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Nervous for heat treat


KPeacock

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Tonight is the night for the quench. Like most here, I've always been interested in knives. The wedding of a good friend prompted me to start making knives. He cut down an oak tree and made me a nice gun cabinet. I decided to make some forges and tools and make him a hunting knife. I've cracked, broken, and otherwise ruined a good number of attempts so far. All of them have educated me in at elast some small way. Tonight I will be quenching and tempering the blade that started me on this journey and I sure as heck hope for no cracks.

 

The steel is 1095 and 15N20 in a random-ish ladder pattern....maybe. I'm not too sure how it will turn out. :-). Yesterday I normalized three times. I will be making any final minor adjustments and sanding to around 400grit before I heat it up and dunk it in oil. I plan on using hydraulic oil as I have a large quantity of it on hand. I am far too nervous to try a water quench. I figured I'd risk it before and made an attempt that results in a few small bits of knife.

 

If any of you folks have some last minute suggestions, I'm all for listening to them.

 

Thanks,

 

Kris

Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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I just did the same thing with several knifes. Kept loosing them in the HT. Water made em crack, motoroil made em on the soft side, and I had the edge to thin. Just used canola oil on like 3 in a row and they all came out fine.

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Canola oil, vegitable oil, or peanut oil are great for beginners and pros alike. I've had nothing but problems with water and "automotive" oils I've tried. Never had a problem with peanut oil. Plus the peanut oil doesn't stink up the shop/house when tempering.

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Well, canola oil it is then. Thanks for the heads up.

 

A couple of knives I've done today that worked out really well were quenched in ATF. They were made of steel cable. your guess is as good as mine about carbon content, but by sparking them, I put it around 80 points of carbon give or take. They hardened enough to get through two deer without going dull and they don't chip when whacking on bones. That's good enough for my purposes.

Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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Everything went pretty well for me last night. The canola oil worked out just fine. I was a bit worried during the quench as I could hear some popping noise that I thought might be cracking. it seems as though this was just some scale breaking free from the blade.

 

I've got a good bit of grinding to do on it, but thats just fine and dandy with me. I was pleasantly suprised to see a lot of the pattern after sanding off a bit of the scale. I think it will look okay after I polish it up and etch it.

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Edited by KPeacock

Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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Yeah, forgot to mention that the oil will make some noise during the quench. That is normal. Also, you might also get a small flare up from the oil.

 

Remember that now that it is hardened temper it before you do much of anything with it. Also when you do your grinding after the temper make sure that you don't get any color change in the steel or you will have to start over on the hardening.

 

That came out really good. What are the specs on it?

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Yeah, forgot to mention that the oil will make some noise during the quench. That is normal. Also, you might also get a small flare up from the oil.

 

Remember that now that it is hardened temper it before you do much of anything with it. Also when you do your grinding after the temper make sure that you don't get any color change in the steel or you will have to start over on the hardening.

 

That came out really good. What are the specs on it?

 

 

It did flare up. I expected it to flare up more, but it seems to burn a lot less than ATF does. All in all, I prefer the smell of burning canola over the transmission fluid. It did make me a bit hungry though.

 

Immediately following the quench, I wiped the excess oil off of it and placed it in a toaster oven for tempering. I know they are somewhat less than reliable for holding a consitant temp, but the wife put her foot down after I tempered a blade in the house. Apparently the oven is not to be used for "stupid ass knives." I suppose I can;t blame her, the house did smell of ATF for a bit.

 

To prevent any loss of hardness, I plan to do all of the finishing with sandpaper and stones. No power tools. I know it will take quite a bit longer this way, but I"m okay with that.

 

As for the specs, The steel is 1095 and 15N20 at 400 layers. I's somewhat of a ladder pattern, but it's got plenty of "random" in it as well. Total length is 7.75" Blade is 3.75" It's 3/16" thick at the handle and tapers to 1/8" thick at the gut-hook.

 

I ground the ladder pattern into the stock with a 4.5" angle grinder, but the rest of it was done with nothing more than hand tools.

 

For handle material I'm debating between Ipe and birdseye maple. I've got quite a bit of both. I guess, that the decision is ultimately not mine to make. I'll have the future owner make that call after I get some scales close to shape.

Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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I have had the same experience with using the oven, "what's that smell?" or "what is THAT doing in the oven?". I can assure you it smells nowhere near as bad as brain tanning leather.

 

The knife looks good, what kind of handle will it have?

 

Heat treating always makes me sweat, a lot, people helping or watching have asked if I'm ok.

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Immediately following the quench, I wiped the excess oil off of it and placed it in a toaster oven for tempering. I know they are somewhat less than reliable for holding a consitant temp, but the wife put her foot down after I tempered a blade in the house. Apparently the oven is not to be used for "stupid ass knives." I suppose I can;t blame her, the house did smell of ATF for a bit.

 

Actually the toaster ovens are better to use the then regular ovens as they have less of a temperature swing on the thermocycling. Normal ovens can swing as much as 30 degrees (some even more) while a normal toaster oven will be 5-10 degrees. Just make sure that you have a toaster oven that has a "Stay on" feature and make sure to preheat it.

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I find that using a tray of dry sand, or even a 1 inch firebrick as a heat sink in the toaster oven helps a lot with maintaining an even temperature. Use a good kitchen thermometer in there, too, don't trust the dial.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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That's looking good so far. As for oil, if you have any friends with a turkey fryer, ask them to keep you in mind when they go to change to fresh oil. I got 5 gallons of peanut oil for free that way.

 

What type of handle do you plan to put on? Now that the knife is hardened and tempered, will you be softening the tang further before drilling for pin/bolt holes?

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Jim, I tried my hand at brain tanning over the winter and although it worked I'll likely never do that again. The finished product was not what I was looking for and the smell was.....well you know what it smells like. I can do without that in the garage :-)

 

Chris, he fire brick is a good idea. I'll certainly give that a go on my next knife.

 

 

As for the handle, My buddy claimed he wanted Ipe. I liked the look of bird's eye maple so I quickly snaded some stock down to approximate size and just rubbed some tung oil on it to give him an idea of what it would look like when finished. He decided on the maple.

 

I will be setting the blade in a water bath and using oxy-acetylene on the tang to soften it before drilling for pins. I learned my lesson on the last knife. My drill bits are no match for hardened tangs.

 

Below are some pics of the wood I'll be using for the handle material.

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Edited by KPeacock

Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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I finally got it sanded down and polished....I couldn't resist a quick etch to see the pattern.

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Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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Wow, very beautiful Kris, WAY TO GO MAN!!! ;)

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Michael, thanks for the kind words. For a first attempt at a pattern welded knife (aside from cable) I'm pleased with the outcome. I think I'd prefer it to have fewer layers, but that's just personal preferance. If nothing ele, you can tel lthat it isn't a monosteel blade.

 

I've got a week left to get it all finished up and get a sheath made for it. The sheath is definately my least favorite part of the whole process.

Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

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