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Hamon - 1095 or W2

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by jake387, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. jake387


    Jul 28, 2015
    Been doing lots of reading and I have determined that for a nice hamon, one should use 1095 or W2 steel.

    That being said, what's the difference between the two from a hamon standpoint? Is one easier to get hamon activity out of over the other? Why would make me choose one over the other?

    Thanks for any feedback.


    Aug 16, 2001
    Jake, both will achieve a nice hamon. They both are more difficult to heat treat being they require a soak time at temp. W2 is basically 1095 with added vanadium. The vanadium will aid in grain reduction. I use both and the hamons are about the same. You must have a fast quenchant, think parks 50. Canola will work but you will not get some of the activity you get with a faster quenchant. Most of mine are in W2. I like the way it forges and works. One suggestion would be 1075. Not as strict in heat treating and gets great hamons, if it is from Aldo Bruno. Very low manganese. He is out at the moment but is supposed to be getting more. One final bit of advice, on clay coating, thin is in. Thin layer not thick works better.
  3. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    The real deciding factor on hamon steels is the manganese content. Low Mn is a must. Also, low to no alloy content. You don't want to toss any extra carbides or structures in the mix. Besides manganese, chromium, molybdenum, and nickel are real hamon killers.

    In theory, the very best hamon steel would be 1084 with nothing but .84% carbon and 99.16% iron ( this would not work, but is the theoretical perfect steel).

    1075 is close to that.

    All W2 is not equal. That is why getting a reliable analysis of the actual batch is important. Don Hanson got a great batch several years ago and it is considered the standard for what a good W2 steel should be for attaining a hamon. Sadly, he isn't selling the excess anymore. Aldo has specs on his steels and they are reliable.
    EntrancedVermin likes this.
  4. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Hitachi white, W2, 1095 in that order for hamon potential. I don't use enough 1075 to compare but many love Aldo's 1075. All will do a spectacular hamon with ideal time, temp, and geometry. Oh, I forgot W1 is like really clean 1095, or W2 less the vanadium. It does a pretty great hamon too.
  5. Don Hanson III

    Don Hanson III KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2002
    Both good for hamon, but W2 is noticeably a better performer.
    kuraki likes this.
  6. J. Doyle

    J. Doyle Bladesmith/Knifemaker

    Feb 17, 2008
    I think Aldo's 1075 is WAY better than 1095 for hamon. I've messed with the 1095 quite a bit and I just can't get the activity that I can with w2 or 1075.
    kuraki likes this.
  7. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013

    I agree on the 1095. I have to use a bit more clay and a bit more heat than with W2. Even with brine, it doesn't show as much activity as W2.
  8. jake387


    Jul 28, 2015
    Thanks for the feedback. I think I'm going to be trying some 1075 soon.
  9. JMJones


    Jul 14, 2010
    Dont forget W1. W2 is hard to get these days except from Aldo. W1 is in the form of drill rod and is cheaper than most steels if you forge.
  10. Kentucky

    Kentucky KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Basic Member

    Dec 13, 2008
    Howards 1086M was really good too. I like it a lot.
  11. EntrancedVermin


    Jul 26, 2016
    I have done a few hamons on 1084, that being said they come out visable. I think 1084 would be good for hamons, if your only looking at getting a basic one, very simple no thrillers hamon.

    I plan on using 1075 for hamons, until i get my heat treat oven finished.
  12. tr3yanderson


    Mar 6, 2017
    Newbie here, but I'm having a hard time understanding why 1075 can get great hamons as well as w2, but not for 1084. 1075 with less carbon than 1084 and w2 with more carbon then 1084. From face value that just seems illogical but again I don't know much. How can that be the case and why?
  13. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    Magnesium content
  14. Natlek


    Jun 9, 2015
    Manganese my friend , not magnesium ;)
  15. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    Lol auto correct on my phone my bad. Haha:confused:
  16. tr3yanderson


    Mar 6, 2017
    Thanks, yeah after some reading I'm seeing about the Manganese. And after looking at several specs from NJ Baron, it still strikes me as odd. What is it about 1084 that causes it to have more manganese than 1075, w2, 1095 and other steels? Is it intentionally maybe, because I find that perplexing/interesting
    Justin Schmidt likes this.
  17. tr3yanderson


    Mar 6, 2017
    But this would make the best survival knife right... I mean magnesium built right into the blade...haha
  18. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    It is intentional. The higher the Mn count, the deeper hardening the steel is. This makes it more forgiving in a quench, as you don't need water or a fast oil to harden 1084, like you do with 1095 or W1/W2. 1084 has an Mn count of 0.6%-0.9%, and Aldos falls right in there at 0.8%. Compare that to 1095, which usually has about 0.4%, and W2 which usually has about 0.2%.
  19. tr3yanderson


    Mar 6, 2017
    Ahhh; Cool, I've always heard about the deep hardening/shallow hardening, but never knew what made it that way. Awesome, thanks for learning me something new.
  20. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    Aldo has stated the 1075 he's selling is actually "1076" being held to a lower manganese content than AISI 1075 allows for.

    AISI 1075 Mn is .4 to .7
    AISI 1095 Mn is .3 to .5
    Aldo's 1075 Mn is .35

    I believe 1075 at .7 Mn would have drastically poorer hamon performance than Aldo's .35, as greater than .4 seems to be the line of demarcation where Mn begins to significantly impact hamon activity.

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