uses for 1095

1095 steel would be perfect for functional show swords, such as those found throughout military ceremonies. It would also function very well in replica swords and blades, as well as daggers. Though other types of steel, especially stainless, would be more useful and efficient for a variety of utensil uses, 1095 is still very useful for a number of dining tools. Other uses for 1095 grade steel include any of the general functions that any kind of knife could perform. It is also a very good metal for blades used in ritual, or religious purposes. It is often used in some types of machetes.

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  1. I own an Ontario brand knife. I read I should oil my blade weekly, but what kind of oil is best to prevent my blade from rusting?

    1. What I’d like to know is, if I were to own a knife with 1095 steel and it requires weekly oiling, how do I store this knife w/o creating an oily mess? I have a leather sheath for it but don’t want that saturated with oil either. Thanks for your help.

    2. In many cases, knife owners use a very thin coating of petroleum jelly which can help minimize an “oily” mess.

  2. It’s an early development in carbon steels, so is not as sophisticated as many newer ones. Nevertheless (me being a Luddite, who LIKES doing things the old way), it is more than adequate for most knife applications that don’t put large shocks or stresses on the blade, and it is relatively cheap to buy. A useage not mentioned here is that it combines very well with a mild steel in Damascus blades, the costruction of which make 1095 effectively much tougher.

    1. But your observations are those of the majority of users. Those who “strip” their 1095 knives as soon as they buy them are making a really silly mistake. The coatings are not going to change the ability of the steel from throwing a spark if hit by hard stone, such as flint or chert. Stripping the coating of a small portion of the spine would, theoretically, cover all bases. Using a stainless steel for scraping a ferro-cerium rod is excellent.

  3. This is the most stupid article I’ve ever seen about 1095. The author doesn’t have a clue.

    1. AS I was reading through it I thought , that’s not right ? and that , he’s miles off the mark about that , and that !

    2. Hey, thanks for your helpful and encouraging comments! The author of this article is long gone and I have never met him. The site is under new ownership as of May 2018, and I’ll review this article and its accuracy and relevancy soon. The knife laws need updating as well. Blessings,

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