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High Carbon Steel Properties & Uses

Updated March 23, 2017

Steel is one of the most important construction metals in the world. While this is common knowledge, many people do not understand the difference between high carbon steel and other types of steel. Like any other specific type of steel, the high carbon version of this medal not only has specific properties unique to itself, but also boasts both unique advantages and disadvantages when compared to other types of steel.

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Common Properites

High carbon steel will be any type of steel that contains over 0.8% carbon but less than 2.11% carbon in its composition. The average level of carbon found in this metal usually falls right around the 1.5% mark. High carbon steel has a reputation for being especially hard, but the extra carbon also makes it more brittle than other types of steel. This type of steel is the most likely to fracture when misused.


Depending on the specific needs of the person using it, high carbon steel can have many advantages over other options. This type of steel is excellent for making cutting tools or masonry nails. The hardness levels and metal wear resistance of high carbon steel is also rated very highly. High carbon steel is also preferred by many manufacturers who create metal cutting tools or press machinery that must bend and form metal.


Many disadvantages also come with the use of high carbon steel. This type of steel is not recommended for any type of welding or welding work. Out of the commonly used types of steel, this one is the most likely to fracture or break because of extra brittleness. This style of steel doesn't necessarily hold up to wear as well as other types of speciality steel.

Common Uses

High carbon steel remains popular for a wide variety of uses. This type of steel is preferred in the manufacturing of many tools such as drill bits, knives, masonry nails, saws, metal cutting tools, and woodcutting tools.

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About the Author

Monty Dayton is a professional freelance writer who has worked for the ACLU, Touchstone Publishing LLC, the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and many other employers. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska and loves writing about travel, the outdoors and health topics.

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