Sword Steel ???/


Well-Known Member
Hi Guys
I am thinking about grinding out some swords. Kinda short maybe 30 inches long.
Tanto type tip kinda a tactical sword. Now I am a stock removal guy so I want to know what is a good sword steel for grinding.
I'd suggest 5160, 6150, L6, or 80crv2 for a modern, through-hardened short sword. All of these steels are known for toughness. 1075 or 1060 would also work well. Wilkinson made swords from what amounts to W1 (.9-1% carbon), and they had quite a reputation for being nearly unbreakable. In the end the heat-treatment will be more important than the steel type....

Specification for Henry Wilkinson's "Sword Steel"

Carbon................0.90 to 1,00%
Silicon.................0.20% Maximum
Manganese..........0.15 to 0.35%
Sulphur...............0.02% Maximum
Phosphorous......... 0.02% Maximum
I was thinking 5160 Standard HT ??? with oil quinche ??? What temp HT ? And what temp for temper?
From my experience, 5160 doesn't care too much what oil you quench it in, I use 120 degree canola oil. As far as temper, well, that depends on what hardness you are shooting for and how hard it got in the quench. For a sword you will want to sacrifice edge-holding some in favor of toughness. I personally feel 55 rockwell c would be about right, but testing is essential for a blade intended for the battlefield. I've never worked with 5160 in sword length blades so I cannot honestly say for certain what would be optimal.
I use 1075 and 15n20 or 1075 and w2. I will use 80crv2 and 1075 and 15n20 in the future.

I know, you don't pattern weld. You should pick any of those steels (except w2, which I use for edge-holding but never the whole body of the sword).

Probably, you can't get 15n20 in thick stock (unless Aldo has it). So, go with 80crv2. It is (reputed to be - I have never tested it I am sad to say, because I have avoided 5160) better than 5160 in terms of edge holding and doesn't sacrifice toughness. I accidentally confused it with some annealed W1 and tried to machine it (the 80crv2). Even in a simple annealed state (slow-cool surrounded by hot fire bricks) it was hell. I literally could not mill a slot of 1/8" width into it. Not with a hi-torque mini mill. The cutter just bent.

It is good stuff. It will resist wear and also be springy and hard to break. If I wasn't strung out on hamons, I would probably use this in every sword I made.

By the way, there is a good video by Wally Hayes Canadian knife and sword maker, about how to make a katana-like sword by stock removal.

Are there any stainless steels that lend themselves to a sword design? How about our old standby, 440C? Would that be a tough-enough steel for a decent short sword?
DOOOOHHHH -- I didn't read closely enough. Sorry that I didn't (and can't) answer your question.
see below.

I suggest L6 or 80crv2. Very tough and also good edge retention due to carbides (especially the 80crv2).
Are there any stainless steels that lend themselves to a sword design? How about our old standby, 440C? Would that be a tough-enough steel for a decent short sword?

The reason I ask this is because I have been thinking about plate-quenching some 440C or some other stainless like maybe S30V. I'm thinking that would be a pretty tough and resilient short sword. I'm thinking right now a 20" blade. Any thoughts would really be welcomed.
I have seen a 440c custom bush sword broken at the guard area a real shame a lot of work went into it. I would lean more towards s35vn or s30v i think they are way tougher as far as stainless goes, I would recommend 3-v. A lot of work goes into a sword the last thing you want is it breaking on you.
Use 12c27 or 14c28 if you want stainless... just choose a heat treat that optimises very little to NO retained austenite... i.e. low aust temp around 1040 deg c with longish soak, and a quick quench, but for the long blade i would say plate quenching these steels are needed... for straightness- sub zero would be useful though as you would then have some RA. Temper to 200 degc. 440avor 440b should do well too... if you do the heattreat right
Last edited: