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Steel ID Question


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I am currently making a knife it is my first one. The steel I am using came from an old knife I found in a barn. It was rusted pretty good but cleaned up nice with a file and sandpaper.


Is there any way to tell what kind of steel you have? I was told I will have trouble heat treating it without knowing this.


I have done everything buy hand on this knife and would like it heat treated properly so any ideas would help.





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Hey Goat, nice to hear from you, welcome to the board. You've hit on the main reason that I don't like to use mystery metal for knife making, you don't know what you've got and you have to guess how to deal with it. However, you have one big advantage with your project; you know that it is made out of a "knife" steel because someone made a knife from it. A second thing that you know is that it's not stainless because it was well rusted. What I'd do if I were trying to resurect that blade is to anneal it which will also allow you to make any modifications to the blade that you may feel are necessary or desirable. You might normalize it two or three times to make sure all stress is out of it, but it's probably not necessary even though it wouldn't hurt it any if you did. Then take it up to non-magnetic and soak it at that point for about a minute or two and immediately quench in oil. Check it with a file and make sure that the file won't bite into the steel. If the file does dig into the blade, clean the oil off and bring it back to dead soft by annealing it. Then repeat the hardening by bringing it back up to non-magnetic and quenching it in brine at about 160 degrees. To make the brine solution, heat the water and add salt until no more will dissolve and add a tad bit of dish detergent for a wetting agent. If the file still bites in, I hardly think that you will run into this problem again, write back. At whichever point the steel hardens enough that the file won't get a bite on it, immediately temper it. I'd suggest 400-425 degrees in an oven for two 3hr cycles letting the blade cool to ambient temp between cycles.


Doug Lester

Edited by Doug Lester

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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If it was a usable knife at some point, and your happy with the work that you've done on it, you might try using it as is. Maybe put on a temporary handle and try it out. If it doesn't hold an edge anymore them give the heat treat a try.


Good luck, Craig

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