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Forged file falling apart!


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A neighbor of mine wanted me to forge him a blade from an old file he found. It was a nice thick bastard type.... But no manufacturer's stamp at all. Very worn. But no real idea of age. Now I had just re-lined my forge with new kaowool, satanite and castable and this was the first run. I got to talking and let it soak longer than it should've and it got pretty hot ...hotter than normal due to the fresh refractory. I let it cool a bit and turned down the forge and started to forge it. After a couple heats the tip broke off! And the grain was enormous... It actually crumbled much in the same way as hot shorting wrought iron does... Or some of the uber high C orishigane I've made. I then started thermocycling for grain reduction but it started doing it again when i resumed forging. I then let it cool and polished a portion to see if it was shear steel or something.. but no etching pattern. It is now in perlite for a full anneal.

 

It never threw sparks in my forge.. So I'm sure I didn't burn it. But what could be going on? It sparks almost identically to 1095. Maybe it was in a house fire? Does the 19th century crucible steel behave that way?

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Steel does not always spark in the gas forge when it's burning

Let not the swords of good and free men be reforged into plowshares, but may they rest in a place of honor; ready, well oiled and God willing unused. For if the price of peace becomes licking the boots of tyrants, then "To Arms!" I say, and may the fortunes of war smile upon patriots

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It's possible I suppose... but I've never done it at the mouth of my forge... it's happened in the bottom of my vertical right where the blast is coming out. And the color (my thermocouple hasn't been put back into place) sure didn't look capable of burning.... welding maybe.

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A neighbor of mine wanted me to forge him a blade from an old file he found. It was a nice thick bastard type.... But no manufacturer's stamp at all. Very worn. But no real idea of age. Now I had just re-lined my forge with new kaowool, satanite and castable and this was the first run. I got to talking and let it soak longer than it should've and it got pretty hot ...hotter than normal due to the fresh refractory. I let it cool a bit and turned down the forge and started to forge it. After a couple heats the tip broke off! And the grain was enormous... It actually crumbled much in the same way as hot shorting wrought iron does... Or some of the uber high C orishigane I've made. I then started thermocycling for grain reduction but it started doing it again when i resumed forging. I then let it cool and polished a portion to see if it was shear steel or something.. but no etching pattern. It is now in perlite for a full anneal.

 

It never threw sparks in my forge.. So I'm sure I didn't burn it. But what could be going on? It sparks almost identically to 1095. Maybe it was in a house fire? Does the 19th century crucible steel behave that way?

 

 

Scott,

 

Your post is timely..I am just clearing some workspace to make some knives from old Nicholson files. ? Did you grind off the teeth prior to forging? It sounds like you burnt steel to me. Files are not made from plain carbon steel and do have some alloying. I am used to working with no alloy carbon steel and would likely have repeated your experience had you not posted this (really plain carbon steel is worked at a relatively high temp) .

The plan is to forge the (CLEANED) files without grinding the teeth and to remove the layer of scale, decarb and teeth in one operation. Here is an analysis of one type of file a fellow posted on the net: I thank him very much and if anyone knows his name, please add it.

 

Nicholson File

1.23%C .37%Mn .21%Si .16%Cr .09%Ni .04%Mo

(extra low P & S and very low W, Ti, Al, B, Cu)

Here all this time I figured it was plain ol' 1095, turns out to be

a steel that's referred to quite a bit in most metallurgy books but

is not named, numbered or listed by AISI or SAE, only referred to as

"1.22% carbon steel". Taps, dies and reamers are also made of it.

So, a using-knife made from old files will be in good company. ;-)

 

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Jan I've been forging files for years and have never had anything like this happen. I don't grind off the teeth..even on big farrier's rasps. I may grind a bit where the bevels will be forged down.. but I always leave enough to grind through the teeth anyway.

 

The only other time that I've forged a file WITHOUT a maker's stamp .. it turned out to be shear steel. At least it had an etching pattern and was VERY shallow hardening. If it is a modern file then it is very odd not to have any indication of a manufacturer. All I know is that it sparks like mad.

 

But again... I know my forge pretty well and would be very surprised if I burned it. But like I said.. the forge was newly lined and I had a visitor so it is possible. But it's also possible it was in a house fire due to the condition it was in.. as well as the other tools in the old box he found. Who knows!? I'm going to take another look later today after the anneal.

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Jan I've been forging files for years and have never had anything like this happen. I don't grind off the teeth..even on big farrier's rasps. I may grind a bit where the bevels will be forged down.. but I always leave enough to grind through the teeth anyway.

 

The only other time that I've forged a file WITHOUT a maker's stamp .. it turned out to be shear steel. At least it had an etching pattern and was VERY shallow hardening. If it is a modern file then it is very odd not to have any indication of a manufacturer. All I know is that it sparks like mad.

 

But again... I know my forge pretty well and would be very surprised if I burned it. But like I said.. the forge was newly lined and I had a visitor so it is possible. But it's also possible it was in a house fire due to the condition it was in.. as well as the other tools in the old box he found. Who knows!? I'm going to take another look later today after the anneal.

 

Scott,

I cannot recall seeing an unmarked file ..it may be the manufacturer considered it to be a "second" and did not want their name on it. One can imagine many reasons files may not come up to specs.

Jan

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I've had a file crumble while forging, its caused by overheating, even at welding heat its gonna crumble. That composition is very close to blue paper steel #1B, which also can crumble if noy worked very carefully. I usually turn files into tools like chisels rather than a blade, but I know files don't forge weld too well either, due too it crumbling, depending on manufacturer.

Edited by Steven Gillespie
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well that is interesting Steven. Like I said.. it's never happened to me before. And I've even welded up files with no issues. But they've usually been Nicholson or Save Edge. I've had several not harden though!

 

I haven't yet taken the file out of the annealing box yet.. hopefully learn more today. I wouldn't keep pursuing it.. but I owe my neighbor a favor and he really wanted a knife from it.

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I have gotten by with accidentally abusing a couple Nicholsons and Simonds and the like, but I've had one of those old big ones do some nasty things at a yellow heat.

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Yeah... something was different about the steel for sure on this one. BUT.. I'm fully submitting that I overheated it too. I've been forge welding the last couple of days and the heat that is coming out of my forge right now is ridiculous. I melted my stainless working platform that bridges the two openings in my vertical forge! Can't believe what that re-lining job did...

 

 

I have gotten by with accidentally abusing a couple Nicholsons and Simonds and the like, but I've had one of those old big ones do some nasty things at a yellow heat.

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Jan,

 

The steel described below is AISI/ASSTM W112, JIS SK2, DIN C 125 W, Werkstoff #1.1563. Budderus Mills is one of the producers of this steel. The mang. in the formula you put down is a hair high as the formula calls for .10 to .35. The carbon range is 1.20 to 1.35 and the Si and chrome fall right in place. It's one of the higher carbon W-1's. On the low end of the spectrum is C70W1. The same formula with .65 to .74 carbon. I'm thinking that C70W1 with .15 to .20 Vanadium would be an excellent Sword Steel.(In my humble opinion)

 

Scott, I would love to have what's left of that file tested. Send me a piece if there is anything left.

 

Nicholson File

1.23%C .37%Mn .21%Si .16%Cr .09%Ni .04%Mo

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Jan,

 

The steel described below is AISI/ASSTM W112, JIS SK2, DIN C 125 W, Werkstoff #1.1563. Budderus Mills is one of the producers of this steel. The mang. in the formula you put down is a hair high as the formula calls for .10 to .35. The carbon range is 1.20 to 1.35 and the Si and chrome fall right in place. It's one of the higher carbon W-1's. On the low end of the spectrum is C70W1. The same formula with .65 to .74 carbon. I'm thinking that C70W1 with .15 to .20 Vanadium would be an excellent Sword Steel.(In my humble opinion)

 

Scott, I would love to have what's left of that file tested. Send me a piece if there is anything left.

 

Nicholson File

1.23%C .37%Mn .21%Si .16%Cr .09%Ni .04%Mo

 

Aldo, I think it would make a good blade steel as well, the nicholson files I turned into blades, and one into a small chisel has cut and held its edge suprisingly well at full hardness.

Are you thinking of stocking this steel for sale?

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Aldo, I think it would make a good blade steel as well, the nicholson files I turned into blades, and one into a small chisel has cut and held its edge suprisingly well at full hardness.

Are you thinking of stocking this steel for sale?

 

 

Steven,

Is the file steel blade getting an oil or a water quench? I am quenching my second (#2) file blade (Nicholson) in water later today....#1 has cracked......after #3 I am changing to oil ( unless it is working well by then). Temperature judgement is based on running the forge, or I should say the thermocouple, at 800 C and looking at my steel....I do soak a long time (10 minutes or more) while shielding the exposed edge , as I want the metal under the clay to get up to temperature as well.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Steven,

Is the file steel blade getting an oil or a water quench? I am quenching my second (#2) file blade (Nicholson) in water later today....#1 has cracked......after #3 I am changing to oil ( unless it is working well by then). Temperature judgement is based on running the forge, or I should say the thermocouple, at 850 C and looking at my steel....I do soak a long time (10 minutes or more) while shielding the exposed edge , as I want the metal under the clay to get up to temperature as well.

 

Jan

 

NIchloson file prior to normalizing and hardening/tempering...the closest steel data I have here is that of W-1 , I will go with that. The normalizing will allow me to see if that clay stays on through a heat cycle ( through the quench?, we will see). Remaining are some of the cutting marks left from the days it was a file...these are on the list of probable causes for cracks..especially where they intersect the flat area which will be the cutting edge of the blade.

 

Blade length is about 18 cm .

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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hehe.. didn't even realize this thread was still going. Aldo... I'd be happy to send you that file. I annealed it but never did anything with it. Turns out I used the wrong file anyway.. it wasn't the one he originally gave me. I have no idea where it came from....

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Tink......tink,tink

 

 

Aldo,.

 

That is exactly what #1 sounded like...... a tink, a lapse, and then a couple (3) of more tinks...I found a pile of these files in an old used tools store, they were all wrapped up in bundles of 10 ( one dollar each) and most are quite usable...so I sacrifice a few to Water , so what. We can tweek water to be about as slow as oil though I will not do that...might as well go with oil in that case.

 

I will run with 80 Deg F water and use distilled water. I like all that carbon, if it works I can make that steel one crucible at a time.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Aldo,.

 

That is exactly what #1 sounded like...... a tink, a lapse, and then a couple (3) of more tinks...I found a pile of these files in an old used tools store, they were all wrapped up in bundles of 10 ( one dollar each) and most are quite usable...so I sacrifice a few to Water , so what. We can tweek water to be about as slow as oil though I will not do that...might as well go with oil in that case.

 

I will run with 80 Deg F water and use distilled water. I like all that carbon, if it works I can make that steel one crucible at a time.

 

Jan

 

Aldo,

I just put the blade into the neighbor's discarded toaster oven ( no confidence in the temps )...Water,..distilled, somewhere in the 70-77 Deg F range..blade soaked 10 minutes only the clay edge exposed to the furnace..insulation removed from exposed blade ( that area was also hot but not quite up to temp) got it all up to furnace temp and quenched. It was a struggle to get my gas forge to stay at that low a temperature I had to trick the gas and air flow and constantly adjust it. I am not familiar with hamon polishing ( this is a to be used knife and the hamon will live mainly at the point of presentation )....I will post a pic of the hamon. I have my fingers crossed. Blade #3 will be done the same way . I need a heat treating furnace.

 

Jan

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Steve,

 

The HIGH carbon or the LOWER carbon?................or both! :unsure:/>

 

Aldo, the higher the carbon the better, its got a good composition for a hardy wood chisel, or a slashing blade. Id save time and money buying files and waiting for them to dull to use them for my chisels, plus id rather buy from you, and i cant buy the bulk required for a mill order. :unsure: What is the composition for the lower carbon? i did a search, but google didnt bring anything good.

 

 

And Jan, i water quench all my steels except for 5160 and 9260, i normalize, quench, then go slightly above austenization, and air cool, work on the blade, clay if needed, then heat to a high red,low orange is what it looks like on my forge wall, hold for about 5 minutes to dissolve any carbides, then quench, count to 5 pull, count to 3, and fully cool, then i proceed to re heat the blade till the steel will dance water, any higher and it will be too soft, lower and it will be brittle and hard. i use this for certain blades though.

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Aldo, the higher the carbon the better, its got a good composition for a hardy wood chisel, or a slashing blade. Id save time and money buying files and waiting for them to dull to use them for my chisels, plus id rather buy from you, and i cant buy the bulk required for a mill order. :unsure:/>/>/> What is the composition for the lower carbon? i did a search, but google didnt bring anything good.

 

 

And Jan, i water quench all my steels except for 5160 and 9260, i normalize, quench, then go slightly above austenization, and air cool, work on the blade, clay if needed, then heat to a high red,low orange is what it looks like on my forge wall, hold for about 5 minutes to dissolve any carbides, then quench, count to 5 pull, count to 3, and fully cool, then i proceed to re heat the blade till the steel will dance water, any higher and it will be too soft, lower and it will be brittle and hard. i use this for certain blades though.

 

Aldo,

The steel is performing very well as a knife ( #2) ..but even after lots of grinding, I can still see the bottoms of the cuts in the file steel...I will test some bars with all the teeth ground off prior to forging..I am saving the cut-off pieces of file for a crucible melt. The hamon pretty much follows the clay line shown above and is about 6mm wide..the finished blades will not show the hamon as I can only invest x amount of time per blade. I can only compare this to a blade brought to me from Japan san mai (probably white#1) steel...after only a little testing I would say they are in the same area on the scale.

 

When I etched the area of #1 under the clay with Ferric Sulfate ( Black furnace cement ) the area etched dark black.....when I etched #2 the same way ( my own clay formula, some of which popped off during the steam area on the cooling curve) it was only slightly black.....I assume #1 was fully austenized and #2 was not (#1 was too thin and got too hot and cracked).....this steel may be better heat treated by not fully austenizing.

 

I will keep you posted on any interesting developments as I get into this set of blades.

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Aldo,

The steel is performing very well as a knife ( #2) ..but even after lots of grinding, I can still see the bottoms of the cuts in the file steel...I will test some bars with all the teeth ground off prior to forging..I am saving the cut-off pieces of file for a crucible melt. The hamon pretty much follows the clay line shown above and is about 6mm wide..the finished blades will not show the hamon as I can only invest x amount of time per blade. I can only compare this to a blade brought to me from Japan san mai (probably white#1) steel...after only a little testing I would say they are in the same area on the scale.

 

When I etched the area of #1 under the clay with Ferric Sulfate ( Black furnace cement ) the area etched dark black.....when I etched #2 the same way ( my own clay formula, some of which popped off during the steam area on the cooling curve) it was only slightly black.....I assume #1 was fully austenized and #2 was not (#1 was too thin and got too hot and cracked).....this steel may be better heat treated by not fully austenizing.

 

I will keep you posted on any interesting developments as I get into this set of blades.

ive been cracking alot of clayed blades lately, im suspecting due to being not fully austinized, or getting too hot to austinize, then not letting get to a lower temp to quench, my lat blade, a tanto from a left over piece of aldo's 1075 gained a 1/2" of sori, and sheared its edge in several spots, i did it during the day, so temp was off... :mellow: I use satanite, and mix it thin for a slurry coat, then thick to a plastic like state, i did a piece with a file, and the hamon was good, but nothing like a piece of W2, W1, or 1075. though im interested to try some barstock file steel, of know chemistry.

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ive been cracking alot of clayed blades lately, im suspecting due to being not fully austinized, or getting too hot to austinize, then not letting get to a lower temp to quench, my lat blade, a tanto from a left over piece of aldo's 1075 gained a 1/2" of sori, and sheared its edge in several spots, i did it during the day, so temp was off... :mellow:/>/>/>/>/> I use satanite, and mix it thin for a slurry coat, then thick to a plastic like state, i did a piece with a file, and the hamon was good, but nothing like a piece of W2, W1, or 1075. though im interested to try some barstock file steel, of know chemistry.

 

 

Steven,

I cant follow the rational as to why your blades are cracking..maybe I am missing some knowledge as to how austenizing happens.

There are about 7 forged files waiting to be rough ground and heat treated...a couple are very thin and may be done in oil or even water if none of the thicker ones crack. Forging files is a pain and grinding or not grinding the teeth is a problem either way. It looks like a file steel crucible melt is going to get done early Jan 2013.

Heat treatment will go like this a) 800 C furnace B) prehheat the coated spine for 15 minutes, while insulating the edge --- after 15 minutes expose the insulated edge and let it come up to just under 800 C ( I am looking for 760 C) ....quench c) preheat and stir quenching water (distilled) to about 82 F prior to starting heat treating sequence. ( after the 15-18 minutes it will be about 75 F) ..no furnace cement, just a clay coating. Quenching is done in a little SS mud pan as used by plasterers..it holds about 3/4 gallons.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Steven,

I cant follow the rational as to why your blades are cracking..maybe I am missing some knowledge as to how austenizing happens.

There are about 7 forged files waiting to be rough ground and heat treated...a couple are very thin and may be done in oil or even water if none of the thicker ones crack. Forging files is a pain and grinding or not grinding the teeth is a problem either way. It looks like a file steel crucible melt is going to get done early Jan 2013.

Heat treatment will go like this a) 800 C furnace B)/>/>/>/> prehheat the coated spine for 15 minutes, while insulating the edge --- after 15 minutes expose the insulated edge and let it come up to just under 800 C ( I am looking for 760 C) ....quench c) preheat and stir quenching water (distilled) to about 82 F prior to starting heat treating sequence. ( after the 15-18 minutes it will be about 75 F) ..no furnace cement, just a clay coating. Quenching is done in a little SS mud pan as used by plasterers..it holds about 3/4 gallons.

 

Jan

 

There are 6 heat treated file blades..one was clayed and hardened twice, two cracked ( I believe I know why, in both cases) ...so there are 4 blades to continue working on. If the blades perform well, I will continue the water quenching..the little tray is a nuisance as the water gets too hot when multiple blades need quenching.

 

The above routine was followed..I reduced the thickness of the clay and abandoned the insulating pieces...

Jan

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Your water may be too cold or temp too high on those blades? The one with the sheared edge looked like my little tanto but add about 4 more shears on it. As for the water getting too hot, for water quenching the waters temp doesn't matter as long as its not cold. And the hot water also seems to be a plus for sori compared to cold water. I quench all mu blades except for my 5160 and 9260 in water because thoae seem to be finicky in water compared to 52100. And my clayed blades so far have been a disaster. I may have to sacrifice to the god of heat treating or catvh the water gremlins. :unsure:

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