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Gareth Barry

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  1. Thanks Alan I'll have a look at Sandvik in terms of local availability. Which of the Sandvik steels would you recommend for getting an active hamon, ie shallow hardening / water quench steels+
  2. Another question - I have noticed that a successful quench always gives a very characteristic grey colour- has anyone else noticed this? Finally, does anyone know which of the bohler tool steels are shallow hardening? Steels like 1060, 1095 aren't available in South Africa. The nearest thing I have been able to find is en9 (basically 1055). The goal is to create a hamon. Perhaps I should just persist with en45..The only thing I don't personally like about it is the very high austenisation temperature. Maybe it is possible to get an active hamon with this steel?
  3. Hmm.. Interesting... Well what I can say is that this steel does NOT heat treat and behave like 5160. The final performance I think might be similar. When I was even more of a newbie, I noticed that 5160 would slightly air harden with overly aggressive grinding. En45 doesn't seem to have this problem. This as well as the fact that it seems to survive a water quench without too much hassle, as well as that some are able to get a (fairly dull) hamon with en45, leads me to think it is much more shallow hardening than for eg 5160.
  4. Just to add, I also quenched a scrap blade from the same steel in water, and snapped it before tempering to see what I got- it was through hardened and brittle as glass.
  5. So i failed in my quest to differentially harden my en45 katana, although I did gain the right amount of sori I was hoping for. To cut a long story short, I finally ended up through hardening the blade with a water quench. I spoke to a local knife maker who told me that I wouldn't get full hardness with this steel in a water quench - if anything, due to the significantly faster quench, I was expecting perhaps slightly higher hardness with an increased risk of cracking? I guess I could get the blade hardness tested once life returns to normal, but in general, when quenching a steel in water, does this reduce the as quenched hardness? Thanks.
  6. Thanks for the replies. Just to clarify, I am talking about the color of the steel almost immediately after the quench, around a second or so from lifting out the water and a couple of more seconds after lifting it from oil, taking on a very whitish gray color. This is before any sanding, grinding and cleanup. I did use my oven to temper, I wasn't really too concerned by the color. I have read that en45 requries a higher than normal austinising temp, so I tried to heat it as hot as my charcoal forge with a hair dryer can, perhaps its still not hot enough? However, why would the test pieces have cracked/snapped so easily? My basic knowledge tells me that means it did harden in water. The only purpose of that test was for me to detemine if I was reaching austinising temp, as I was aware of the difficulties with en45. I guess en45 really isnt great for using with an open charcoal forge, although I see smiths like James raw uses it? hmmmm....
  7. Hello all. I am trying to come grips with heat treating en45 spring steel. I previously heated and quenched a piece in water, which snapped easily with some pressure, telling me it hardened. I then quench a piece in brine, which cracked in numerous places, also hardened. Both test pieces showed very fine grain at the breaking point. My main point, In both cases, the steel took a sort of dull gray color, almost white, a very visible color change. Is this martensite? Now my actual knife, which I making as a gift for a friend, I quenched in warm canola oil. The steel took on exactly the same dull gray color, but took longer to form, which makes sense due to the slow quench. However, the steel doesn't seem as hard asi was expecting. I tempered for 90 minutes at 200 celcius, got a nice straw color. At this stage I am thinking it is a surface decarb issue, as there was a lot of scaling of the steel. Anyway my main question was about being able to actually "see" steel harden from a color change. Thanks and sorry for the long post.
  8. Well, today the sword went to its new owner, which gave me mixed feelings of elation to see how ecstatic the new owner was, but on the other hand sadness to see it go! Anyway, I'm the end I really did reach the limit of my endurance with sanding, I guess if it were for myself k would've gone further than 400 grit. There are many things that I will do a whole bunch better the next time around, particularly, -flatter more even bevels -a more consistent shape to the saya -proper menuki -a better job with the Ito wrap. I used Buffalo horn for the kurikata, and African blackwood (dalbergia melanoxylon) for the koiguchi and kojiri, which seemed to work well, at least it smells better than Buffalo horn when cutting it!! Well, here are the pictures. Once again, thank you so much to all for the kind words as well as wealth of information passed on.
  9. Guys once again, thank you so much! Grant, you have confirmed what I was thinking regarding saya dimensions. This means that I definitely will have to redo the habaki, otherwise the saya will have to be overly large and won't look right. Although it doesn't look like it in the pictures, this "habaki looking thing" on my sword does actually hold everything together incredibly tightly, hence my initial reluctance to abandon it. However, it simply won't work because of the issues when making a saya. Thanks for pointing out the habaki as a problem guys, I am looking forward to trying to do a better job on that. Zeb, thanks for your comment, and you are 100% right; one of my self critiques is that the bevels are too soft. I will take your advice re hard sanding blocks, hopefully that will help make sharper lines. And you are also spot on the money regarding not rushing the final steps, that is a big problem of mine, especially when excitement kicks in to see the finished product. Having a weekend away from home and looking at the pictures has certainly helped to calm me down, so I will take my time and get it as right as I can when I get back. Another question, do you guys wet sand to make it go faster? I started by wet sanding, but got a fright when I saw just how quickly this steel corrodes. I know it probably really isn't a big deal, but having come this far i was loathe to make any fatal errors.
  10. Thanks Alan, I have learnt so much from reading your posts, I am so grateful for your encouragement! You are right about the habaki, upon looking at the pictures (I am away from home at the moment) I can see that it really is letting down the whole package. I guess that's why it's so useful to get honest feedback from experienced others. My other concern is that if I leave the habaki as wide as it is, the saya will have to be overly wide at the throat. I see from looking at pictures (I have never handled a proper katana, this is all going off research) that the edges of the habaki seem to be pretty much flush with the blade. So I guess I am going to have to learn to solder! The way I look at it, every skill learned on this sword for my friend will be useful for when I make one for myself one day. Now I have a question which I hope you guys can answer, what are the typical cross sectional dimensions of a saya? From what I see on pictures, it doesn't seem to be much wider than the tsuka in profile( if that makes sense?) Also, what thickness should I plane the planks to before joining them? Is there any standard on this or is just eyeballed? In other words, do the outer dimensions of the saya match the dimemsions of the fuchi, more or less? Thanks again Gareth from South Africa
  11. I like your idea of staining the wood black; I think that would satisfy the recipient as well as me the builder! Would still show the grain and look good, I see why you suggest alder as opposed to basswood, has nicer grain. Thanks for the suggestion
  12. Alder and basswood are my first choices, I know them well from guitars, tight grain, easy to work. Unfortunately, they are quite expensive here (South Africa). The flip side is that other "exotic" timbers such as African blackwood, afromosia and tamboti are relatively easy to get hold of. I actually considered substituting Buffalo horn with African blackwood. In the end, my step dad runs a game hunting lodge, so Buffalo horn was also fairly easy to get.
  13. I think laquer, as I would guess that a black laquered saya would be what the recipient of this would imagine to be correct. One of my other hobbies is guitar building so I have a bit of experience with wood working. Personally, I absolutely hate painting over nice looking wood, but as I say, I think the recipient would prefer it that way as being more of what is common. I think I am already going a bit away from what the "standard" by using an Ito that isn't black?
  14. Today I am going to be getting some timber, probably cypress or basswood, to begin the saya.
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