KnifeSteelNerds: How to Anneal Stainless Steel After Forging


Should Stainless Steel Be Forged?

Stainless steels are generally more difficult to move under the hammer than simple carbon and low alloy steels. They are typically more expensive. The forging range is usually narrower; you have to stop forging at a higher temperature or it may fracture. But of course stainless steel has the major advantage that it is corrosion resistant. There are many myths around forging stainless and carbon steels that are used to justify the use of only simple steels. These myths scare some knifemakers away from using stainless steels that might otherwise try them.

Is Stainless Steel Improved by Forging?

There is an old tradition in the knife world that says that only carbon steels should be forged. Some have gone so far to say that stainless steels do not “benefit” from forging in the same way that carbon steels do. This is somewhat difficult to refute, as the benefits of forging are often overblown to begin with. I have an older article on forging vs stock removal you can read here. However, I argue that high alloy tool steels and stainless steels have more potential benefits to forging than low alloy steels. The reason is because with simple steels all of the carbides are dissolved at forging temperatures and re-precipitated later; this makes the carbide structure easier to control with thermal cycling alone. High alloy steels have carbides that do not dissolve without melting the steel itself so there is more possibility of improving that structure through further working. Of course all steel purchased by knifemakers has already been forged and/or rolled from an ingot, so we are often talking about a relatively small amount of further forging.


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How to Anneal Stainless Steel After Forging

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