the steel

In this article I describe the variants of steel I use in my smithy.

At the beginning I will introduce you to the alloying elements, because I always add the composition of the used steel to the description of my product. I hope this leads to more clarity.

Alloying elements:

carbon (c): Carbon is the most important and influential alloying element. It works as a carbid-forming element, for example in combination with chrome or tungsten. With increasing C-content the strength and hardenability is raised, but its strain, malleability, weldability and as a whole its processability is decreased.

silicon(Si): Silicon is, like manganese, present in every steel, because most of the ore already contains those alloying elements. Silicon significantly increases the scale resistance and has got an outstanding influence on the elasticity. Therefore it can be found in high amounts in every spring steel. silicon-oxyde complicates and hinders the weldability and should not be a highly concentrated in a damascus steel (nochmal nachfragen).

manganese(Mn): Manganese binds sulphur as Mn-sulfids and decreases the red shortness. Mn also extremly decreases the critical cooling rate and as a result improves the hardenability of the steel. Manganese has a positive effect on the malleability and weldability and increases the tenacity. Manganese draws dark in damascus steel products.

phosphor(P):Phosphor is a steel parasite, because it increases the embrittlement and the risk of "Rotbruch". The less phosphor is part of the steel, the better it is. Nevertheless in low-alloyed steel with a C-content under 0,1% it improves strength and resistance to corrosion.

sulphur(S): Sulphur is another steel parasite and should be as less as possible be part of steel, because it raises the risk of red or hot shortness.

chrome(Cr): Chrome makes the steel resistent to corrosion, air- and oil hardenable, but also cater for good hardenability and is a carbid-forming element. Its carbides increase the edge holding stability and wear resistance. Chrome-oxide prohibits forge-welding and as conclusion damascus steel should not contain more than 2,0% chrome.

molybdenum(Mo): Molybdenum is a strong carbid-forming element, whose special carbids come along with a high resistance to wear and attrition. It increases the hardenability and decreases widely the temper brittleness. Molybdenum facilitates the fine grain formation and has got a favourable effekt on the malle- and weldability.

nickel(Ni): Ni increases consierably the notched impact strength and wear resistance. In damascus steel you see it in silver-white patterns.

tungsten(w): Develops very hard carbides and makes blades very resistent to wear. Tungsten improves the high-temperature strength. In steel for damascus steel products it is only allowed in amounts of maximum 2,0%, because tungsten-oxyde complicates forge-welding.

vanadium(V): Vanadium has got grain refining effect and develops very hard carbides as tungsten. Vanadium increases the resistance to wear, edge holding stability, high temperature strength and refines the grain. Furthermore it has a positive influence on the weldeability.

Titanium(Ti): Titanium is only component of very few steel variants. It develops the strongest metal-carbides and acts deoxidzing and desulfurizing.

cobalt(Co): Cobalt does not develop carbides, it hinders the grain-growth, acts grain-refining and improves the high temperature strength and tempering resistance exceedingly.

steel variants


composition in percentages

C 0,52-0,6

Si 1,60-2,0

P <0,025

Cr <0,40

Mo <0,10

Ni <0,40

The 56Si7 spring steel is the variant of steel I use for my training-weapons. It achieves outstanding hardness, but through its high silicon-content also is felixible and tough for this purposes. It achieves high grades of hardness but at the same time is very flexible thanks to the high silicone-content. Furthermore the silicone moves the area of blue brittleness from 250-360°C to a higher temperature range of 360-480°C. At the base of that outstanding values in flexibility and tenacity can be achieved, without blue brittleness causing any disadvantages. The silicone hampers the possibility to use this steel in damascus steel. I already used it for damascus steel, but it is very difficult to work with because of the developed silicone-oxyde.


composition in percentages

C 0,74 – 0,80

Si 0,25 – 0,40

Mn 0,65 – 0,80

P max. 0,025

Cr 0,30 – 0,45

Mo /

Ni /

This low-alloyed
tool steel 75Cr1 is my favourite steal for sharp swords. It reaches high hardness around 67 Rockwell and a working hardness of around 60 Rockwell, but without losing elasticity. The steel is difficult to sharpen, but to compensate the blade is a die hard.


composition in percentages

C 0,90 – 1,00

Si 0,10 – 0,40

Mn 1,80 – 2,20

V 0,05 – 0,20

Cr 0,20 – 0,50

90MnCrV8 is a cold work steel, which reaches high hardness (62-63HRC) and is relatively easy to work with. It has got a very good !!!!!! and tenacity. However I don't use this steel variant as mono steel for kitchen-knives, because the high amount of Manganese is prone to stain fruits and onions black, because of the fast oxidation and the groceries are not edible anymore. Furthermore it smells and tastes like metal.
However in damascus steel the 1.2842 draws very dark patterns and is responsible for a lot of good characteristics. One of my main ingredience for damascus steel and as mono steel one of the best choices for hunting and other utility knives, which are not used for food.


composition in percentages

C 0,95

Si 0,20

Mn 1,10

V 0,10

Cr 0,60

W 0,60

The tool steel 100MnCrW4 is an abrasion-resistant and tough Stahl with a fine structure. It distinguishes itself through over outstanding stability, very high sharpness and edge holding ability. I like to use this steel for knives with higher demands.



composition in percentages

C 0,45

Si 0,30

Mn 0,30

Cr 1,50

Mo 0,25

Ni 4,00

An extreme tough, nickel-bearing steel, which I only use as pattern-drawe in damascus steel, because of its poor hardness. Together with a very dark drawing 1.2842 you can make very extreme patterns and drawings in the steel. However the goal should be an efficient blade made of C105. The interaction of 1.2842 and 1.2767 is an eye candy, but processing it is not that easy. On the one hand, without a strong auxiliary equipment, the compound of the hardness of 1.2842 and the extreme tenacity of 1.2767 is a huge effort with many heatings and on the other hand the high chromium content of the 1.2767 complicates the welding, but the result pays off.


composition in percentages

C 1,00 – 1,10

Si 0,10 – 0,25

Mn 0,10 – 0,25

P < 0,020

S < 0,020

A carbon steel of the highest goodliness is the C105W1. It reaches extreme good hardness and is therefore very good for high performance damascus steel. Through its pure state it is proper for differential hardening und after the hardening and tempering you can see a clear "hamon". The C105W1 also is the best base for the production of refined steel.


St37 is a simple mild steel with around 0,36% carbon-content. It is easy and cheap to get and also easy to work with. All of my cross-guards and pommels for my swords are made of it.

Pure iron

Like the name suggests, this material lacks of carbon and it only has got a little content of manganese. I like to use this material for faces or in the back of a multibarblade, because even after the hardening and tempering pure iron is engravable and you can put metal inlays in it.