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Joël Mercier

Water hardened drill rod

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Bear in mind that the manufacturers designation, indeed the industry designation "water hardening" has nothing much to do with what we do with knife blades. We work with thin cross sections and, as a pretty good rule, the right oil gives us our desired result with much less chance of cracking. Our blades have many more curves, angles and varying thicknesses than a piece of drill rod. Those differences spell stress risers. 

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18 minutes ago, Vern Wimmer said:

Bear in mind that the manufacturers designation, indeed the industry designation "water hardening" has nothing much to do with what we do with knife blades. We work with thin cross sections and, as a pretty good rule, the right oil gives us our desired result with much less chance of cracking. Our blades have many more curves, angles and varying thicknesses than a piece of drill rod. Those differences spell stress risers. 

Thanks for your concern Vern but I already knew that. A quenchant similar to parks50, called Houghto-Quench K, is available nearby. It's expensive though and only sold in 5 gallons bucket...Not sure it's worth the investment for a hobbyist like me. This W1 seems like a steal though. 18.80$ Canadian for 7/8"x 3 feet. It is equivalent to 0.188"x 3.188" flat stock.

Edited by Joël Mercier

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Wasn't sure if you had any experience with it was all. I never figured I could do it justice as far as the heat treat goes with my gear. I envy those who can. I've seen some beautiful blades made with it.

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In fact, I don't have any experience :lol:. My setup is working quite good though. The thermocouple inside a baffle pipe works marvelously. I felt the only obstacle was my quenchant. 

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Yep, that's a good deal.  One thing to keep in mind: The spec for W-1 allows carbon to range between .75% up to 1.25% as long as the manganese is less than 0.3% and there's no other alloying elements.  In other words, all W-1 is not created equal.  That's a huge allowable variation that makes quite a difference in how to approach heat treating, so before you buy ask if you can get a spec sheet on that particular lot so you know the carbon content. 

As for size, you'll be able to tell immediately that it's a bit harder to forge than mild steel. :lol:  It's not as tough as 5160 under the hammer, though.  As long as you use good technique you won't hurt yourself with it.  Much. ;)

And yes, oil-hardening drill rod is O-1.  Air-hardening is A-2. 

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1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

Yep, that's a good deal.  One thing to keep in mind: The spec for W-1 allows carbon to range between .75% up to 1.25% as long as the manganese is less than 0.3% and there's no other alloying elements.  In other words, all W-1 is not created equal.  That's a huge allowable variation that makes quite a difference in how to approach heat treating, so before you buy ask if you can get a spec sheet on that particular lot so you know the carbon content. 

As for size, you'll be able to tell immediately that it's a bit harder to forge than mild steel. :lol:  It's not as tough as 5160 under the hammer, though.  As long as you use good technique you won't hurt yourself with it.  Much. ;)

And yes, oil-hardening drill rod is O-1.  Air-hardening is A-2. 

Thank you again Alan! 

Do you think W1 would behave well in canola or I should definitely use a faster media?

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I have decent results getting hamon with W-1 and hot canola, and I don't know the spec on it.  It came from MSC industrial and is supposed to be in the 0.9 - 1.0% carbon range, but I think it's closer to the 0.9% end of the scale, if not below.  Drill rod is designed to hardenable by any retarded monkey, so it will do what you want.  It's just if you're really fine-tuning things and expect repeatability that knowledge of the chemistry helps.  All W-1 will be shallow-hardening.  

I only know this because Burt Foster had worked out the perfect HT for his W-1 hamons several years ago using W-1 from Crucible Steel (the company, not the process).  He ran out, and ordered some from another source, and suddenly his results were totally off.  He was so annoyed by this he had W-1 from three different sources analyzed and discovered the great fluctuation in carbon and a lesser fluctuation in Mn between sources.  His advice was to find one you like and stick with it.

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I use W-1 almost exclusively with regards to straight carbon steel, and for most everything. If you're looking at getting some, but don't have the means to get an expensive quench oil, get 5 gallons of McMaster-Carr's 11 second quench. It's not quite as good as Parks 50 or the Houghton stuff, but it more than gets the job done.

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39 minutes ago, Bob Brandl said:

I use W-1 almost exclusively with regards to straight carbon steel, and for most everything. If you're looking at getting some, but don't have the means to get an expensive quench oil, get 5 gallons of McMaster-Carr's 11 second quench. It's not quite as good as Parks 50 or the Houghton stuff, but it more than gets the job done.

Any specialized quenching media cost a fortune here in Canada and it's hard to find. That's my main issue...

I got lucky to find a not so far away distributor of Houghton products. Costs a little above 300$ for a 20 liter of houghto-quench K

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I know there are more smiths in the Quebec/Ontario borderlands.  If you can hook up with four of them you could each have 4 liters of Houghto-quench K for a relatively small investment...

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Unfortunately that's a generic certification that may or may not apply to that specific melt.  The chrome, molybdenum, and vanadium also make it W-2.  In other words, it's a sales pitch.  That said, it will still be good steel at a good price! You will just need to tinker with your HT setup to get the absolute best out of it. 

I think you should buy some. The Cr-Mo will make it less amenable to flamboyant hamon, because they increase hardenability, but they are low enough to be workable.  The vanadium will fight grain growth, which is a good thing.  The chrome and vanadium are also excellent carbide formers, which translates to edge retention and consequent use of more abrasives to finish.  

And in blade sections size, oil quench only!  But you knew that already.  

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11 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

The chrome, molybdenum, and vanadium also make it W-2

The spec listed is just ranges and maximum allowed content.  There is not likely to be significant levels of those elements in the metal.  Whenever you see a spec like that (with ranges and single values) the single values always list maximums unless otherwise noted (every so often there will be a minimum listed rather than a maximum).  

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Understood guys! Very helpful. There are 11/16" rod at clearance price too. I think I'll buy 5x 11/16"x36" rods and 2x 7/8"x36". Shipping is free over 100$ too. It's basically three times cheaper than from my knife steel supplier.

I would have enough stock for 2-3 years and to make a few tests.

Edited by Joël Mercier

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It's bought! 

I was a bit disappointed when I learned my 1084 would not make a true hamon. I really wanted to go that path. I had bought the clay and all.

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