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Yet another way to make steel

Lee Sauder

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I've been tinkering with another way to make steel in a charcoal hearth-- basically seeing if I can convert iron into steel in the process of forging a knife. There's a detailed version on my website here- http://www.leesauder.com/smelting_research.php

look under "Quickie Cementation". I'll just give a brief description here- go look, and then I'd like to hear your reactions and ideas here. ...


Here's the hearth setup-

3 hearth-1.jpg


I made a bar like this- which gives surface area to carburize at the same time as I'm layering and refining the iron-



Stuck it in the carburizing zone below the tuyere-

7 heat-1.jpg


I cycled it up to welding heat several times, and then welded it on the last heat. This whole deal taking 15 to 20 minutes-

8 welded-1.jpg


It was dead low carbon before- now sparking with bursts-



I continued to forge it to a blade, heating in the same zone below the tuyere- here's the etch which shows a pretty thorough carburization, with bright lines at the welds-

13 etch-1.jpg


This knife has worked in my kitchen for several weeks, keeps a great edge-

14 finished-1.jpg


I have only tried this with bloom iron, so I don't know how this would work with modern (slag-free) irons, and I haven't pushed it very far either in size or high carbon content. I'd love it if you'd read the pdf, and then play with this, 'cause I bet I won't have time to chase much further down this path anytime soon -share with me what you find!

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Wonderful! This hearth phenomenon is evolving , sometimes by reading what was done historically and sometimes by placing oneself in front of the same challenges those in the past were faced with...I cried when I saw that last picture...that is a good looking knife.



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Cool stuff Lee. I watched you do this last year at Fire and Brimstone, and I've been meaning to give it a try ever since, but I had forgot about it. Glad to see you've kept tinkering with it. I think it's another great method of steel making.





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Pretty cool Lee!!!

I turned that billet from F&B, into a nice seax. It hardened just fine.

Nice experiment.



Mark Green


I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

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I need to try this with some wrought I have.... thank you.

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."

view some of my work

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edit: so maybe clean up that accordion a bit and clay it up with some charcoal fines and.. catalyst of your choice (tanren style)?

Edited by Scott A. Roush
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  • 1 month later...

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