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Greg Agresta

Another steel question

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If I buy a bar of 1095 steel that has NOT been annealled, can I use it to form a blade and then harden it? I'm not sure exactly if buying annealled steel is necessary. Any help or expanations would be appreciated.

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In short, it doesn't really matter. 

Annealing helps with stock removal and drilling because it is softer, but the blade will still need to be normalized to reduce grain size. 

If you're just starting out, I would try a more beginner friendly steel like 1080, or 1084. 

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Or 5160, even.  1095 and O-1 are often sold as "beginner friendly," but they are not as totally foolproof as 1084 or 5160.

But no, if you plan to forge it there is no need to buy annealed or precision ground steel.

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If I were to get a bar of hardened steel, I would anneal or normalize it before I started to forge it.  While it doesn't always happen, forging hardened steel can result in stress fractures.   But this opinion could just be the result of being taught to always start with a stress free bar.

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True, if the whole thing is hardened you'd want to give it a thermal cycle to prevent shock.  Jason Knight told my guild, upon finding we had been given a bucket of large ball and roller bearings confirmed to be 52100, to heat them to above critical and hold for a minute, then allow to cool in still air prior to forging them.

In this case I think the question was about either precision ground annealed barstock OR HRA, hot-rolled annealed.  If you're going to forge it, no matter the alloy, get the hot-rolled.  It's cheaper and any forging will remove that precision ground finish anyway.

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Must have misread, I thought he was asking about steel that had been purchased hardened.

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A few years ago I think I had some problems rehardening blades that were hardened before, they cracked in a canola oil quench. One was 1084 which I read doesnt like to be rehardened and the other was 15n20 that was destined to become saw blades and was hardened when I got it. With the 15n20 I edge quenched without annealing (I think) and the edge peeled off, no beveling was done, it was just a profile.

So I can believe some steels should be thermal cycled before working them.

I think aldo sold some 15n20 that was hardened, but I wouldnt expect other steels to be hardened. It was only one thickness of 15n20 that was hardened if I remember correctly.

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Mcmaster-Carr sells steels both annealed and hardened.

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Moral of the story: Get the whole thing hot before forging.

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I'm new to knife making and have one knife build under my belt, it's sweet at arms length but up close it's got more issues than Carter's got pills. 

I picked some leaf spring material and want to practice some before getting the better steels. My question is if I'm forging the steel aren't I annealing it anyway prior to shaping it on the anvil or do I need to allow it to fully cool down prior to forging? If I need to anneal, I've read that steel should get cherry red then allow to slowly cool or is that too hot? Or am I off base? I don't have an oven, the wife already made the kitchen off limits so I'm banished to the shed and my little propane forge.

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What Alan Said. Typically annealed steel is flat stock for grinders, in that case its worth grabbing. If your going to hit it with a hammer, its of no matter as you should have a forge and ash box so you can anneal yourself. 

I have not talked to Al in ten years,,,,,,, but he and everyone I ever met from Texarkana to De Queen is good people, Here is my cheat for the guys getting started that have not taken a bladesmith class. 

 https://www.riversidemachine.net/ecommerce/knifemaking-supplies/steel-5160-1-4-x-1.html

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3 hours ago, John AK said:

I'm new to knife making and have one knife build under my belt, it's sweet at arms length but up close it's got more issues than Carter's got pills. 

I picked some leaf spring material and want to practice some before getting the better steels. My question is if I'm forging the steel aren't I annealing it anyway prior to shaping it on the anvil or do I need to allow it to fully cool down prior to forging? If I need to anneal, I've read that steel should get cherry red then allow to slowly cool or is that too hot? Or am I off base? I don't have an oven, the wife already made the kitchen off limits so I'm banished to the shed and my little propane forge.

The issue is what leaf spring? known? unknown? what is the carbon content? again for the new guys, start out with known materials and not one inch round bar if you you only have one arm and a hammer (no machines). 1/4 inch thick one inch wide 5160, get some success in the sheath on your belt. 

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Bryan makes a good point.  Yes leaf springs will make a good blade and is a good choice for those who don't have access to known steels line we do in the US but when it comes to heat treating you will always be reinventing the wheel to make a superior blade.

Doug

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But, yes, when you forge leaf spring you are undoing any previous heat treatment.  No need to anneal first, which is good because you can't anneal 5160 easily.

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A better way of saying what I was trying to point out, hot chiseling and hammering out by hand big chunks of spring steel? been there and done it and not going back, lol, that is serious work and problematic. I started off hammering out railroad spikes into flats by hand, again, no thanks on that again. 

Once someone has been around for years, they can do anything with nothing but the learning curb takes arm, more arm than a educated man should have to use. In the end, and this idea comes from Japan, they did the same "known" things over and over again because it worked starting with carbon loading their own steel mix so they had total control from the moment they started making a sword. Only now do we have devices that can measure and figure out what is going on inside steel, they did not even have a way to check heat outside of color and melting temps. Rambling on, the point is known steel can give a known outcome, unknown steel can give an unknown outcome. 

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2 hours ago, John AK said:

Bryan, Alan and Doug thanks for the info. 

No worries, I still suck compared to my heros like Don and Jerry, but much less than before. Happy to chat up my mistakes when it helps somebody. 

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