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5160 heat treat without kiln (ABS performance)


Scott A. Roush
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Well I've decided to test for my JS in Atlanta next summer... a last minute decision and I need to coordinate a performance test with a road trip to see my parents on Thanksgiving. :o I've only heat treated 5160 axes and hatchets. My plan is to do a combination of edge quenching and clay treatment for the quench.. and I will use mineral oil for quenchant. But.. I will be using my forge for heat treat so I'm looking for advice on how to handle soak times, etc for getting the most out of the edge. Are people still recommending the triple quench to mimic the long soak?

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Can you keep the oil at about 400 consistently? I believe this is marquenching, but from a few posts I've read, it makes the 5160 performace much better without the need for a tempering cycle. I believe the blade was held at temperature for 2 hours after the quench in the same oil preheated to 400. You can make a small test blade to try at first. If you have a heat treat chart for 5160 then I would follow the soak time on the chart, other wise I would just turn my forge choke up to nearly closed which give me a 1500 degree temperature in my forge, and I would let it soak for about 5 minutes. The clay will impair the hardening, but since its not shallowing, it will mostly seep right under the clay.

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I had problems with using 5160, many of them of my own making. I found it difficult to keep the edge from hardening all of the way into the spine. If you are intent on using 5160 (and I've had successful blades in 5160, consistency was my issue) I would forgo the clay, I don't think it will improve your blade.

 

All of the mono steel test blades I have done, I edge quenched. On the 1084 blades (my preferred steel for this) I quenched about 1/4 of the blade in oil, and got about 1/4 of the blade hard. On the 5160 blades a 1/4 quench got me a blade that was hard well past the midline of the blade.

 

I single quenched and triple tempered (long soaks on the temper, 4+ hours). I think given some things I have learned just recently, I would 3x quench, 3x temper.

 

My friend Rick Lucas made a test blade of 1084, full hard, 3x tempered, and then 10x torch drawn on the spine to silver blue (with the edge suspended in wet sand). We were unable to break that blade even after over 20, 90 degree bends.

 

I prefer 1084 to 5160, but that is just my .02. You should use whatever steel you are comfortable with.

 

Good luck (well not luck, really, but good process sounds silly),

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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Scott-

 

You may have seen this article by Ed Caffrey already, but just in case you haven't, here it is:

 

http://www.caffreyknives.net/journeymanarticle.html

 

It's written for anyone wanting to build a knife to pass the performance test and his example is 5160 and using vet grade mineral oil for the quench. Also, he used mineral oil all the way up through his MS test knives, so it can clearly be done and he lists his suggested temps for oil, tempering, etc. He uses an oxy/acetylene torch to bring the blade up to temp for the quench. When I took his class, I found it was easier to do than I'd thought-I'm sure if you choose that route, you'll be able to do so, as well. He also has an article on his site for the presentation phase.

 

Good luck.

 

 

Jeremy

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Scott, Just remember to use the Elven forging technique seen in LOTH Return of the King and you can't go wrong :D

Troy Allen Christianson is NOT a "Licensed Bladesmith" so you may treat his posts with the contempt they deserve.

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Thanks for the input folks. Well.. I forged a blade today from 5160 and it's annealing. And with the short time that I have... I'm kinda restricted to 5160. I sure wish my supply of Aldo's vanadium 1084 supply hadn't run out!

 

I'm also not supplied with oxygen.. so heat treating via that method is out. And yes.. I've read Caffery's article.

 

Troy...I always use that technique now. It's visually beautiful if a wee bit effeminate... and has the strange effect of moving steel in dramatic ways. But... I've yet to achieve your level of aptitude with the method. I'm inviting you back to my hammer-in next year specifically to lead a workshop.

 

:-)

 

 

well.... looks like I will be doing some heat treat experimentation tomorrow....

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If you are going to edge quench there is no reason to clay coat the blade. Anyway, the edge quench should leave the spine dead soft if you let the color disappear from the spine before you put that part into the oil. Also 5160 is a hypoeutectic steel so there's not enough carbon to be forming a lot of carbides that will need to be dissolved so it doesn't need a long soak, unlike something on the order of 52100. Personally, I'm in the camp that holds that triple quenching does nothing that triple normalizations won't do, except give two additional chances at quench cracking, but it's your knife, do as you want.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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Believe me Doug.. I don't WANT to triple quench. But I've read about it enough times that I have to ask if there is anything to it. Personally it never made sense to me in the sense of hardening it. I can see it working for grain refinement perhaps.... but as you say... just normalize it.

 

As to soaking... I will have to look at the actual recommended specs... but there is a soak time of 10 minutes or so. But I didn't think it was dissolving carbides as much as getting the other alloys into place. But that was just me 'thinking' rather than knowing.

 

(edit... nevermind on the soak.. not sure where I got that there was a recommended long soak)

Edited by Scott A. Roush
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Well I'm happy to say that my first test blade was a success. I triple normalized, brought it up to 1525 or so all the way to spine, did full quench and then torch tempered the spine to blue 3 times. I ground between each draw back to see colors... and had the edge buried in wet sand. Chopping, shaving, rope cutting, bending all came out just fine. Now I will make 1 or 2 more and call it good! Test date is the 21 of this month at Kevin Cashen's.

 

Thanks for the advice folks...

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  • 3 years later...

I would go full hard and paint the spine blue with edge in water youbcan dobthis wih a plumbing torch. This is what I did to pass last July useing l6. I would also recommend not bothering with a point on the knife and keeping the spine under 3/16 with little to no distal taper .. I passed but took. A greater Set than I wanted to .. Make two and do them as identical as oossable , test one in your shop so you know you heat treat works.. My test knife in my shop passed then I went 90 in the other direction back and fourth 7 times before the edge cracked ... I figured that was enugjt of a margin.

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I would go full hard and paint the spine blue with edge in water youbcan dobthis wih a plumbing torch. This is what I did to pass last July useing l6. I would also recommend not bothering with a point on the knife and keeping the spine under 3/16 with little to no distal taper .. I passed but took. A greater Set than I wanted to .. Make two and do them as identical as oossable , test one in your shop so you know you heat treat works.. My test knife in my shop passed then I went 90 in the other direction back and fourth 7 times before the edge cracked ... I figured that was enugjt of a margin.

 

No point and no distal taper? If you don't mind me asking, what did the knife look like?

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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Like a big razor, that's how I made mine.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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Like a big razor, that's how I made mine.

 

Geoff

 

Really! Is that common for ABS test knives? Did you do your test knife out of 1084?

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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No not common but it is the best shape for the task I think .. My knife bemt at the point and concintated the bend at that point . with out the taper and the point it will flex over a greater area raher than bend at the thinnest point.

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I've seen quite a few. The extra weight at the "point" makes the chop go better. Some distal taper helps the bend. I used 1084 for my best efforts, there is a post near the start of this that talks about it.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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No not common but it is the best shape for the task I think .. My knife bemt at the point and concintated the bend at that point . with out the taper and the point it will flex over a greater area raher than bend at the thinnest point.

 

Once you had mentioned that shape, I immediately thought of the competition choppers that people will make, and it immediately made sense since the test has nothing at all that would need a point.

 

 

I've seen quite a few. The extra weight at the "point" makes the chop go better. Some distal taper helps the bend. I used 1084 for my best efforts, there is a post near the start of this that talks about it.

 

Geoff

 

I can imagine; just like the choppers I mentioned just above. I saw your post above, but I must have missed that. I have read Ed Caffrey's article about making a test blade, but had never heard anyone else's experience with the test. I ask all of this because I just joined the ABS in January, and while I have 3 years to go, I thought it bore thinking about.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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If you want to came to shop and make one and test it (just for your own benefit, you can't it to test with), that would be fun. I can talk with some authority on how to, and how not to :( . While reading over this necro-post, I had a thought. L6 is a very tough steel, but it air quenches. Take a pan of sand and heat it to 1000-1500 F. Do a diff quench by putting the blade spine first into the sand, with the edge exposed in the air. Yah, that is probably over thinking it. L6 is a bad steel for this. I think 80crv2 might be a good choice, though. I've done them in 5160, and I've had good success with 10xx steels. Once you get the idea, they are not too hard to make. OTOH, the bend test is as much a test of your nerve as anything else.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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L6 will work well if you understand it, getting l6hard is never the issue, making it soft can be, so with l6 you need to control the hardness by tempering and softening the spine. I and several others have passed the performance test using it. Now I just need to submit my 5...

Edited by Matthew Parkinson
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That is the hard part, the performance test is nothing, in comparison. :):angry::(:wacko:

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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If you want to came to shop and make one and test it (just for your own benefit, you can't it to test with), that would be fun. I can talk with some authority on how to, and how not to :( . While reading over this necro-post, I had a thought. L6 is a very tough steel, but it air quenches. Take a pan of sand and heat it to 1000-1500 F. Do a diff quench by putting the blade spine first into the sand, with the edge exposed in the air. Yah, that is probably over thinking it. L6 is a bad steel for this. I think 80crv2 might be a good choice, though. I've done them in 5160, and I've had good success with 10xx steels. Once you get the idea, they are not too hard to make. OTOH, the bend test is as much a test of your nerve as anything else.

 

Geoff

 

Ya, I think I will take you up on that Geoff. Its a bit of a drive for me (about 2 hours I think) so something that I would need to plan a little bit. But thanks for the offer! I am certainly up for that. And I greatly appreciate the offer of help. I know that help and time is not cheap, so I am grateful that you are offering.

 

Matt - When will you submit your 5?

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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trying for this June in Atlanta...assuming I can remember how to grind knives again ... screwed up the same design 4" hunter 3 times in a row... 4th is almost ready for heat treat..

Edited by Matthew Parkinson
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  • 9 months later...

You can heat up a bar of structural steel and quench it in the oil until the oil comes up to temperature. The reason that I'd use a structural steel is that you won't have to worry about it hardening but if you did use a knife steel all you would have to do is normalize it after you brought the oil up to temp. Or you could go the way I did and get a turkey fryer. If you want to quench edge down, or at least horizontally, you could put your oil in an electric roaster.

 

Doug

Edited by Doug Lester

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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