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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 12-04-2005, 04:48 PM
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Mike Turner Mike Turner is offline
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Need help with steel choice

I am a farrier and have started to make my first knife. I use hoof knives in my trade so I have decided to make them instead of buying them. The knives that I am currently using are A2 They are the ones I like so far but they chip real easy. I Know they have rc58. I had another knife that I was told was 660c stainless air hardening. I have no idea what the rc is and I cannot find anything on this material. So I basically need recomendations on a steel that can take alot of abuse, hold an edge well and that I can get a razor edge on.
Mike

Last edited by Mike Turner; 12-04-2005 at 04:54 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-04-2005, 06:52 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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If your just venturing into the realm of alloy/tool steels, I would recommend 5160 or O-1. Everything is going to depend on your heat treating methods, but in general both of these steels are forgiving enough that you can make minor errors in the heat treating and still come out with a great blade. O-1 is going to be more brittle, but it will achieve a higher hardness. On the other side of the coin, 5160 will be tougher than all get out, but will not achieve the high hardness that O-1 does. In the end it's all about knowing the steel and how to heat treat it to your desired characteristics.


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  #3  
Old 12-05-2005, 12:01 AM
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Mike Turner Mike Turner is offline
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Ed
If I make a damascus out of 5160 and 0-1 will I get the best of both worlds. By the nature of the tool the hole blade will need to be hardend and ht. How would you suggest hardening and heat treating this blade? I am going to make them full tang, I like the weight. Would either of these steels be similar to the performace of A2?
Mike
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Old 12-05-2005, 08:48 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Hi Mike!

There have been folks who've made damascus out of these two alloys, but I don't recommend it. When you make damascus, there's much more to it than just putting two different steels together. You really need to be aware of the compatibility of the two steels. By that I mean taking note of the expansion/contraction coeffiecents of each steel. (How much each of the steels expands/conctracts when heated or cooled.) as well as the composition of each steel, and how each reacts to the other, and to heat treating. In this case (5160 and O-1) you would likely have an easy enough time welding them, but the problems would occur in drawing them out, and in the heat treatment. It's very possible that if you joined these two alloys, they would likely tear themselves apart during hardening/quenching. 5160 will contract more than O-1 when quenched. The trick with damascus is to find two steels that are somewhat similar in their makeup, which means they will react similarly when heated/cooled/hardened/tempered, in order to experience the least amount of problems.

I know that properly forged and heat treated 5160 will out perform A-2. With O-1, in order to achieve the same type of hardness as A-2, it's going to be somewhat brittle.

Any time you try to make blades, it turns into a compromise. Keeping in mind that there are only a couple of steels that were ever actually designed specifically for knife blades, we, as the Bladesmiths have to determine the characteristics that we deem the most important in our blades. Then we have to choose the steel(s) that will allow us to get as close as possilbe to those desired characteristics. Most of the time we wind up giving up something to get something we want. For example, over the years I have come to despise stainless type steels. They are extremely difficult to forge, there is just no way to get around the brittlness issue with them, and they are very difficult for most customers to resharpen. This is due to the high levels of chromium, Moly, and/or Vanadium that most stainless type steels contain.
By choosing to use simpler steels I give up the stain resistance, but I'm able to achieve the things that important to my customers and I..... edge retention, toughness, and ease of resharpening.

Sorry for rambling on so much. I get going on this issue and I just can't seems to say enough!

Hopefully this is helpful.


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  #5  
Old 12-05-2005, 04:42 PM
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Mike Turner Mike Turner is offline
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Ed,
I appreciate the info. Being a farrier I have learnd to forge pretty well but now I am entering a field that I need to learn more about the steel that I will be using. Is there info on which steels work together for damascus? I was told that leaf springs are 5160 is this true? Can you find 0-1 in scrap as well? What I am getting at is to make up a couple of practice runs before I by some good material.
I do not have any touble sharpening this type of blade I use a buffer and when I am done I could shave my arm very easy. Are you familiary with hoof knives? They are hollow ground on one side flat on the other and the tip is hooked, I do not know if this type has a specific name or not.
Don't Worry about rambling I find you can learn alot in rambling besides I do it myself.
Mike
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Old 12-11-2005, 09:32 PM
Kibuddha4 Kibuddha4 is offline
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Mr. Turner be careful with scrap leaf springs. They may not be 5160.


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Old 12-11-2005, 10:29 PM
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Mike,
Thank you for the reply. I want to make a couple of knives from scrap before I put good money to use. This way I can get a better idea on the steps I need to do, in case I mess it up I will not be out good material.
Mike
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Old 12-12-2005, 07:26 PM
Kibuddha4 Kibuddha4 is offline
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I understand that. I was there myself. But I found out real quickly that some leaf springs are not very good steel for forging. I got a batch that did NOT want to move under the hammer very well. I have NO idea what it was.


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Old 12-12-2005, 10:52 PM
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Mike,
Is one auto maker better than another? Say Toyota vs. GM.
Mike
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  #10  
Old 12-13-2005, 09:52 AM
RICK LOWE RICK LOWE is offline
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Mike,
Being real familiar with hoof knives I'm thinking this will be a very interesting project. Hoof knives have a chisel grind, and the curved end seems like would be pretty tough to do. Since you're forging, the curved end might not be so tough, but how then to get the edge on?? I don't have any great ideas, but somebody here will probably come up with an answer. Keep us up to date on how this works out.
Rick
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  #11  
Old 12-13-2005, 10:57 AM
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Mike Turner Mike Turner is offline
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Rick,
I know the knives I currently use. The blades are hollow ground in the annealed stat and the bend in the blade is put in with a vise like jig then the blade is put in another vise jig then the tip is heated and there is a bar that is pulled up to start the hook.
I am waiting on my order from Trugrit so I can get one started. I will post pics when completed.
Mike
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  #12  
Old 12-13-2005, 04:02 PM
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cricket cricket is offline
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Lightbulb

I have had good luck with ford mustang, and jeep leaf springs. Talk to a mechanic, chances are they will give you a leaf spring the next time they do a replacement, or better yet find a 4 wheel drive place that does lifts on vehicles. They throw away springs by the dumpster load!!! FREE IS GOOD


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Old 12-13-2005, 09:19 PM
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Cricket,
Thanks for the info.
Mike
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  #14  
Old 12-14-2005, 07:11 PM
Kibuddha4 Kibuddha4 is offline
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Well every spring I got off old GM trucks have been 5160. The batch I used that was bad was just hanging out on the ground and not on any vehicle. They were a truck spring of some kind. I could tell by the size. I couldn't tell you what brand of car they came off of.


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  #15  
Old 12-15-2005, 12:26 AM
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Mike,
Any particular years? Thanks for the info.
Mike
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