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

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