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How Hard is 01 Tool Steel?

How Hard is 01 Tool Steel?

You may have heard about 01 tool steel as a machinist or knife maker. It is one of the most popular and versatile tool steels used in the industry. But have you ever questioned how hard 01 tool steel is? Is it too hard to work with, or is it too soft to withstand wear and tear? In this blog post, we’ll debunk the myths and explain how hard 01 tool steel is.

To start, let’s define the term “hardness.” Hardness is the resistance of a material to external forces that tend to compress, scratch, or indent its surface. Hardness is typically measured using the Rockwell or Brinell scale, with higher values indicating a harder material. So, where does 01 tool steel stand on these scales?

01 tool steel is high-carbon steel, typically with a carbon content of 0.95-1.05%. According to the Rockwell hardness scale, 01 tool steel has a hardness range of 57-62 HRC (hardness Rockwell C), similar to other high-carbon steels like D2 and M2. In comparison, popular stainless steels like 440C and ATS-34 have a hardness range of 56-58 HRC.

Does this hardness make 01 tool steel difficult to work with?

Not necessarily. With the correct heat treatment and machining techniques, 01 tool steel can be easily machined into knives, cutting tools, and other industrial products. It is also relatively easy to forge, although it requires careful temperature control to prevent cracking.

Another myth that surrounds 01 tool steel is that it is brittle. Some machinists assume its high carbon content makes it more prone to cracking or breaking under stress. However, this is untrue. 01 tool steel has a high impact toughness and can withstand shock loads and sudden impacts without failing.

01 tool steel is highly sought after for knife making due to its hardness, toughness, and ease of sharpening. It can hold a razor-sharp edge for extended periods and be resharpened easily.

Finally, let’s address the question of wear resistance. Despite its high hardness, 01 tool steel does not necessarily have the best wear resistance among tool steels. It is often used alongside tool steels like A2 and D2, which have higher wear resistance due to their higher alloy content. However, 01 tool steel is still highly durable and can withstand heavy use without losing its edge or breaking down.


Hopefully, this blog post has clarified misconceptions and provided factual information about how hard 01 tool steel is. Its high hardness and impact toughness make it an excellent choice for various industrial applications, from knife-making to machining. With proper heat treatment and careful machining techniques, 01 tool steel is easy to work with and can produce high-quality finished products. So, don’t be intimidated by its hardness – give 01 tools steel a try and see the benefits for yourself.

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