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Ed Caffrey's Workshop Talk to Ed Caffrey ... The Montana Bladesmith! Tips, tricks and more from an ABS Mastersmith.

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  #1  
Old 04-26-2002, 09:51 PM
Taz575
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52100 vs 5160


Ed..i need your help! Customer wants a 10" blade, 1/4" thick bowie that will be used for general camping chores, some chopping, brush clearing, and general cutting duties. Of those 2 steels, or any other high carb steels, which will fit this bill the best, and hold its edge the longest???

Some say 52100 will hold a better edge, but will need to drop the rockwell to make it tougher, others say 5160 will hold the edge the longest and be the toughest. What do you think??? I know you like these 2 steels and use them a lot.
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  #2  
Old 04-27-2002, 07:53 AM
Ed Caffrey
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First things first......are you forging? Or will the blade be a stock removal? This has a great deal of impact on how these two steels will perform! Some may argue the point, but I've done the "homework", and testing to verify this. A stock removal blade of either with "standard" heat treatment will perform no better than a blade of 10 series steel with the same heat treatment. Where you will aquire the performance is in the thermal cycles of the multiple quench process. Forging will create the grain flow, normalizing and annealing will refine the grain structure, and the multiple quench will further enhance the blade's integrity.
Either will make an excellent camp type blade, but 5160 will give you more leeway during the process. It is more forgiving of mistakes than 52100. On the other hand, 52100 will make a little better blade, but you must be "dead on" with your handling of the material. 52100 won't tolerate overheating, and unless you feel confident that you can "nail" each and every step of the process, 5160 is your best choice. In the end, it all boils down to the makers familiarity and knowledge of the chosen steel, and the ability to get the most out of it.
Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 04-27-2002, 04:29 PM
Taz575
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Forging vs stock removal


Ed, I will be using the stock removal method for either of these steels. I was thinking of getting 52100 barstock from you, grinding to profile and clean finish on the steel it blanchard grind it, and then send it out to someone for HT. How much performance will I lose this way as compared to a fully forged knife??
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  #4  
Old 04-27-2002, 05:07 PM
Ed Caffrey
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Re: Forging vs stock removal


If you heat treat it by the heat treat manuals (as any commercial outfit would), performance will likely be no better than a blade made of 1084 or 1095. The combination of forging and heat treating that most of us "Pounders" do to the steel is what really brings it to life.
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  #5  
Old 04-27-2002, 07:05 PM
Raymond Richard
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Re: Forging vs stock removal


Ed,
Which of these two steels will handle the most abuse if the heat treating is done to the max on each blade? Ray
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  #6  
Old 04-27-2002, 09:28 PM
Ed Caffrey
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Re: Forging vs stock removal


Ray,
5160 will be the tougher of the two, but will lag behind 52100 in the edge retention arena. About the only way to tell them apart when the heat treat is nailed on both is that the 5160 will dull a bit quicker than 52100 (due to the carbon content, and hardness that is attained)
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  #7  
Old 04-27-2002, 10:42 PM
Raymond Richard
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Re: Forging vs stock removal


Ed,
So is it the carbon content of the 52100 which makes it more brittle or is it the other 3 alloys that the 5160 has that make the difference? If I had school to do over again I'd sure like to get a class on metalergy, maybe a spelling class wouldn't hurt. I just blows me out how different alloys effect steel. Ray
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2002, 08:35 AM
Taz575
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52100 vs 5160


If i use one of these steels, I will get them HT'd professionally, buy someone who knows the steel. With a correct HT from someone like you Ed, which steel will be better for this purpose with the blade being ground from hammered down 52100 barstock, or 5160 barstock?

We were discussing this on paltalk, so if you want, we can talk on there if it is too complex to write about!
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  #9  
Old 04-28-2002, 09:17 AM
ghostdog
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Just wanna jump in here and ask politely that you keep the coversation here. I would believe that there are many now and in the future who can benefit from this thread.



ghostdog
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  #10  
Old 04-28-2002, 12:40 PM
Ed Caffrey
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Taz,
If the heat treat is done by one of us that goes the multiple quench route, it will certainly be a better blade than one that is "sent out" to a commercial heat treater. If you want the blade to be the best it can be, I would have someone forge it to at least rough profile, and then you do the grinding. That way you will ensure that the grain is flowing with the profile. It would be a bit more spendy that way, but you'll get a better finished product. This would involve sending a scetch to whoever would be doing it, then sending the blade to you for rough grinding, then sending it to whoever will heat treat, and then back to you for final grind and finish.
Ray, The combination of Carbon and Chromium in the 52100 will make it harder after the quenches. This same combination is also what makes the steel critical of overheating. When I mentioned earlier about 52100 being critical to overheating, I was referring to the context that Taz is looking at (a longer/larger type blade). Just by virtue of there being a larger blade, the risks of overheating are multiplied.........and assuming Taz would be doing it himself, I suggested the 5160, as it is much more forgiving of any mis-handling during the forging process.
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  #11  
Old 04-29-2002, 08:40 AM
Taz575
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52100 vs 5160


We talked about it in paltalk, simply cuz it is easier to talk this over, rather than sit here and type the complexities of it.

According to ed, 52100 has 35% better cutting ability and edge holding than 5160, with the HT all being equal. We also talked about the pro's and con's of grinding vs forging to shape, etc. I'm sure ed will fill you in a little more as to the specifics.

Basically, 52100 will hold an edge a noticeable time longer than 5160, and be only a little less tough. The knife is a camp knife, and the guy has a production BKT Patrol Machete for the really heavy beating stuff.
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