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Few questions on some locally available steels.


Derrick S

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Good afternoon. New here. Have lots of questions so i figure I'd better get started. I'll say, one advantage of my line of work is that I have ready access to a few different types of steel scrap free of charge. Our mechanic shop has a fairly constant flow of truck hubs for me to yank the bearing races out of free of charge, and there's usually a few busted leaf spring stacks laying around. Pretty sure the leaf springs are 1060 and the races/bearings are 52100. Also, bring oilfield I can find various wellsite scrap. One thing I immediately noticed was the old bolts that are often laying around. The wellhead crews often leave old ones laying about. Anywhere from 3/4 by 6 inch to 2 1/8 inch by 16 inches long. Big bolts. Should be able to grind the threads and surface rust off and make a serviceable bar stock, but I have no idea on the steel. I know its high carbon, and the wellhead pressures are tested anywhere from 5k to 15k psi, so I doubt they cheap on the bolts. Any insights on the steel type would be much appreciated. I'm well aware to the warnings concerning new bladesmiths and mystery steel, but i figure I'll cut a piece of one, heat and quench and see what happens. I'm a proud and long attending student of the school of hard knocks anyway. Worse case it doesn't work. 

20210426_134354.jpg

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Welcome aboard!

 

My somewhat limited limited experience with bolt metallurgy would lead me to believe they are better used for forging tooling than blades, but one of the resident metallurgists will come along and correct me if I'm wrong. 

 

Springs and bearing races can often be good materials, but you don't know exactly what they are so it takes some experimenting to get the heat treating dialed in.  I've been told that leaf springs that lead a hard life can have a lot of micro-cracks that show up after you have many hours of work invested in a forged piece.

 

 

-Brian

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That looks kinda like all-thread...I used to work at a fastener warehouse and we used to sell some all-thread to Lumber mills and Quarries for whatever their misc needs may be that was designated as "B7" all-thread and was described as "high-carbon".  A quick google search pulls up a few different sites that say it doesn't have much more than ~ 0.30-5 carbon, which for knife steel is about half what most modern high-carbon knife steels have. 
The "nuts and bolts" of it is that it's likely only high-carbon for their application, just not for ours.  Thank you for reading through my "riveting" talk, I'm sure you'll be able to "thread" the rest of your info together and "nail" your next project! ...:ph34r:...

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What Brian and Jaron said (minus Jaron's puns ;)).  I've never even heard of a high carbon bolt.  Even the highest strength bolts are generally no more than about 0.40 %C, but they can have a few other things in them, too.  The big thing is that they are properly heat treated for their use.  I'd recommend staying away from anything that was overly abused for things that are going to be hardened or roughly used (e.g. Hardie tooling).  But if it looks pretty decent then you are probably going to be OK.  If you are going to make something for sale then it is generally best practice to use new materials, unless the used material is an important part of the new product (e.g. cool factor, or sentimental reasons).  

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Just to add, the springs will probably be 5160 or 6150, which is like 1060 with a few other things in it.  The good thing is you don't need to worry too much about that, they use alloys that allow the same heat treatment. Sometimes you get 9260, even.  The bearings will almost always be 52100.  The races may or may not be.  I've seen some, especially larger ones, that are case-hardened low carbon.  Always test a bit before making something critical, in other words. 

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Thank you guys, for the help so far. I'm told on tractor trailers like what we run, from our mechanic (who is also a smith) that the races are 52100. Duly noted on the bolts probably being too low on carbon. I'll definitely do some testing. So far I've successfully completed one blade. Failed the heat treat on my first go, cause my forge was crap. Home made mini-forge from a you tube tutorial. Just didn't get hot enough. Since then I purchased a 2 burner propane from devil forge. Seems solid so far. Definitely gets hot. Made a bowie type blade that I'll have a handle on here in a couple days. I'll post pics after I do. So far it's straight, skates a file, and it didn't crack so there's that. Also, on the note of using scrap metal for a blade I'd sell, yeah I agree there. I'm using salvaged metals simply because I'm aware this is gonna be a trial and error process. I'm doing it with the intention of taking the lessons and learning the skills. Not selling the blades till I get better. 

Edited by Derrick S
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Just a note Derrick- ive seen a few forges sold that come with ceramic wool thats rigidized... but they don't coat it with refractory.

 

If the ceramic wool in your forge is not completely coated with refractory yet- don't use it.

 

It'll work- you can get steel hot.

But the open ceramic fibers will eventually kill you with repeated use.

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I appreciate the heads up, it came with a rigidizer and stated that it had to be applied before use. I did so. I have questions in regards to that too, but I didn't want to be dropping a ton of new threads without trying to do some searching for old threads first. Hadn't gotten to that one yet, but since its come up, how long approximately should I be expecting the liner to last? What are the signs to look for that its going bad before I fry the forge?

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15 hours ago, Derrick S said:

 I'm doing it with the intention of taking the lessons and learning the skills. Not selling the blades till I get better. 

Thank you for this.  I'm not sure if it is a change, or if I have just become more sensitive to it, but I see a lot of really crude attempts at knives being offered for sale these days.  I don't really sell my knives, but I always feel bad for those who do this for a living when I see poor quality stuff out there polluting the market.

 

9 hours ago, Derrick S said:

... how long approximately should I be expecting the liner to last? What are the signs to look for that its going bad before I fry the forge?

 

It depends on how often you run into the walls with your workpiece, and how much welding you do with flux.  The flux dissolves the lining like cotton candy in hot water.  Additionally, no matter how careful you are, you'll eventually poke a piece of metal into the lining.

 

 It's not something the typical weekend knife maker will have to replace very often.  Probably 3 years or more if your are careful.  You'll know the time when either chunks are coming off the walls, or the floor turns into a molten puddle of flux-goo from all of your welding flux run-off.

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-Brian

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Thats mine from my first fire up the other day. Mid progress on my bowie. I'm guessing the brick in the bottom should help prolong the fiber a bit longer. I do want to learn Damascus though. Hopefully I can manage without the Flux eating everything. 

20210424_181657.jpg

Here's the bowie immediately after heat treat. Tang is a bit bent and I missed that before heat treat, but I've since fixed it with the grind. Made from an old file. 

20210424_193647.jpg

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