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JamesK

Axe Build - Steel "Powdered"

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So I was planning on turning an old, rusty, cheap camp axe into a shiny Viking style axe with a modified handle. All was going well but then I noticed that around the beard of the axe the steel got way too soft, like almost play-dough like soft, every strike would send it back super far and I got a lot of folds and the steel ultimately started deteriorating. When it cooled down it looked almost powder-y and I don't know why. Could it have gotten to that point because it was too hot? Or maybe it was just really cheap steel? Also, when I tried grinding it to shape (and failed), it produced a lot of sparks so it was definitely very high in carbon. My three guesses are it was either too hot and I overheated the steel or it was a very low quality steel that deteriorated over time

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Oh and if I were to buy a $10-$20 axe to try again, would I most likely get the same results with steel that cheap?

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The crumblies are caused by getting it too hot.  It may also be cast steel, which is not particularly forgeable.

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5 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

The crumblies are caused by getting it too hot.  It may also be cast steel, which is not particularly forgeable.

If it gets to that point how do I prevent it from crumbling, or how do I "reverse" it

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If it gets to that point you're screwed and have to start over.  The steel has broken apart at the grain boundaries and oxidized, and nothing short of re-smelting it will fix it.  

To prevent it in the first place, never get it hotter than yellow, and some high-carbon steels don't even like to be that hot.  Sparks coming off high carbon steel in the forge is a very bad thing, and indicates the steel is literally burning. Never forge colder than medium red heat.  All high carbon steels will crack if forged too cold.

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