Everyone wants an indestructible blade that never needs to be cleaned or sharpened, and never rusts. Unfortunately, no such tool exists, at least not one that us mere mortals can afford. As a rule, if you want a blade that is exceptionally tough and rugged you’re gonna have to compromise on corrosion resistance. Conversely, if you want a blade that you can use in a wet environment without having to worry about rusting, you will likely have to sacrifice edge retention and durability. So what do you have to do to get a tool that “has it all”? It all comes down to the steel selection.
The Right Balance of Carbon to Chromium
One of the primary differences between rugged-tough carbon steel and rust-resistant stainless is the amount of Carbon relative to Chromium content. In order for a metal alloy to qualify as a true carbon steel, a minimum of 2.1% of its total weight must be carbon. The importance of the carbon content can not be overstated as the carbon is directly responsible for making the steel stronger and harder. This is perfect for swords, axes, and other hard use blades. However, the carbon does little to protect the largely iron-based steel from oxidizing.
On the other hand, steels produced with a chromium content of at least 12% by mass are all technically stainless steel. Chromium is an invaluable addition to steel because, unlike iron, chromium is not susceptible to normal oxidation. The inclusion of which results in a steel with much greater resistance to rust and corrosion.
With these considerations in mind, when it came time to select a steel for manufacturing the Axxis, a clear winner quickly emerged.
Choosing the Right Steel for your Tool
D2 Steel has a carbon content of 1.4-1.6% and a chromium content of 11-13%. As you might have gathered from above, these two elements in the quantities described makes D2 something of a “high carbon stainless steel.” Often it is used to make dies for punching/cutting other metals, such as drawing dies, extrusion dies, punches, punch plates, shear and slitter blades, gauges, knurling tools, mandrels and machine parts – the applications for a tough steel like D2 Tool Steel are endless
. Using D2 for the Axxis means that it is exceptionally wear-resistant and will maintain an awesome edge even over prolonged chopping use. Furthermore, as a result of the high chromium content, when compared against other high carbon steels that are often used for axe heads (1050, 1090, 5160, etc.), the Axxis is much less likely to start rusting on you when you can least afford it.
Sure, there were other ultra high-end powdered-steels (such as M390) that we considered which would have also made excellent choices. However, these steels tend to be very cost-prohibitive, and unless you haven’t noticed, the Axxis is exceptionally thick. Sourcing specialty powder steels in the quantity and thickness that would be needed to produce an Axxis would mean we would have to charge more than double for each unit.
This was not an option. At the end of the day we figured, if the Axxis is too expensive to purchase, then it wouldn’t matter if it were made out of Vibranium or any other super-steel, nobody would buy it and anyone who did would be too afraid to use it lest they ruin their beloved Axxis. A compromise was struck, D2 was selected, and everyone’s a winner!