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First-timer Steel

Discussion in 'Steel, Hardware, & Handle Material' started by Simon Lefebvre, Aug 14, 2016.

  1. Simon Lefebvre

    Simon Lefebvre New Member

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    Looking forward to starting my first project and still rounding up the necessary tooling!

    I am also shopping for my first bit of steel, and was looking to purchase either 440A, S30V, or 420HC.

    Still trying to get more familiar with all the different characteristics of each, but wanted to know if one or another is better suited for a first-time maker such as myelf?

    Also want to hear what other types worked great for you guys.
    My first knife will be an all-around drop-point hunting knife for myself.

    Thanks in advance,
     
  2. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Active Member

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    Are you going to be doing your own heat treating? If so I would suggest starting with 1084 high carbon steel. It is probably the most forgiving steel you will use, it is cheap as chips so you won't spend a fortune making beginner mistakes, and it makes a wicked sharp knife that is still tough and super easy to maintain an edge. The patina that develops over time is dead sexy too imho!
     
  3. Simon Lefebvre

    Simon Lefebvre New Member

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  4. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Active Member

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    Dan would probably be able to answer that one better. I wohld think it will depend on the temperature control, especially if you want to treat stainless steels as they usually have some crazy heat cycling steps I believe.

    I use just fire and a magnet for quenching and an oven for tempering. That is the reason why the simpler steels are easier to start with. Far more forgiving and less intensive to make a very good edge!
     
  5. Prevenge

    Prevenge Member

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    I am also a beginner. And I forge and heat treat with my gasser..... plus I love high carbon so I would have to agree with Bobby and suggest 01 , 1084 or maybe 80crv2. If you are set on stainless then some of the more experienced folks here would have better advice. I think even with a kiln you also still need foil or that chemical stuff to coat it during heat treat?
     
  6. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    That's correct. There's also the issue of quenching. You may need aluminium or copper plates for quenching the stainless.

    Most new makers start with carbon steel because the heat-treat is simpler and they can focus more on making blades. But if you like the challenge that stainless brings, no reason not to go with it.
     
  7. Grayzer86

    Grayzer86 Active Member

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    I will chip in on the steel types. If you want to use 440, use 440C, its a far better steel than 440A, plus i cant think of anywhere that sells 440A due to very low interest from makers. On the 420HC topic, its also a low end steel, that is very hard to find outside the production realm. Buck uses it and has a decently effective heat treat but its not something i would ever use. Even the most basic 1075, 1080, 1084 etc carbon steels will drastically outperform both 440A and 420HC in virtually every category except rust resistance. They are used on production knives because they are cheap in massive quantities and easy to machine, not because they are good.

    I would suggest starting with carbon steels, like 1084 and such, as its excellent steel and simple to heat treat. With the kiln for stainless, you still need quench plates, stainless foil pouches, and some steels need, or greatly benefit from liquid nitrogen cryo treatment, all of which can be expensive. The heat treat processes for stainless are also much more complex, usually running multiple steps at specific times and very specific temperatures.

    If you are set on using stainless, I, as well as many others would suggest 154cm or CPM154. It beats 440C in most aspects and is comparable in price. Another steel to look at would be AEB-L, its an excellent steel that is fine grained, takes an insane edge, and very tough. Its also cheaper by a long shot than either of the 154 steels or 440C. If you have shaved with an electric or disposable razor in the last half decade, there is a 99% chance the blades were AEB-L.
     
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  8. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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  9. Grayzer86

    Grayzer86 Active Member

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    While O1 is slow, it's not quite that slow. I believe it's just under 10 seconds to beat the nose, which is still a ton of time in almost any oil. The only issue with o1 can be the soak time which can be a bit tougher in a forge but absolutely doable. With a kiln it would be dead simple. The nice part about 01 is that it can often be found in precision ground state as well.
     
  10. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

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    I am a fan of CPM154 (or 154CM if you're on a budget) and AEB-L. Once you have the heat treatment recipe down, the results are predictable. I switched from plate quenching to oil quenching even though stainless can be air quenched. It seems (to me) oil makes for a harder steel as quenched. I grind my bevels after heat treatment, so I kinda get a feel for how hard the steel is after tempering. As far as cleanup goes, SS foil and plate quenching was fairly easy to clean up, Condursal and oil quench isn't so bad.

    Dan
     
  11. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    Yes 10 seconds, for some reason I was thinking 10 squared duration
     
  12. Simon Lefebvre

    Simon Lefebvre New Member

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    Ok, my head is spinning a little bit! I will start looking into the carbon steel suggested by most of you.
    Although, I don't mind starting off with a little more complex method and learning it from the get-go.

    I will let you guys know which one I end up going with
     
  13. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

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    IMHO, for newcomer and seasoned maker, some 1084 heated just past non-magnetic in a propane forge, quenched in canola oil and tempered in a garage sale toaster oven with an oven thermometer in place just in case something goes wonky. So many great knives have been born from that simple formula.

    Let us know how you go.

    Dan
     
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  14. Grayzer86

    Grayzer86 Active Member

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    In reality there are so many good steels it can be mind boggling to pick one, but 1084 is always a solid bet. The most important part of knife is the heat treat. 1084 with a perfect heat treat will surpass any supersteel with a poor heat treat. Odin himself could create the absolute ultimate steel, have it carried to earth by a Valkyrie, and without proper heat treat, it still wont make a good knife. I cant remember who said it, but "geometry is what cuts, but heat treat determines how long it cuts"
     
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  15. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

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    So true.
     
  16. Slannesh

    Slannesh Active Member

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    Totally off topic, but this thread is an excellent example of why I LOVE this site.

    Many different skill levels of makers all coming together to help out the new guy, no one gets bent out of shape and everyone gets some good info.

    *sniff* I love you guys. ;)
     
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  17. bobbybirds

    bobbybirds Active Member

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    I agree! I am on a lot of various forums out there in multiple different fields, and what stands out about this site is the absolute lack of bad attitudes here! I love that nobody here feels the need to tear down others to build themselves up. Super refreshing!!
     
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  18. Simon Lefebvre

    Simon Lefebvre New Member

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    I agree, and it is much appreciated on my part!
     
  19. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    had a bad attitude but still under warranty so got it fixed for free :p
     
  20. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    Hi all. I finally found a place to get some steel with carbon in it. I've been dying to start on something "real" for a month now. 7-10 days (as long as I'm caught up on whatever honeydo items are on the list) I can start making some actual knives. But, I couldn't get 1084 as everybody suggested. If got some 3/16" 01 coming and some 1/4" 1075 for an undead cleaver (or something chopperish anyway). What do i need to know about these two as far as heat treating goes? Also, canola oil seems to be the way to go... is there any other oil I should consider using? Do I only do the blade edge? I can't explain why but I'm getting nervous about it doing it for real now.
     
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