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Adam Weirch

1095 bowie problems

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This is only my 5th knife, I made it from an 8x1x1/8 piece of 1095. I know my heat treat failed and my fit and finish aren't great. Just wanted some pointers on my shaping and anything else you guys can think of to help me do better next time. I also know now that 1095 isn't a good beginner steel have some 1080 on the way.

IMG_20180604_192415.jpg

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I prefer to have the tang either more centered or even just a bit toward the spine.  It makes the guard simpler to fit and it changes the balance just a small amount, but enough to make it sit straight in your hand.

I don't much like a saber grind (or as we call it here, the noobgrind), but that is a choice to make.  A flat grind cuts better, and with a good heat treat, is quite durable.

I'm confused by your pics, did you make 2 knives, or did you weld the pieces back together to practice a handle?

BTW, and I have to admit I never did this, but you could make a handle shaping practice tool.  Make a flat slab with a tang.  It could be mild, it doesn't have to be hard.  Then you could try ideas on that before you start work on the real thing.  Your handle is kind of shapeless, like you didn't have a solid idea of what  you wanted it to look like.  The tool, or some sketches would improve that.  Don't rush the fitup.  Get everything to line up the way you want it, and then add the glue.  If 5 more minutes would make it better, spend them.

Geoff

Edited by Geoff Keyes

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The first pic was a dry fit before heat treat to make sure everything fit up nice, then I heat treated and broke my blade, and the second picture my piece with the tang is flipped my tang was set back. But yeah my grinding isn't great working with a 1x30 grinder (what I could afford). Thanks for the idea of a handle tool that is a great idea!

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I find it almost impossible to do a dry fit before the heat treating since I do not like to have sharp 90 degree corners at the tang/shoulder junction prior to quenching. They can become stress risers in the quench and invite cracks in those corners.

What liquid were you quenching in ?

You say "heat treat" but that term actually can include normalizing, thermal cycling, hardening, tempering. At what point did the blade fail ?

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I failed in the quench, I had done 3 normalizing cycles before hand, and I quenched in canola oil. I didn't have any dedicated quench oil for 1095, didn't think I heard a ting or ping, but picked up a warp in the blade and when I set it down on the anvil to see how much space I had it just snapped like glass.

Sorry like I said it was only my 5th knife and my first known steel my other knives were rebar and scrap steel that I just practiced shaping and leveling. I'm very much a noob, this was my first real knife, only started really forging in mid April. My set up is a brake drum lump hardwood charcoal forge, an old beat up 70 lbs anvil, a home depot hammer, a 1x30 grinder, and a hand drill. Just so you guys have an idea of what I'm working with. 

I really appreciate the critiques guys it is helpful, I'm basically self teaching, nd finally had something more than a lump of steel with an edge to actually show.

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Was the anvil cold?  Not that it matters at this point.  You did manage to harden,and you discovered that untempered steel is brittle as glass, which is why we temper ASAP after the quench.  Got a pic of the grain in the break?  That will help us diagnose any issues.

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Yah, pics of the broken ends will help. I have a hunch but the ends will tell. 

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Yeah the anvil was cold, I will have to get a picture of the grain pattern when I get home from work.

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Here are both pieces right at the break.

20180608_234950.jpg

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Here it is lined up how I had forged it

20180608_235431.jpg

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Oh ya, that grain is huge.  You said you did three normalizing cycles, but how accurate are your temps?  Are you doing it by eye?  Are you doing it in the dark, watching for decalensence and recalescence? If you have no way to accurately judge temp (like a thermocouple) then you need to be watching for the aforementioned signs so that you don't blow past your normalizing temps.

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I agree with Wes. It looks like any cycling or the quench temp was way over what it should have been. It makes me wonder if, on the other end of the heat spectrum, it might not have been hammered too cold. With the large grain cold hammering could have set up the break. I don't see the signs of an early crack that was missed before HT but...

When I biggerized the pic it looks like the decarb shell IS deeper at the top left corner of the right hand piece in the pic.

Edited by Vern Wimmer

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It was in sunshine and by eye, your probably right I got above the true normalizing temperature.

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This is really helpful guys for me as a begginer. I try to do my forging in mid morning because I have close living neighbors and at night they aren't to happy with me hammering like crazy. I may just have to go to night forging so I dont over heat my metal or work it too cold. Or atleast when I do my heat treat and quench. 

But I think I need to maybe start smaller and work up or something because it sounds like in all the thing I was most proud of was a piece of shit from start to finish. 

 

Edited by Adam Weirch

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Hammering during the early hours as a courtesy is a sentiment I share, since I work close to neighbors as well. However heat treating at night should produce very little noise, and reveals the true colors of temperatures to the naked eye. Sunlight makes it near impossible to tell the temp, especially considering that if you are in shade the color will be different from if you are in direct sunlight. I would recommend that if you are going to forge a blade, start with a material thicker then 1/8th inch. A 1/4 in chunk of flat bar allows a little elbow room to test the waters for various forging techniques. It also allows you more material to play with on the grinder, since that is an entire skill set in and of itself. One thing that used to always get me when I was younger was leaving the blade in the forge too long, and allowing it to get too hot. That can cause some serious grain growth. When I was 14, I used to leave a whole series of blades in the fire while I worked on one, and after long enough, they will literally crumble in your bare hands(when cooled down, of course). Best advice I can give you is read read read. Excellent sources here on the forum. Best of luck!

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You can try using an empty metal bucket. When you take the blade out of the forge, hold it inside the upturned bucket to get a better idea of the colour. I also cannot recommend strongly enough to take a class with a known bladesmith. Save up for it if you must, it’s every penny. You’d be amazed how much you’ll jump on the learning curve.

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Told ya that would help!  I agree with sir DuPreez about taking a class, but in the meantime get yourself a length of steel tubing big enough to put a blade in, and cap off one end.  This goes in the forge when you heat treat.  It's called a muffle, and it does three very important things: first and foremost, it allows you to see the exact transformation point in the steel.  Secondly, you can stick a small piece of wood or charcoal in the tube and create a reducing atmosphere, which translates to no scale during heat treatment, and usually less decarburization as well.  Thirdly, it evens out the heat over the length of the blade.

I use a length of 2" black iron pipe that I squashed into an oval and welded an end on, but a section of heavy wall square or rectangular tubing would be even better.

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Thank you for the tips guys does anyone know of a bladesmith in northwest Ohio or southeast michigan?

I know I shouldn't be hitting cold metal but can getting the metal too hot and forging be bad for it? I know my forge doesn't get up to welding temps just high enough to get the metal a nice bright yellow color. I do work the metal in the shade of my garage with no lights in so I have a better idea of the color, just for safety reasons my forge is outside. I have seen carbon monoxide poisoning and 3rd degree burns too many times to pull it into the garage, I'm an ER nurse to add some explanation. 

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Would it possibly be better if I made myself a firebrick and blown burner forge? Did lots of reading on the forums at 3 am and that seems to be the reccomendation on here.

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I did what you are doing for a long time. The propane came later and it doesn't change the principles one bit. Charcoal just requires closer attention. 

Where did you get the notion that a brick and blown forge was any consensus around here? 

I would say that there is an even divide between venturi and blown and a 90% agreement on a propane/freon/compressor tank forge body. Unless there is some other useful body handy.

ETA Alan is right about the baffle tube, it makes a world of difference. Yes you certainly can hit steel that is too hot. Outdoors with charcoal requires a lot of attention. Charcoal always requires focus but outdoors there is a learning curve and anything you learned about forging temps/colors with rebar doesn't transfer to 1095. 

Edited by Vern Wimmer

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Well it was 3am after a 12 hour shift I may have been a little delirious lol

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Try using a magnet. It can be a real help if your lighting is too high. At worst case, you might be a little cool to fully harden but you're unlikely to crack it. That grain is a pretty good sign of overheating before quenching.

If you can get metal to a bright yellow then forge-welding should be possible. Try and get some time visiting an experienced maker. It'll pay off the gas expense a hundredfold, even a few hours with someone showing things first-hand.

Edited by Al Massey

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So I went and got some pipe for in my charcoal forge and decided to try a forced air propane forge to see if it would even work and was able to make a simple crude firebrick forge (video of testing attached).

I am also going to reach out to a blacksmith/bladesmith by the name of  Forest “Butch” Sheely of beaver creek forge I found via Google that is only 20 miles from me and see if he is willing to let me come and learn a little.

Thanks for all the tips guys very helpful learned a bunch!

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