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8660 steel for axes?


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I've found some 8660 at 44mm round for a very reasonable price, but i'm not sure how suitable it would be for axes. My concern comes from this sentence, from Heat Treater's Guide Companion "The hardenability band is relatively wide, but the hardenability can be very high, actually approaching that of an air-hardening steel."

 

My concern it that when working on the lips of an axe with it on a drift, you loose heat very quickly, so i'm wondering if cracking would be a problem?

 

Any information, or experience forging this steel would be greatly appreciated.

 

I can also get 4140 quite cheaply, but it has a max as quenched hardness of 55hrc, then after tempering you would be looking at low 50's hrc. I'm thinking i want about 55hrc minimum for the axe.

 

Any thoughts on this? I know a lot of people make axes from 4140.

 

Thanks

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My arm is starting to hurt just thinking about moving that much 8660. It will definitely be quite hard to forge, but if you keep your working temps up near forge welding it should be doable I would think. Never played with it myself though. If you forge weld a 4140 bit into some mild then you could get by with very little temper after a water quench and still be good.

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Thanks Jerrod and Conner, not too concerned about it being slightly red hard as i'll be using a power hammer, but the possibility of cracking is a problem. I've been trying to avoid doing forge welded cutting bits, but seems it might be my best option.

 

What do you guys think of using o1 as the cutting edge at about 58hrc? I can get 1020, 1040 or 1050 steel for the body, what do you think would work best?

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If you can get a large amount of 1050 then it doesn't necessarily need a bit in it as 1050 will harden in water (or oil in thin cross sections) as quenched hardness should be 58-60 hrc, then do a light temper ( 350 or so). But if you are set on getting something screaming hard and wear resistant on the edge there are steels that handle welding temps better than o1 ( the first spark you see on o1 means it's just about ruined) but any true high carbon steel welded into either 1020 or 1040 will give you a good axe.

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Ok cheers, well i think i'll get some 8660 to try out, as it sounds like a pretty good steel for axes, but i'll also get some 1050 in case i keep getting cracks (trying to get the most out of the $75 delivery charge).

 

Conner i'm curious about what you said about ruining o1 with too much heat. I tried doing some research, but came up empty. Do you have any info regarding exact temperatures that ruin o1? as i plan on forge welding some soon. I usually forge weld my 1084 and 15n20 billets at about 1250 degrees C. Never gotten sparks at that temperature.

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I had problems in a coal forge, it was too bright out and I couldn't see the true color of the steel so I was working it both too hot and too cold causing massive grain growth, as long as you don't see sparks you should be OK. But for reference the heat treaters guide puts the forging range of o1 between 1065*c and 845*c

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Ok thanks Conner, I'm using a propane forge, and i think i'd have to be trying to burn steel, although the slightly higher carbon in O1 may lower the burning temperature...? i'll have to see.

 

Sorry for all the questions, but i've just found Ketos (apparent equivalent of O1) on the steel suppliers stock list. I can get 75 X 20mm ketos for $3.50 a kg.

 

So my questions are:

Does anyone know the exact composition of Ketos? Because i have found a few different versions, some containing no vanadium or no tungsten. Would the lack of either of those two elements make any big difference in as quenched HRC? Or would i just temper the same as O1? Also any reason Ketos would not be good for axes?

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Both tungsten and vanadium are for grain refinement and carbide formation, but I don't think it will have much affect on the as quenched HRC in the quantity present but it will make the hardening range slightly narrower and a higher chance of grain growth during extended soaks. O1 is a reasonably tough steel but unless you gust do an edge quench or draw the temper back on the eye it may be too brittle in the thin sections of the eye, but who knows, experimentation will reveal the truth.

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Thanks a heap Conner for all your input. Really helpful. I will definitely be drawing the temper on the eye and poll. Any idea whether i should be tempering the same as O1? or do i need to slightly adjust my temps up or down?

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