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Heat Treating and Metallurgy Discussion of heat treatment and metallurgy in knife making.

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Old 08-05-2016, 09:42 AM
shiny shiny is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 38
Forge size needed for chef knife heat treat

Hi guy's,

As I am planning on producing some carbon type blades in the near future I like to ask a question about forge size before I start building a simple gas forge. Seems like a nice little project to me.

Is it required to heat the whole blade from tang to tip before quenching? I often watched hidden tang knifes quenched without the tang being fully submerged. How about full tang blades?

I like to be able to heat treat chefs knifes. Both full or hidden tang. The blades will often be 8.5 inch/21 cm Total lenth of the knife will often be 13i nch/33 cm.

I like to build a forge with only one gasburner. The inside diameter about 6 inch x 8 inch. Is this a realistic size to heat the blade size I mentioned?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,
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Old 08-05-2016, 12:27 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Decatur, IL
Posts: 2,569
It would be difficult to quench the blade from the tip of the blade to the tip of the tang. The tongs would slow the cooling of the steel where you are holding it. Some people don't even like to quench the tang much past the junction with the blade, especially with full tang knives. That leaves the tang soft for drilling. Some like to quench well above that point to give the tang more strength. It's a trade-off; strength vs toughness and machinability.

If you have a forge with a pass through port on the back side you can heat treat a blade that is probably twice the depth of the fire chamber. My small forge is seven inches deep and it's easy to heat treat a ten inch long blade. Also the port on the back lets me stick the tip out to keep it from over heating. You just have to work things back and forth and keep an eye on the color of the blade. It's also not a bad idea to do your heat treating after sundown so that you can see the color better.


If you're not making mistakes then you're not trying hard enough
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Old 08-05-2016, 01:07 PM
shiny shiny is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 38
Nice to hear that the small forge I am planning to build is sufficient in size. So a small forge goes a long way heat treating a knife. Thanks Doug. I will make that pass through port for sure!

I might give the perlite-aluminium oxide lining a go
Has anyone tried it? I can get the ingredients dirt cheap. I think I am going to try it. Or maybe plaster with sand? I do even have the ingredients at home.
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Old 08-05-2016, 02:55 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Now live in Las Cruces NM.
Posts: 1,272
Before going to the trouble of the perlite AO mix just go to Ace hardware they sell refractory cement, Rutlands Refractory castable cement and and Rutlands Troweling cement for Rutlands fire bricks and there are six 9x 4.5x 1.25 bricks per $20 package. I have no idea how long the plaster of Paris would last or how it holds up, I wouldn't have thought you could use it until I saw that video some time ago.

I have made huge burners for asphalt plants to heat the tar and gravel-sand mix and we used the refractory cement to which we added some perlite to stretch it out, but for a small forge I wouldn't bother. We used rebar wire also as the cement was thick about 5". Wouldn't need it for a small forge. We let it dry for over a week and then used a brush burner to warm it up and finish drying overnight. I doubt you would need to do the burn cure, but wait at least a week for it to dry. Oh and use a cardboard tube for the inside mold as a metal tube may be hard to get out.

Last edited by jimmontg; 08-05-2016 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 08-06-2016, 06:35 AM
shiny shiny is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 38
That would be an expensive trip for me as I live in the Netherlands hehe. But I used the search term and found refractory cement out here. Niceeee. It's a project for later... but I know what I need and where I can find it now.

Your tip to use cardboard is a very good one! Will save me some trouble for sure. Definately.
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