This is getting frustrating...

Hello all,
I've been looking around for metal that is suitable for chisel and
knifemaking- doesn't seem like it would be such a tall order, but it
would seem that either I have a lack of education on the subject (and
that's probably it in a nutshell) or no one makes anything useful
(unlikely, of course.)
Basically, I just want something that will take a keen edge, can be
heat treated and tempered in a gas forge without special equipment,
and is relatively easy for a newbie to work.
I tried finding 1095, but it seems the stuff is all but unheard of in
anything thicker than 1/16"- and it comes in sheets rather than bar
So obviously, I need to be looking for something different. From what
I've heard, I'm not that interested in trying to forge stainless 440,
and heat treating tool steel is probably beyond me at this point. So,
are there any good suggestions here?
I can order through work at cost, and without a shipping charge-but
the material will tend to come in 12' minimum bar lengths, so I'd like
to make sure I'm not buying a whole lot of something I'm personally
unable to do much with. A place like McMaster Carr might be okay,
with shorter lengths availible, but at a glance, it seems quite a bit
more costly.
EMJ is probably the most likely supplier, as I know we have an account
with them. Here are a few that seem to me like they may be decent
materials to try out- if anyone can give a yea or nay to these, that'd
be greatly appreciated. I am not that concerned about making edged
tools that would make an average samuri sword maker jealous- just
working tools that I can make myself and that will hold a keen edge
for a reasonable amount of time. Basic high-carbon steel is a
reasonable touchstone for me- I have several carbon steel chisels that
I'm very happy with, and if I can make things with that level of
performance or better, that's good enough.
So here's the list of what I know I can get, in sizes that sound about
right to me:
1144 (stressproof- any problem forging this with the added sulfur?)
Any of the assorted tool steels, but I'd like to practice with some
easier metals first.
And yes, of course I can keep practicing with A36- but I'd like to
make some functional tools as well as learning the more decorative
aspects of blacksmithing.
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5160 - common every day spring steel.
It's relatively cheap, will make a dandy knife and a dandy chisel (maybe even a knife on the end of a chisel... but that's plain silly) and above all it's p*ss easy to use.
As to the steel with the high sulphur content steer clear, sulphur stops forge welding happening (unless you burn it off and burn the steel in the process)
Regards Charles
Prometheus wrote:
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Sounds good to me- thanks Charles! I'll put in the order for a bar of that and give it a go.
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Second the 5160. Forge at medium orange (2200 F), reheat at cherry red (1600 F), quench in oil from 1600, draw at 350 to 400 for two hours. Final Rockwell in the mid 50s, C scale. Will take a mirror polish and hold a razor edge. At the mid 50s, the shear yeild is in the 35 to 40 tons per square inch range (cross section), so it's damn near unbreakable by muscle power alone.
Reply to
Charly the Bastard
Cost .vs. convenience. MSC & McMaster have drill rod and ground bar stock available. Known material, 3 foot or 18 inch length, comes in a fully-spherodized, decarb-free condition. For various skews and scrapers, no forging needed, just grind to shape and heat treat. O1 is probably the best general purpose alloy. W1 is very similar to 1095. Not so pricey if you consider what it is, but if you are going to turn around and forge it, probably a waste of material processing to get the ground surface, etc material.
At the other end of the price realm, the junk yard has old car parts - there are a variety of references about what sort of steel various parts of cars either are, or are near enough to. But you may harvest some old stress cracks (for instance, in old leaf springs) which may make the material cost look less than delightful. Thus, some folks prefer to buy new spring stock (5160, typically). Since that's on your list, go for it. There are car parts (driveshafts, etc) which are less subject to having problems, but other than a bit of coil spring work, I'd be passing it on second or third hand, and someone else may provide you with more first-hand advice there.
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Check your local hobby store - they normally carry "Piano Wire" (1095 carbon steel) in 1 and 3 ft lengths; I've seen it up to 1/4 inch diameter. (the model airplane guys use it for landing gear.)
Prometheus wrote:
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John O. Kopf
I have a great source for exactly the sizes of 1095 you want for 50 cents a pound, and its real close to you. They have had it around for a long time and it is very dirty and greasy, so bring an old tarp to wrap it in. They have it in rounds from about 5/16" to about 7/8" and flats from about 3/8 X 3/4 to, maybe 5/8 X 7/8. If you need to know closer than that before going there, call them or call me and get some exact measurements.
When it's gone, it's gone forever.
Steeletown in Colfax, Wi, 715-879-5559 They are located about 4 miles North of the I94/ hwy 29 junction on hwy 40.
Pete Stanaitis
Prometheus wrote:
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Good on ya' Pete, wish we had someone like you in Oz :-) Charles
spaco wrote:
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You're right- that *is* a great source. I almost felt like I was stealing the stuff at that price! You had told me about them before, and I wrote it down then promptly forgot about it. I checked with him on prices of some other stuff, and I know where I'm going for angle iron and tube in the future- his prices are great, and for $1 a saw cut or free plasma cuts, I'm not going to argue! (EMJ wants $25 a cut, IIRC)
I ended up with a 1/2"x1" bar 7.5' long. Might have bought more, but I want to make sure I like working with it before I snap up what's left on that rack out from under somebody else who might be needing some- doesn't look like there's too much left. Cost $6, and was a fairly pleasant drive on the back roads, too- I'm about 20 miles north, and hwy 40 passes within a block of my house. Let me know if you need anything from there before I return that manual to you, and I'd be happy to save you a trip on my way out.
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Ayup. Dat's de trut'.
Might try a piece or two of 9260 too. Instead of chrome-vanadium, it's chrome-silicon. A friend has made some beautiful knives of it. Comes as round or trapezoidal stock. Forges easily and is almost as forgiving as 5160 in heat treatment.
He gets that and 5160 from a spring shop in Akron, OH area, but any automotive spring shop should have a lot of drops, cutoffs, etc.
Reply to
John Husvar
Check this out! Look at pages 11 and 12:
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P = Pressing, not plastic :) The steel catagory is used for "coining" and could be used for plastic molds too I guess.
I wonder if Onieda uses P tool-steels anymore?
F = Finishing "for finishing cuts" but also for wire drawing.
O1 will at least equal A2 -if- you are going to "blacksmith heat treat it". A2 needs to be held inside a specific temperature range (~1750F) for a half hour to get what it's got to offer over O1.
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I don't really like O1 either. :/ I can only get it 63.5hrc (tested!) with a cold treatment. Which is all it's got to offer.
But I-am-getting all its got to offer by getting it red;)hot and quenching it in oil and cooling it to -5F and tempering at 350F for an hour.
A2 S1 S5 S7 H11 H13 all need time at temperature (~1/2hr) in a specific range to really get what they've got to offer you. If you find that in certain situations, "blacksmith heat treating" (like I do) gets you more than you get with O1, then that show s you, just how much better those steels could-be if heat treated to their maximum! :)
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For strength at extra high hardness, L6 (like 4370) or 8670-M are the ones to beat.
Don't know nuthin about forgin the stuff tho. ;)
Alvin in AZ
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Thanks for the link!
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Ooops forgot... T stands for tungsten.
Those are tungsten based high speed tool steels and didn't think to start lettering them until after the moly+tungsten and moly types were discovered. :)
To spark test between the two is one of the easiest out there. :)
M4x (like M42 used in "cobalt" drill bits) means Mo+W+Co types.
I haven't figured out a way to tell Co enhanced HSS from the Mo+W and Mo types, because the Mo just plain ol' takes over the spark stream, as fas as I know right now. :/
Got a kick out of "sawing the railroad rail upside down" part. :)
That's a dangged good idea... we never-ever did that even once... just goes to show you how dumb railroaders are huh? :)
Sometimes the brand new saw blade would be half ruined by the time it got through that thin top work hardened layer. A file or hand hacksaw blade will skate right over that surface. Try it.
BT,Tried,T. :)
At a few insulated joints where the metal had flowed enough to bridge the insulated joint's end-post. Ended up having to brake that part off and it wasn't easy or pretty. ;)
Now the signal maintainers have a gas powered hand grinder.
Alvin in AZ (retired signalape)
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I don't know quite what to make of O-1. I made a blade out of some recently, and after I normalized and air-cooled it, it was hard enough to take the teeth off my file. I heated it to just-barely-glowing in an effort to soften it, and it's better now. I haven't finished final shaping, so I don't know what'll happen next.
- ken
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Ken Rose
If you are going do any kind of heat treatment before you finish the file work, you need to anneal it as best you can. I strongly recommend heating to 1400F or so and putting it in a bucket of vermiculite or ash or you can wrap it in Kaowool/inswool/whatever. You REALLY want to slow cool this stuff. Personally I love O1 as a knife steel but for stock removal mostly on smaller knives.
Reply to
Kyle J.
LOL :)
Yeah it can sure enough harden up and not need to be cooled all that fast. :)
Lots of Mn and a little bit of Cr too. :)
Kyle J. wrote:
I shouldn't be bad-mouthing it all the time. :/
My cowboy buddies love it for the "sharp blade" in their pocket knives! :)
All the way hard O1 sure enough sharpens up nice and the edge can be made very acute.
Alvin in AZ
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