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FREE Learning-A2 Tool Steel in Custom Knife Making

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

Having a good time with my grandson!
Keith, or "Pappy" and Jonah!

Keith Nix Knives FREE Learning!! A2 is traditionally a tool and diemaker's steel, and has been used to make custom knives for several decades. The "A" in its designation denotes it is from the family of "air hardening" steels. After heating to austenitizing temperature(1725 to 1775), A2 can be cooled in still air and attain full hardness. Other steels like D2 and most all stainless steels possess the same characteristic, being that additions of chromium increase "hardenability" of steels. A2 has around 5% chromium, not enough to be "stainless", but plenty enough to make A2 air hardening. A2 has 1% carbon, and 5% chromium, along with 1% Molybdenum and .4 Vanadium. The Mo also increases hardenability, and the V helps grain structure to remain small, while the 5% chromium increases edge retention and hardenability over simple carbon steels.

A2 is capable of as quenched hardness well above 64Rc, and has typically been tempered to 59-60Rc for use in custom knives. It is more than capable at that hardness but edge retention is improved with a bump to around 62Rc, with negligible loss of toughness. A soak at cryo temperature (-320F, liquid nitrogen bath) improves hardness and strength of A2, and so every knife receives cryo immediately after austenitization and before tempering cycles begin. CLICK HERE to order your Keith Nix Knives handmade knife of any style in A2!


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Keith Nix Knives

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