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hard steel from mild steel?


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I was wandering if it is possible to take regular mild steel (table legs, steel cans, fridge doors etc.) And make it usable for knifes. I was thinking about making a tatara/bloomery and processing it through that instead of iron sand. Of course it would have to be cut up real small but I enjoy the extra work as long as it's not a waste of time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

domum chalybs passio

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Don't bother running it through a smelter. You'll lose a significant amount of material. You could run it through a hearth melter to add carbon. You'll lose less material, but still a considerable amount. I recommend case hardening. Pack your material in a steel or ceramic tube, pack it with charcoal, and seal it. Build a large-ish bonfire and get your vessel to a nice orange color and hold it for awhile. If your material is already thin, 2 hours should be sufficient, if it's in the 1/2" to 1" thick range, you might be better off running a hearth. There are some nice topics in the buttons and bloomers section about it

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I'm experimenting with making shear/blister steel from mild steel.. instead of wrought iron. If you look through the pinned Bloomers and Buttons topics you will see a good thread on hearth steel. Or better yet... Take a course through Door County Forgeworks.. Ric Furrer.

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The problem with using a full sized bloomery furnace isn't material loss, it has too much time in the carbon and will make cast iron, basicly you're building a cupola. A small hearth will make decent high carbon steel, but it can be alot of work to process up the puck afterwards, sometimes not.

 

 

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i wouldn't waist the time striping the paint

 

if you want to work with scrap go with old rusty steel nothing chromed or painted

Brandon Sawisch bladesmith

 

eagles may soar but weasels don't get sucked in to jet engines

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I must agree with Brandon. While it is possible to remelt mild scrap into higher carbon steel blooms with a small hearth or Aristotle furnace, since you're just starting out it would be a waste of time and resources you should better spend elsewhere. You don't know what the alloy is, for one thing, or what it's coated with under the paint. Zinc or chrome fumes will make you sick, cadmium fumes will kill you.

 

I'd suggest finding a local spring shop and asking politely if you could have a bucket of drops from their new leaf spring stock. Old springs are a possibility, but you run the risk of finding stress fractures. They often don't show up until the final polish, which is always a bummer.

 

I'd be willing to bet there's a local smithing guild near you that can help you get started as well. For example, a quick search gave me this: http://www.bamsite.org/ , the homepage of the Blacksmith's Association of Missouri. Their January meeting is just north of Columbia on the 14th, and apparently they meet in a different location all over the state and the surrounding ones as well. I know you want to jump straight into knives, but basic blacksmithing is a vital skill to have, especially for toolmaking.

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A lot of good advice. Thank you all. There's actually a lamower shop not far from my house. I think i'll pay them a visit. But i'm actually not wanting to jump straight into knives yet. I need better tools for that. so i have to learn how to make them first. On that note would RR spikes be good for hammers and drifters?

domum chalybs passio

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