No grand new year statements or plans of action, just another no BS article on why 1080 is a very good choice.
I am a picky smith when it comes to my choice in HC steels. I tend to prefer the tougher alloys and how they react to being worked and then quenched over being obsessed with the level of hardness achieved. I have been making RRS knives for a very long time and I love the properties of the 1040HC used in the spikes. It hardens and forges easily with little worry of cracking so I wanted to find a Bush knife quality HC steel with a similar ease of properties in a flat stock form. I decided after having issues with used leaf springs cracking I would order fresh flat stock steel. I chose 1075/1080 blade steel because I felt it would be a balanced and easy to forge steel for my line of Bushcraft knives. What got in return was better than I expected because not only does this steel forge nicely, it has shown no quenching issues, over hardening or cracks while forging at all. The other really nice thing about this steel is that you still get high edge durability and low material cost.
When we are talking about making survival knives it is important to remember what is actually needed in your blades performance. You must have your hardness and durability balanced so that it can survive the punishment and also be easily sharpened. A steel like D2 can be frustrating and difficult to sharpen due to its hardness level but it has great impact durability and strength. I prefer a carbon steel like 1080 because it is not complicated and can be cared for with a simple wet stone. The hardness can be adjusted to be perfect level for durability and edge retention.
Forge at bright orange to yellow.
Quench in oil.
Temper for 30/1 hour at 300/400 degrees.
I highly recommend you try this for a good trade-off of features.
The second knife shown is a hybrid of an ornate Viking iron knife and a small Seax blade.
This will be a short but important post. Above is a piece of heated spring steel showing the color needed to do different things. Sometimes having a true to life visual reference is the best way to get a feel for a certain technique or process. I hope this helps all the people just now jumping into the world of knife-making. The red color in my experience gets the most hardening but you can also quench at orange with good results.
New post!: its been awhile and I have been thinking of what I wanted to post and I decided to talk a bit about unorthodox knife edges and how they improve or atleast living up your creations. The knife above is a D-2 tool steel Starcke T1-5 Seax or Tactical Seax (Copyright Norsewest Industries 2011) The knife has a rather radical cutting edge in that is has only one bevel and the opposite side is flat ground. This allows the user to maintain the edge almost exclusively with a steel. I myself was skeptical having seen similar ideas in pocket knives with less than stellar results! but when I finished this version 1.0 prototype I was shocked how proficient the edge was and how truly sharp the knife is with a single sided bevel.
As you can see the side 2 shot notes the straight angle with no bevel. By using the Seax design it allows a perfectly straight cutting edge with no awkward to sharpen angles. Combine this with the single side bevel and you have an easily maintained Bushcraft knife with modern and ancient designs. So far this design has managed to make mince meat out of 3/4 inch rope, leather, vinyl, fabric and wood with total ease, so I recommend you think more creatively about your edging and have fun experimenting with new angles and applications to your knives.
Experimentation is a good thing in any craft or art form and without bold new directions and ideas no art form can survive. Always have fun and bring your best intentions into the workshop. Hope this inspired some out of the box Knife or any kind of metal crafting. stay tuned for new Starcke and Greenlandr Bush knife experimentations/ideas in design.
Copyright Norsewest industries 2011.
A BULLET POINTS MEMO TO HELP ANYONE JUST STARTING OUT IN BLACKSMITH WORK:
STEEL AND ITS USES FOR KNIFE MAKING:
Modern wrought Iron/1018/Low carbon steel: Only use for primitive blades, blades you hang up on the wall or for props/ritual knives. Not for modern knife making. Max Hardness 42RC. However 42RC hardened steel will hold an edge for a period of time because it surface hardens a bit more than 42RC if heated in a carbon rich environment at high temperature. This is called carberizing or surface hardening. Smiths would put iron in a high temperature fire with bones and coal for a period of time to increase carbon content and is still done today in metal working. The thing I love most about 1018/Modern wrought is the ability to try these ancient techniques and see how you can use and perfect or even just understand what advantage it may have given the weapons of old . In the end a modern knife has long edge retension and iron knives had higher durability in battle but less edge rentension. Without a doubt the best material to start out with and practice technique.
Rebar: Can be worth experimenting with. For best results try Grade 60 and 75. Ultra strong material that does quench harden.
Files: Great for knives of all kinds, good high carbon steel. Forge at yellow/Bright orange to avoid cracking. Quench in oil only. Hardness roughly 58RC could go higher or lower depending. Temper 1hour 300/400 degrees.
Leaf and Coil spring steel: Great high carbon steel but has a tendency to crack in forged bellow bright orange. Oil quench only. Max hardness 58RC. Temper 1hour at 300/400.
440C Stainless steel. Forges nicely at high temperature and it quenches in oil or water. In my experience I have had no trouble heat treating this steel despite horror stories. Always temper for 1hour at 300/400 degrees.
Tool Steel: I do not recommend forging this steel as much as I recommend softening and grinding from bar stock. Heat to orange and allow to cool fully to soften. Heat treat by heating to bright red and quenching in oil. Then temper for 1hour at 300/400 degrees.
1040 Railroad spike: A fine medium carbon steel containing both the durability of iron and the hardness of high carbon steel. Quench in water, no need to temper. Max hardness is 52/56RC
KNIFE MAKING TERMS YOU NEED TO REMEMBER:
Anneal: To heat an already hardened metal back to its soft composition.
Temper: To heat a quenched blade and reduce its brittleness to a more durable state.
Quenching: To dip a blade into liquid causing the rapid removal of oxygen and close the crystal structure. (Hardening)
Hammer hardening: A technique used on bronze/Copper and low-carbon steel to increase hardness by hammering while cold.
Clinker: A waste material that gathers in your forge during the forging process.
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES:
When holding your hammer during forging it is important that you loosely grip the hammer and allow the weight to do the work. Always use a thumb over fist grip to prevent pain and damage to your arm.
When quenching your blade always insert it vertically and do not stir the liquid. This can bend the steel during the process.
Use water when quenching lower carbon steel to gain max hardness but it is best to use oil on high carbon to prevent cracking.
Always be aware of your steels color and if at yellow be extra careful not to burn or melt your steel. If your blade is sparkling its ruined.
When grinding if your blade turns black in a spot you have burned the carbon and possibly ruined the steel. Grind and cool-Grind and cool. Be patient.
Preheat all high carbon steels to red/orange and allow to cool fully before reheating and forging. This removes stress.
I hope This helps you in choosing steel and just giving you an idea of the process involved in forging not just knives but all kinds pieces.
The Norse Seax:
Length 7 to 24 inches historically.
Date of invention early: Iron age.
Notabe details: Steep drop angle nose and straight cutting edge.
Name: Seax is from the Germanic word “SAX” meaning short sword or long knife.
ANGLO SAXON: Seax
The Saxon people derived there name from this weapon because of there lengedary use of the weapon. No man was without this blade in the time of migrations. The popularity of the blade was so woven into Nordic culture that the Seax in style existed from the early iron age through the Viking age.
The Norse/Saxon warrior often carried:
1 belt knife
A hand Axe could also be added to this already fully stocked personal armoury.
Check out my shop for some very unique Jewelry and wrought iron pieces.