What is T10 Steel?

T10 steel is high-speed tool steel made of carbon and Tungsten. The T in its name stands for Tungsten, while the 10 stands for carbon content, which is 1.0%. T10 Carbon steel is Tungsten-based, and this is why it is categorized as high-speed steel.

High-speed steels are very effective in making cutting tools because they exhibit excellent strength, heat resistance, and durability. 

Because of its tool steel properties, T10 steel is used to make swords, Katanas, drill bits, and power saws, among others. And with that, let us look into the properties of T10 steel in detail.

T10 Steel Composition

  • Carbon C 1.10%: Increases edge retention, hardness, and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion, and corrosion.
  • Tungsten W 0.15%: used as an alloying ingredient due to its high melting point, hence improving perfomance of steel in high heat.
  • Chromium Cr 0.15%: Formation of Chromium carbides. Increases the blade’s hardness, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance.
  • Vanadium V 0.10%: inhibits grain growth during elevated temperature processing and heat treatment, which enhances the strength and toughness of steel. It also forms carbides that increase wear resistance.
  • Molybdenum Mo 0.10%: increases toughness and hot hardness. It also improves hardenability and forms carbides for wear resistance.
  • Phosphorous P 0.02%: Considered an impurity but may Increases the strength and improves machinability of steel
  • Manganese Mn 0.40%: improves the strength and hardness of steel. When the steel is heat-treated, hardenability is improved with increased manganese.
  • Silicon Si 0.10%: Increases strength and heat resistance.
  • Sulfur S 0.02%: Improves machinability but is regarded as an impurity in high quantities.

Properties of T10 steel

T10 Steel Hardness

T10 Carbon steel can achieve a hardness of up to 67HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale. The hardness level differs from the heat treatment used by the manufacturer. 64-67HRC is good hardness, and it gives the steel high abrasion resistance and edge retention properties. 

The tempering technique will also greatly improve T10 tool steel performance. Japanese clay tempered T10 steel blade will achieve a great balance between edge retention and toughness.

T10 Steel Corrosion resistance

T10 steel is not stainless steel, and therefore, blades made from it are highly susceptible to rusting and corrosion. However, this can be controlled through proper care. Make sure to clean and dry T10 blades immediately after use. 

If you will keep it in storage for long, apply a coat of oil on the blade. The oil acts as a lubricant which prevents surface oxidation and therefore prevents the blade from rusting.

T10 Steel Edge retention

With the high carbon content in its composition, T10 steel is very sharp and keeps a sharp edge for a long time. The mixture of carbon and manganese contributes to the excellent edge retention properties.

For sword makers, the secret to attaining excellent edge retention lies in proper heat treatment, and the good news is T10 steel can withstand extreme temperatures, so you can go as high as you can.

T10 Steel Wear resistance

Another excellent property of T10 steel is wear and abrasion resistance, thanks to the Tungsten in its composition. T10 blades are resistant to scratches, and they last across generations. Moreover, T10 sword blades are good enough to withstand challenging outdoor use.

T10 steel Toughness

It is a rule of thumb that hard steel offers poor toughness, thanks to the tungsten in its alloy, Katanas that feature T10 carbon steel hold up well to challenging tasks without chipping or breaking.

This kind of toughness and strength is necessary for Katanas because if they were to be used on the battlefield, it would mean crashing through bones and armor. Katanas made with weak steel will break within the first attempt.

Ease of sharpening T10 steel

T10 steel is hard steel with extreme wear resistance, making it hard to sharpen. However, this is not to say that you cannot get a sharp edge again, but it will take you a lot more time and energy. You will eventually get a sharp edge with the right sharpening tools and skills.

Also, sharpening a katana is a skill and an art, and you should not try it unless you are experienced to avoid cutting yourself.

A T10 Blade Steel Katana Performance

T10 steel comparison

T10 steel vs 1095 steel

The composition of T10 steel is almost similar to that of 1095 steel in terms of carbon content, T10 has 1.0%, while 1095 has 0.95%. The slightly higher amount of carbon in T10 steel allows it to be hardened more than 1095 steel. 

Typically 1095 carbon steel will get to about 64 HRC on the high end, while T10 tool steel on the other hand will get to about 67 HRC on the high end.  T10 steel’s higher hardness enables it to offer better edge retention, and wear resistance than 1095 steel. 

1095 carbon steel will offer better toughness than T10 steel and be more forgiving in impact and stress-related performance. A 1095 blade will be less likely to break or chip under tough application compared to a T10 tool steel blade.

A 1095 carbon steel blade will also be much easier to sharpen as it contains less wear resistance carbides in its alloy composition. T10 steel contains hard carbides of chromium and other elements which can be a pain to sharpen due to their incredible wear resistance.

T10 Steel vs 1060 steel

1060 steel is a low alloy steel containing about 0.6% carbon content, while T10 steel is a water hardening steel with about 1.1% carbon content in its alloy composition. T10 steel is also enriched with Tungsten and vanadium enabling the formation of hard wear-resistant carbides.

These chemical elements allow T10 steel to achieve higher Rockwell hardness over 1060 carbon steel. The higher Rockwell hardness allows T10 tool steel to attain better edge retention than 1060 carbon steel. 

What 1060 steel will offer you on the other hand is better toughness than T10 carbon steel due to the reduced hardness. A 1060 steel blade will be much more tolerant to impact and resist chipping and cracking better than a T10 carbon steel blade. You can get added toughness with 9260 spring steel, a close variant to 1060 with added silicon.

A 1060 carbon steel blade will also be much easier to sharpen than a T10 tool steel blade. This is because T10 steel alloy composition contains hard wear resistance carbides which can be a pain to sharpen but will hold an edge for long.

T10 tool steel will also offer slightly better corrosion resistance than 1060 steel due to the presence of minimal chromium, nickel, and Vanadium. A T10 steel blade will resist rusting better than a 1060 steel.

T10 steel vs Damascus steel

The original wootz steel Damascus is no longer available and the most common Damascus steel nowadays is the patterned Damascus. Patterned Damascus steel performance heavily relies on the selection of the steel that goes into forging it.    

A Damascus steel blade does not necessarily mean it will make a good blade compared to T10 steel. A case scenario is a Patterned Damascus 1060 plus 1045  carbon. Yes, this Damascus will offer better toughness due to low hardness but it does not necessarily outperform T10 tool steel in edge retention and corrosion resistance. 

Is T10 good steel for Katanas?

The properties of T10 tool steel make it one of the best steels for making Katanas. The high carbon content makes it very sharp, and the tungsten elements in its alloy give it excellent wear resistance, durability, and strength. T10 tools steel is however not stainless and will require care and attention to keep rust at bay.

Is T10 carbon steel good for swords?

T10 tool steel is a good steel for swords, it can achieve higher Rockwell hardness of up to 67 HRC while still maintaining a good balance of toughness due to the tungsten in its alloy composition. The incredibly high Rockwell hardness enables T10 sword blades to maintain excellent edge retention and wear resistance. 

T10 carbon steel is however not stainless steel and the T10 sword blade will be prone to corrosion and rusting when left in a humid environment or when not cleaned properly after use. 


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