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Old 04-02-2010, 22:00   #1
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Carbon steel makeup for less rusting.

I have been told many times that there are different grades of carbon steel that are less (or more) acceptable to rusting. This was brought up in a firearm discussion and I was not sure (or remember) the specifics....but I know knife guys and knife makers know this stuff.

Any help would be very appreciated.
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:14   #2
Ernest Emerson
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Re: Carbon steel makeup for less rusting


All grades and types of heat-treatable steels contain carbon. In this family are contained steels that rust and the so called stainless steels. The difference in a real generic explanation is that the stainless varieties contain more chromium and/or nickel, which does not rust. In reality, any heat-treatable steel will rust given the proper conditions since being steel, they contain iron. The rule of thumb is, the more chromium or nickel the more stain resistant the end product will be. However, the higher the content of those additions, the less hard the heat treated steel will be due to the fact that they are "soft metals.

Due to advancements in the technologies of developing steep recipes, though, there are now many different grades of high carbon tool steels that take a good heat treat and are quite resistant to rust. However, they require somewhat sophisticated heat treating processes to derive their best performance.

The term carbon steel generally refers to the simple formula steels that have been around forever and are the basic mix of carbon and iron which has over the centuries to be good for just about everything. A good example would be a file or rasp that your grandfather may have owned. They performed like crazy but you had to clean and oil them or they would rust almost before your eyes.

Hope I've shed some light.

Best Regards,

Ernest R. Emerson
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