What is VG1 steel?

VG1 steel knives

What is VG1 steel?

VG1 steel is high carbon stainless steel manufactured by Takefu Special Steel Co.Ltd under the “V Gold” series that includes VG10. VG1 steel stands out for its fine carbide structure and offers high toughness, excellent corrosion resistance, and good edge retention. 

Because of its properties, VG1 is popularly used in making kitchen knives and other cutlery. The steel remains a favorite of many knife makers because it is easy to forge and allows them to make different knife designs.

VG1 Steel Composition

  • Carbon C 1.00%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
  • Chromium Cr 15.00%: Chromium Increases hardness, tensile strength and toughness of the blade by forming chromium carbide. The higher than 13% Cr is what makes V1 steel “stainless”
  • Molybdenum Mo 0.40%: It improves machinability and hardening property.
  • Nickel Ni 0.25%:  improves strength and toughness. It increases hardenability but not as much as some of the other alloying elements in steel. It can enhance corrosion resistance in significant amounts

Properties of VG1 steel

VG1 has a hardness of 58-61 HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale. The exact hardness depends on the heat treatment used by the manufacturer. This is a high level of hardness, and high carbon elements in its composition contribute to it. 

With this hardness level, VG1 offers admirable wear resistance and edge retention levels. It is also easy to heat treat and may take different levels of hardness depending on the techniques used.

VG1 Steel Edge Retention

Edge retention measures the ability of a knife blade to hold a sharp edge for a long time, and it is a major factor of consideration for many knife users. VG1 stainless steel offers excellent edge retention, which is attributed to a fine blend of Carbon, Chromium, and Molybdenum in its composition.

With VG1 knives, you will no longer be bothered with regular sharpening or stopping in the middle of cutting to sharpen. Its edge retention is in the range of other Japanese steels like AUS 8 stainless steel

VG1 Steel Wear resistance

The wear resistance of steel is the measure of its ability to withstand wear and abrasion and is directly related to its hardness. VG1 steel offers good wear resistance because of the hard carbides formed by the combination of Molybdenum and Chromium in its composition.

The blades of VG1 stainless steel are durable. Its wear resistance is the least in the V line series of steel with other V series steels like VG10, V-Toku2 steel, and VG Max Steel containing harder carbides excellent for wear resistance.

VG1 Steel Toughness

VG1 steel offers more than average toughness, with good heat treatment it offers toughness slightly higher than the premium VG10 steel and is in the range of CPM 154 steel. VG1 steel knives can withstand tough applications without chipping and cracking, its toughness is however not the best and is slightly lower than Japanese AUS 8 Steel and Chinese 8Cr13MoV stainless steel

VG1 Steel Corrosion resistance

VG1 steel contains enough Chromium in its composition to make it stainless steel. This means that you can use VG1 knives in the kitchen and other highly corrosive environments without the worry of rusting. 

However, just because steel is rust-resistant does not make it rust-proof. This means that, if left unattended, even steel with very high rust resistance abilities can rust. Therefore, regular care and maintenance are a must if you want to protect your stainless steel blades from rusting.

Regular care of steel involves washing and drying the knives after use. A light coat of oil on the blade increases rust resistance.

Ease of sharpening VG1 Steel

VG1 stainless steel is very easy to sharpen because of its balanced chemical composition. As VG1 stainless steel holds a sharp edge for a relatively long time, you will enjoy that you do not have to sharpen it after every use, and when you have to, it is easy.

VG1 Steel Comparison

VG1 steel vs VG10 steel

Both VG1 and VG10 are Japanese premium steel by Takefu Special Steel Company, but they are not similar or a replacement for each other. VG10 is more premium than VG1 and therefore offers better properties.

One of the notable differences is that VG10 offers increased edge retention over VG10 and also offers better wear resistance due to the presence of a large number of carbides like vanadium carbides and chromium carbides in its composition.

VG1 steel however offers better toughness than VG10 steel due to the lower Rockwell hardness. It will also be much easier to sharpen a VG1 steel knife compared to sharpening a VG10 steel knife.

VG1 Steel vs AUS 8

The main difference between VG1 steel and AUS8 steel is that VG1 offers better edge retention and wear resistance than AUS 8 steel. The increased performance in edge retention is attributed to the relatively high carbon content in VG1 knife steel.

VG1 stainless steel slightly outshines AUS 8 stainless steel on corrosion resistance, the increased performance can be attributed to the increased chromium, molybdenum and addition of Nickel in VG1 steel alloy composition.

Aichi AUS 8 Stainless Steel, however, offers higher toughness than VG1 stainless steel. This can be attributed to lower chromium carbides which despite being hard are extremely brittle.

Is VG1 good knife steel?

VG1 steel exhibits all the properties of good knife steel. It offers high hardness, toughness, edge retention, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. In addition, the prices of VG1 knives are affordable in relation to their quality.

Most Japanese Knifemakers love working with VG1 knife steel because it is easy to forge and they can come up with unique or custom blade designs at an affordable price compared to the premium VG10 steel knives.

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