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playing around with farm steel


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Nice looking damascus. One question though. How do you know that it's 1080? I would expect that if you forge welded two similar steel together you would not have the contrast that blade shows after etching.

 

Doug

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Nice looking damascus. One question though. How do you know that it's 1080? I would expect that if you forge welded two similar steel together you would not have the contrast that blade shows after etching.

 

Doug

This is just a guess.

Chances are good that although it's all called 1080, it's not all the same. Probably the steels used for one piece of equipment have slightly different alloying than for other tools/equipment.

 

This is not a guess.

Even when forge welding two pieces from the same bar to each other, the weld seam shows up and some contrast forms. There's something about the anatomy of a forge weld that changes the steel's composition at the weld. Someone a little more versed in metallurgy can probably explain it better than I can.

 

Regardless, it's a pretty neat looking piece of steel you got there Dave. Whatcha gonna do with it?

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Just a small santoku style knife about 4" blade length. Will post again when handled. The cultivator sweeps are 1080 or 1085 pretty much a guarantee. The sickle knives probably have a bit of chrome and manganese as they have to be high wear and they stay sharp after the million cuts they make in a combine mowerbar.

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Joshua, you're right. If you take a bar and fold it back on itself repeatedly and forge weld it it will show a pattern. I think in the Japanese swords that it's referred to a hada but the blade above shows too much contrast. I'm thinking that one of the steels in the mix has more that just a touch of chromium in it. I think that it's wrong to assume that any given piece of junk steel found around the farm is going to be 1080. It could be 1075 or even a lower carbon steel. If one wants to use found steel, I know that I've been temped to, fine but it's still mystery metal with all the problems that come along with it.

 

Doug

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Just a small santoku style knife about 4" blade length. Will post again when handled. The cultivator sweeps are 1080 or 1085 pretty much a guarantee. The sickle knives probably have a bit of chrome and manganese as they have to be high wear and they stay sharp after the million cuts they make in a combine mowerbar.

Sounds good. Please post it when done. I love it when I guess right! Different grades of "1080/1085" some with a little bit of this or that causing the patterning. Sounds like a perfect experiment. Did you keep a small section for heat treat testing?

 

 

If one wants to use found steel, I know that I've been temped to, fine but it's still mystery metal with all the problems that come along with it.

 

Doug

Doug, I don't disagree with you either, but I do have to say that I am finding an almost dogmatic attitude against using "mystery steel" that I find difficult to rationalize when I think about the iron age smiths that we glorify. Weren't they predominantly using "mystery steel"? (MS)

Yes, I understand that we, as modern day smiths, do not have to experiment with MS because we have access to "known" steels and can look up the HT data and all that jive to be reasonably certain that we know what our end product is going to be (except for the minor detail that there's no guarantee the steel you buy is actually what the seller says it is). So why do so many of the people on this forum devote huge amounts of time to smelting and making steel in their backyard? Aren't they pretty much making and using MS? Maybe not the guys who have been at it for a few years now, they might have a decent understanding of the chemical makeup they produce, but certainly when they started out, it was making MS and seeing how well it behaved and functioned. It was experimentation.

 

For me, smithing and making blades is about the journey, not the tool I made today. I enjoy experimenting along the way and think everyone should be encouraged to do more of it. So, experiment with prairie scrap and other cast-off stuff. See what works and what doesn't. Do the testing as you go, just like you should be doing with those blades made from "known steel", and you may find you've made some really cool stuff in the process.

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As one who often recommends known steels for newbies, for me it comes down to years of answering questions from said newbies of "I don't know what this is or what I did, but how do I heat treat this?" There is such a wide range of experience levels here it becomes easy to fall into certain ways of thinking. By all means, if you have the experience to determine what you have and how best to heat treat it, go for it!

 

In this instance we know it's good steel to start with based on the original purpose. And yeah, I am one of those guys who play with homemade steel sometimes, and after 18 years of smithing I almost know what to do with it. Sometimes...

 

Sorry for the hijack, looks like an interesting pattern!

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