View Full Version : chainsaw bar steel?

David Peterson
01-18-2003, 02:51 PM
I just got back from the junkyard with some scrap metal, and I found a nice chainsaw bar for making a knife. I wanted to know if anyone knew what type of steel Homelite chainsaw bars were made of. It's 25" long and doesn't seem to be the laminated kind. It looks like some good steel, but I've been searching the web for a few hours trying to find the steel type with no luck. Any ideas? Thanks.


Ray Rogers
01-18-2003, 02:58 PM
Cut off a test piece, heat it to non-magnetic, and quench. Test the piece for hardness by trying to file it and by trying to snap it off in a vise (wear eye protection). If it won't get hard enough to snap, it won't make a knife.

That said, carbon steel is so cheap you are far better off just buying it. That's the only way you can really control the quality of your blades...

David Peterson
01-19-2003, 12:30 AM
I tested the steel like you said, and it snaps off clean. I also ran the spark test, and it gives very nice, multiple fingered complex sparks. Any idea of the steel type? Thanks.


Ray Rogers
01-19-2003, 09:47 AM
No idea. There's really no way to be sure except by chemical analysis or maybe contacting the factory that made it. Even when you think you have good reason to beleive the steel is X, Y, or Z you can be wrong. For instance, we all hear that Honda springs are a good source of 5160. But, that's only true of the coil springs, not the leaf springs. And, while it was true when that info first became public knowledge that is no guarantee that Honda is still using 5160 20 years later.

That same story holds for L6 also. Everybody knows that saw mill blades are made from L6. Was that circular saw blades or band saw blades? Was it only blades over a certain size? The point I'm trying to make is, recycling is good but you probably shouldn't try to swear to anyone about what steel you used....,

Darrin O
01-28-2003, 12:31 AM
I have a question for you Ray. Thus far my attempt to make a knife and acquire materials has utilized my ability to be quite frugal (leaf spring, chain saw bars, etc). You say that carbon steel is cheap, and buying specific steel allows you to control that aspect of the quality of your blade material. That said, If I wanted to buy some, and want to avoid sounding stupid, do I walk into the steel supplier and ask for "high carbon steel" or should I ask for a specific alloy. Along that same thought progression, is O-1 a specific type of steel, or is a general classification. I have read Terry Primos' topic on it, but am still a little in the dark. Is it common for a steel supplier to carry various high carbon steels as well as all the general mild steel varieties?

Thank you for your time in helping a beginner.


Fox Creek
01-28-2003, 07:22 AM
Darrin, You will need to decide what kind of steel you want and what size you want ,and ask the steel supplier for that. Once they know what you want, even if they dont stock it, they can show you what they do have, or order it for you. Most knife makers order steel from specialty suppliers that handle tool steel and high carbon steel. (such as Admiral Steel) Chances are your local steel suppliers only stock structural steel and A36, not tool steel. The "straight" carbon steels are cheaper, readily available in a wide choice of sizes, easy to work with and make very fine blades if handled correctly. 1084 is very popular now; O-1 is almost universally available, evren the smaller industrial suppliers will stock O-1 "drill rod"

Ray Rogers
01-28-2003, 09:36 AM

Yes, you would want to specify the exact type of steel you wanted such as O1, 1084, 1095 or whatever. Any of those steels would be a good place to start.

The easiest way to get started is to get some catalogs from the major knife supply houses and order steel in very small quantity from them. For instance, you can get 1095 in 12" bars from Jantz for under $5. This way, you can try the different types of steel to see what works best for you without breaking the bank.

You can find addresses and phone numbers for the major knife supply houses in any of the knife magazines (which you should be reading) because they all advertise, or you can look at the Links page on my website for their contact info ....

Jamey Saunders
01-28-2003, 09:40 AM
You may also want to check the Supplier's List, as it lists knifemaking supply houses as well as direct steel suppliers.

Darrin O
01-28-2003, 10:50 AM
Thank you guys. Just started with this new undertaking of knifemaking and as always, I'm trying to learn as much as I can. What are the names of some knife making magazines and are they available at say Barnes and Nobles?

Thank you again.


Jamey Saunders
01-28-2003, 10:58 AM
I am always looking for more info on knifemaking, and I think you are involved in the greatest resource you'll ever find. The CKD is an amazing place in that nobodys like me can ask questions of some of the greats in the field of knifemaking. The tone is most always civil and polite, and the exchange of information and advice is amazing.

The archives are the best reading you'll ever do. Check them out.

Ray Rogers
01-28-2003, 01:04 PM
Blade Magazine, Knives Illustrated, Tactical Knives and a few others can usually be found in cutlery stores if you have one in your local mall. Major bookstores should have some of them too. See the link a couple of replies back from Jsaund22 for contact info for the mags so you can get your own subscriptions if you can't find them locally.....