Menu

From Springs to Slicers: Is EN45 Steel Good for Knives?

Share with friends

Is EN45 steel good for knives? Crafting the perfect blade is an art that hinges on the choice of steel. Among the plethora of options available to a bladesmith, EN45 spring steel has emerged as a topic of discussion for its unique properties. Often revered for its resilience in springs and swords, the application of EN45 steel in knife-making invites curiosity and scrutiny.

In our deep dive, we will unpack the metallurgical makeup of EN45, weigh its hardness against its toughness, and dissect its edge-holding capabilities. Join us as we meticulously analyze whether EN45 steel cuts in the world of fine knives.

What is EN45 steel?

EN45 steel is a high-carbon silicon manganese spring steel, renowned for its yield and fatigue strength. Carrying approximately 0.55% carbon content, it’s known for good tensile strength and hardness after heat treatment, balanced with notable flexibility. Primarily used for making vehicle springs and historical blades, it is also considered by knife-makers for its blend of toughness and edge retention.

Is EN45 steel good for knvies?
Is EN45 steel good for knvies?

Chemical composition of EN45 steel

ElementPortionEffect
Chromium0.0 – 0.4%Improves wear resistance, heat resistance and scale resistance. It increases tensile strength because it acts as a carbide former. Use of rust-free or stainless steel, as it increases corrosion resistance from a mass proportion of 12.2%. Reduction in weldability.
Carbon0.51 – 0.64%Increasing hardness and tensile strength. In larger quantities, increase in brittleness and a reduction in forgeability and weldability.
Manganese1.0%Improves hardness and tensile strength.
Molybdenum0.0 – 0.1%Improves hardenability, tensile strength and weldability. Reduction in forgeability and ductility.
Nickel0.0 – 0.4%Nickel increases tensile strength and yield strength. From 8% increase in corrosion resistance.
Phosphorus0.025 – 0.035%Increases tensile strength, hardness and corrosion resistance but also brittleness.
Sulfur0.025 –0.04%Increases machinability but also brittleness.
Silicon1.6 – 2.2%Improves strength.
EN45 steel composition

As you can see, EN45 steel consists of a mixture of carbon, chromium, manganese and a high silicon content, which makes it a very robust spring steel alloy.

What is the hardness (HRC) of EN45 steel?

EN45 can also be hardened to a maximum hardness of 56 HRC. However, it is usually closer to 48- 52 HRC.

EN45 Steel Rockwell Hardness
EN45 Steel Rockwell Hardness

Properties of EN45 steel

As a bladesmith, you desire a material that offers both strength and flexibility for your blades. EN45 steel possesses several desirable properties that make it a popular choice for knife-making:

  • High Carbon Content: EN45 contains approximately 0.55% carbon, which enhances its hardness and strength after heat treatment.
  • High Toughness: Despite its hardness, EN45 steel maintains remarkable toughness, facilitating its ability to withstand impacts and bends without breaking.
  • Good Edge Retention: The steel’s microstructure and carbide distribution contribute to impressive edge-holding capabilities, ensuring a sharp blade for an extended period.
  • Wear Resistance: EN45 steel exhibits low wear rates, protecting the blade’s edge from micro-scratches and wear during use.
  • Good Formability: The steel’s moderate hardness and low alloy content facilitate easy shaping and bending during the forging process.
  • Austenitizing Behavior: EN45 steel exhibits Austenitizing behavior during heat treatment, allowing for a more even distribution of carbides and facilitating the creation of a harder, more stable blade microstructure.
  • High Tempering Strength: The steel’s high tempering strength enables the creation of blades with superior impact resistance and toughness.
  • Good Corrosion Resistance: EN45 steel exhibits reasonable corrosion resistance, protecting the blade from rust and wear during use in various environments.

If you understand the properties of EN45 steel, you can make informed decisions about its suitability for your blades and tailor your forging techniques to unlock its full potential.

EN45 steel bowie knife
EN45 steel bowie knife

Related: Pros and Cons of H1 steel for knives.

    Is EN45 a good knife steel?

    EN45 steel, commonly known as manganese spring steel, is a high-carbon steel typically used in the manufacture of springs and swords due to its excellent flexibility and resilience. It’s good for knives in specific contexts but is not commonly used for knives compared to other types of steel that are better suited for the purpose.

    When considering the attributes of EN45 for knives, it’s worth noting that it offers a respectable balance of toughness and durability, which are crucial for any blade. Its capability to withstand stress without fracturing makes it a competent choice for larger knives that may be used for chopping or cutting through tough materials, mimicking the demands placed on a sword. When properly heat-treated, EN45 can hold a decent edge, making it somewhat viable for knife-making.

    However, EN45 is not typically the first choice for knives, especially for those used in culinary applications or where precision cutting is necessary.

    The reasons are twofold:

    • First, EN45 doesn’t have the same level of wear resistance or ability to retain an ultra-sharp edge as some of the more advanced or specialized knife steels, like VG-10 or S30V.
    • Second, EN45 can be more prone to corrosion than stainless steels, which means knives made from EN45 would require more maintenance to prevent rust.

    For these reasons, while EN45 can be used to make knives, it’s usually overshadowed by other steel options that offer a more tailored balance of characteristics for the nuanced demands of various types of knives.

    Strengths:

    • Good durability: EN45 has decent strength and resilience, making it suitable for everyday tasks like cutting food or opening packages.
    • Corrosion resistance: This steel performs better than standard carbon steel when it comes to rust, making it a good option for knives used in moist environments.
    • Versatility: EN45 can be shaped, forged, and machined relatively easily, allowing for some design flexibility.

    Weaknesses:

    • Moderate edge retention: Compared to specialized knife steels, EN45 will dull faster and require more frequent sharpening.
    • Lower hardness: EN45 isn’t as hard as some tool steels, which means it won’t hold an extremely sharp edge for long.
    • Not ideal for heavy-duty tasks: This steel isn’t the best choice for knives used for chopping, prying, or other demanding activities.
    EN45 Carbon Steel Drop Point Blade
    EN45 Carbon Steel Drop Point Blade

    EN45 steel equivalents

    EN45 is a European standard for a type of carbon steel, and finding an exact equivalent might be challenging because different regions and countries use their own steel standards. However, the closest equivalents might be found in other international standards. Some possible equivalents or similar steels include:

    • AISI/SAE 9260: This is an American standard for a spring steel with properties similar to EN45. It is commonly used in swords, automotive leaf springs, and other applications requiring high strength and durability.
    • JIS SUP6: This Japanese steel is similar to AISI 9260 and EN45. It is often used in the production of coil springs and leaf springs.
    • GB 60Si2Mn: This is a Chinese standard for a spring steel that is comparable to EN45. It has similar composition and properties, making it a potential equivalent.

    The steel that comes closest to EN45, especially in its performance for knives, would probably be 5160 steel. Both are robust steels that offer good wear resistance and useful edge retention.

    Keep in mind that while these steels share similarities, there may be slight variations in composition and performance. The heat treatment and forging processes used by manufacturers also significantly impact the final properties of the steel.

    Final Words: Is EN45 steel good for knives?

    I haven’t talked much about “knives” in this article, as this steel is simply not the best choice for knives. But as I mentioned, it is an excellent choice for swords and other long knives: a high silicon content is what a sword needs.

    But hey, don’t take my word at face value – you can also check out the experts, such as here. All the information here, is based on the experience of others, the analysis of the chemical composition, as well as the tempering (-possibilities) of the corresponding material.

    Finally, no matter what cutting tool you own, always treat it with care – a rag, a few drops of oil and a little dedication often make all the difference!

    Cut Bolt
    Cut Bolt
    Articles: 89

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *