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15N20 and You

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by JShirley, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    15N20 is band-saw steel. It has been frequently used in "Damascus"/pattern-welded steel as the shiny layer, because of the 2% nickel content. 15N20 is supposed to take a very nice edge, but has not been used much in the US as a stand-alone steel because it has rarely been available in anything except very thin stock.

    NJSB has 15N20 in appropriate thicknesses, so I think the forum will see some 15N20 knives in a few months, but in the meantime, has anyone else here used any? If so, what have your experiences been? Did you HT yourself, or send it off? How has edge retention and toughness been? Any corrosion issues?


  2. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator

    Let you know soon. ;)

    ETA: found this. Impressive.

    15N20 (L6)

    15N20 (or L6) is a low alloy steel usually used in large saw blades and such. It is a very good steel but is somewhat red-hard due to the vanadium content. 15N20 has the following characteristics:

    Carbon: 0.70 to 0.90%
    Chromium: 0.03%
    Manganese : 0.35 to 0.55%
    Nickle: 1.4 to 2.6%
    Phosphorus: 0.025%
    Silicon: 0.25%
    Sulphur: 0.01% maximum
    Vanadium: 0.15%
    Wear Resistance: Medium
    Toughness: very high
    Red Hardness: low
    Distortion in heat treating: low
    Forging: Start at 980 to 1090C
    Austenite forging: Yes
    Hardening: 790 to 840C
    Quench: Oil
    Tempering: 150 to 260C
    RC Hardness: 63 to 55
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  3. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member


    L6 and 15N20 aren't as similar as their compositions might lead you to believe.
  4. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, they're both band saw steels, but hso is right.
  5. JTW Jr.

    JTW Jr. Well-Known Member

    When I first started making knives, I used 15n20 to practice in , made a whole lot of thin small give-away knives...still have a few laying around the shop that I use to cut sandpaper with.
  6. Brin

    Brin Well-Known Member


    I have made Damascus steel and knife blades, with 15n20. It is a very tough steel that takes a nice edge. You can skin two to three mule deer before you have to dress up the edge. The only draw back is it does rust.
    To anneal 15n20 you need a long slow cool down in wood ash or vermiculite from a non- magnetic temperature, otherwise it will be impossible to drill. Heat treating is easy, all you have to do is heat to non-magnetic for a few minutes , then quench in a warm oil, then temper at 350 to 400 Fahrenheit.
  7. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks to both of you. It would be great if you were able to show what the finished blades look like.
  8. Brin

    Brin Well-Known Member


    Here are two Damascus knifes and one Damascus and 8670 knife.

    Attached Files:

  9. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    I especially like the pattern on the top, thanks.

    JTW, any chance of us seeing one of your sandpaper knives? :)


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