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I-beam metal for knife making?

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I have a good size 1/4” thick steel I-beam. I read that they use carbon steel in their construction and I was wondering if it were true. If it is true would this make good knife making steel?

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Nope.  It is carbon steel, since steel is defined as iron plus a little carbon, but it is alloy A36, a mild steel. Usually less than 0.3% carbon.  Unless it's really old I-beam and alloy 1018 - 1020, which is even lower in carbon.  We like a range of 0.6 - 1.2% carbon for knives. Anything lower won't hold a good edge and anything higher is a pain to deal with.

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Thanks Alan . I have to be honest, I’m so impressed and in awe of your knowledge of metal and anything about knife making. I try to do a little research on my own before posting my questions 

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Alan is a wealth of such info. When you get down to it there are a lot of "found/salvage/scrap" steels out there but sadly only a few are knifeworthy . I have, in my past, spent more money (Not to mention time) getting my hands on usable scrap than it would have cost me to just order decent steel. Take, for instance, the work involved if you want to just make a 4" Skinner from a 2" x 1/4"  leaf spring. The you get into bearing races and planer blades. Good luck getting the soft enough to work easily. 52100 and D2 aren't easy to work when they are annealed from the factory, already hardened they are a pair of bears.

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I have wasted to much time working with mystery steel and it not working out:wacko::blink:<_<. My best advice is get some 1080 or 1084 (its basically the same stuff). Almost all knife making supply places have it. Its the easiest to heat treat with a simple coal or gas forge.

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Is it possible to use metal used in pry bars?  I have a couple of old pry bars I got at a yard sale. I’m not sure if they would have to be annealed before heating and hammering. I’ve been using scrap metal I have around the house to work on my hammering and shaping before investing and possibly ruining good metal

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Pry bars are a pretty good choice, particularly when you are looking for some mass, but they are still mystery steel with everything that entails.  I really don't understand the idea of "practicing" on bad steel or found steel.  You are going to screw up steel for a long time, I still end up with unusable pieces under the forge.  Get some rebar, make some hooks and pokers and stuff, that is pretty much all of the "practice" that you need.  $20 worth of a known steel will last you  for a long time.  Most of your knife making time is not spent in the forging, most of it is spent in the finishing, so one or two "practice" blades will teach you most of what you need to know about forging.

 

Geoff

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I'm not saying that there aren't tricks and tooling  and skills to be learned,  but the basics of forging are fairly simple.  You can make stock longer or thinner (drawing)  you can make thicker or shorter (upsetting) and you can change it's shape (forging, forming) as when you are making a tang or a point.  Half faced blows (when the hammer face is partly off the anvil face) are useful for creating steps or changes in mass.  A weekend class in the basics with a good smith can teach you all of that.  Knowing when to use what is a matter of seat time.  If I'm thinking about something new, I may do some of the steps in scrap to try them out, that's good practice.

You can learn a ton of technique just watching this video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpeyhC-UIFg .  I learned a new technique from this video, after forging for 25 years, but then, I'm not really all that smart.

 

g

Edited by Geoff Keyes

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What Geoff said (except for the part about him not being all that smart). The basics of forging are: tapering, fullering, drawing, upsetting, squaring and rounding.  Once you have those functions in hand, so to speak, you can start forming steel into whatever you want. The problem most beginning knife makers run into, is not having these basic skills. Everything you need to know about forging a knife, you learn by making a hook like this. You can use any piece of scrap for that and sell it for $20 or more.

hook.jpg

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DMW,what Geoff and Joshua said is vitally important,as casual as it sounds.

Get in a habit of forging a hook just like that,every day of forging before starting on your main project,and you'll Discover things,every time!

Things about fire management,and holding your work in tongs,and much about the tools,and countless other things...

Steel is a crystalline lattice,the way it reacts to your attempts to manipulate it is very special,and is best learned directly,by muscle knowledge...

Treat steel with respect and dedication,and it'll respond,like a good horse.And will reward you by an ability to See,to design in steel,and that in turn will make you happy with your forgings,and make them very appealing to others as well... 

It's a Language...and hooks like that are the ABC's....

(Nice hook,Joshua...:)

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18 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

(Nice hook,Joshua...:)

Thanks. My wife made it.

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On 10/27/2018 at 9:52 PM, Geoff Keyes said:

You can learn a ton of technique just watching this video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpeyhC-UIFg .  I learned a new technique from this video, after forging for 25 years, but then, I'm not really all that smart.

Don't you wish sometimes you could be the 13 year old boy helping tend the fire for 12 months in one of those shops? It would be considered child abuse these days.

The fact that he can make pretty much the entire blade with 2-3 heats just blows me away. 

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"The fact that he can make pretty much the entire blade with 2-3 heats just blows me away."

I'd be better off if I had even half the skills that the 13 year old boy has in the video.

By the way, new guy here, great to have found this bladesmith forum. I'm hoping to learn more from the other members here. Whenever I'm taking a break from this particular interest, I'm usually found at home, watching my Pomeranian relax in one of his dog beds and watching TV with the wife and kids. Such a simple, yet, happy life. Have a nice day!

Edited by Robert Albert

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On ‎10‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 5:49 PM, aweller said:

The fact that he can make pretty much the entire blade with 2-3 heats just blows me away. 

Make 100 of them and you will be there.

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On 10/27/2018 at 12:24 PM, DMW said:

I have a good size 1/4” thick steel I-beam. I read that they use carbon steel in their construction and I was wondering if it were true. If it is true would this make good knife making steel?

You can also order it online I used admiral steel good prices and not too expensive just depends on where you live.  If your inside the US.  Outside of the US I'm not sure.  

http://www.admiralsteel.com/shop/

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