There are 2 main reasons why you’d want to look more closely the particular properties of 1084 steel. By far, the most common reason for reading a 1084 steel review is that you’ve found a nice knife with 1084 steel for the knife blade. You want to get additional information on the material, besides the promotional information from the blade manufacturer.
The other reason is that you may be a knifemaker. If you’re a newbie, you’d have quickly realized that a lot of forging steels out there aren’t all that friendly for beginners. But lots of experts tout how easy it is to work with this steel.
You can then get it in its annealed (soft metal) state and use heat treatment for the 1084 steel. Or you can make your knife using stock removal, when mills have already done the heating and hammering for you. That way, you can just sculpt the knife you want to make by removing unwanted materials.
What is 1084 Steel?
The 1084 steel is a high carbon steel, but it’s also surprisingly tough. Carbon makes a steel harder, but higher hardness usually comes with lower toughness (resistance to chipping). But in the case of 1084 steel, it’s hard yet it’s also decently tough as well.
Common Uses of 1084 Steel
You can find 1084 steel in a wide range of knives. If you’re a knifemaker, you can use this material to manufacture a small EDC knife, or even a kitchen knife.
But because it’s actually a tough steel despite the hardness, you can also use this to create a huge machete or camping knife for chopping wood. In fact, it’s not a bad steel at all for the (impending) zombie apocalypse.
You may even use this steel for making gorgeous blades. Use the right heat treatment, and it can give you the Hamon effects that you find in Damascus swords and Japanese katanas. These variations in the temper line look a lot more interesting than a straight temper line.
1084 Steel Chemical Composition
You’ll get a better idea of the properties, benefits, and disadvantages of 1084 steel with a closer inspection of the elements used in this alloy. The particular composition comes courtesy of
- Carbon, about 0.86%
- Manganese, 0.75%
- Phosphorus, 0.04%
- Silicon, 0.22%
- Sulfur, 0.05%
Carbon, about 0.86%: This much carbon makes the steel quite hard, so it’s suitable for a lot of challenging cutting tasks. With this much carbon, you can expect good edge retention and resistance to abrasion, leading to a longer useful lifespan.
Manganese, 0.75%: This is also quite a bit of manganese, as most steel types have only about 0.30%. Like carbon, it helps to increase the hardness of the steel. It also helps in enhancing its tensile strength.
Phosphorus, 0.04%: You don’t really want a lot of phosphorus, since it’s actually considered an impurity. Roo much of it makes the steel too brittle. But a little bit helps with improving the machinability of the steel, and it also increases the tensile strength of the steel.
Silicon, 0.22%: The silicon helps with increasing the strength and hardness of the steel.
Sulfur, 0.05%: You also don’t want too much of it, as it can lower its impact toughness with high sulfur levels. But with this tiny amount, you get better machinability.
1084 Steel Hardness
This will depend on the heat treatment, as often the heat treatment process can actually lower the hardness to help build up the toughness of the steel. But you can often get a hardness rating of 60 HRC, which is the same level of hardness you can often get with more expensive steel knives.
Properties of 1084 steel
Here are some attributes of 1084 steel that you should be aware of:
Easy to Work With
You may have stumbled up 1084 steel once you’ve discovered that the 1095 steel isn’t really all that friendly to newbie knifemakers. In contrast, the 1084 is rather a joy to work with. It only needs the basic heat treatment without too much complications. It’s much easier to use, and you’re bound to come up with excellent knives you can actually sell.
Good Abrasion Resistance
This means it won’t wear down too quickly even with regular use. That means you maintain its original look, and it can last a good long while.
Solid Edge Retention
This is another property you get with that much carbon. The hardness of the steel lets the blade keep its sharp edges for longer, which is crucial for camping and hunting knives. Camping applications can dull a softer knife more quickly, and it’s just too bothersome to sharpen knife in the outdoors too frequently.
Simply put, you can use a 1084 steel knife while camping, and you won’t need to sharpen it over the weekend.
Easy Enough to Sharpen
When the blade does become dull enough (it will happen eventually), it’s not all that difficult to sharpen the blade and get back that sharpness you rely on outdoors. You won’t really need any specialized equipment.
This will depend on the heat treatment, but with the right one you can get a large blade that’s tough enough for chopping twigs and branches. The blade won’t chip as easily as some of the stainless-steel knives you might use instead.
You get this effect when you use it with Damascus steel. The resulting variations in the temper line offers an artistic touch.
Poor Corrosion Resistance
This isn’t stainless steel, and it’s really prone to rusting if you’re not careful. You will need to clean your 1084 steel knife after each use, and then oil it afterwards.
1084 Equivalent Steels or Alternative
You can also get a better idea of how 1084 does, if you compare it directly with other steels that have rather similar attributes. Besides, you may find these alternatives as your more ideal choice, depending on what type of knife you’re actually looking for.
1084 steel vs 1080 steel
As quite a few people have noted, there’s really not much difference between the 2. Perhaps there’s a bit more carbon in the 1084 steel, which means it does slightly better in abrasion resistance and edge retention.
1084 steel vs 154cm steel
154CM steel is a high-end type of steel, so it’s more expensive that then lower-midrange 1084 steel. The 154CM also offers good edge retention with decent toughness. What’s more, it also gives you excellent corrosion resistance.
Still, the 1084 may be a bit more resistant to chipping. It’s also much easier to sharpen.
1084 steel vs 01 tool steel
The 01 tool steel also usually has a 60 HRC hardness rating. It doesn’t really offer much wear resistance, but it sure offers lots of toughness. This is generally an all-purpose steel.
The 1084 steel does offer greater wear resistance while it remains tough, which is why it’s considered better for survival and bushcraft blades.
Is 1084 Steel Good for Knives?
Yes, very much so. It’s not just because of how easy it is for knifemakers to use, but that does lead to lower prices for consumers. That’s always a good thing.
It’s also because its hardness leads to great wear resistance and edge retention. Yet it can still be quite tough, especially with the right heat treatment. That’s why you find it in quite a few custom camping knives made by independent bladesmiths.
Just be aware that this isn’t actually stainless steel, so corrosion will be an issue. Proper maintenance will require cleaning and oiling after each use.
Pros & Cons of 1084 steel
How to Sharpen 1084 Steel Knives
The 1084 steel is a favorite among knifemakers, as it’s great and easy to work with while they come up with good knives that their customers will go for. Plenty of these bladesmiths create terrific camping knives with the material. If you’re new to creating your own knives, this is a great steel to work with. Even experienced knifemakers like the steel as well.
If you’re a consumer, then it’s not often you’d find 1084 steel in knives. It’s not really that common, except in the blades of the custom knifemakers. You will the 1084 steel in lots of custom hunting/camping knives, where they really excel.