View Full Version : E6 Steel

06-28-2010, 10:01 PM
I have a piece of steel that I'm making a knife out of and it's labeled "Weld Steel E6". Now that I'm at getting to the point of heat-treating I'm wondering. what I've got :confused:.

It was cheap and this is a learning project so I'm not too concerned if it turns out to be weird...but I've looked and can't find any concrete information on what it is or how to quench it.

I figure if I can't find anything concrete I'll quench it in oil, most like kitchen oil of some kind (in other words what ever on the shelf is the cheapest).

Any ideas? Thanks,

Doug Lester
06-29-2010, 07:05 PM
To be honest, I have no idea what E6 steel is so I guess that it is best to treat it like mystery metal. If you have a section of that bar left, it doesn't have to be more than a couple of inches long, heat it to non-magnetic, soak it in the fire for about a minute, then quench in water. After that strike it with a hammer. If it shatters then it probably has enough carbon in it to make a good knife. If it just bends I would suggest that you chalk one up to experience and get some known steel from some place like, Admiral Steel, Kelly Cupples, or Arlo-The New Jersey Steel Baron and start over.

If the bar does shatter then I would heat the blade to non-magnetic and let it cool at least to a black heat three time. That's normalization. After normalization I would again heat the steel to non-magnetic and then let it soak for about one minute and quench in warm oil. Take the blade directly from the quenchant and place it in an oven that has been pre-heated to about 375 degrees, pausing only long enough to scrub the oil off with hot soapy water, and temper the blade for three, two hour cycles.

Do a finish grind on the blade taking it down to a course edge. Get a piece of plain steel wire, something about bailing wire weight, and try to cut through the wire by striking the spine of the blade with a mallet. Hopefully, it will do it without any damage to the edge. If the edge chips out, then retemper at 25 degrees higher after you grind the chip out. If the edge rolls over then you are going to have to requench the blade and retemper at 25 degrees lower. Retest after repeating the heat treating and readjust the temperatur for tempering by 25 degree higer. Contunue in 25 degree incriments as needed until you have the hardness in the edge that you want. It is easier to sneak up on the proper temper from the low side because that will allow you to adjust the tempering heat without having to reharden (quench). That process really puts the steel through some changes and you always run the risk of cracking to some degree.

By the way, where did you find the weld steel E6? If it was down at the local hardware store there's a real good chance that it's structural steel that's too low in carbon to make blades with. Reguardless, I hope that things work out for you.

Doug Lester

Justin King
06-29-2010, 07:19 PM
I have never heard of E6 steel either, but if they are calling it weld steel then my guess is that it is fairly low in carbon.

06-29-2010, 09:15 PM
hmm...I got it at Lowes...I was looking for something inexpensive to practice on. I checked with our Purchasing agents at work and they haven't heard of it either.

When I did a Google search the only thing that came up was a manufacture of steel named E6 so my PA thinks it a proprietary product.

I got to change my thinking on this knife making. I'm trying to keep things cheap to keep peace with the wife, but I think I'm spending more time and money on failures than if I get some decent steel in the first place.

In any event I like the design I used and will definitely be doing more.

Doug, I am going to take it through the steps you mentioned. Assuming it shatters. If my test piece doesn't shatter I'll just put my design onto a better piece of steel.

Thanks for the help. If as they say you learn from your mistakes I'm doing a lot of learning :D

Doug Lester
06-29-2010, 10:04 PM
If you got it at Lowes then it is deffinantly low carbon steel. I know that some people recommend that you start out with structural steel like that to practice forging on but the defect in that logic is that you also need to practice heat treating and you can't do that with low carbon steel. Heat treating is probably more important that forging and grinding the blade. A poorly forged and ground knife that is properly heat treated can still be usable. A well forged and ground blade that is poorly heat treated can be next to useless.

Look at some of the suppliers that I mentioned. Their prices on some simple steels, like the medium and high carbon content 10XX series, are pretty cheap and, with the possible exception of 1095, are pretty easy to forge and heat treat.

Doug Lester

06-29-2010, 11:49 PM
E6 is a simple low carbon structural version. If you just want to practice a few grind techniques that you plan to toss afterward, thats fine, but no, it wont make a user blade.
As stated above, go to Mr Aldo, get a good deal on some good steel. And as always, enjoy yourself, you are only as good as the mistakes you learn to correct :)

06-30-2010, 12:22 PM
Take it to a shade past non magnetic and quench in Super Quench.As others have said it is a low carbon steel but the carbon content is not controlled so some time it will harden as well as a RR spike.Not a good knife but better than nothing.
Super Quench
1 gal of water
1 lb of salt
2-3 oz dawn dishwashing liquid
2 oz dishwasher rinse agent ie JetDry
Mix well and and mix again just before quench.

Do not temper after quench.

06-30-2010, 07:14 PM
Thanks for all the information.

What I really regret is having what appears to be a decent looking knife that I've put a lot of time into,not so good because of my choice of materials.

I work on computers for a living and should know better... Inevitably when you buy no-name or sub-standard parts you have problems.

Ah well live and learn.

06-30-2010, 08:12 PM
I highly recommend Aldo for any steel you are looking for. If you are on a shoestring budget and really want to stick with the cheapest steel you can find, Admiral had some 1/8" x 1 1/4" x 60" 1084 at $7.00 per bar. Check thier "Box Sale" Closeouts.

Justin King
07-03-2010, 08:40 AM
What I really regret is having what appears to be a decent looking knife that I've put a lot of time into,not so good because of my choice of materials.

I have a good-sized pile of decent-looking blades, made from perfectly good high carbon or tool steel, that will never get finshed because of poor design, flawed concept, a couple of bad hammer swings, or, most often, a heat treat that I was not satisfied with. My point in telling you this is that you're gonna have to get confortable with a certain level of failure if you want to learn and progress. Sooner or later you will probably end up scrapping a piece that you have a ton of labor into for some minor miscalculation or misjudgement, or miscalibrated equipment (my favorite), etc. Once you get to a certain point you realize that everything you did on the last knife (or attempt) is repeatable, you just have to repeat the parts that worked, and not repeat the mistakes. If you are like me, every knife you are working on is the only real piece, the ones before were all just practice.

07-03-2010, 10:48 PM
Thanks for the input Justin. I've worked on other things before, such as guns, where similar things have occurred. Actually making a mistake on a knife doesn't bother me that much. Just venting a bit. I understood what happened and know how to fix it so I can move on.

Much better than working on computers where half the time you don't know what the root problem is...even though you manage to fix it. (I work on computers for a living)

I fired a test piece of the E6 tonight to non-magnetic and quenched in water. I put it on my portable anvil and hit it as hard as I could with a hammer. Nothing but a ding...unless you want to include flying half-way across the yard. Not even a nick...so definitely not knife grade steel.

I'm waiting to hear from Aldo and planning on getting some O-1 or 10xx to continue.