There is no best tool for steel, like the steel, you should use ultimately depends on the project you are using it. You can find steel in a range of different grades such as O1, A2, D2 and a range of others.

These grades have extremely tough properties in them and can be perfect for knife making or general tool making purposes. Furthermore, you may require a quality that has corrosion resistance properties in it.

Good tool steel is easily the most essential aspect to have a high quality finished product. In the piece, I will attempt to explain the different types of tool steel and which you should choose. So read on, and if you have any questions, you can always email the connected team, and we can contact a steel expert.

Why choose one tool steel over another?

No steel is the same; they all have different purposes and features that make them useable for a specific purpose. For example, tool steels like O1 are simple alloys and are universal. In addition, O1 is the most popular grade worldwide, so it’s more than likely that you can use it for your project. But does that make it the best choice? No, you may want tool steel that has excellent machinability, in which case you would want to choose a grade like A2. Finally, cost and delivery time may be a significant factor in which grade you choose, as some grades are harder to source than others – companies such as Sheffield Gauge Plate Ltd supply a range of grades to choose from.

The best steel for knife making

Knives such as small pocket knives and chisel knives require a steel plate that you can turn into a blade. Usually, when people purchase knife making steel, they are looking for five unique factors:

  • Hardness
  • Toughness
  • Wear resistance
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Edge retention

These factors will determine the outcome of your knife, and depending on the environment you will use it in, you may require more of one than the other. Knife informer has a great article discussing the best knife steel in detail.

The most popular steel grades for knife making often change, but research from knife informer has found that the better steels are hard to purchase and find a supplier. These include steels like:

  • CPM S110V
  • CPM S90V
  • M390
  • CPM M4
  • D2
  • H1

The best steel for chisel blades

If you’re planning to make a chisel blade, you will need to understand the bevels of the edge. First, you’ll find a small micro-bevel and a large ground bevel.

The majority of the steel experts we’ve spoken to say that people will use oil quenched steel for this purpose. Oil quenched refers to the process of cooling heat-treated steel using oil as a quenchant. This steel is the best to use for a chisel blade as it allows for easy grinding to form the bevels that we’ve spoken about.

A few other companies spoke about using A2 due to it being a more rigid material than O1. However, you should use different processes with A2, as the edge is known to crumble if the edge is not honed to the correct degree.

To conclude, O1 will be the standard grade for you to use for the majority of your tool making projects. However, after testing both grades of A2 and O1, if you want a more robust, more durable finish, you should go with A2.

I hope this somewhat explains the tool steel options you have. There are many more grades to choose from than what we have mentioned, and we recommend you research further about the grades and their result qualities.