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Hello again

 

I am busy with what is essentially my first commision. The client wanted what he calls a "Bull Knife" I assumed it's someone's brand name, so I am just going to call it a "Tactical Camp Knife" for now. If this one is a hit, there are six more to be made. I decided to use 1050 (or actually EN9 which I am told is very similar).

 

Here is the drawing from the client:

 

Legend2.jpg

 

I am busy forging it right now, but I am having difficulty with the EN9. It doesn't want to move under the hammer. Two bags of Charcoal down and about 4 hours of forging and this is where I am:

 

Legend3.jpg

 

The client wants a wide knife that can be used as a camp knife as well. The spec is 45mm wide! I am hand forging from 20mm (3/4") round stock. I just cant seem to get those bevels nice and clean. I have to heat often just to get small amounts of movement. As you can see in the picture, I have forged the tang first, and now I am trying to forge the blade. The problem area is in the transition (Ricasso?) area. I just cant seem to get the material to spread wide enough to get the width I am looking for. Oh well, I am off to go buy more charcoal.

 

 

Regards

Wayne

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I've never worked with EN9, but usually 1050 is great to forge, soft and squishy like butter when hot. The addition of alloying elements can make for some stubborn, hard-to-forge steels, even if they aren't super high-carbon (I've encountered scrap pieces that were amazingly hard to forge by hand, but too low-C to harden well...)

 

Pretty cool design, reminds me of a beavertail dagger. Six more after this? Yikes...got any flat stock?

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there was a miltary fighting knife that looks a great deal like the blade you sketched called a smashet(smashit??/spelling?) it was just a great deal larger.. please post pics when your finished..

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there was a miltary fighting knife that looks a great deal like the blade you sketched called a smashet(smashit??/spelling?) it was just a great deal larger.. please post pics when your finished..

Smatchet...I've read of them, too

Brian

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4 hours seems like a long time to be forging. This EN9 doesn't seem to have the sort of alloy content to make it a tough forging steel. Are you working it hot? If not.. work hot! You can always normalize.

 

Any reason you want to use such a low carbon steel?

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I have made several knives and daggers from 1050. It's works great.

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Hi Guys

 

Yes indeed, I do believe I was working a bit cold, even though I was heating to yellow/orange. I was concerned I would decarb the already low carbon steel. (This is why I still post in the "Beginers Place". Also I think that forging down from round stock had a lot to do with the time spent.

 

I will definately post pictures of the finished knife. It wouldn't surprise me if the origional idea was inspired by a military type blade, because this blade (and it's sisters) is on it's way to a hotspot with some friends who are as they put it: "In the s#*t business." You military types will know exactly what that means.

 

I decided to use the EN9 because I was told it would give me a hard enough edge, but a really fexible core. This knife, although it's gong to be used in a combat situation, is more for digging, chopping and basic camp work. I don't see it as a "wetwork" tool at all.

 

I couldn't get it out as wide as I wanted.I need to aquire flat stock or a gas forge and rolling mill for the next batch if it becomes a problem. The blade is about 38mm wide now, and I think it looks great like that. It would look out of proportion with the short blade otherwise. I did manage to get it into a reasonable shape though. I finished up at 1 am this morning and had to be up at 5 am to go to work. It's going to be a very long day :-)

 

Legend4.jpg

 

After about an hour of filing she is looking good and is already feeling good in the hand.

 

Legend5.jpg

 

I am posting progress pics on Facebook so that the client can follow the build. Look me up if you are keen, I have an open profile so you won't have to "Friend" me unless you really want to. Just search for Wayne Alan Viola.

 

Regards

Wayne

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It's looking good. I didn't mean to imply there is anything 'wrong' with 1050 or or that it wouldn't work 'fine'... but there are steels that work better. I was just curious. I would tend to use a higher carbon steel for better edge holding and then adjust the quenching parameters for 'flexible' core as such. But I once learned from Kevin Cashen that is is a bit of a fallacy that you need a softer core for flexibility. He demonstrated this with great effect by showing how flexible a disposable razor blade is and the fact that they are left at such high rockwell hardness. Sometime flexibility is more a function of geometry. You also might have too much flexibility and make a bendy blade with too soft of a core. I would rather a very hard core that is tempered correctly for the right amount of spring. It all comes down to testing! Put the blade in a vise, bend it to the extent that it might realistically bend in the field and see if it springs back. You need a hard core for that... not soft.

 

Again.. as long as you heat treat your steel correctly, you will make a fine blade with what you have.

 

By the way.. when I first started forging, I was also shy when it came to temperatures for the same reasons. But you just need to make sure you thermo-cycle for grain refinement and leave enough material to grind away de-carb. You will have fewer issues with de-carb and material loss through scaling if you get things done in fewer heats.

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Wayne, You may want to start out with one inch stock to get a wider blade, that will give you a bit more to work with. How is your forge set up? Charcoal can get plenty hot if your getting enough air to it. One of the keys is volume control, if your using a hand crank its real simple, if your using a fan you may need to add more tube, blow into three inch tube, whatever it takes. With an electric fan I like to use a foot control on off too.

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Wayne, I'm just throwing out a few ideas here, just in the way of possibilities and not saying that this is what's going on. What kind of ambient lighting do you have in the forge. I have the feeling that when it's brighter in my forge the steel looks more orange/yellow than it really is. I use 9260, a high silicon alloy with slightly more carbon than 1050 and find it easy to forge. I would think that EN9 would be easy to forge if it's the equivallent of 1050.

 

I there a possibility that your suppier mixed up your order? You might be working a higher alloy steel than you think. I have not idea what is available to you in South Africa. I'm aware that as paltry as some of us in the United States think that our choices of steels are, it's considerably larger than in other countries.

 

Isn't trying to figure out metallurgy fun? Every factor seems to play off another and everthing's a compromise. You are correct that 1050, or equivalant, can give a tougher more ductile blade than a higher carbon steel but there is also heat treatment to consider. I was researching 52100 and found a discussion on the British Bladesmithing Society site where a maker stated that he heat treated a blade from it that bent 90 degrees without any edge damage. Admittedly he also found that, while adequate, the edge retention was not as good as what he normally had. I think what he said the difference was that he austinized the steel at a higher temp. I'll see of I can find it again and post the link.

 

Doug Lester

Edited by Doug Lester

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Hi

 

Doug, thanks for the info. It is hard to find steel over here. I was looking for a supplier for 52100 for ages. I got the same confused look everytime! I eventually found some kinife makers that travel to the US every year and buy up all the 52100 they can afford, then bring it back here "for their own use." It is very possible that my order got mixed up. This stuff sparks quite a bit on the grinder. This kife is the prototype, so if the EN9 doesn't work, I will have to find an alternative.

 

Bryan, I would love to work with some 1" stock. The problem is that I dont have a power hammer or mill yet. Working the 20 mm stuff down was a PITA, I can only guess how long it would have taken me to hammer the 25mm down! My forge has an electric fan and gets plenty hot. It's just me that is afraid of over-heating the steel!

 

Scott, I will be doing the HT this weekend. I am nervous of this one, I have no idea why. I will cycle it thru a number of normalising heats first, and then it's a water quench for this baby! Oh yes, there will be clay added between there somewhere. I really want this blade to be a heavy, hard working tool. What I meant by "flexible" is that the knife should rather bend than break. It's pretty thick at the centre of the bevel. It will probably end up at 1/4" (6mm).

 

Here is a snap of me at my forge. It's an old Plough Shear, filled to level with castable refractory and the air blows up the support.

 

Forge.jpg

 

Regards

Wayne

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Hi Wayne

 

as others have said.. the 1050 should be soft under hammer.. ... over here the rail road clips are around 1050.. still, i'll check to see they spark the same as 1050 with my reference stock

 

-just a comment.. if your using charcoal, it maybe better to make a deeper fire... it'll be easier to get a nice yellow heat.. -- could be as simple as stacking some fire brick on each side of the forge to make abit of a channel

-myself, i like to forge hot when you do your major reductions... then cooler as you get close to the finish forging..

 

if you suspect the 1050 is possibly a mystery steel... forge a small flat coupon..and try a test water quench.. and see how it survives or doesn't ? .. could save ruining a good blade

 

i know how you feel about finding decent steel.. ..same conditions here in canada.. its sad !!

 

good luck

Greg

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Wayne, I don't know if importing some 52100 from the U.S. is a possibility for you but if you google The New Jersey Steel Baron, Aldo carries it in flat bars.

 

Doug Lester

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if you suspect the 1050 is possibly a mystery steel... forge a small flat coupon..and try a test water quench.. and see how it survives or doesn't ? .. could save ruining a good blade

 

 

Very good advice, it seems likely to me you may have something other than 1050, given the difficulty you have had forging it.

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Hi guys

 

That's a really cool idea about forging a "test" piece first. Why didn't I think of that? I will do that tonight I think.The knife is designed to have a hardened bolster so that it can be used as a "hammer". Perhaps I will use those as test pieces.

 

I didn't have time to fire up the forge this weekend. I had car problems that drove me nuts. Spent the whole time under the car, but eyeing out the forge all the time.

 

It is possible to import the steel, but it becomes expensive with the courier fees. Our postal system sucks badly and if someone percieves that there might be something valuable in the package, it will never reach it's end destination.I have read many posts where "Aldo" is mentioned. Thanks for the lead, I may look him up after these knives go out. Then I will have some cash available.

 

My forge is in it's second config. Initially I had it much deeper and dish-shaped. I found that it messed me around when I was trying to heat a section of blade, if the blade was long enough to reach both sides of the dish. It would hover too high above the charcoal. This config has a dish where my "diffuser" is. I seems to be working well. The steel gets pretty hot! It's just me that needs to grow a pair and stop hauling it out before time.I will stop at my local refractory supply and get a few bricks and create a "Channel" that seems to make sense to me. I have also scrounged the pieces for a side blast forge that I would like to build soon. I will only use that for longer blade though and then probably only during HT. This little forge is serving me really well right now.

 

forge2.jpg

 

Here are some specs I found on the EN9:

 

TYPICAL ANALYSIS

 

C. Si. Mn. S. P.

0.50% 0.25% 0.70% 0.05% 0.05%

 

Forging:

Heat slowly and uniformly to 1100°C. After forging cool slowly.

 

Annealing:

Heat uniformly to 700°C. Soak well and cool slowly in the furnace.

 

Hardening:

Heat uniformly to 820/840°C until heated through. Quench in oil, or water.

 

Tempering:

Heat uniformly and thoroughly at the selected tempering temperature, between 550/660°C and hold at heat for one hour per inch of total thickness.

 

Normalising:

Normalise at 840-870°C, and cool in air.

 

Stress Relieving:

After rough machining tools should be stress relieved. Soaking time 2 hours after the whole piece has attained a temperature of approximately 675°C. Cool in furnace to approximately 500°C, and then freely in air.

 

Regards

Wayne

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Hi Wayne,

I have a story for you about my charcoal forge.

When I first built it in a big brake drum from a semi, I lined it with a wood ash slurry in sort of a bowl shape. This left me with two problems. First, as you described, my stock would hang up above the fire if it was too long. Also, the fire was too shallow, allowing lots of oxidization with not enough heat. I've since made a change in the lining. I put a plastic container over the tuyure and then simply poured the slurry in around it, leaving a flat top with a narrow sort of neck. This allows me to fill this with fuel as well as having it piled up around the edge. Kinda makes the fire deeper than it looks, which greatly decreases the rate of decarb and makes it hotter. Probably saves fuel, too.

Looking at your setup, bricks sound like a good plan, but if you wanted to make the effect more permanent, you could raise your refractory.

Good luck!

-Morgan

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That sucks reguarding your postal system. My sister had like problems when her oldest son spent a year in South America; I don't recall which country exactly so I won't say. As bad as we think we have it in the U.S. we really have it good when it comes to a postal system and shipping companies. I hope you can get your steel supply problems worked out.

 

Doug Lester

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We get used to it. I actually love the pure anarchy and chaos of Africa. There are some sacrifices to be made to be sure (Like access to decent steel)but there is always a way around the problem.

 

I promised I would post pictures of the knife as she stands now. It turned out quite nice. I am still going to file a bit before I clay it up. I am really worried about the carbomn content now. Let's hope she hardens up in the water.

 

Rough.jpg

 

Regards

Wayne

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Looking good, Wayne. I was going to say that it was great work for files but I'm starting to develope a deeper appreciation of the tool. They really aren't all that much slower than a grinder on soft steel but give a lot more control. I hope a water quench doesn't produce the dreaded "tink". But who knows, I just got some heat treating data for 52100 and it included data for water quenching. I know that they are talking about quenching thicker sections than knife blades but I would have never considered trying it with all the chromium in 52100.

 

Doug Lester

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I'm not sure why, but I really enjoy working with my files. I only have a very small belt grinder, but I don't feel as "in control" when I work with it. I want to make myself a Sen soon and use that in conjunction with my files. Maybe I won't actually need the large grinder. It's no good spending all that money and never use the thing.

 

Well I am busy with the clay. It's taking longer than I would have thought. I am trying for some "random" pattern in the hamon. I have two knive that need to be HT'd this weekend, but the other one is made from spring steel and will need an oil quench. It's a fighter with a very thin cross-section.

 

I also prefer doing my final shaping with stones. It's wierd I know, but I keep reverting to older more trditional ways, and it's not because I have some kind of moral objection to using power tools. They just feel better to me.

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OK, so the one blade cracked. I forgot exactly which steel I used and it turned out to be one that can not be water quenched. I should get out of the black clothing and dark mood swings soon. I hope. The good news is that the bull knife made it without cracking and is now at this stage:

 

Handle.jpg

 

The question I have is that although I laid the clay out very far from the edge, it is showing a hamon that is very close to the edge. The clay popped off as I quenched and the blade has a very thick cross section. Could these be factors?

 

Here is a pic of my clay layout, the "curvy" knife is the one that cracked:

 

Clay.jpg

 

Regards

Wayne

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