80CRV2 (1.2235) (AISI L2) is relatively new steel for knife makers in South Africa. However, it is popular in northern Europe (Finland) as Swedish saw steel and has seen growth in the US since 2014 thanks to efforts by Dan Winkler and more recently MS Jason Knight.
80CRV2 Chemical composition (nominal) %:
C 0.85, Mn 0.50, Cr 0.60, S 0.010, P 0.025, Si 0.35, V 0.25
80CRV2 is a low alloy tool steel for cold work. Primarily used for carbide-tipped saw bodies, circular saw blades, solid tooth saw bodies for agricultural use, pruning blades, gardening tools, friction saws, frame saws, and log saws (paper roll cutting).
It provides the essential qualities of 1080-series steel, with all the toughness perks of high chrome steel like 5160. In fact, it’s been referred to as “5160 on steroids” as it can achieve a higher hardness and therefore better edge retention. It is often used to make knives that require exceptional strength to handle tough applications like tactical knives, hunting knives, axes, and swords.
Here is a composition comparison graph of the steels that are usually compared to 80CRV2 (ie: 5160, L2, 1084, O1) (visit zKnives.com).
NB! It’s important to protect the steel from oxidation and decarburization during hardening. Cordusal, Turco, ATP-641, (anti-scale compounds), and/or stainless steel foil (during annealing) are probably the best choice unless you want to spend time removing the affected surface post-heat treat.
80CRV2 can take a decent hamon when refractory cement/clay or other high-temperature coating is applied prior to final austenitization.
Annealing / Normalization:
- An often overlooked step, but due to its susceptibility to warping during oil hardening, an annealing step or can save you countless headaches.
- 80CrV2 reportedly comes heavily spheroidized (dependant on the supplier), so in order to get good results you have to normalize and thermal cycle the steel before heat treatment. This is particularly important for stock removal makers who would normally not have to refine the grain in their steels.
- Heat the blade (690-710°C (1470-1560°F)) in the furnace and hold for 10 minutes. Allow the blade to cool slowly inside the furnace to room temp. The resultant microstructure is ferrite and fine carbide. Multiple (2-3), air-cooled, cycles can also be completed, rather than leaving in the furnace to cool slowly.
Austenitizing / Hardening
- Hardening Temp (Furnace): 840-880°C [1,545°F – 1615°F]
- Sweet spot: 1050°C
- Soak time: 5min (2.5mm) to 10min (5mm)
- Fast-speed oil is recommended until the part is black.
- Some sources recommend water (I assume heated brine) for thicker cross-sections – use lower temp (danger of cracking)
- Aluminum plates can be used afterward to minimize any warping.
- Tempering Temp:
- 65HRC: 150°C (300°F)
- 62HRC: 180°C (350°F)
- 60 HRC: 200°C (400°F)
- 57HRC: 230°C (450°F)
- Times: 2 times
- Duration: 2 hours each time
Recommended Hardness: 58 – 60 (after tempering) depending on the intended use.
Please note that there are various manufacturers of 80CRV2 whose tolerances differ quite a bit, making exact heat-treatment specifications difficult to pinpoint for everyone. As such it’s best to do your own testing. All info above is from my readings of research papers, forum posts, and discussions with people. I am not a metallurgist and the above is presented here for the benefit of all knifemakers. You do not have to follow them and I’ll not be held responsible for any loss or damage you may experience.
Please comment below if you have to add anything to the above.