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L6


Geoff Keyes
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I recently had an opportunity to work in L6, a steel I've not used before. I ran across a thread from another forum which suggested that L6 could be treated as an air hardening steel. I wanted to test this before getting in too deep. I took some cutoff from the project and following this http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/655904-All-about-L6, used the procedure in the PDF below.

 

I had 4 coupons of the steel (Aldos L6, 0.225 not ground to remove the decarb)

 

1 I left as delivered

1 air quenched with no temper

1 air quenched, tempered @ 400 for 2, 4 hour sessions

1 oil quenched, tempered @ 400 for 2, 4 hour sessions

 

Detrich at Podforge allowed me to use his Rockwell tester and we got the following results

 

#1 tested 18 Rc +/- 1.5

#2 tested 65 Rc +/- 1.5

#3 tested 55 Rc +/- 1.5

#4 tested 54 Rc +/- 1.5

 

There is a very nice PDF for L6 here http://www.burgessknives.com/media/L6.pdf, and this is the procedure I used. I can't talk about the project, yet, except to say it's a hard duty blade and in the informal tests I've done so far, it's beating my expectations by a lot.

 

Hope this is useful to folks,

 

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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  • 11 months later...

so i recently got ahold of a number of crosscut saws and drag saws for nearly free. i have read a lot about them being a good steel to work with and have forged a few blades out of it so far, and am now at the question of what kind of steel im working with? i have read quite a bit about saw blades being made out of L6 but have also read that newer sawblades are no longer made from the same materials. so, im wondering does this apply to older steels such as drag and cross cut saws. from my understanding it depends of the manufacturer of the saws, and what they used when these were largely in production. i know a little bit about spark testing and the differences in appearance but am not well-versed enough in sparks to know subtle differences to allow me to identify what steel it is. im hoping someone can shed a little light on the subject and help me confirm or deny that the steel i am working with is or is not L6 and perhaps share any other facts or knowledge they might have about this. thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions.

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There is a simple test. Heat a piece to non-magnetic and let it air cool. Then stick it in a vise and and try and break it. If it breaks (so it air hardened) then it's L6 or something very like it. If it bends, then it's some other sort of carbon steel.

 

If the blades are 19th century or older, they might be shear steel. If they are are early 20th century, they are likely L6 or 1095(?). If they are recent, they might be some sort of steel for the body and welded or sintered teeth.

 

As with all mystery steel, you are going to have to test it to find out anything important. You'll probably have to test each blade, since you may not know anything about the manufacturers. You could have samples tested in a lab, but if you're working in mystery steel, I'm betting that you won't go that far.

 

A picture of the surface of the saw, and a piece polished and etched might be helpful.

 

Geoff

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"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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Thank you for the info. I did the tests you suggested and found that the two saws I tested indeed bent so not L6. Photos below are of the two saws I tested. One was crosscut saw and one was a thicker drag saw. So being as it may, based on this info is there any lean towards shear steel or an unknown carbon steel? When I grind it there are a lot of sparks with bursts and tails from the bursts of that helps much. One last thing is, I did not etch these because I don't have etching solution. image.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpg

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Also if you can give me some suggestions of how to better understand spark testing or point me in the right direction to find information on the subject I'd be greatly appreciative. I'd love to learn all I can about this stuff. I am doing all of this on the poor side of the street so it will likely be scrap smithing for the most part (leaf springs, saw blades, plow steel and the like depending on what I can scrounge up)

Thanks again for the assistance.

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At best, a spark test is fairly blunt instrument. Try reading this.

 

At a guess, and that is all that it is, I'd say the two saws are 1095. Test that by heating to non-magnetic and quenching in oil. It should snap right off in the vise. If not, then try a water quench. If scrap is what you can afford, then you will need to become good at testing so that you will know how to heat treat your work. That means cutting a piece off, heat to non-mag, oil quench, test for hardness, temper and test for toughness. There really isn't any other way.

 

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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At best, a spark test is fairly blunt instrument. Try reading this.

 

At a guess, and that is all that it is, I'd say the two saws are 1095. Test that by heating to non-magnetic and quenching in oil. It should snap right off in the vise. If not, then try a water quench. If scrap is what you can afford, then you will need to become good at testing so that you will know how to heat treat your work. That means cutting a piece off, heat to non-mag, oil quench, test for hardness, temper and test for toughness. There really isn't any other way.

 

Geoff

Thanks geoff. I did do a quench in canola oil and it hardened and snapped with ease. The structure inside is fine grain. I'll pull out my good camera out and take a few photos of the pieces I tried air hardening and the piece I oil quenched. I'll be back with photos a little later today. And I'll check the link you sent me.

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Well I'm having trouble uploading photos of grain structure but I did some spark tests and in contrast with the link you sent me geoff the Sparks look more to me like the manganese steel. That being said I'm fairly new to spark testing but the diagrams help tremendously and as I said the Sparks I got look more like the manganese spark diagram. Correct me if I am wrong on this. Here are some spark photos again of the 2 saws I have been testing. The first 3 photos are one saw and the last 3 are the other.

image.jpg

image.jpg

image.jpg

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image.jpg

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Like I said, spark tests are a pretty blunt tool. As it's mystery steel, if you can get a pretty good heat treat on it, that is going to have to satisfy.

 

Looks HC to me.

 

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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Cool deal. Well I really appreciate the help and added direction. I'm going to roll with it and also start collecting things I know the make up of. By the way I checked out your web page and dig your work. I like the description of why you do what you do. Cheers and thanks again

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