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Help with edge hardness on tomahawk


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Help with edge hardness on tomahawk! So I have a tomahawk that I just re-forged the bit. I made it two years ago for my cousin’s husband. He throws it a lot. When throwing it at a pallet he hit a large nail head and put a sizable chip in the blade. He continued to use it and eventually broke a corner off the blade off. It broke on impact when pitted against a seasoned  Cherry log round. 
      So now it has been reforged and he treated. Tempered for 2 two hours cycles at 400°. This particular hawk is made from an older American ball peen hammer. So not sure what metal. I also blue backed the eye and some of the bit with a torch. 
     What edge hardness is ideal for a tomahawk that will be used for throwing? 
   Thanks!

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For a throwing hawk, don't harden it at all.  If you absolutely must, temper at 750-800 F (the gray after blue if using temper colors).  You want less than Rc45.  

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3 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

(the gray after blue if using temper colors)

Alan... I'm watching you.  :P

 

3 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

750-800 F

Note that this is in the blue-brittle range.  I would recommend stepping up to 875-900, holding for a short time, and cooling rapidly to avoid extra time in the blue brittle forming range.  For that matter, heating though it as fast as possible is recommended.  

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For throwers I leave them as forged.  In fact, when I make throwing knives I make them out of mild steel (I think the last batch was T1, because it was available).  If they get bent, you can beat them back straight with a log.  Not chipping (and potentially hurting someone) seems much more important to me.

I built a #50 mechanical power hammer in 2000.  We used flat springs bent into a "U".  We did the bending cold with a big press.  When it came time to attach the tup, we heated and rolled the ends of the longest springs around the wrist pins.  Since we didn't have a good way to heat treat something that big, we didn't, we left them as forged.  We wanted to get the hammer going and figured that if the springs failed we could find another solution.

The hammer has hundreds if not thousands of hours on it and those spring ends have refused to move even a little bit.  I had to replace the toggle arms (3/4 x 12 grade 5 bolts) with grade 8 bolts, but the springs are as we made them 21 years ago.

Geoff

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45 minutes ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Alan... I'm watching you.  :P

 

Note that this is in the blue-brittle range.  I would recommend stepping up to 875-900, holding for a short time, and cooling rapidly to avoid extra time in the blue brittle forming range.  For that matter, heating though it as fast as possible is recommended.  

 

I was trying to get just above the blue-brittle range, darn it... :lol:

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Allan and any others

      At the less than 45 Rockwell range what kind of edge holding are we talking about when using it to cut wood? I think this one will mostly be thrown. Just trying to gather as much information as possible. 
       Is there another hardness that could be recommend for a hawk that would be more for chopping with some throwing?

     Also since I don’t have a rock roll tester. I want another piece of steel I can run a file down to help with pitch and feeling of metal in the 45 Rockwell hardness. Any thoughts? 

      Aaron 

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For an axe-type chopping tool you want to temper it soft enough to be easily filed sharp and not hard enough to chip if you hit a nail.  I don't have a Rockwell tester either.  What you want is roughly as hard as a leaf spring off a car, maybe a bit softer.  

 

Actually what you want is not to abuse a perfectly good tool by throwing it at stuff, but I digress... ;)

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Thanks Allan. I have some leaf spring steel around so that should work well for a comparison. 
    “Actually what you want is not to abuse a perfectly good tool by throwing it at stuff, but I digress... ;)

     I hear you. I use a knife for slicing chores. A machetes or hatchet for chopping chores. I will say that a tomahawk thunking into a chunk of word is a pleasing sound! 
         Aaron  

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My suspicion is that knife and hawk throwing are a modern thing.  Why would you throw a valuable and possibly irreplaceable tool, when a rock or a stick is much easier?  Every culture in the world uses a throwing stick for hunting small game, and you can take down a giraffe with a bolo.

 

Even a mild steel ax will cut wood, for a while.  There are vids online of people cutting down trees with hafted stone axes, and copper and bronze ones

My point is, if you want a throwing hawk, it doesn't need to be the same as the nice bag ax you might carry for a primitive kit.  

Geoff 

 

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