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Adlai Stein

Hamon Question

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I just finished hand polishing a blade that I thought was 1095 to 1500 grit polish I could see my reflection perfectly and know the blade did not break. However when I went to etch the hamon with ferric chloride it lost its shine bad, even after removing the oxides with a light rubbing of 1500 grit. I then checked out my notes and realized that the blade was 5160 not 1095. I have had 1095 remain shiny and the hamon visible. I know 5160 doesn't take a good hamon but for it to completely dull was a little disturbing. Is this normal for 5160 to do that?

Edited by Adlai Stein

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Did the blade through harden?Hardened steel tends to etch darker than non hardened.Just curious if it was clayed and hardened underneath the coating.

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It may have through hardened. I was a bit surprised at how dark the etch got after only a few seconds. I let the etxh sit for a few minutes rinsed it sanded the oxidation off and etched again. I did that 3 times. I did get a hamon line and even some activity although it's quite faint.

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Adlai, I remember reading something when I was still using 5160 (before I ran out) that the Cr content in it makes it a through hardening steel.

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Hi Adlai,

 

I just made a knife from 5160 and I differentially hardened it by just quenching the edge. There is a hardening line visible but as you describe, it is also very faint. I found 5160 to take an etch very quick - it turns black within seconds.

When I etched it some more (2-3min.) it came out of the ferric with a grainy black surface.

 

 

Regards,

 

Christoph.

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I have been using 5160 pretty much exclusively (some O1...) for all my blades for quite some time. 5160 is a very different animal than 10XX and will require its own regimen of polishing/etching to get the most out of it it. It really likes to thru harden and if quenched in water with clay may very well have thru hardened.

 

hirahamon1.jpg

 

One can still get some pretty cool differential harnening effects but you have to stop thinking like you are working with 10XX to do that. As far as the shine disappearing off of the blade with 5160 remember that harder steel wants to etch faster and with a different texture than the soft stuff does. I'd guess that the phenomenon you are seeing is pretty much just a graphic reference of how low alloys respond to your hardening/polishing/etching routine that has been tweaked to do 10XX.

 

It's different. Congratulations on not cracking the blade!!

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Thanks guys. That's definately some things to think about.

Any idea how to get a high polish and still show the hamon?

It was quenched in oil. The hamon and finish does look a bit like the one Chris showed but with the hamon showing more subtle.

I'll try and get some pics up when I return from the In-laws on Monday.

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Although not a true hamon, I've gotten very interesting transition lines on a 5160 blade edge-quenched. There is the hardened section, the unhardened section, and a very wide transition area, which I think might be giving you difficulty with the etch. A gentler etch in a weaker solution, multiple 30 second etches with a quick rub to remove the oxides between them might give you better results. It takes time but you can really coax out subtle details in the steel this way. (before etching finish to at least 600grit or finer, after etching is finished gently hand rub with a fine polishing compound or semichrome)

 

Here's one of mine in 5160, but those subtle details do not photograph well (and a crappy photo to boot)...

This one has 4 distinct areas from a simple un-agitated edge quench.

bladedetail.jpg

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Thanks again for all the help. The semichrome did help a bit.

 

Here are a couple of pictures. Again this is 5160 clay coated and oil quenched, hand polished to a 1500 grit.

So what do you think should I take it back to a miror polish or leve the hamon?

 

 

hamon1.jpg

 

hamon.jpg

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Cool, another sax hybrid...really like the shape of this one.

 

If it was me, I'd mirror the swedge but leave the etched hamon finish on the main bevels, I like the contrast between the two.

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That's an idea since originaly I wanted the back bevel dark to contrast with the high polish. I also left that bevel at a slightly rougher grit to aid with the contrast. Although it still works well like this. The handle will be birdseye maple and will also add to the contrasts going on.

Edited by Adlai Stein

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The hamon fades off because it hardened up underneath the clay, I would say go with the hamon if it was full up on just the edge, but go shiny because it is not.

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