01 Tool Steel vs 02 Tool Steel – What’s the Difference

01 Tool Steel vs 02 Tool Steel

If you are looking for tool steel for manufacturing purposes, you must have heard about the different types of tool steel, such as 01 and 02 tool steel. With several available variants, selecting the right one can take time and effort. In this blog post, we will compare 01 tool steel versus 02 tool steel in terms of their properties, applications, and other factors to help you make an informed decision.

What is 01 Tool Steel?

01 Tool Steel is a high-carbon alloy steel designed for superior hardness and strength in tooling applications. This material has been extensively heat treated to maximize its wear resistance, flexibility, and toughness. This makes it ideal for manufacturing components in industrial equipment, machining tools, dies, punches and other cutting instruments. 01 Tool Steel is renowned for its outstanding ability to retain hardness even at elevated temperatures due to exceptionally high carbon content.

What is 02 Tool Steel?

O2 tool steel is a high carbon and chromium cold work steel. It has excellent wear resistance and toughness and can be hardened to maintain cutting edges for longer. O2 tool steel also resists rusting and can be tempered to higher hardness levels while retaining flexibility. This makes it an ideal choice for tools that require frequent sharpening or reshaping, such as metalworking tools, knives, scissors, and shears. Its ability to take a sharp edge and its strength enable it to cut through tougher materials like softwood or plastics without dulling quickly or chipping away at the material being worked on.

Difference Between 01 Tool Steel and 02 Tool Steel

01 Tool Steel and 02 Tool Steel are High Carbon tool steels for making hard-wearing industrial tools such as drill bits, shear blades, gauges, punches and dies. The difference between the two is that 01 Tool Steel contains slightly more carbon (ranging from 0.7% to 1%) than 02 Tool Steel (which typically has a range of 0.45%-0.60%). This means 01 provides better wear resistance and higher hardness when compared to 02, allowing it to better maintain its shape during use in industrial applications.


01 tool steel is a high carbon, low alloy steel that contains around 1% carbon. It has high hardness and wear resistance, which makes it suitable for manufacturing cutting tools, knives, punches, and dies. On the other hand, 02 tool steel is also a high-carbon, low-alloy steel that contains 1.4% carbon, around 0.5% vanadium, and 0.5% molybdenum. This gives it high toughness, wear resistance, and improved hardenability, making it a suitable choice for manufacturing cold and hot work tooling.

Heat Treatment

01 tool steel can be hardened in oil, air, or salt baths. However, it cannot be heat-treated to simultaneously achieve high hardness and toughness. It can be annealed at 1500°F (815°C) and then cooled slowly to room temperature to reduce stress and promote dimensional stability. On the other hand, 02 tool steel can be heat-treated to achieve high hardness and toughness simultaneously. It can be hardened in oil or water, quenched and then tempered at 200-400°F (93-204°C).


01 tool steel is applied in manufacturing knives, punches, dies, and other cutting tools. It is suitable for applications that require high hardness and wear resistance. Its excellent machinability makes it easy to shape and form. On the other hand, 02 tool steel finds its application in the manufacturing of cold and hot work tooling. It is suitable for applications that require high toughness, wear resistance, and improved hardenability. Some applications include forging dies, extrusion dies, and plastic moulding tools.


Cost is an important factor to consider when selecting tool steel. 01 tool steel is more affordable compared to 02 tool steel. This makes it a preferred choice for small and medium-sized tools where cost is a significant consideration.


In conclusion, 01 and 02 tool steel have unique properties and applications. While both are high carbon and low alloy steels, they differ in composition, heat treatment, toughness, wear resistance, and cost. Selecting the right tool steel depends on the application, budget, and requirements. Hence, consulting with a tool steel supplier is essential to guide you in selecting the right steel for your application.



Recent Posts