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John Lynch

Steel vs Blade uses

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Hey guys, I have been doing a bunch of research in HT for my 52100 and a question came to mind and I figured I go to the collective to get an answer.

 

Is the HT recipe more to do with the steel type or the use of the blade. I am following Mr Fowler's recipe for 52100 cuz, let's face the man know his schtuff! But, that doesn't mean that he isn't doing it for EDC's or hunter's or what have you.

 

Just thought I'd toss it out there!

Thanks for all the help so far!

 

 

John

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I don't read anything Ed Fowler writes, but 52100 comes in several chemistries and heat treatment for end use is something to consider.

There is a good article by a guy names Stickels that should be read.

 

 

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02643140?LI=true

"Metallurgical Transactions

April 1974, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 865-874
Carbide refining heat treatments for 52100 bearing steel

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Ok, lets see if I can walk this mine field without setting anything off. Ed Fowler is a skilled knife maker but some of his heat treating practices do not meet industry practice and procedures. I would not do a triple quench with something as high carbon as 52100 due to the formation of very microscopic fractures that will happen with something as high carbon as it is. Without evidence that three times quenching does not increase that cracking I would he hesitant to do it. It is much better to austinize once to dissolve adequate carbon in the steel to form martensite but not so much that it creates a lot of retained austinite. That's the main reason that I don't like to use steel with that level of carbon in it to heat treat in a gas forge. It can be done with care but it's also easy to do wrong and most of us have not way of telling which way it went without precise heat control. I would much rather stick with a lower carbon steel that is more reliable in a gas forge when heat treating.

 

As far a whether or not whether the heat treating routine is due to the particular steel alloy or intended blade use. The answer is yes to both. Each alloy has it's own characteristics when it comes to heat treating. The 52100 that you mention requires a 5-10 minute soak at somewhere around 1450°-1475°, while 5160 with it lower carbon and chromium content can be heated a bit hotter and only long enough to heat evenly throughout. Some of the stainless steels and complex tool steels might need a preheat and then a soak at around 1800° for a half hour or more.

 

If I were making a knife that was for slicing only, such as a caping knife I might temper for an HRc of around 60-61. I it were to be a chopper I would temper it softer to get a tougher edge, maybe HRc 56-57. I might even go a little lower for a sword.

 

Doug

Edited by Doug Lester

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Specification for Henry Wilkinson's "Sword Steel"

 

Carbon................0.90 to 1,00%

Silicon.................0.20% Maximum

Manganese..........0.15 to 0.35%

Sulphur...............0.02% Maximum

Phosphorous......... 0.02% Maximum

 

They basically used the same steel to make swords that they used to make razors... and the swords had an extraordinary reputation against breaking. They simply tempered it differently, depending on the application.

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So, basically, Wilkinson uses a low manganese 1095 for sword making.

 

Doug

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As did Richtig of "Ripley's Believe it or Not" fame for his knives.

As do Nicholson for their files (or did 12-15 years ago).

 

 

Much is not known, but much is.

The Mystery of Steel is real, but we do not help things by avoiding science.

 

Ric

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Much is not known, but much is.

The Mystery of Steel is real, but we do not help things by avoiding science.

 

Ric

I think ill keep this quote on tab in my brain. Well said, Ric

 

As for design/steel, my mentor told me that there is only one rule for our craft, he called it the golden rule, he was refering to the golden ratio i believe, and explained that every knife is designed and made revolving around its intent, and purpose. setting the steel aside, im not gonna heat treat my razors to chop down a tree, and im not gonna heat treat my axe to shave my face. Steel should be the last factor to complete the design, depending on ones preference, and its characteristics, some steels were never intended to become a blade, but still do.

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I hear ya, Ric. I wish there wasn't the divide between the art of heat treating steel and the science of heat treating steel but that's a fact that we have to live with. Just the way it is.

 

Doug

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I hear ya, Ric. I wish there wasn't the divide between the art of heat treating steel and the science of heat treating steel but that's a fact that we have to live with. Just the way it is.

 

Doug

One must find the balance between science and art. There is mis-information on both sides.

 

Do what works best for you and carry on. :)

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So, basically, Wilkinson uses a low manganese 1095 for sword making.

 

Doug

Aldo's 1095 fits the specs nicely, doesn't it...just needs a touch of vanadium and then it would be perfect, but then it would be w2... :)

 

My point is that one can make both small, fine-edged cutting instruments and large, tough-edged cutting instruments form the same type of steel by adjusting the heat-treatment (and edge geometry!) to suite the final use. There is also a good argument for using a steel known for toughness (say L6) for blades that need extra toughness, adjusting the alloy for the intended use. Both approaches have their merits.

 

That information on Wilkinson swords applies to their blades from earlier this century, Wilkinson has changed hands a few times in the past 30 years, I have no idea what steel they use now. I'm not sure they even make swords anymore....

Edited by GEzell

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