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High-Performance Blades Sharing ideas for getting the most out of our steel.

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  #1  
Old 12-31-2008, 09:50 PM
Kimall Kimall is offline
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52100 balls?

Hi guys I have a mate that is getting some 52100 bearings from a mine site and I heard it said that it is hard to work so my question is.How difficult will it be to hammer these golf ball size bearings into a blade when forging and whats the heat treat system for this steel.
Cheers KIM
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2009, 09:43 AM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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I've got some 52100 and one thing that I found out about it is that you have to work it hot. Start work at bright yellow and stop at about cherry red. Do not strike it when there is no color in it. Pictures that I have seen of people working with ball bearing shows them welded to a length of rebar for handling.

Doug Lester


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  #3  
Old 01-01-2009, 04:47 PM
Kimall Kimall is offline
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Thanks

Thanks for that I will give it a try what do you quench in oil or something else.
Cheers KIM
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:41 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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It's an oil quench steel. Ed Fowler likes to tripple quench his blades to reduce the grain size as much as possible. In his opinion, it's the best knife steel that there is, though I immagine that there are those who would argue that point.

Doug Lester


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Old 01-01-2009, 09:49 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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It's an oil quench steel. Ed Fowler likes to tripple quench his blades to reduce the grain size as much as possible. In his opinion, it's the best knife steel that there is, though I immagine that there are those who would argue that point.

Doug Lester


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Old 01-01-2009, 10:11 PM
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Crex Crex is offline
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Do a "search" Kim, there's lots of discussion and info on 52100 (way more than you'll want to read). You'll see a lot of mixed opinions on how to treat this steel. It's bit tougher to forge than some of the others and the HT is less forgiving if you make a mistake. Makes a great blade if you nail the HT.
Try reducing and stretching out some 3"ers by hand. Not for the novice or faint of heart.


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  #7  
Old 01-01-2009, 11:45 PM
Kimall Kimall is offline
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Thanks

Thanks again guys for the help I have 2 knives made by Steve Filesety that are 52100 and they are brillant and thats what has inspired me to try this steel.I will do another search including the triple quench thanks.
Cheers KIM
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  #8  
Old 02-09-2009, 09:32 AM
Martin Brandt Martin Brandt is offline
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Great steel! but be sure to normalize it then preheat to 400 F before welding to rebar, as bearings are hardened steel and can crack badly after welding if you don't. If you can find a friend with a powerhammer, or get a striker with a 10lb. sledge for reducing to bar stock size you're arm will be much happier.
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  #9  
Old 04-19-2009, 11:45 AM
shgeo shgeo is offline
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52100 mill balls make good knives. You can get good basic heat tret information from the Timken Steel Co website. I am on a new computer and don't have it in favorites yet, but you can search for it.

It is rated as both oil and water quenching. I don't have guts enough to risk a blade with that much work in it by water quenching.


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  #10  
Old 04-20-2009, 01:09 PM
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mete mete is offline
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Stick to oil for 52100 and harden from 1550 F.Max forging temp is 2100 F.
The Timken website has "Practical Data for Metallurgists" Lots of good information there and even updated from the 1960s version that I had when I worked there !
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  #11  
Old 10-09-2011, 11:36 AM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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I read a lot about 52100 being hard to forge. Rex and I were talking one day and he mentioned trying a soak at 1,725 f. for one hour for every inch to the center of the stock (a 2 inch round ball bearing would need to soak temp for one hour. I started letting them soak and found that 52100 forges easily. For years I was working it by color of the outside of te billet. Now I let it soak and the center comes up to temp and forging is much easier.

I started lowering the soak temp down to 1,625 f and find that is a good temp to stick with when you want to take advantage of all the steel has to offer. I put the steel in my forge as soon as I light it and let it come up to temp right along with the forge as it heats up.

Scale is a function of time and temperature, that first soak will produce more slag than
later heats simply because of time.

You can predict 1,625 f. when the scale that comes off is about as fine as powder snow.


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Old 10-09-2011, 04:44 PM
Ed Tipton Ed Tipton is offline
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I have had mixed results with 52100. My first attempts with this steel were ball bearings from a locomotive. they were quite large and I reduced them dowm to size with a power hammer and a press. I successfully made two very nice blades from the bearing but then tried twice more and had cracked blades both times. Not sure if the steel had been damaged due to previous use or not. I ordered some from Kelly, and made one knife from his steel with good results. The steel proved to produce a very good knife with an exceptional edge hardness/sharpness. The knife was also quite tough...but not quite as tough as 5160. I did notice that it worked better when forged at a yellow/orange heat, and I didn't think it was as difficult as I had been led to believe it might be. All in all, I thought it was somewhat tempermental to work with, but worth the effort. Not as simple as 1080...but what is. I suspect that the two cracked blades I experienced were the result of forging at too low of a temp.
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:58 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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I would have to agree with Ed and Ed on this. Admittedly, I don't have anywhere near their experience but I don't find 52100 any harder to forge from bar stock than 1084 if it is worked at a rather bright heat.

Doug


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Old 10-09-2011, 05:51 PM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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I quit using ball bearings when I found out that not all ball bearings are the same. They have been making bearings since the late 1890's, through the years many outfits have supplied the steel, some great, some not so great. Also I learned that nothing good happens to steel when it is used, I had some ball bearings literally fall apart when I started forging them. There is great 52100 and lousy 52100, this may be the reason for the many opinions concerning 52100.

We have found that fine grain makes for great blades, you can only develop ultra fine grain in a very narrow thermal band, from a little above critical, about 200 degrees and forge to below critical to the point where it quits moving under your hammer.

We got lucky and got into a supreme batch of 52100, all from the same pour, I have enough to last me through my lifetime and feel truly blessed.

Soak time is critical on the first heat. As you use 52100 and learn suitable methods to develop your blades it is truly a joy, the more you give it, the more it gives you.


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  #15  
Old 04-04-2012, 06:27 AM
thunder bay thunder bay is offline
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possibly the edge cracking occurred after the quench and before the temper.i have had 52100 edge crack when i didn't temper right away.thunder bay.
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