View Full Version : What is AEB-L steel?


Michael E. Mill
03-14-2005, 10:06 PM
I hope this is the correct spot but I was able several years ago to get a few strips of AEB-L steel and have never used it. Could someone tell me what is the composition of it and what type knives would it be good for making up. I do know it is strickly stock removal and I thought I knew it was a stainless variety but that is as far as my knowledge goes. Thanks inadvance for any info. Mike

TexasJack
03-15-2005, 01:24 AM
According to the late Bob Engnath's site: "AEBL seems to be about 440B. Extremely easy to grind, in fact, I think I may have set a world record with it a few years back, over a hundred blades from bar stock to 220 grit within eight hours. Heat treat like 440C. Edge holding is best when heat treating includes a freeze cycle. Very easy to polish and buff. Very nice choice for miniatures, kitchen knives, etc. AEBL has several quirky habits in grinding that make it difficult to use on thicker or larger knives. Makes nice kitchen knives"

Composition: C-0.65, Si-0.4, MN-0.6. P-0.02. S-00015, CR-12.8

Michael E. Mill
03-15-2005, 08:08 PM
Thanks Jack I may at least be able to play with it and try to make some stainless damascus out of it for the fun of it. It is easy to grind but boy it can be oo easy at times because the grinding pressure will bend it from side to side and is hard to keep a good line with. Thanks Again Mike

Larrin
03-15-2005, 09:32 PM
According to the late Bob Engnath's site: "AEBL seems to be about 440B. Extremely easy to grind, in fact, I think I may have set a world record with it a few years back, over a hundred blades from bar stock to 220 grit within eight hours. Heat treat like 440C. Edge holding is best when heat treating includes a freeze cycle. Very easy to polish and buff. Very nice choice for miniatures, kitchen knives, etc. AEBL has several quirky habits in grinding that make it difficult to use on thicker or larger knives. Makes nice kitchen knives"

Composition: C-0.65, Si-0.4, MN-0.6. P-0.02. S-00015, CR-12.8
He's pretty close to right, other than that with how much less Chromium AEB-L has than 440B, it makes it a much better steel, it actually gets hard (up to 63-64 as quenched). It is fine-grained (as much so as powder steels), tough (close to S30V, maybe a little bit better or worse), stain resistant (good as 440C), and should hold an edge as well as 440C or better. One of my very favorites that not nearly enough people know anything about, and if they do know anything about it, they think it's like 440B.

Jerry Hossom
03-17-2005, 03:19 PM
I'll throw my $0.02 worth in here, though I've never worked with the steel except as incorporated into some damascus. According to Devin Thomas who knows as much about high alloy knife steels as anyone I know it is outstanding steel. I've seen photomicrographs of it and it is extremely fine grained, which stainless seldom is. It polishes beautifully. The only thing I might disgree with Larrin on is the edge holding, but that's strictly based on the total carbides available. With about the same chrome and half the carbon of D2 it's not likely to be great at holding an edge. Then again, I've not used it by itself and might be surprised. Toughness is about half of edge holding in my experience.

Wish I could get it at a reasonable price in this country.

TexasJack, I'm curious about those quirks with larger blades. What happens?

Larrin
03-17-2005, 03:57 PM
The only thing I might disgree with Larrin on is the edge holding, but that's strictly based on the total carbides available. With about the same chrome and half the carbon of D2 it's not likely to be great at holding an edge. Then again, I've not used it by itself and might be surprised. Toughness is about half of edge holding in my experience.


John Verhoven, metallurgist, says that AEB-L would be the best all-around steel for knifemakers. The reasons he gives for good edge retention are: 1. hardens to 63-64 Rc 2. very fine carbides that avoid carbide pull-out (which happens in coarse carbides) and add to wear resistance 3. The K2 carbide is formed, which gives better wear resitance to the K1 carbide which is formed in Mo steels such as 154-CM.

From this, and my own uses of it, it should give edge retention equal to or slightly better than 440C.

TexasJack
03-17-2005, 06:04 PM
Jerry, I've never used the stuff. I was curious when the original question was asked and looked around for some info. (I've never seen AEB-L for sale!) Came across the description on Engnath's site and copied it (along with appropriate credit!!), then found a manufacturer's composition. I don't know exactly what problems Engnath ran into, but if he mentioned it, there must be something to it.

It may be an air hardening that occurs during grinding. More than one knifemaker recommends using a good belt to grind D2, because it can harden on you if the belt is dull.

I see some tension forming about 440B and the composition of AEB-L. There are a lot of blades in the world made with 440B. Though it's certainly not the best knife steel, it works well in some applications. The composition of AEB-L would not seem to put it at the top of the stainless class, but the quality of manufacturing and the decent composition it has may very well make it a decent steel. The limited web search I conducted didn't turn up any negative comments on it. There is no 'perfect' steel for all applications.

Make some knifes and post 'em!!

Larrin
03-17-2005, 07:34 PM
I see some tension forming about 440B and the composition of AEB-L. There are a lot of blades in the world made with 440B. Though it's certainly not the best knife steel, it works well in some applications. The composition of AEB-L would not seem to put it at the top of the stainless class, but the quality of manufacturing and the decent composition it has may very well make it a decent steel. The limited web search I conducted didn't turn up any negative comments on it. There is no 'perfect' steel for all applications.

I'm not tense, I'm just saying that though the composition looks like it wouldn't be very good, it is actually the most balanced composition in any steel made today. It follows perfectly the carbon saturation line, meaning all of the carbon in the steel goes in to solution, meaning all of that .60 carbon is going towards hardness, making it get up to 64 Rc. It's my favorite steel, that's why I'm defending it. :) I forgot to mention earlier, it's very easy to sharpen, easier than some carbon steels. If I'm making it sound too good to be true, it's because it nearly is, it's not the best in any of the areas (toughness, edge retention, etc.) other than sharpening, but it is at least above average in every area, it's an all-around steel.

TexasJack
03-17-2005, 11:41 PM
And that's a good point that you make about sharpening. I remember a thread not long ago where Tai Goo commented something to the effect of 'why would you want a knife you can only sharpen on a grinder'. I'm sure there were a few knifemakers that cringed at that.

I guess my point was that it doesn't look like Engnath was cutting AEB-L down to compare it to 440B. He was just describing what steel it was similar to.

Larrin
03-18-2005, 12:07 AM
I guess my point was that it doesn't look like Engnath was cutting AEB-L down to compare it to 440B. He was just describing what steel it was similar to.
I understand. :)
The only problem is, when people want to look up AEB-L, they read that it is similar to 440B, and then decide it isn't "high-performance" enough for their use. Oh well, popularity is often a key factor in the choice of steel, and AEB-L doesn't have it.

TexasJack
03-18-2005, 10:37 AM
If you check for metals with similar compositions, AEB-L is also similar to AUS-6. A quick Google search shows quite a few commercial knives made with that.

Larrin
03-18-2005, 11:08 AM
If you check for metals with similar compositions, AEB-L is also similar to AUS-6. A quick Google search shows quite a few commercial knives made with that.
They are similar, the main difference is that the swedish steels have a lot tighter tolerances (if you look at the composition of AUS-6, you'll see some pretty big ranges), and the Swedes just make higher quality steel, with very little impurities, etc. AUS-6 and AUS-8 are probably pretty good though.

Jerry Hossom
03-18-2005, 07:59 PM
... and the Swedes just make higher quality steel, with very little impurities, etc.

I have some RWL-34 with serious impurities I'd like to give back to them right now. Good steels are made in many place, here, there, Japan, etc. As I mentioned the grain structure of AEB-L is impressive and I'd like to use some to get a better feel for how it performs. My primary concern about the carbon content is because I've tested some high alloy steels in that range that have demonstrated plastic deformation problems, even as high as Rc60. I'm also a little surprised it's not used by more of the knife companies. Wonder why.

shgeo
03-24-2005, 03:22 PM
If I remember right, Uddeholm lists it as their scalpel and razor steel.. I would bet it would make some Bad_ss SS damascus paired with a higher carbon steel.

Jerry Hossom
03-24-2005, 07:24 PM
Devin Thomas uses it in some of his damascus, but not mixed with tools steels. He uses it with 440C IIRC.

Larrin
03-24-2005, 10:42 PM
Devin Thomas uses it in some of his damascus, but not mixed with tools steels. He uses it with 440C IIRC.
He's never used it with 440C before, both steels etch dark. He's used it with 154-CM though.

Jerry Hossom
03-25-2005, 01:57 PM
Actually now that I think about it, I believe he uses AEB-L and sometimes 440C with 304.

DaveL
04-28-2005, 07:29 PM
AEB-L was first described to me as a genuine "slicing steel" versus other ones. I have used it and it is a very good steel. I prefer it to the 440's.

Michael E. Mill
04-29-2005, 10:20 PM
Larrin since you have had experience with it what hardness did you want to use it for a working knife??? 440c normally is 57-58 Should AEB-L BE RAN AT 60?? THANKS

DaveL
04-30-2005, 03:01 PM
A knifemaker friend living in Alaska uses AEB-L more than anyone I know. He thinks a lot of it and his knives are used on many moose hunts. It is a very good steel with all the attributes wanted by knifemakers. I will call my friend and ask the best place to get it. When I lived there, we just had it along with others to use. It has always been a very good steel for knifemakers.

Larrin
04-30-2005, 08:02 PM
Larrin since you have had experience with it what hardness did you want to use it for a working knife??? 440c normally is 57-58 Should AEB-L BE RAN AT 60?? THANKS
60 Rc is a very good rockwell hardness for most knife blades (this could of course change depending on application). AEB-L hardens up to 63-64 rockwell as quenched, so it is tempered back quite a ways to get to 60 Rc, though this is just an example of it being a good hardness, its not the only reason.

Jerry Hossom
05-02-2005, 09:19 AM
Larrin, are you coming to the Blade Show?

And is any of that 3V/154CM steel coming to Blade?

Larrin
05-02-2005, 10:19 AM
Larrin, are you coming to the Blade Show?

And is any of that 3V/154CM steel coming to Blade?
Yes.

My daddy is going to try and bring some.

Jerry Hossom
05-02-2005, 01:47 PM
I look forward to seeing you Larrin. If you dad makes some of that steel. I want two billets, either raindrop or ladder, 3/16" x 2" preferrably.

Larrin
05-02-2005, 05:55 PM
If you dad makes some of that steel. I want two billets, either raindrop or ladder, 3/16" x 2" preferrably.
I'll tell him.

Jerry Hossom
05-03-2005, 07:25 PM
Loosening the specs a little...

5/32" to 3/16" is fine for the thickness.

1-1/2 to 2" is OK for the width, but I'd prefer 1-3/4 or larger.

Pattern doesn't matter. I just prefer the originals.