View Full Version : How good is W2

Philip Lee
11-04-2003, 04:05 PM
Generally speaking,

What are your guys views, impression, experience with this steel I.E edge holding, toughness?

Thanks in advance

Philip Lee

11-04-2003, 06:52 PM
w2 is close to w1 ,01 and 52100 .very tough and durable.
the deference in w2 and w1 is it has .20 vandium.the make up is
c-1.00 mn.35 si.35
01 -c.90 mn1.60 cr.50 w .50
52100 -1.10 mn .35 si .35cr 1.5
it forges good and is affordable:)

Philip Lee
11-04-2003, 08:43 PM
When you say it is close to O1, is it as good for edge holding. Pardon my ignorance.

Thanks in advance.

Philip Lee

11-05-2003, 06:40 AM
01 is going to have a slight edge over w2 ,forgive the pun, because it is more wear resistant. 01 will hold a good edge from 54rc on up. Acually it is impressive at 52rc. The cost is the main drawback. The Sheffield 01 is even better if you can find it. I reserve it for special knives or customer demands. If you are forging I would suggest 1084, if you stock remove 1095 if cost is of concern. If you are forging be VERY careful about hammering too cold with 1095 as it is prone to micro cracking.

Philip Lee
11-05-2003, 02:32 PM
Thanks for that. When you say slight , is it just a little.

I know that knife makers are using w2 less and less because of the supply problem. I came into a whole bunch of old files, so for me its w2 for a while, thus i need to learn more about this steel.

Is it true that 1095 is quite similar to W2?

Thanks in advance.

Philip Lee

Jerry Hossom
11-05-2003, 06:00 PM
Just looking at the numbers, W2 should be a pretty good steel. That vanadium is there to give it a finer grain structure (toughness and finer edge) and will also benefit from the vanadium carbides in increased wear resistance. I'd say what you do with it will make more difference than the steel.

11-06-2003, 05:50 AM
Phillip, I would have say slight, possibly not enough to warrant the extra cost. I use more files than any other steel and have excellant results with them. I have had reports back from customers claiming skinning and dressing as many as three deer without a touch up. And one who reported three deer and two hogs with no touch up. His report, not mine. I would not think them that good, but thats what he said. I can give you two tried and true heat treat profiles if you like. I like both and alternate depending on my mood at the time. Email me at

11-06-2003, 06:14 AM
Phillip, I prefer Nicholson, but will use Simmons also. Both seem to be the same. Nicholson will not divulge what the steel make up is, but say its the same formula since 1865. It is NOT 1095, the two react very different to annealing. I have found file steel much easier to work than 1095, but I also like 1095, it is however difficult to anneal, in my experiance, compared to file steel.

Philip Lee
11-06-2003, 02:38 PM
Looking at the files i have , some are Nich and some are Wiltshire. Both heat treat with water quench quite well. I guess every thing is in the HT and methods. Does W2 benefit from deep freezing?

Thanks in advance.


Jerry Hossom
11-06-2003, 06:15 PM
I'm personally of the opinion that freezing helps, but give it one temper before you do that, then follow it with a couple more.

Philip Lee
11-06-2003, 06:32 PM
Thanks Jerry,

With L6 i certainly notice the improvement in edge holding. I will give w2 a real deep freeze.

Have a great weekend.


Todd Robbins
11-12-2003, 12:47 AM
Don Fogg lives near Nicholson's factory in Alabama. An applicant for his JS stamp at the Blade Show from that area told me Donn had a bunch of 1095 that he had gotten from Nicholson, as it wasn't quite the right size to fit in their forming machinery. That would make at least some Nicholson files 1095, if it's true. I haven't worked with any new 1095, but the two blades I've forged from Nicholson files are sure cutters! Edge holding is much improved over 1084.

Philip Lee
11-12-2003, 02:25 PM
Thanks for that Todd,

So i guess i will never quite know what my Nicholson file steel is.

1095 and W2 are quite similar , water quench etc. What do you use for the quench, water, oil, brine.?

When you say real cutters, how do you test?

thanks in advance.

Philip Lee

Fox Creek
11-12-2003, 08:48 PM
LRB, I am glad to read your comments on File steel. I have found file steel, whatever it is, to anneal softer than 1085, and it feels smoother/softer under the hammer. I find it more prone to warp in the quench if ground too thin. maybe it's just purer, better quality. Tai Goo talks about the really old leaf spring steel being better steel, purer and cleaner.

11-13-2003, 08:15 AM
Fox Creek, I have the same problem with thin blades, but I have found, you may have also, That if I use hand pressure, as soon as i can after coming out of the quench, I can usually straighten them. I normalize 3 times before quenching and have recently gone to point in first quench. This has helped a lot with warp, especially with point droop. Sometimes there is no warp at all.

11-13-2003, 08:19 AM
Fox Creek, don't know about you, but I oil quench the file steel, heated to 125 F.

01-05-2004, 01:06 PM
Hi, I'm new to this forum but have some experience with this particular subject.

When I was in contact with Nicholson regarding their steel (as has been said) they wouldn't give a composition or grade. BUT they did provide me with heat treating guidelines...

Their metallurgical department told me to heat treat as if it were W1.

Just thought I'd share for those who are using this steel.

Philip Lee
01-05-2004, 02:22 PM
Thanks for the feedback,

Can you provide heat treat guidelines for W1 please.

Thanks in advance.

Philip Lee

01-06-2004, 10:27 AM
Sure there's reasonably good source online:

W1 Datasheet from Leed Steel (

Philip Lee
02-25-2004, 08:24 PM
Hi Rapt,

Just wandering if you got any more interesting info on W1 steel from the Nicholson Factory.

Have you got pictures of knives made from files?


Jerry Hossom
02-26-2004, 08:35 AM
Some folks on the Newbies Forum at KF have been posting some of their first blades. This one was a file, and the maker's third knife. Impressive work.

02-26-2004, 11:03 AM
most people have found limited benifits from freezing simple steels ,i only seem to gain about one rockwell point with 1095,not worth the cost to me,i have tried water quenching 1095 with little succes,it seems to crack,as a matter of fact the only blades that have cracked on me were water quenched,i use peanut oil heated to 140-160 degrees.:)

02-26-2004, 12:37 PM
No pics yet, but I am working on a couple.

Heated to the non-magnetic point with my airtight woodstove (and a fan) and then quenched in brine.

Tested Rc of 63 on the thin part of the blade and dropping to high 40's in the tang area.

Files are fine. :