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First post here, annnd it's a newbie question


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I'm just starting off, and I mean literally as in this evening I will start my first knife. Depending on the answer to this question though, lol. 

I have a small pipe to use but I'm not exactly sure what it is or if it's even useable for a knife. It's stamped "3/8 S160 A1068 S W 21397". Now the A1068 could be 6B or 88 it's kinda hard to make out and the W after the S is really compressed so it may be just a shape that to me looks like a W. What metal is it and is it okay to use to make a knife? I have access to a plentiful supply of it, so hopefully it is lol

And before I get possibly reprimanded for using a pipe, since I don't have flux, this it just a knife to get a little hands on time making lol. I have just basic tools for forging/knife making, no fancy pneumatic hammers, power tools, etc and a DIY forge I have thrown together (and used before just melting aluminum cans but it will get to temperature for a lot of other higher melting point metals, I've done it before out of boredom/curiosity lol). 

Apologies for the long post!

IMG_0116.JPG

Edited by TBarnes
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I'm no industry expert, but I have never seen or heard of steel pipe with a high enough carbon content to make a decent knife blade--hardness is not really a desireable characteristic in pipes. The A1068 code is an industry standard having something to do with galvanization, so it also might be galvanized, which will produce highly toxic fumes at forging heat (until it burns off, anyway). The only thing I've ever seen a bladesmith use any kind of pipe for is spear sockets. 

As for tooling, you are only limited by your skill and patience with the tools you have available. Most guys on the forum don't have power hammers. I'd wager that a majority of us use a DIY forge, too. 

TL;DR, Mystery pipe is bad. Don't forge mystery pipe. 

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Ok, just found out that it's Carbon Steel ( A106 Grade B ) schedule 160. Anything I should know about it other than that or any tips/advice on how to work it? 0.30% Carbon content (good/bad?)  

 

I have plenty of patience, lol. My outside hobbies are my only 'me time' with two kids and a wife B)  Thank you for the reply!

Edited by TBarnes
Replied to my own post about the same time as I got my first reply
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Don't waste your time with it, it is both toxic to heat because of the galvanizing and does not have enough carbon to harden.  If you are limited to scrap/hardware store stuff, leaf springs, coil springs, and files are usually decent blade steel.

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 Personally I just assume any piping exp that for plumbing and or moving water is galvanized. In case you dont know it is used to prevent corrosion and iz Zinc Based which is not good to heat up and breath in. If however you do heat it in your forge a good sign is the color of the flame and a whitish residue that will show up on your forge. 

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Imho, it doesn't look galvanized, but I wouldn't bet on it. I have stripped zinc with an overnight vinegar bath, and very careful sanding (Didn't know about weldable steel at the time). If you're just really attached to that pipe, you could try that.

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Well, It looked galvanized on my desktop, but not on my phone.:huh:  

As I said, .3% carbon is not knife steel.  It will harden a little in cold water, but won't hold an edge for long.  I am more concerned about how you intend to forge it into a blade.  You can forge weld pipe if it's not plated, but that's a lot of effort and time to spend to make a bar of A-36 equivalent structural steel you could get at Home Depot, and that's still not worth making a blade out of.  

By all means use cheap stuff to practice forging if you have it, and pipe is interesting to forge (especially if you try quenching it without plugging one end, makes a great steam cannon that shoots scalding water right up your sleeve), but if your end desire is a usable blade why not use something better for the purpose?  That way if you end up with a shape you like you can actually finish it out as a usable knife.

edited to add, I'm not trying to be discouraging, I am just bemused by the choice of material for the intended result.

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It's free to me is the only reason I am going to use it starting off. I'm not worried about the knife holding an edge, or hardness right now, just trying to get the fundamentals of moving metal around into a knife. I have an old tire iron I was going to use as practice also, maybe that's a bad idea too?

What would I look for at a Lowes for a knife metal?

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Tire irons are fine.  Lowes doesn't sell anything bladeworthy except files, but their "weldable steel" is okay for practice and is the same stuff as that piece of pipe, minus the big hole in the middle of course.  You can get it cheaper from any welding shop.  If you want real blade steel, you can order some 1075, 1084, or 5160 from Aldo Bruno, newjerseysteelbaron.com for a few cents more than crap steel from Lowes.  If you insist on scrap, find a spring shop and ask to buy thier unused drops or cutoffs.  used leaf spring and coil spring can work, but there is a chance of fatigue cracks, and you won't know if they're present until it's too late.  Leaf springs are also wider and thicker than you may want at first, but you will learn to move tough steel!

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3 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Tire irons are fine.  Lowes doesn't sell anything bladeworthy except files, but their "weldable steel" is okay for practice and is the same stuff as that piece of pipe, minus the big hole in the middle of course.  You can get it cheaper from any welding shop.  If you want real blade steel, you can order some 1075, 1084, or 5160 from Aldo Bruno, newjerseysteelbaron.com for a few cents more than crap steel from Lowes.  If you insist on scrap, find a spring shop and ask to buy thier unused drops or cutoffs.  used leaf spring and coil spring can work, but there is a chance of fatigue cracks, and you won't know if they're present until it's too late.  Leaf springs are also wider and thicker than you may want at first, but you will learn to move tough steel!

Awesome! Thanks for all the help, and patience I'm sure lol! I'm going into this as a hobby not anything super serious, at first,  so I'd like to repurpose some items just for the uniqueness. I've seen knives made from railroad spikes, files, horseshoes, etc that people had laying around and thought they were neat. 

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Steel is made with certain properties built in.  Basic steel is iron, and some amount of carbon.  Some steels contain other things, which make that formulation appropriate for the application.  Some steels have Copper added, which makes them resistant to shearing, some have Lead, which makes them easy to machine.

For knives we want a grade of steel that can be heat treated to make it hard.  We do this because we want a knife that will take an edge (be sharp) and hold an edge (durable) and not break under stress.  You could make a knife out of Copper, and it would be sort of sharp and it would cut some things, for a while, but it's not ideal.

Horse shoes, RR spikes, pipe and other random things can be made into knife shaped objects (KSO), but so could wood or plasterboard, it's just not an ideal material.

If you're (wow, almost typed "your" there, my friends would give me no end of grief if I did that) just looking for forging practice with cheap material, use rebar.  Make hooks and fire pokers and anything else you can think of.  It will be plenty strong and you can do interesting things with the surface texture.  When you are ready to make a knife, find some carbon steel (5160, 1080) and use that.  It's the right stuff for a knife.

It's true that you could make a knife out of iron (rather than steel).  There is a long history of work hardened iron knives.  They are better than your fingernails and teeth, but only just.  That is what your pipe idea would give you, plus the steam cannon.

 

Geoff

 

Edited by Geoff Keyes
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Even more great info! Thanks Geoff!!

 

 I tried to get a picture of my first fail, but doesn't seem to be working. Either way, I have a lot more learning and trial n errors ahead of me lol

IMG_0117.JPG

Edited by TBarnes
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Make note of the things you did that would make you consider this one a "fail".

Now, start another one and don't do those things.

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You've got some deep hammer marks in the piece, and at strange angles to each other.  Either your control needs some work and the hammer is turning in your hand so that you're striking with the edges of the hammer, or, your hammer has really sharp edges on the face.  You will want to crown the hammer face, just a little and roll the sharp edges off.

 

The second thing will help you get better results, learning hammer control will take a little longer.  I suggest 2 things.  Choke up on the handle.  As your wrist and hand get stronger you can slide down the handle.  Use a lighter hammer to start.  Start with a 2 lb hammer and choke up.  as you get better, slide down the handle.  As you can, move to a larger hammer.  Having a small hammer in your kit is a fine thing, you may not used it all that often, but when you need it, there it is.  I've been out of the forging game for nearly a year, so my 2 lb er is pretty handy right now.  As I get my strength back, I can move back to the 5 and 6 lb hammers.

Keep hammering

Geoff

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On Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 4:41 PM, Geoff Keyes said:

I've been out of the forging game for nearly a year, so my 2 lb er is pretty handy right now.  As I get my strength back, I can move back to the 5 and 6 lb hammers.

I was out of it for six months or so, and I've got the same difficulty; my treasured five-pounder has been doing a lot of sitting around as I've been working my way back up from 3 lbs. It's amazing how much fine control of the heavier hammers I seem to have lost not forging regularly. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I suggest finding a local metal scrap yard that is willing to sell to you.  I pick up all kinds of stuff that's decent for practice forging and even knife making for a lot less money that it would be at a metals supplier.  You won't know what alloy you're getting, but car coil and leaf springs must be made of spring steel, which will be hardenable.  

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