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New maker, here. I am working on an order that is a 52100 12 inch long, 3/16 inch thick Bowie styled blade. I do alot of my research and studying on youtube (it's just how I learn best) watching videos made by reputable knife makers (i.e. Jason Knight, Kyle Royer, Fire Creek Forge, etc.) And their processes of working with certain types of steel and so on. I saw that on one of the videos I had studied for 52100 steel, the maker heat treated, cryo treated and then tempered. My reason for posting this, is to obtain a detailed proper description on the steps taken to complete this process. I use a homemade coal forge that gets more than hot enough to attain fairly controllable heat treat temps for doing my own heat treatments (I will soon be upgrading my entire setup to an actual professional level very soon, I know that my described setup isn't really ideal). The cryogenic treatment was achieved with dry ice and ethanol and I would like to use this method to acquire a few extra points of hardness in this 52100 knife and give my customer a super strong blade. If this is the wrong place to post this, I apologize. Please let me know where to move it to or where to go to read about this specific process, if that is indeed the case. Thanks!!
Hello all, I've gotten pretty far with a my first forged knife build, and I want to say up to this point it is successful. Why do I say maybe a knife, well first off let me say yes just a few days back I read through the topic of "so you want to make a knife or . .. " This is a mystery steel knife, that I started on over a month ago between decorative projects and my 9-5. I feel pretty confident about it - I feel mostly confident about it. I'm going to just talk though my process of how I got to this point, and if anyone reads through and thinks I should have done a different step, please critique. I want to be able to stand behind my work and any constructive criticism is appreciated. Firstly, I know that mystery steel being used for a knife is pretty much a no brainier - just buy the right stuff to make good stuff. I consider my skill level to be that of an educated beginner and expect failure the first time. I take classes regularly, but haven't been able to put things into practice until I finally got my forge running this winter. That being said, I do have an idea of how to identity a high carbon steel from mild and low carbon. Ok, so as I started off this fall gathering supplies, a friend of mine who salvages cars told me he had just recently tore apart an F-350 dully and I was welcome to the axle, coil springs and leave springs. I took them all, I took a few slivers off the leave springs and began testing. I file tested a piece - just touched it with a file to estimate it's hardness to mild steel. The file bit, and cut, but did not dig like it would on mild steel. I figured there is possibly some kind of heat treat done and I would need to normalize the steel anyway. Therefore I heated the slivers up past cherry red into the brighter orange range 3 times and allowed to air cool each time. Descaled the surface, again touched it with a file and pretty much no difference. I know the best way to tell if this was a tool steel was to spark test it. Definitely not the same material as any file steel. The spark on the mystery steel was about 3in in length before it burst into a branch of about 4-5 branches. I put it up against some mild steel, not mild steel, my spark was shorter and had more branches. Coil spring, nope not like that one nor the axle. I have a piece of what a blade smith friend confidently told me was O1 and that was the closest matching spark pattern. I know why didn't I use the O1 in the first place I was expecting failure pretty much and didn't want to ruin my only known tool steel. I started to design and forge out my little knife hoping to gift it to someone. Next since I already normalized the steel, as far as I could tell, I forged it. The first hammer blow felt like I hit a piece of granite, no not super steel, but you got my point of knowing when you may have hit something other than mild steel. It has a different density its like it doesn't want to move even at heat. As I worked down the little strip of material, I made my forging about 80% to shape. Friends of mine tell me to forge 90% to finished product - but I can't estimate how much loss there will be in grinding yet. In the above picture, this was also annealed along with 3 other test strips. Brought up to a orange heat again and placed in an ash bucket to cool overnight. As I was rough grinding the little knife, I took one of my test pieces that had a thin edge on it and with a small torch heated a section to non metallic and quenched it in motor oil (5w-30). I just heard everyone reading this cringe - don't have the good stuff on hand yet, but for as little tool hardening I'm currently doing, it was there. Touched it with a file and got file skate with a little grab, but no cutting. Took it over to an anvil and cracked it over the hardy hole to see the grain structure aaaaaaaaaaand I don't know what I'm looking at. A clean shear - I don't have enough experience in braking steel to know my grain structures but this did tell me the steel will harden. I did pretty much the same process on the knife with the acceptation that I heated the oil this time and didn't plunge the whole knife into the oil until all the color ran out of it, I wanted to attempted to retain a soft spine to the knife. Which it actually did not do, everything hardened but the tang - must have still been some color in it when I did the full plunge. A file test with a chain saw file saw that it seemed to harden better than my test due to a little soak time in the forge no not like 5-30 minutes like 30 seconds of incandescent nonmetallic heat. Now this skated like glass, I had to let the knife sit for about 2 days before I temped it. I knew I could have drew the temper during the quench - but I was debating the best method to draw the temper. The whole question of bake it for a while vs, what I've been taught - draw the temper colors and lock it by another quench. I chose what I've been taught, fired up the forge and drew a very quick straw color. There's a little bit of grinding marks left as I only went to 80 grit but I didn't see any cracks but I just didn't trust myself enough to say this was ok, as another file test proved that it still skated a file like glass. After a little debate with a knife smith friend I baked the knife for about 15mins at 400 degrees. Still skates a file well, but not like glass, it seemed a little softer. And after all this time, I finally attempted to look up what a ford leaf spring is, and found out here at blade smith forum - that it's pretty possibly not an optimum steel. In fact it's probably just some higher grade of mild steel, and I had one of those moments of awww man! I put a good bit of work into this at this point so if it was going to eventually fail, I was going to make it fail. A day after reading though a few of the pages, with a cringe on my face, I dropped the knife tip down into a concrete floor, expecting to break the tip off. The floor broke not the tip of the knife in fact the tip didn't even turn there is no edge on the knife at this point, but I expected it to shear or bend and stay bent for how fine it is. I rough ground the primary bevel to almost a final sharp so I scratched my head. About the worst thing I know to do to any steel is bend it. I laid the knife on my work table and with my hand over the center of it, lifted the tang and put pressure down on the blade. The tip of the knife bent, but re flexed, hmmm I say. I attempted to get that bend to set by continually bending it, but it just kept re flexing. I attempted to bend the knife along the spine but I couldn't do it by hand, and now I felt like putting it in a vise to do it would be a little over kill. It's almost done don't break it now it might be good! I havn't touched the knife in a few days, still no final edge on it, but I do feel pretty confident about it. I need to test it with an edge to see if its going to chip out or just be too soft. But so far, I'm not seeing a reason for it being either. I'm somehow expecting it to sheer because its not very very springy to my wimpy arms. I should put the edge on it and attempt to baton it through some hard maple. That seems like a good stress test with minimal destruction. It might be good!
Hi all, i thought i'd document and share my attempt at making a tanto. this will be my second knife if it ends up with a handle. i should add that i've made a few blades before, but they weren't worth handling. i'm hoping that by sharing this, you guys with more experience will be able to tell me what i'm doing wrong or right, and point me in the right direction. It may even be interesting to someone completely new to this. i'm not particularly (or at all) familiar with Japanese terminology yet, so please don't bombard me with too much a major shout out to you guys on here!! as pretty much everything i've learned has been off this forum! and thanks Don and the admins FOR the forum! an old annealed wiltshire file with the teeth ground off, and some sketches end of file cut off to form tip, and profile roughly ground texter to show up scribed grind line, and ground down to 2mm edge thickness rough ground up to line draw filed and cleaned up a bit rough sanded to 120 grit and shoulders for habaki filed in clay applied. it is a mixture of clay from the garden, crushed coal and sand. probably not ideal but i just used what i had due to impatience the blade was heated to just above non-magnetic and quenched in slightly warm water. i think the patchy colouring was due to the clay mixture being not quite ideal and it cracking, plus i don't think i put quite enough on the edges of the spine. still pretty pleased for a first time. i was expecting it to crack. a crappy photo trying to capture the colour i tempered to. i tempered it in a gas oven at 200c for 30mins twice. it looks a fair bit darker in the photo than it is. next the fittings... :/