Is 15n20 Steel Good For Knives? (Its Use In Damascus Steel)

Damascus steel is one kind of attractive steel that is loved by knife users and collectors. The steel has wavy light and dark patterns that give it a uniquely beautiful look.

The knives have a great edge holding capability while being flexible at the same time. Back in the day, Damascus steel weapons were preferred to Iron steel weapons because they were more superior.

Damascus is an alloy of two steel plates and 15n20 is one of the steels that is used. 15n20 is usually combined with another steel-like 1084, 1094, or UHB20C during formation.

Well, if you are interested in learning more about this steel, keep reading.

Is 15n20 steel good for knives?

Yes, 15n20 steel is good for knife making. The European company Bohler makes 15n20 steel. It is a low alloy carbon steel that is high in Nickel. 15n20 steel is popularly used in the making of Damascus blades, pattern-welded blades, big size saw blades, and filleting knives. It is very easy to work with and can be used by both beginners and professionals. The steel is hard with good edge retention, great toughness, strength, ease of sharpening and wear resistance. However, it lacks corrosion resistance and can rust very fast if not properly maintained.

Composition of 15n20 steel

Steel is made up of a mixture of Iron and Carbon. To make it work better in blades, other components are added in small amounts.

The composition of 15n20 is:

Nickel at 2% – Nickel enhances the toughness and structure of steel. In high amounts, it lowers corrosion resistance.

Carbon at 0.75% – Carbon gives the steel its hardness while increasing corrosion resistance and wear resistance. In large amounts though, it decreases strength.

Manganese at 0.4% – Manganese improves strength, grind-ability, hardness, and makes sharpening easier. Too much makes steel brittle.

Silicon at 0.03% – Silicon enhances strength.

Phosphorus at 0.02% – Phosphorus adds strength.

Sulfur at 0.01% – Sulfur increases machinability but can lower toughness.

Nickel in 15n20 steel

Nickel is a major component of 15n20 steel and it is in quite high amounts. The Nickel works in resisting acid etching and keeping the shine while making Damascus blades.

Damascus blades have bright and dark patterns in them. Another advantage of Nickel is that it gives the bright patches in the pattern.

15n20 steel hardness

15n20 steel is very hard. It has a Rockwell hardness of 61 HRC.

Is 15N20 steel stainless steel?

Steel is made stainless mainly by Chromium. Stainless steel has at least 10.5% of Chromium.

15n20 does not have any Chromium in it so it is not stainless steel. It is highly vulnerable to rust and if proper care is not taken, it becomes rusty.

Properties of 15n20 steel

Every steel has a unique quantity of components that contribute to its properties. For 15n20 steel, they are:

Edge Retention

The steel has a high hardness which gives it good edge retention. It’s not too great but it has average edge holding capacity.

Corrosion Resistance

The steel does not have any considerable corrosion resistance. It lacks Chromium which contributes to giving steel better corrosion resistance.

It also has high amounts of Nickel. A lot of Nickel lowers the corrosion resistance of steel.

Wear Resistance

The good balance of its components gives 15n20 steel great wear resistance.


15n20 steel is very easy to sharpen making it sharpen quite fast.


The steel has high levels of toughness. This is boosted by its high quantities of Nickel.


15n20 steel has very great machinability. It is easy to cut, shape, design, and work with. This makes it a great choice for both beginners and professionals.

15N20 steel comparison

15n20 steel is mostly compared to the AISI L6 that’s in the same price range.

Both steels have high amounts of Nickel and similar properties in edge retention, hardness, wear resistance, and low corrosion resistance.


15n20 steel is good low-end steel. It can hold an edge well, sharpen with ease, resist wear, and maintain good toughness even when used for hard tasks.

The steel is easy to work with making it great for beginners in knife making. For Damascus knives, it is a popular alloy that helps give the blades those beautiful patterns.

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