Heat Treating 1095 Steel: Recipe and Tips

Heat Treating 1095 Steel: Recipe and Tips

Hot Shot Oven & Kiln

A simple carbon steel alloy, 1095 steel is known for its hardness, toughness, and edge retention. That makes it a popular material for knives and other blades—plus springs, fasteners, and other applications.

To optimize that sought-after hardness, 1095 needs proper heat treating. It’s relatively straightforward, but there’s still plenty to keep in mind. So read on for our 1095 steel heat treating steel recipes and tips.

What You’ll Need to Heat Treat 1095 Steel

Assuming you’re trying to heat treat at home (instead of sending out), you need ample workspace with a few key tools and materials.

1. Heat Treating Oven

A dedicated heat treating oven that reaches up to 1,600+ °F is ideal. Even better: one with good temperature control and safety features.

For example, consider a Hot Shot heat treat oven. Our units offer high-temperature precision, easy-to-use controls. They also come with Cool-Touch technology to protect you and your workshop. Plus, multiple sizes are in stock and ready to ship—so you can be heat treating in no time.

2. Safety Gear

Use insulated gloves and safety glasses when handling hot metal and high-temperature oven. Get a good pair of metalworking tongs for carrying.

Good ventilation in your shop is also key.

3. Quenching Oil & Vessel

After hardening 1095 steel, you need to cool it steadily. Consider a fast quench oil such as Parks 50 or Brownells Tough-Quench.

You also need a sturdy, stable steel container for your quench oil.

4. Hardness Tester

Use a Rockwell hardness tester to make sure you end up with the properties you want.

How to Heat Treat 1095 Steel

Now that you have your materials ready, let’s get into the recipes. 

Note that the following are just guidelines. Your optimal temperatures and soak times may vary based on the source of your 1095 steel, thickness of your workpiece, and other factors. Consult with a metals expert to determine your best parameters.


Forging or shaping steel wreaks havoc on the internal structure of the material. Carbides are gathered in corners. Grain sizes become uneven.

Normalizing brings things back into balance for a stronger end product. 

In this process, you heat the steel in your oven to a point above its critical temperature, then allow it to cool in ambient air (no quench). 

Before normalizing, it’s a good idea to coat the steel in foil or a pretreating compound like Turco or ATP-641. This step helps prevent surface scaling during normalization.

Cycling Specifics

For best results, normalize several cycles of descending max temperature.

Soak at each temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Then allow it to cool until it’s black and magnetic before moving to the next cycle:

  1. 1,650 °F 
  2. 1,500 °F 
  3. 1,350 °F


It’s time to get the hardness you want for your project. 

Again, we suggest coating the steel in foil or a pretreating compound like Turco or ATP-641.

Then proceed to the heat and soak. The lower end of the temperature range and soak time will give you Rockwell C 64. The higher end will yield Rockwell C 66.

  1. Preheat the oven to just below the target temperature: 1,450 to 1,525 °F.
  2. Preheat your quench oil to ~120 °F. Use an electric burner. Or stir the oil gently with a piece of heated steel.
  3. Insert your workpiece into the oven.
  4. Soak for up to 5 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the workpiece immediately—but carefully—with tongs.
  6. Plunge straight down—steadily but not abruptly—into your quench oil.
  7. Hold for several seconds until the color goes out of the spine (temp dropped below 250°F).
  8. Remove from the oil and allow the workpiece to cool to room temperature in ambient air.


After hardening, your 1095 steel will be quite fragile. The tempering process helps reduce this brittleness. And you’ll want to do it right away.

The process involves heating your workpiece back up, but to a much lower temperature this time. For your best results, always complete the tempering process twice.

Choosing Your Temperature

Optimal tempering parameters depend on whether you’re looking for max hardness or max toughness. 

The lower temps below will give you higher hardness but less toughness. The higher end will yield lower hardness but higher toughness. Check your final stats with your hardness tester.

Final harness estimates based on tempering temperature:

  • 300 °F – Rockwell C 65
  • 350 °F – Rockwell C 63
  • 400 °F – Rockwell C 61
  • 450 °F – Rockwell C 57
  • 500 °F – Rockwell C 55
  • 550 °F – Rockwell C 53
  • 600 °F – Rockwell C 52

Tips for Heat Treating 1095 Steel

Smooth moves. Yes, you need to quench immediately after hardening. But don’t rush! Knocking over your oil or dropping your hot steel is a great way to start a fire or get injured. Be ready for a possible flare up.

Don’t stir. When quenching, just plunge the steel vertically into your oil. If you need to rotate slightly to ensure even cooling, that’s OK. But any other movement can cause warping.

Don’t forget the anti-scaling treatments. Start with clean steel for all treatments and use your protective coatings for the high-temperature processes of normalizing and hardening.

Ensure austenitizing temperature. One way to check to make sure your steel has reached optimal hardening temperature is with a magnet. Once the steel has lost its magnetism, you’re just about there.

The 411 on 1095

Now that you have the recipes and info, you should be ready for 1095 steel heat treating success. 

Keep in mind, however, that one thing all these recipes hinge on is having a precisely calibrated, high-quality heat treating oven. Results may vary dramatically if you’re improvising a DIY heat treat oven. 

That’s why USA-made Hot Shot ovens are a smart choice. And we’re here to support you on your heat treating mission. Contact us anytime for help!