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Old 12-21-2017, 02:42 PM
Tillman Tillman is offline
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 3
To anneal or not to anneal

I am new to knife making. I just picked up an antique cross cut saw with the idea that I would make a few knives from the blade. Based on what Iíve read l, I am working with the assumption that this is likely a high carbon steel. Does the steel typical of these types of old sol blades need to be annealed before beveling the knife and drilling holes for the scales?
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Old 12-21-2017, 04:50 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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Location: Wauconda, WA
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The quick answer is that, no, it doesn't have to be annealed to make a knife from it. Doing so will make the rest of the work easier but then you have to re-harden it (but that will probably give you a better blade). Not annealing makes the work a little harder but cuts out the re-hardening step (although that leaves you with a blade that is hardened to be a saw which is much softer than a knife blade should be).

Generally, knives made from those blades are simply hacked out and shaped by whatever methods you have available. This is especially true when the maker is very new to knife making. Such knives will give fair performance in most cases. The exception would be if that saw blade has carbide teeth attached to the tips of the cutting edges. In that case, the rest of the blade is likely either mild steel which is no good for knives or it could be a fair grade of carbon steel but it won't be hardened enough to make a good knife.

Drilling holes in a saw blade might or might not be difficult, depending on your drills and exactly how hard that blade was made and what it was made from. No way to know these things until you try. All that being the case, you're making a very common mistake that many new knife makers make by trying to use salvaged steel before you've had the experiences that would allow you to evaluate that steel so that you can make an informed judgement as to its suitability for a knife. For most beginners its a much better choice to simply buy a piece of good blade steel for your first knife. That steel is already annealed so it will be easy to work with. The downside is that you'll have to harden it BUT after you do harden it you will have a much better blade than you would have had from the saw blade. There are some Sticky threads at the top of this forum that explain some of these considerations in greater detail and I encourage you to read through them. After that, you'll be in a better position to decide how you want to proceed...


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Old 12-21-2017, 08:40 PM
Tillman Tillman is offline
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 3
Thank you for your reply. I actually did purchase some 1095 to play with but ran across this old saw blade and thought it had good character. Turns out that itís really too thin to do much with other than practice.

I donít mind hardening or tempering, I have the ability to do that with some items around the house.

Steel arrives tomorrow. Iíll post pics when I get to work.
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Old 12-22-2017, 07:54 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
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Location: Acworth, GA and/or Hanging Dog, NC
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Ray's preaching pretty much what I try to instill in my new students. You want to become a good knifemaker....practice with good known materials. I see all the time where folks are advised that forging railroad spikes into knives is good practice for becoming a bladesmith. Well, it will help you become a good spike smith, but won't teach you much about making a good knife. Way more to it than beating up a piece of hot steel.

That being said, I enjoy experimenting with the "mystery" steels just to see what I can get out of them. Lot of the old "Gator Backs" were pretty good steel, however this also depended on the mfgr. specs - not all equal. And as Ray said, to get best performance you will need to re-heattreat which will require time testing/learning what that particular sawblade steel needs to reach best performance. This can be a very steep learning curve for the inexperienced. Where as using known steel, your case 1095, has known recipe for success just follow instructions advantages.

If you have the space and inclination save the sawblades for later. As you get better as a knifemaker you will probably want to dabble in the patternwelded (damascus) world. Most sawblades are made of steels with a little nickel in the mix making them ideal to mix with simple 10XX series hi carb steels for the layered stuff. In this instance you will find it is not "too thin".
Have fun with your adventure and keep us up to date on your progress.
Merry Christmas!

Carl Rechsteiner, Bladesmith
Georgia Custom Knifemakers Guild, Charter Member
Knifemakers Guild, voting member
Registered Master Artist - GA Council for the Arts
C Rex Custom Knives

Blade Show Table 5-J
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Old 12-22-2017, 08:18 AM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: ny
Posts: 1,442
I just posted to this question you also put in the heat treat category so here is is ill copy it here

I would say it depends on the exact steel but I would think a 3 step normalization would work....I haven't worked with carbon steel in a while but if I remember the general temps right it would include....heat till about 1600 deg. let cool (not to room temp just let the color fade and maybe 1 more minute) then heat to 1550 again let cool then heat again to 1500 deg and let cool completely I would think that would be enough to be able to drill and do bevels without a also may depend on how you are doing the bevels for example I can do bevels after its hardened on my grinder if your doing it by hand with files that wont work...there are a lot of variables AND this assumes that the steel blade is a good steel to harden...even when I used to use carbon steel I always used KNOW steels like 1084, 1095 stuff like that but again these days I used stainless so if my temps are off on the normalization somebody will chime in.

just to add to this now you said you ordered 1095....that steel can be a lil tricky for a beginner if you can get some 1084 that is the easiest for a beginner to harden and also has good performance as well....
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