I am a woodworker and I have never really done any smithing or metal work. But I just purchased some 01 precision ground steel 1/4" thick and 1.5" wide. I am interested in making several high quality wood hand plane. My question is after I from the plane iron to rough shape. Should I completely sharpen the iron before heat treating? Also what temperatures should I use and how should I go about the heat treating and tempering? I will be purchasing a small electric kiln for the heat treating process. the max temperature of the kiln is about 2300 degrees F.
Kris, 0-1 FGS (flat ground stock) can be treated, but the edge will not maintain is sharpness as long as a high carbon steel. You should be able to get a Rockwell of app 56-58, maybe 60 if you only lightly anneal it. If you really want to use 0-1, heat it until it turns a bright cherry red and then immediately quench it by submersing it in oil. You will have to check into what kind of oil, we used fish oil when I was an apprentice. When you quench it, keep moving it around in the oil and keep it submerged until it is only warm to the touch. Be prepared for the possibility of the piece to warp during heat treating. After quenching, either sandblast or sand the scale off and heat it SLOWLY to the desired color.You don't won't to reach the annealing temp too quickly, the whole idea of annealing is to SLOWLY heat and let cool to relieve the stresses introduced by the heat treating process. Light straw or tan will give you the hardest, yet most brittle results. If you continue to heat it, it will go from light to dark straw and proceed to turn blue. Dark blue should yield a Rockwell in the low to mid 50's. After annealing, let the plane cool gradually to room temperature. If it has reached the hardness needed, go ahead and sharpen it. Sharp edges are lost during hardening. Hope this helps, Mark