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Shiny new steel arrived in mail!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Splash, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Splash

    Splash New Member

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    Some of the new steel stock I ordered arrived on Friday, from Canadian Knifemaker Supply! I got a 1/8" and 1/4" O1 to experiment on the knife and adze blades i need to make, and a 3/16" piece of 52100 to experiment on for a bushcraft knife. I've been reading lots online, and saw a few charts which showed O1 as being one of the next toughest steels compared to L6, although the L6 seems to be in a bit of a class of its own in terms of tough.

    I own some carving tools (bent blades, straight knives, adzes) in L6 (rc57) and find myself sharpening them a lot, and that it seems to have a kind of rough edge. Not sure why, but maybe so tough it doesn't lose its bur very easily. I love the flexibility, but have been thinking I could sacrifice a bit of flex and replace it with a bit of better, finer edge.

    I'd love to find some new L6 stock and try making some harder versions of what I have to see if they'd have better edges, I just haven't found a supply yet. Carving dry Western Red cedar means you have to have razor sharp tools, because even though it's generally speaking a soft wood, the harder (dark) grain lines are hard, and will catch a dull knife and crush the softer (light coloured) grain lines without clean cutting.

    I found some 1/8" 5160 steel at Alabama Damascus which I have also sent for to try out. I'd made a few adze blades from old truck or snowmobile springs, which seemed to work okay, and i've read that they are usually 5160, (or 1080?). What I've read so far is that above about 50-60% carbon and the steel gets more brittle.

    I had even made lots of tools from old files, adzes and bent blades; I hear that they files are probably W1, which I would have thought would be the worst steel for thinner blades, but even they seemed to work alright until they were stolen. The only new steel I've even bought was some W1, and O1 last year, to make some repousse punches, and about a quarter of the W1 tools developed a slight curve when quenched, so I'm a bit suspicious of that steel type.

    Most of the woodworking magazines or forums have people doing the same sort of junkyard-steel-recycling that I've done. Are there any real knifemakers out there who make carving knives? I could definetely use some advice. Especially seeing as how I want a tough, edge-holding, fine grain steel, which seem to be contradictory qualities.

    I'll post some pics when I get to making the blades.
     
  2. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    I use O1 exclusively, mostly because it's cheap, easy to work and heat-treat. But it does hold an edge as well. Some folks swear by D2 for edge holding. While I feel that a high carbon steel is going to hold an edge better than stainless, I think most of it comes down to the heat-treat. The best steel in the world isn't going to hold an edge if you screw up the heat treating.

    You have a pretty specific use for your blades. If it was me, I'd focus on one steel and experiment to find the best heat-treat process for it. You may want to consider getting something like an EvenHeat oven so you can dial in a precise, repeatable process.
     
  3. Splash

    Splash New Member

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    Advice taken, Mythtaken. I was mostly going to use the O1 for the straight blades I'll make. I'll experiment with making a bent/hook blade also, but was thinking that the 5160 would be better for that use. I'd love to get one of those kiln/ovens, and didn't even know such things existed until recently. I was thinking that a small knife forge, a knife kiln, and then hopefully a belt grinder would be a the way to go. (Is it true knifemaking is addictive?)
     
  4. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    Don't worry, knife making isn't addictive. I can stop anytime I want. I just need to make one more first....
     
  5. BigUglyMan

    BigUglyMan Active Member

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    I second the advice to limit the number of steels you try to learn at a time. I'm sticking with the stalwarts - 5160 and 52100 I've got a couple hundred pounds of 52100 and 5160 is cheap, plentiful, excellent and most of all everyone uses it for their JS knives because it's such a known quantity. That kind of knowledge on tap is worth a lot to a guy like me.
     

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