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Heat treat craftsman wrench?


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I am going to apologize first because I'm sure it's been asked but couldn't find much when I searched.

 

I am very new to forging. I have wanted to get into the craft for a long time. My wife bought me a cheap forge made from a paint can for my birthday. It just uses one of the small propane fat torch style burners. It works fairly well. She wouldn't let me get the bigger forge because go cheap until I figure out if I'm going to stick with the hobby. She keeps me from being stupid and going "all out" and spending way too much on anything I decide to try lol. 

My question is, does anyone have any experience heat treating a knife made from a craftsmen wrench? I am not sure what kind of steel it is and I understand that wrenches are not the ideal steel for edge retention or knives in general, but I got excited and grabbed the first piece of steel I had lying around. I have a ton of wrenches and I figured it doesn't need to be good because i would probably screw it up being my 1st attempt at forging anything anyway. 

So far it has turned out better than I expected it to until I ran out of propane and couldn't finish forging it completely to the shape I wanted. 

Any information or advice I can get would be really appreciated. 

I plan on getting some good steel but just to play around I have a bunch of scrap sway bars and other stuff because I work in a collision shop. I know it's all mystery steel but to just get a feel for manipulating the metal and getting it to do what I want it will work for now.

 

Thanks again for any advice.

If the pictures worked this is my current setup. 

20171014_162716.jpg20171014_182808.jpg20171014_145757.jpg

 

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Sway bars are your best bet so far. They are most likely made of spring steel. Front sway bars are often hollow while rear sway bars are plain. For spring steel HT go to the heat treatment by alloy tread and search 5160.

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I have 2 sway bars I have been sitting on both are front 1 from a Subaru a I want to say the other was from a hyundai... both are solid sway bars both just under an inch thick so I figured to just mess around and get a feel for it they would be an ok place to start. 

Really curious about heat treating the wrench knife I was making though. If it is something that won't harden at all it will make a nice letter opener or display piece if nothing else.

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I’ve never worked with wrenches, but if it were me I would heat treat it like any simple steel... normalize by heating to non magnetic, let it cool to black color, repeat 3 Times. On the third time let it cool to room temp. Next heat the blade just over non magnetic and quench in veggie/canola oil. Next temper the blade in your oven two 1 hour cycles at 375-400 Fahrenheit.

It’s probably not made of a great steel but why not give it a shot? It will be good practice for when you buy known steel. (Which will most likely to be a simple steel)

it really doesent matter since it’s your first blade, but it would be good practice to heat treat at night so that you can see the colors of the steel. 

Good luck! 

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17 minutes ago, Mason Simonet said:

I’ve never worked with wrenches, but if it were me I would heat treat it like any simple steel... normalize by heating to non magnetic, let it cool to black color, repeat 3 Times. On the third time let it cool to room temp. Next heat the blade just over non magnetic and quench in veggie/canola oil. Next temper the blade in your oven two 1 hour cycles at 375-400 Fahrenheit.

That is best explanation of heat treat process I have seen yet. Easy to understand and right to the point not having to read pages of filler material to get a little info.

Would you preheat the oil or use room temp? I have heard both ways.

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1 hour ago, RyanMac said:

If it is something that won't harden at all it will make a nice letter opener or display piece if nothing else.

This will likely be the case for you.  The only wrench that I have run on the spectrometer wasn't a Craftsman, but actually a higher end (I'm sure everyone has seen their trucks driving around to mechanics shops ;)).  That wrench was only 1040 (once I got through the chrome plating and possibly a carburized layer, I had to grind through a lot to get a good surface to analyze).  I would start by a triple normalize.  The best way to achieve this is not with a magnet, but looking for recalescence and decalescence.  The quench in vegetable/canola oil that is pre-heated to about 130F.  The point of pre-heating the oil is to make it thinner and thus conduct heat better.  Right after quenching you should do a file check on it.  Give it a few passes with a file.  You will likely have a decarb layer to file through that will be soft.  If the blade hardened then after a few passes the file will start to skate rather than bite into the blade.  If it doesn't skate, then it didn't harden.  At that point you can either try quenching again in oil (in case you just didn't get it fast enough the first time), or move on to a water quench.  If your wrench is something like 1040 then the water quench will harden it up enough to make a pretty decent letter opener.  You may get lucky and the wrench may be hardenable though.  In which case you should have an oven up to temp and ready for tempering prior to quenching, so as soon as your file skates you can put it right in the oven.  Start low on the temper, as you can always go higher.  If you use a toaster oven or kitchen oven, use a separate oven thermometer to monitor the temperature, not the one built into the oven.  

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You are, as Grandpa would say, "in the cat birds seat". All that useful recyclable steel and probably access to welding gear. My mind spins with possibilities . I see your small anvil has a Hardie hole. With torsion bars and even a tire iron or two you could make some serious Hardie tools, cutoffs, fullers, spring fullers etc, appropriately sized. You can develop some serious gear for making hunting/edc size knives with that nice set up you have as well as building a useful skill set. I am completely optimistic (and wish I could have started off as well) about your first blade and where you could go from here.

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Unfortunately it does not have a hardie hole. Its a pretty shallow round hole guessing pritchel hole. If I can drill it deeper i could probably make some round shanked tools that would probably work fairly well.

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18 minutes ago, RyanMac said:

I think tonight I am going to attempt to use one of the sway bars to start making some tongs. The vice grips and channel locks aren't cutting it lol.

You should keep high carbon steel for other tooling purposes. Tongs are usually made of soft steel because they get heated a lot and any heat treatment they had is lost. 5/8" round or square soft steel stock is ideal.

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44 minutes ago, Joël Mercier said:

You should keep high carbon steel for other tooling purposes. Tongs are usually made of soft steel because they get heated a lot and any heat treatment they had is lost. 5/8" round or square soft steel stock is ideal.

Thanks for the advice on that. I will have to make a trip to my metal supplier next time I have some cash to spend.

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I forged a karambit from a 5/8 Craftsman wrench for a nephew and it wouldn't harden in canola like known HC steel.  Didnt really matter it was more for show.

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Quenched it in some vegetable oil. It definitely got harder. Can really tell a difference between blade and handle when I test it with a file. I sharpened it today enough to shave my arm then tried chopping some wood I had laying around and it seemed to hold the edge. Didn't seem to dull at all. It will still shave the hair on my arm and I didn't see any kind of damage at all. Might try some more intense tests with some harder wood or something else  instead of the soft 2x4 I used. 

 

 

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Uh-oh, this is how it always starts. They make their first successful pointy thing with an edge and before you know it they are planning another one and that leads them down the firey road.:ph34r:

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