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antique crucible steel tools


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Making wootz (and/or other forms of homemade steel) is something I've long wanted to do, but I also long ago came to the realization that my living arrangements really aren't conducive to it. With that said, I know that some antique tools (e.g., some saw blades) made from crucible steel in the pre-Bessemer era have quite high carbon content, and show carbides when etched. At the risk of sounding incredibly naive...what makes those steels not-wootz? 

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Short answer: carbon content and carbide formers.

 

All wootz is crucible steel, not all crucible steel is wootz.  

 

Long answer: Wootz/bulad/fulat is/was made from a very high carbon source like cast iron, melted together with certain organic materials. It tends to be 1.5%+ carbon, up to 2%, verging on cast iron, but by virtue of the carbide formers (often cited as vanadium and/or chromium from either the organic materials or the ores) and lengthy time in the furnace, the carbides are deliberately segregated to form a pattern of extremely hard martensite with embedded carbides in a matrix of soft perlite/cementite that holds it all together.

 

Western crucible steel/cast steel as produced from ca. 1760-1900 was made from carburized wrought iron in the form of blister and shear steel, melted in a crucible to remove all slag. Carbon content is rarely over 1.2% (usually much lower), and there are no deliberately added non-iron carbide formers.  Any patterning is purely incidental.

 

Don Fogg asked this very question back in the day, and got a much better set of answers here: 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Short answer: carbon content and carbide formers.

 

All wootz is crucible steel, not all crucible steel is wootz.  

 

Long answer: Wootz/bulad/fulat is/was made from a very high carbon source like cast iron, melted together with certain organic materials. It tends to be 1.5%+ carbon, up to 2%, verging on cast iron, but by virtue of the carbide formers (often cited as vanadium and/or chromium from either the organic materials or the ores) and lengthy time in the furnace, the carbides are deliberately segregated to form a pattern of extremely hard martensite with embedded carbides in a matrix of soft perlite/cementite that holds it all together.

 

Western crucible steel/cast steel as produced from ca. 1760-1900 was made from carburized wrought iron in the form of blister and shear steel, melted in a crucible to remove all slag. Carbon content is rarely over 1.2% (usually much lower), and there are no deliberately added non-iron carbide formers.  Any patterning is purely incidental.

 

Don Fogg asked this very question back in the day, and got a much better set of answers here: 

 

 

 

That's quite quite a blast from the past.

 

I'm glad to learn that Ric Furrer is still popping in here at least occasionally. 

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9 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

He PMs me if I say something really stupid, for example. :lol:

Don't we all do that to you?  ;)  (Kidding!  I can't recall ever feeling the need to correct you, just additions.)

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