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Adding carbon to steel

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#1 Philderbeast

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 04:42 AM

I have been paying around with my new forge recently with some mild steal I picked up from the local bunnings, and I noticed today after forging a piece in to something that resembled a knife that I was getting the carbon sparklers in the sparks when I cut it with the angle grinder that I wasn't getting before.

Now I presume this if from some carbon migration from the charcoal I am using in my forge, so my question is, is this the correct assumption? and if so how much carbon can I expect to be getting added to the steel roughly? my first thoughts is that it will only be in the outer layer of the steel that I'm forging so may not be to useful but I would love to get any info I can on this before I start to but some Carbon steels so I don't ruin it through incorrect treatment of it.

#2 Alan Longmire

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 10:35 AM

You can pick up a little carbon from the carbon monoxide in the reducing zone of the fire, but it's not going to be much at all in an open fire. At best you hope not to lose any, in fact.

Did you clean off the charcoal dust before you hit it with the grinder? ;)

To add carbon properly you generally have to do it in a sealed container. Look at the threads on "shear steel" for more information on how it's done.

#3 Todd Gdula

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 10:53 AM

And it's also possible that the mild steel could have had some carbon to start with. I've never had any tested, but I've heard A36, for example, can sometimes have enough carbon to be hardenable.


"Geometry says how sharp, steel says how long." - Roman Landes, Ashokan 2009

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#4 Karl B. Andersen

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 11:56 AM

And it's also possible that the mild steel could have had some carbon to start with.

Of course it did. That's what steel is - Iron + Carbon = steel.
If it didn't spark, it probably would not have been steel. It just didn't have enough to do anything with.
After forging, the C. may also have sort of "rearranged" itself a little so as to make more recognizable sparks.
Or it might have been darker out! :D

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