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Conner Michaux

Blade steels

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I was wondering what the best steels are for beginning knife makers and how thick/thin you should buy stock metal

 

I made this topic because I could not find anything on blade steels.

Edited by Conner Michaux

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I would suggest in this order 1084, 1075, and 5160.  All are relatively easy and somewhat forgiving of minor heat treat errors.  I put 1075 ahead of 5160 because it can be hard to drill holes in 5160, because it will air harden a bit in thin sections.  I also like 1/4" thick stock, because it teaches you to forge thinner, it holds heat longer, and you'll have more meat to let you grind out the inevitable hammer marks you will have as a newbie.  Certainly no thinner than 3/16" to start with.  I like 1" wide bar as well for the same reasons.  It can limit how wide a blade you can get, but it's good to start small.

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10xx steels are a good start. You want something that isn't too difficult to properly heat treat. The more alloying elements the more difficult to heat treat. There is an app you can get for your phone called ASM heat treaters guide that helps with heat treatments for various steels. For the most part you want more than .6% carbon. Lets say you have 5160 steel. The 51xx is the tensile strength and the xx60 is the points of carbon .6%.

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You need to read a lot of previous threads across this whole forum. There is an encyclopedia of knowledge contained here. In fact I think we just covered this question in the last couple of weeks.

To short-form it. Size of material depends on a mix of, what you want to end up with ( big Bowie, 5" skinner, 3" EDC, etc), whether you are stock removing or forging, the actual design of you intended knife ( blade shape, hande, guard bolster or none, pommel, etc) the tools you have available and if they match your intentions.

Just to throw something out there as a suggestion start thinking about buying new 1080 ( from New Jersey Steel Baron) in a thickness to match what I listed.

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Well, you're going to have to improve your "Google-fu" skills a bit since that is a pretty common topic.   Within a google search bar try typing "Blade steels site:bladesmithsforums.com"

1084 is a great steel to start out with.  Size will depend on if you are forging or grinding to shape.  Don't get distracted by the fancy super steels yet.  They won't get you anything more than 1084 will unless you can heat treat them correctly.

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Can you use sand paper to remove stock? I don't have a belt grinder or an angle grinder yet.

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Sharp files to remove stock and sand paper to finish

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18 minutes ago, Conner Michaux said:

Can you use sand paper to remove stock? I don't have a belt grinder or an angle grinder yet.

Try google draw filing jig. Its not much more than a flat board and a large screw with an eyelet hole. Then you attach the file to a metal rod....and can raise and lower the screw to adjust the angle. I usually use one to fix the imperfections in my grinding.

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Ahh yes I have heard of filing jigs are they worth buying?

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I made one for less than a dollar in parts. It's not fancy, but it works. 

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Did you use a video tutorial for it? Or did you build it on your own?

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Check out the gough jig. I started there, and approximated. You probably have most of what you need on hand already if you do any car/home repair. 

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Kreg pretty much nailed it.

"Filing jig site: bladesmithsforum.com"

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1 hour ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

The 51xx is the tensile strength

No, it is an indicator for the alloy content (other than carbon).  The last 2 spots are indeed carbon content.  Think about it this way: would you expect 5120 and 5260 to have the same tensile strength?  

OP (Conner): I highly recommend spending at least 10 hours reading this forum, and not in the Show and Tell section, before moving forward with any actual purchasing of product or trying to make a knife.  I'd say more would be better, but after 10 hours I can see being too antsy to actually do something.  Read the Metallurgy and Other Enigmas section, and all the pinned threads in the other sub forums.  There is so much on here for answering all the basic questions, you are likely to find an answer to any newbie question you may have without having to ask it yourself.  A Google site search of the forum is going to be your best friend for building your first 10 forges and 100 knives (and everything in between).  

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Well this just shows 10hrs of reading is not nearly enough. And now that i think about it the first two numbers in an arc welder rod is the tensile strength.

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Where's Joël when you need him lol! He posted a video of a guy making one a while ago. I'll see if I can find it. 

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Okay thanks guys ill spend the next few days reading as much as I can :D

Edited by Conner Michaux

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I use the gough filing jig and it works good. if you google it you will find his website

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Hard to go wrong with 1 1/4 by quarter inch bar stock in 3 foot lengths, 1084 or 1080. Make anything from a Bowie to a broadsword with that. 

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Just my 2 cents, get a big bar of mild steel or rebar, something super cheap (or free) that you can play with and smack around. I absolutely love having chunks of crap metal around to play with ideas and practice stuff so you don't waste any of your good metal. When working with your first couple bars of good steel it feels kinda meh to waste any.

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Of course ill start out with a junky piece of rebar but are there any really simple blade designs to start out with? I really love seax knives and was wondering if that's a good design to start out with.

Or should I start with a really small and simple Bowie knife?

 

Edited by Conner Michaux

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