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jake cleland

clay hardening 1080

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finally found a supplier for 3/16" 1080 here in the uk, which i bought primarily for clay hardened pieces. While i know that 1080 isn't the best 10xx steel for showing hamon, it's a heck of a lot better than the O1, D2 and spring steels which are the only things i've been able to get in sheet/bar stock here.

so my question is: how do i go about heat treating this steel for the best hamon? oil or brine quench? normalising cycles? edge thickness at ht? clay thickness and placement?

i'm planning on doing the first few pieces stock-removal, which i'm still more confident/faster at, starting probably next week, between finishing my last sgian dubh order for the moment, and starting on a pair of wedding rings next month - i want to get a couple of blades shaped and hardened before i start the rings so i can carve waxes for them and cast fittings along with the rings.

i know that the key is going to be experimentation, but any leg up would be greatly appreciated,

cheers,

Jake

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It may not be the best, but it will still show a pretty nice hamon.... I've done a small number with 1080 in clay in both water and oil. Water gets a lot more activity as is usually the case but even oil can do a decent job of giving a nice hamon. The last one I did didn't come out but the hamon on it was active, with even some ashi showing and that was done in oil. Ofcourse, I did a lot of extra normalizing to reduce hardenability in hopes of getting some added zing in the hamon. Water would likely have been far better yet, but the risk of cracking is a whole lot greater. (That failed blade will hit the water on its next quenching.... just to see how many cracks I can get in there... lol )

 

All the things you mentioned have a part in what your results will be, as near as I can tell... Guess that is where the experimentation comes in.

 

(Another factor to consider is the time and temperature you treat from. Some results will vary a lot if you can get that part right. Again, it is experimentation to see what happens when.... Something I'll be doing soon as I've got 3 1080 blades ready to heat treat now... May not get to it for a while, though...)

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Scott, do you have any certain method when quenching into the water?

I've got some steel I believe may be 1080 as well, and I'm kind of thinking about having a go at a clay heat treat.

 

Do you just plunge it in and leave it, or stick it in for a moment, pull itback out for a moment, then back in?

 

Stuff like that.

 

Thanks

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I have done interrupted quenches in the water on the few I've done. I've had lots of failures but not from cracking... Mostly in the past I had problems with the satanite coming off. Not degreased enough on the blade or the satanite was not dry enough or whatever.

 

Anyway, I'm doing something like 3 seconds in, 2 or 3 out, then back in. I usually get it fairly cool, but not fully cold, no matter whether I do oil or water. Ofcourse, in the water I do add a prayer or 3 for good measure... lol I've also usually either used hot water straight from the tap or heat the water once it was in the tank. Not real hot, still comfortable, but surely not cold.....

 

So far, in all my water quenching, at least a dozen or more blades, I've cracked 2 and 1 fatally... I figure I am still due for a lot of ruined blades and will probably jinx myself by talking about it... :D

 

I've got 3 to do soon... If I get time to normalize it I have a katana blade that needs to be heat treated too.. Plenty of room to blow up some steel in the next few weeks.. ha....

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What grit do you usually grind the blades to first? I think I read about 180 so that it leaves a little tooth for the clay to hold onto.

 

That sound about right?

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Scott, do you have any certain method when quenching into the water?

I've got some steel I believe may be 1080 as well, and I'm kind of thinking about having a go at a clay heat treat.

 

Do you just plunge it in and leave it, or stick it in for a moment, pull itback out for a moment, then back in?

 

Stuff like that.

 

Thanks

 

Go to the hardware store and get furnance cement (3000 degree but the 2300 would work..)

Mix 50/50 furnance cement and satanite or fireclay..you could probably get by with less furnace cement, it's just easier for me to 'guesstamate'.. :rolleyes:

The cement simply acts as a binder.

Mix it so it's 'pasty' and easy to work but not runny..just alittle of water at a time..does'nt take alot..

Spread very thin (paper thin) about 1/3 of the way up..increase thickness to the spine to about little over 1/8".

You can do some little designs in the clay wherew the hamon will be....Whatever you draw in the clay will show up on the blade..Use a pencil eraser, artists pallet stick..whatever..

Water/brine may result in cracks or warpage. It can be done but why make it complicated? :P

Hold the blade slightly off to the side of the forge fire to help harden the clay. It should only take about a minute. It also slowly heats the steel so as not to shock it.

Heat blade until non magnetic and quench in oil (I used 50/50 trannie fluid and motor oil)

The clay will 'bake' on and you can scrap off with a metal spatula..

Sand so the blade to semi shiney and immediately place in oven at 400 degrees for an hour and cool..do this three times..watch so that it does'nt over temper..

Etch with 50/50 ferric cloride..buff with steel wool...

Drink your favorite libation and act like you know what your doing.. :lol:

Hope this helps..

Josh

Edited by A Flor

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What grit do you usually grind the blades to first? I think I read about 180 so that it leaves a little tooth for the clay to hold onto.

 

That sound about right?

 

I've done some that were really rough and some a little smoother... lol usually between 120 to 220 grit for me.... Seems to do okay... A fine drawfiled condition also seems to work....

 

Btw, if you use oil for a quench, remember it often time curves down instead of up. At least it has pretty consistently for me. So plan for a little of that in you blades...

 

If you use water, remember what some folks like Don have said about not falling in love with a blade til it has survived heat treat... lol

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What would the fireclay be?

 

You can get fireclay in 25 or 50 lb bags..

It's dry and in a very fine powder.

Mix it with water.

Ingrediant for furnance repair, kilns, fireplaces etc..etc..

You can get it at fireplace dealers, ceramic shops etc..

 

Josh

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Not falling in love with it till it's treated sounds like good advice since it's possible it'll crack.

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Not falling in love with it till it's treated sounds like good advice since it's possible it'll crack.

 

Yep, and probably should be amended to say not to fall in love with a blade til it is treated, and then has passed inspection for a good quality hamon....

 

I mentioned before having 3 or so blades to do... Well, I've done 2 of them. One came out, one didn't. No cracks, mind you. Just strange behavior in one blade. That one is now most certainly cracked all over the place, but it is intentional... lol I'll teach it to not do what I say... heh... The short of the story is I did a wakizashi a year or so back and clayed it up (1080, so it relates to the topic), and quenched it in water. It didn't curve a bit, if anything the belly had a downcurve. So, I normalized it and set it aside to mess with later and try again. Well, it sat there for a year or more and the other day I decided I should try it again. So, I clayed it up after normalizing an extra time or two and tried it again. Same thing as the first quenching.... Freaked me out a bit to get a blade that refused to curve well, and seemed to have a spot in there that was not reacting the same way as the rest of the blade. So, I clayed it up again today and tried again. Again the very same thing, a straight blade with a weird bend in it at that one spot in the blade. I am really at a loss. I considered operator error but I have done enough to know that the thing was acting kinda weird...

 

So, I decided to either through harden it or to just experiment. Deciding that I was sick of this one, I went with experiment. So, I heated it up in ther forge and stuck the whole thing in the water again. Got a hair of curve finally as I'd hoped. But, the one spot in the blade didn't curve at all?!!).... So I did it again 3 or 4 times.... Like I said, I'm pretty sure it is cracked by now. I mean it has hit the water 7 times at least. And is curved like a banana now... The one spot finally decided to follow the rest of the blade... I'm going to stress relieve it (I'm doing that as I type) and see if it made any kind of natural hamon... I don't harbor any real hopes it is intact, though... I didn't hear any tink sounds but some minor creaking sounds and that means cracking I'm sure....

 

I hope not to run into anymore piece of non cooperative steel like this little one. I'll pull my hair out. I just get this feeling that that piece of steel didn't want to be anything... lol

 

The tanto I did yesterday came out okay, though. It was 1080 as well No idea when I'll get a chance to work on it and get a polish on it. I'm way behind on some other stuff that needs doing first..

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Yep, and probably should be amended to say not to fall in love with a blade til it is treated, and then has passed inspection for a good quality hamon....

 

I mentioned before having 3 or so blades to do... Well, I've done 2 of them. One came out, one didn't. No cracks, mind you. Just strange behavior in one blade. That one is now most certainly cracked all over the place, but it is intentional... lol I'll teach it to not do what I say... heh... The short of the story is I did a wakizashi a year or so back and clayed it up (1080, so it relates to the topic), and quenched it in water. It didn't curve a bit, if anything the belly had a downcurve. So, I normalized it and set it aside to mess with later and try again. Well, it sat there for a year or more and the other day I decided I should try it again. So, I clayed it up after normalizing an extra time or two and tried it again. Same thing as the first quenching.... Freaked me out a bit to get a blade that refused to curve well, and seemed to have a spot in there that was not reacting the same way as the rest of the blade. So, I clayed it up again today and tried again. Again the very same thing, a straight blade with a weird bend in it at that one spot in the blade. I am really at a loss. I considered operator error but I have done enough to know that the thing was acting kinda weird...

 

So, I decided to either through harden it or to just experiment. Deciding that I was sick of this one, I went with experiment. So, I heated it up in ther forge and stuck the whole thing in the water again. Got a hair of curve finally as I'd hoped. But, the one spot in the blade didn't curve at all?!!).... So I did it again 3 or 4 times.... Like I said, I'm pretty sure it is cracked by now. I mean it has hit the water 7 times at least. And is curved like a banana now... The one spot finally decided to follow the rest of the blade... I'm going to stress relieve it (I'm doing that as I type) and see if it made any kind of natural hamon... I don't harbor any real hopes it is intact, though... I didn't hear any tink sounds but some minor creaking sounds and that means cracking I'm sure....

 

I hope not to run into anymore piece of non cooperative steel like this little one. I'll pull my hair out. I just get this feeling that that piece of steel didn't want to be anything... lol

 

The tanto I did yesterday came out okay, though. It was 1080 as well No idea when I'll get a chance to work on it and get a polish on it. I'm way behind on some other stuff that needs doing first..

 

I suppose you could experiment with water/brine..some use it.

But IMHO, unless your doing some kind experiments to get the water quench down to an art for some reason of your own, there's alot of work that goes into a blade just to have it crack. Steel is getting spendy.. :P

Further, I don't see any real advantage to water quench over oil. At least for the purposes of a 10 series steel and for making a good blade. At least nothing one would notice.

Been working with 1084 and 1095 until I could'nt find anymore 1084. Then I went to 1080.

Never had a problem with the 10 series with oil and gave a consistant hardening.

Just used trannie fluid/motor oil. Seems to work fine.

Maybe if one would put it under a scope..but again, nothing one would notice IMHO in performance in real life use...

Curvature is a combination of how the temp at hardening, quench medium, how blade is forged, thickness of blade vs length of blade, shape, thickness of clay etc..

Manipulation of the factors, you can give it a 'guesstament'.

Try graduating the thickness of the clay to the spine gradually and ensure the blade is quneched fully at the same time, putting the edge in the quench fully first then the whole blade. (Hope I'm expaining this right..

In other words, don't hit the quench with a part of the blade..all at once..

Basically what your doing is a 'controlled warping' of the blade..if that makes sense..

 

FYI..

Josh

Edited by A Flor

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Well, it is mostly experimentation. I figure it is good to try these things a few times. This particular piece of 1080 didn't act like it wanted any part of what I was doing with the clay. Well, that 6 inch stretch in the forward half. On the upside, every time I do these things I get to say my water quenching number goes way up.... And surprise surprise, no cracks on this last blade in rough polish. May have them at a very fine finish yet, but I'm kinda shocked it didn't blow up on me....

 

I think I find the water attractive because it has a risk factor... Crazy, huh?... I found that 1080 in oil worked nicely for good hardness and a decent hamon, so I'll mostly be doing that. But, I don't like dealing with the forward curving in oil.... If I could figure out some way to get it to curve the other direction I'd be real happy....

 

Will have to straighten the warpage out of this other blade if I can and look into polishing it up to see what kind of activity the blade has. By looks is is a wild mess in there. lol

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No risk, no gain. Oil will make a hamon, and with 1080 it is certainly safer than water. However, if one always takes the "safe" path, the journey is far less interesting, IMO. Accepting the risk and the resulting part loss from quenching in water is just "part of th deal" as far as I am concerned. Granted, my opinion is far from mainstream in someways, but that is the way I see it. One f my friends who is a "hobby" swordsmith, and makes a living doing something else entirely has told me that he loses about 80% in process. He is not discouraged, but keeps on in pursuit of making a sword that makes him happy. He is not "normal" either, as anyone who has met him would agree, but that does not make his opinion, or his blades, any less valid.

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No risk, no gain. Oil will make a hamon, and with 1080 it is certainly safer than water. However, if one always takes the "safe" path, the journey is far less interesting, IMO. Accepting the risk and the resulting part loss from quenching in water is just "part of th deal" as far as I am concerned.

 

Hi, Howard....

 

Yessir, I do believe you are right. Took me a while to get where I could consider doing stuff in water, but I'm getting used to the idea. Ofcourse, I still have to fight the urge to take the safest way.

 

I picked up some 1065 a while back with the sole intention that whatever it was made into, it would be water quenched. I hope to get lucky now and then and get something worth seeing out of it. If nothing else, it will be lots of practice and experience....

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What advantages do you gain by water quenching that justify the part loss? Just curious.

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What advantages do you gain by water quenching that justify the part loss? Just curious.

This is a very good question that personally I have not found an answer to.

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What advantages do you gain by water quenching that justify the part loss? Just curious.

 

Don,

I love your work. You have been an inspiration to me and I'm sure many others. If I'm correct, you use mostly 1095? You get some very, very nice hamons. At what temp. do you austinize your blades before quenching, and what do you quench into? I thought you used water to get the hamons you get, but with your question about water, I guess I was wrong. Please enlighten use if you have a safer way, that still gets such great results as you do.

 

Tony

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Seems like a fast oil quenchant would work nicely, but I have no idea which oils have faster speeds. I just use normal veggie oil from McD's =P Got a bunch of it free off them so have been using that as I learn. Works pretty well.

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I austenize at 1425F and quench in Tough Quench oil unless I need to gain curve, then I will quench in water. I know Howard has weighted this all out and I was just curious about his reasoning.

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I'm interested too.

 

I know some are in to tradition for tradition's sake, but Howard wouldn't be using propane, salts, and L6 if that were the case.

 

John

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Im a bit late for this thread but as im currently reading The Craft Of the Japanese Sword (leon and hiroko Lapp, Yoshindo Yaoshihara) seemed relevant to mention.

 

"about three-quarters of his blades survive yaki-ire.(water quench).The figure for the average smith is proberly about half or less" (thats the average japanesse smith who must have trained for at least 5 years to be allowed to make swords)

Incidently it also mentions that the Yoshindo if not happy with the hammon will aneal then repeat the quench. "a well made sword will with stand 2 to 5 such attampts"

This is the price for perfection.

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Not to be a bugger about the "Craft of the Japanese Sword" book as it is a standard reference and a dang good book overall. But *a lot* of the stuff contained in that book (that is often considered to be gospel by some of us with less experience) simply does not apply if you are not a Japanese smith working with tamahagane. B)

 

I'm not dissin' the book *but* a lot of the facts and figures (like about correcting curvature by hammering into a block of copper and about temperature at quench, thickness/composition of clay and all that...) simply are unique to what the Japanese smiths are doing with a traditional material and have no relevance to making modern blades of monosteel and quenching in water or oil or salt and what not.

 

A lot of this stuff has to be done over and over again with a lot of unseen failures to get what we want. And very minor alloying elements in the steel and variations in thermal history and the quality and characteristics of the quench media can make for some interesting failures....and some interesting sucesses.

 

In my opinion and minor experience there is a quality to the hamon on some steels that is not able to be duplicated by quenching into oil. And I have seen some outstanding blades done by quenching into oil by various guys. But some of the hamon I have seen produced by walking that very thin line and using water and specific thermal history to manipulate hardenability have a quality/look/appearance that is distinctly unique and, to me, highly desireable.

 

I have no doubt that some clever and experienced master smith could do everything I can do with water using oil or some fancy (and safe) quenchant.

 

These thoughts are from the perspective of a guy who is determined to water quench 5160 and still get 80% or better survivability and the benefits of using water (even on an oil hardening steel) to get the "effects" and performance I desire. I think oil and water can both produce excellent results and my opinion is that the volatility of water and high carbon steels *can* produce specific surface/hardening phenomenon and hamon control that is simply not available with oil quenchants.

 

I don't know why.

 

Brian

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hi Brian

its funny how difficult it is to communicate even when were speaking the same langage :D

 

I wasnt for one moment sugesting that the book was an instruction manual and if only every one in this thread read it all there qustions would be answered.

 

As you say the techniques described are very spacific and traditional and useing an 800year old technology.

 

I was mearly pointing out that the bladesmiths who invented clayhardening and the appretaion of the Hammon as an art form work realy hard at it and have to except alot of "faliures" to acheive what there looking for.

 

While i am only a beginer bladesmith. In the artform i have experience in (pewter and bronze) ive learnt and beleive it to applie to knifemakeing is if you want to acheive the very best you can you have to except even welcome "failure" as part of the journey.

 

 

 

maybee this is more a discusion for The Way?

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Reasons to use water.

1. it's cheap, free, or nearly so.

2. no mess to clean up, I really dislike the mess and crud from oil

3. it induces a very natural sori to the blades that other quenchants will not. This difficulty can be overcome by pre arcing the forging some, but it takes practice to get that right and have it look organic or natural, the water just makes that happen of it's own nature

4. when you're done with it you can just dump it out

 

This outweighs the risks for me (of course if you had asked me at particular moments after cracking several blades, you might have received a different answer).

 

I really like the aqueous polymer PEO, but it had it's own set of issues to deal with. But for making hamon, oh Baby is that stuff neat! And it washes up with water too.

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