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Flint and steel, made out of spring steel


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Hello to everyone!

 

My last project was the steel for a flint and steel tool. 

The steel used for it was coil spring that I got from my mechanic. The design was the same as the one my sister has. After forging it out I quenched it at a non-magnetic dull red in canola oil. After sanding of the oxides I tried it out... couldn't get any sparks. While sanding it sparked a lot, maybe the hardening process didn't work? Because when I used the flint on it, after a few tries, there where some scratches.

Has any one of you got any hints?

 

Greetings from Italy

Alex

1652293044976233340647348197759.jpg

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Might try it hotter for the quench. Grain growth wouldn't be an issue as it would with a blade.

 

Make sure your steel is cleaned to bright before you quench, and the clean it again after hardening.

 

The coil spring could be in the 5160 family and a water quench might crack it.

 

I use old files with a water quench and then suspend them in boiling water for about an hour to (possibly) temper them a little bit. Maybe I just imagine the boiling helps.

 

And also, I do normalize them like a blade before I harden... heat to critical, cool to black, heat to critical, cool to black, then clean it up and quench it.

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If it is 5160, you didn't get it hot enough.  It must be at least 38 degrees C (100 F) hotter than nonmagnetic, or a bright red in low light.  Grain growth is actually a good thing with fire steels, as the larger grains make bigger sparks.  

 

As Don said, old files are a better choice for this application.  You want as much carbon as you can get, within reason.  

 

You did a great job on the forging, though!  Looks good. 

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6 minutes ago, Don Abbott said:

Might try it hotter for the quench. Grain growth wouldn't be an issue as it would with a blade.

 

Make sure your steel is cleaned to bright before you quench, and the clean it again after hardening.

 

The coil spring could be in the 5160 family and a water quench might crack it.

 

I use old files with a water quench and then suspend them in boiling water for about an hour to (possibly) temper them a little bit. Maybe I just imagine the boiling helps.

 

And also, I do normalize them like a blade before I harden... heat to critical, cool to black, heat to critical, cool to black, then clean it up and quench it.

Okay I'll try to quench it again with the cleaned surface, but should the oil be hot or is it okay if it's room temperature?

1 minute ago, Alan Longmire said:

If it is 5160, you didn't get it hot enough.  It must be at least 38 degrees C (100 F) hotter than nonmagnetic, or a bright red in low light.  Grain growth is actually a good thing with fire steels, as the larger grains make bigger sparks.  

 

As Don said, old files are a better choice for this application.  You want as much carbon as you can get, within reason.  

 

You did a great job on the forging, though!  Looks good. 

Okay thank you, I'll keep that in mind.

And thank you for the compliment!

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Wouldn't hurt to heat it up to to around 120°F (49°C)

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Okay so I tried it again but it still didn't work, I got the oil at about 50°C, the steel was at orange and I quenched it until it was cold, steering it around in the oil. It don't get it. And as a beginner I'm not even sure if its really hardened, I tried the file test and it sounds like it's hardened, but still I feel like it's not. Is there any other way to check if it's hardened apart hammering it in the vice until it breaks or bends?

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If a file skates off it, that tells you it's hard.  For a real test, as you said, put it in a vice and give it a smack and see if it breaks.  I have to say, 5160 (coil spring) is not my favorite material for strikers.  Old files, crow bars, and old tire irons (not the chromed ones, nice old rusty ones) are better.  Water quenched 1095 always works for me.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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Posted (edited)

Greetings Alex,

 

Listen to the metallurgists on the forum, I'm not one of them.      But, I seem to recall reading something about chromium in steels like 5160 negatively affecting fire striker performance.   I could be wrong.  But as everyone has said, a different steel may be a better choice for this project.    Something simpler in the 1070+  range, perhaps?   But if you wish to keep trying this particular piece,  maybe you can try and obscenely long soak time before the heat treat.  Maybe get it up near welding temp and hold it there for a while, maybe 5-15 minutes?   But that is also likely to cause a lot of decarb, which is not great for this application using 5160.   This might help increase the grain size.    Then maybe leave the striker surface a bit rougher, instead of so flat and polished.   Might give something more for the flint to bite on.   I mean the whole reason the thing works is because the flint is cutting off pieces of steel.  Maybe try a sharper piece of flint ?

 

Also, "coil spring from my mechanic", does not definitively mean that it's 5160.  Coil springs can be made from all sorts of stuff across different countries.  Like 9260 for one.  Which I'm not sure is a good material for a fire striker. 

 

I wonder if doing a blister steel kind of cook canister on a that material would make a difference?   But most likely not for the expense, time and effort, versus buying a small piece of the appropriate steel or just an old file.

 

As far as hardness testing.  The old file skate test to a good indicator.  Just be sure that you are not hitting scale when you are testing it, because that stuff is way hard, and could give you a false reading.  Also, if you are suffering from decarb, then on the contrary, a deeper grind might present some of the better high carbon material.  I'm not sure on how deep decarb can go.

 

If you got a good old knife you don't care about, that you know is good and hard, you can try using that knife to shave or cut into the fire striker.   If you can cut pieces off, or make and indentation with the knife onto the fire striker, then chances are the fire striker is not hard enough.   I believe strikers are supposed to be in the 60+ Rockwell range.  Again, could be wrong.

 

Good Luck

Edited by Bruno
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This is why experienced smiths will go on about choosing the right steel for the application. My guess is you are using a piece of steel that is simply not suitable for the intended use. If the striker steel has the right composition, hardening shouldn't be the thing that really makes it work. What does matter is mostly the iron and partially the carbon contents. None of us can say for certain what that coil spring is, and what the composition is. Choose a different piece of steel. Preferably one that is a simple steel with carbon content at or above .7% and you should have a rocking fire steel.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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As a bushcraft person, as well as knifemaker, I need to point out that it's the Carbon you're burning, when you strike a flint against steel. The flint is harder than your hardened steel, and the material you're shaving off quickly burns, as sparks, which you then catch and get your tinder going.

 

Higher carbon is better. Lower alloy is better. The historical ones were very simple steels, not modern high-performance springs. Getting back to basics is more important than scrounging material.
 

Technique has something to do with it too, and if you're not experienced at starting fire with flint and steel, get your technique down with a proven set, first, then substitute your striker, and compare results.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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Maybe a little early 1800's steel needed,tested results from an early 1800's cartouche knife.

 

C  0.067

Mn  0.03

P  0.035

S  0.001

Si  0.03

Cu  0.30

Ni  0.01

Cr  0.00

Mo  0.00

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So it's basic wrought iron.  With that little carbon it won't harden at all.  Is it possible that the edge has been steeled?

 

g

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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Dan, was that test perchance via PXRF?  A friend of mine has been playing with that on early 19th century things, and the big thing that stands out is that that testing method doesn't do carbon.  Not one bit.  The other numbers look right, if a little high in copper.  

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7 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Dan, was that test perchance via PXRF?  A friend of mine has been playing with that on early 19th century things, and the big thing that stands out is that that testing method doesn't do carbon.  Not one bit.  The other numbers look right, if a little high in copper.  

I don't know what method was used,it was 16 years ago and he said the copper levels were a little high for a lot of steel made in England at that time period.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Geoff Keyes said:

So it's basic wrought iron.  With that little carbon it won't harden at all.  Is it possible that the edge has been steeled?

 

g

 

1 hour ago, Christopher Price said:

I need to point out that it's the Carbon you're burning,

The iron is also contributing to the sparks. High iron and some carbon are both required.

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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Made these from W-1 drill rod:

 

14 C strikers.jpg

 

 

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These are all old files:

 

100_9846.jpg

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And do they make good sparks?  I assume they must

 

g

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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Yes they do. I've never handed one off without testing it and never had any complaints.

 

My absolute first smithing project was when I first got in to flintlocks and reenacting and such. I needed a striker for an event and did some research on what was involved. I got a round chainsaw file and got it hot enough to flatten a little and bent it in a U shape. Used the flat part of my vise for an anvil and a small ball-pien hammer. Can't remember if I used oil or water, but I was able to harden it and it worked fine. I still have it as a reminder of my extremely humble beginnings. I wish I had kept better records, but I have made hundreds of strikers since then. They are one of my favorite things to make.

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The heart shape is one I've never seen, but I'm sure that if a smith could think of it, it got made.

 

g

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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1 hour ago, Geoff Keyes said:

The heart shape is one I've never seen, but I'm sure that if a smith could think of it, it got made.

 

That was artistic license B)

 

I watched a Brian Brazeal video on how to forge a heart and just went with it.

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