How do you get metal tested?

Hey all, I saw mention a couple of times on sombody getting some steel tested for content. How would I go about this and is it costly? I have a piece of
railroad steel that is pretty hard after I worked it. Made a knife out of one and drew out the a second piece to about 1/4 in x 12 or so inches. I have tried to anneal it once by throwing it in the forge while it cooled off after I was done working it and left it till the morning. Came out pretty hard. So I drew it out and shaped it a bit more the next night and the put it back in the forge and heated it up to about bright orange to almost white and immediately bricked it in and let it cool through the night. Today I worked it over pretty good on the grinder for quite a while and still haven't gotten all the scale off it. I can file it some edge-wise but on the flat the file won't touch it. I clamped it in the vice and pulled it with a 12 inch crescent wrench (with a lot of effort) over to about 45 or 60 degrees. It retained the bend but did not break. I pushed it back straight again and then threw it on the garage floor several times without putting a knick in it or breaking it. Then I used it like a hatched on my railroad rail piece that I have been using for an anvil, hitting it as hard as I could. I put some dents in it that are almost negligable. If it were mild steel I could rub them out with emery cloth pretty quickly. So the only thing I can think now is just to find out how long I can keep an edge on it while hacking on a two by four... I've never tried to harden this stuff. Any suggestions on other exercises I could run it through to test it's suitability for a knife?
Greyangel
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Greyangel wrote:

It sounds like it might be molybdenum steel. IIRC the stuff anneals to soft, but work hardens as soon as anything deforms it. This is considered to be cool because the center stays malleable, but the outside gets hardened exactly where it needs to be. It's used in places where it's going to get beat to hell like buldozer teeth and in railroad switches. Apparantly it can be cast and ground, but it's useless to try to machine it by normal means (with 1940's technology, it's an old book).
--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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My tests were done for free by guys on the metallurgy newsgroup. The main draw in their interest was the steel "0186" which is also called 8670-modified.
If you don't want to sponge-off their good will (like I did) call around town and check prices? :)
http;//www.panix.com/~alvinj/testsamples.htm
If you get it analyzed send me all the specs and I'll add it to my website, ok? :)

That's one alloy that can be spark tested for, it forms a pronounced arrow-head on the end of the spark stream. All you need are known samples and spark testing is easy to get "close enough". ;)
The main thing to keep in mind is how they change stuff like those clips. Besides different manufacturers also the manufacturers are all the time experimenting too. And paint color might be an indicator?
The guy I talked to about what they called them on the railroad (clips) he mentioned them having trouble with the early clips they had tried out here and had to go through and change them all out.
I still haven't found any loose clips to spark test yet. :)
Alvin in AZ (retired signal-ape)
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If I can locate sombody in this Godforsaken corner of the world who will analyze it (and for a reasonable price) I will post it. I have bent a drawn out piece to 45-50 degrees, it retains the new shape but it takes whole lot to get it there and it didn't crack even though it had an edge fracture from working it hot. I beat the hell out of the experimental piece after it was cooled off and it takes a dent but barely. I heated it to my estimate of "cherry red" and quenched it but I will swear it was softer than I have yet seen it after that so I heated it up agan and went to just short of orange and quenched it again (used ambient temperature gear oil - it was the cheapest I could buy in volume) this time I got a very satisfying hardness out of it. the file won't touch it. Not even a little bit. I burnt most of the oil off it after the quench so it should be somewhat tempered. Figure I will cook it in the oven for a while at about 450 (if I can get the gear oil stink off it so my wife doesn't kill me in my sleep). Then I am going to try bending it again and see what happens. Over all I have to say that this is great knife steel. Take a bit more to decide if it holds an edge well but I'm not worried.
Greyangel

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Greyangel wrote:

Ever consider that it might be an air hardening alloy?
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I was starting to think so but now I just think its really tough stuff when annealed. It required a hotter "critical" temperature for quenching than I expected but when I did get it hard there was no mistaking the difference. I'll keep playing with it and report what I find.
Greyangel

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Cool. :)

Don't give me that, I lived in Suckmytoe;) for a couple a years (worked in the System Signal Shop there after getting hurt) Manlove road was it? Across the Placerville branch line, I know for sure. ;) I'm back in SE AZ now, thank you very much. ;)

To get maximum hardness from my knife blades I bring them straight in and put them in the freezer for an hour or so then take them out and put them in boiling water for half an hour. At that point they are at their maximum hardness. A half hour in boiling water will bring up the hardness and increase toughness both. You don't see that written down much do ya? ;)
Anyway, the boiling water step is so I can reshock the steel by putting it back in the freezer while I get the toaster oven up to temperature and stabilized. But it also cleans off the oil for baking in my little toaster oven. I figure the extra hardness by the boiling water doesn't survive the final tempering at about 350F.
But for sure! The extra hardness of the two cold treatments does make it through and with no loss/change in the ultimate toughness. Weird sounding but true, ok? :)
Especially the toaster oven, but any oven's dial can't be trusted you gotta get a good oven-thermometer if you're going to draw the temper that way. I tested several and settled on a Glass, Taylor Brand, mercury thermometer from the hardware store... I've got it screwed down to the rack. They ain't expensive either. :)
But, to-heck-with-all-that-crap, you're a friggin blacksmith, temper your stuff "blacksmith style". :)
Alvin in AZ <--a grind away-er :/
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Are we talkin' Placerville in Ca. ? Thats in my general neiborhood. Not what some folks would call the boonies but I'm getting reeaally tired of the blank stares I get from folks around here when I start asking about blacksmith supplies. I think my problem is that folks in these parts forgot that smithing is a valid way to spend your time. No trouble locating a four port router hub though.

Definately NOT conventional ;) I can just see my wifes face when she finds a scemitar hanging in the upright.

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I guess you've learned by now not to mention "blacksmithing" just find what they sell that you can adapt to blacksmithing on your own?
I was closer to Sacramento than Rancho Cordova and drove around to the west side to get to SP's "General Shops" up a little ways on I-5. (50 to biz-80 to 5)
That was different from where I left... Bowie AZ and walked across the road to work sometimes. Had a company truck so needed to take it home for trouble calls... otherwise I'da walked everyday. :)
Several times on the way to work in Sacto (Business 800) guys would start up the freeway going the wrong way... something to do with 10th something... St? or Ave?
Get your ass awake early in the morning for sure. ;) They fixed the problem before I left in late '79.
Only place I'd ever seen that, and all of them were right there... something was screwed up. I drove down there a couple times to see what the problem was so I could call about it and know what was wrong, but never could see why it was different than other exit ramp. All I knew was different guys early in the moring would drive up it! :)

You won't want to do that with a sword or even a knife unless you want to (throw the baby out with the bath water and) go for the "edge holding throat". ;)
The way I see it, there are plenty of "tough knives" out there, so there's no need for me to make any more of -them-. :/
I want maximum edge-holding or nothing at all. :) Extra high hardness is the most important there.
Alvin in AZ
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Pretty much.

I drive south on hwy 65 headed for Roseville every weekday morning. I fantasize about being able to walk to work. Just don't want to live in the big city and can't get paid much in my town.

If you left in the late 70's then you wouldn't recognize the east end of that area. I started driving from Marysville to Roseville back about 7 years ago and it was a nice peaceful drive in the country. Now it takes at least 15 minutes longer and your running in the pack or else getting run over by them. Folks are getting downright psychotic out there on the road these days. I WANT OUT! I'm dreaming of a retirement spot in the country. Say... Montana? I hear Arizona is nice and the property is still cheap :)> I got a friend in Texas and it looks ok but too flat for a born and bred Californian. I gotta see mountains. Anyway I figure my retirement and the sale on my house will just set me up if I get the hell out of here and move somplace where there aren't so many people willing to spend a quarter million or more on a basic 3 bedroom house.

It's the lemming effect. You hit critical populationa and folks get suicidal.

Naw, I'll be working on "tough".

The only need I'm trying to fill is the one to actually make something that will last longer than the next version of Windows, the next great web tool or the next cutting edge computer system. All that stuff is fun but when the lights go out so does the data.

At least untill you hit something harder. Right tool for the job and all that. For most small knives it's the cut that counts. I have a "Rambo" knife that I started a long time ago and never finished made from a leaf spring. Biggest ugliest thing you can imagine, kind of a cross between Rambo's blade and a short sword. I use it as a "camp" knife 'cause I can chop wood with it if I need too. I used it to cut the roots of a dead mulberry tree stump out this weekend. Worked pretty good with me hitting the back end of it with my 3 pound hammer. Gave me ideas on another blacksmithing project.

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