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View Full Version : Quench Wars! -- Side-by-side quench test



Darrin Sanders
01-20-2010, 01:19 AM
Rusty McDonald & I have decided to do a side-by-side quench test with a couple of different steels and a couple of different quench oils. Steels will be 1095, 1084, & maybe one or two more. Oils will be Parks 50 & McMaster-Carr 11 second oil. Steel pieces will be cut from the same bar and hardened in the same oven for consistency. One piece will be quenched in Parks the other will be quenched in McMaster-Carr. Rusty has an oven, 1084, and Parks oil. I am sending him some 1095 and McMaster oil. The only thing we are lacking is a hardness tester. We were hoping we could find a volunteer here who could test for hardness when finished. Any help or suggestions with this test will be greatly appreciated.

Rusty McDonald
01-20-2010, 02:27 AM
Ill be sure to document everything and ensure that the quench for both types of oil and steel are as close to the same as possible. Im thinking that just out of the quench hard is what should be tested and not a tempered steel. Any suggestions from someone with a Rw tester would be good. Would be good to know if McMasters can be a true substitute for parks 50.
Rusty

Ernie Swanson
01-20-2010, 05:08 AM
Great Idea!!!

I cant wait to see some results!

Sean Cochran
01-20-2010, 05:28 AM
Im very interested in this too.

SteelSlaver
01-20-2010, 05:41 AM
Might I suggest a third quench medium of say canola oil, just to make it interesting. I have a one of the Ames portable testers and would do the testing. The is one thing though. I have to go away from the shop for a bit soon. Leaving here the end of the month for 2-3 weeks. Jim. I guess I could take the tester with me and have you mail them to my work address.

joe levy
01-20-2010, 06:36 AM
I am a die maker and can test your blades at work if needed.

Joe

Steve Randall
01-20-2010, 07:14 AM
this is great I can't wait to see the out come I use the Mc-Masters oil now and wonder how close to the park it was keep us updated . ....steve

JDW
01-20-2010, 06:58 PM
Can't wait to see the results on this one. Thanks for doing this.

Travis Fry
01-20-2010, 09:14 PM
I'd also be interested to see how they compare to something less specialty, like mineral oil or canola, just to liven things up a bit. This should be interesting.

Rusty McDonald
01-20-2010, 09:38 PM
We talked about doing it with something like mineral oil as well, just to see how the others compare to it

JDB
01-20-2010, 10:01 PM
LOL...make it peanut oil and you'll have my quench oil. Has a the highest flash point. You'll get to keep your eyebrows. LOL

Just because I'm a fortune teller...my prediction is the 11 second will be harder than the Parks. But the veggy or mineral oil will be the hardest of all. If you do it? :~)

If you want to make it a performance test too, I'd suggest doing a straight water or brine quench as a control since that is the only way to get maximum hardness with 10 series steels. It will tell you how much hardness the oils are leaving on the table with the same process.

If you are just quenching bits of bar, cracks won't matter anyway.

This should be fun.

SteelSlaver
01-21-2010, 05:47 AM
Good point on using the brine for a comparison point. I don't believe that the Parks is going to give up much to the brine. I would suggest that you use pieces around 1/16 thick. The reason is that as knife makers we are most concerned about what is happening at or near the edge and the thinner metal here cools faster. It is hard for me to test on an angle so I test near the flats. But, I am considering making a tapered piece to set on my testers anvil so that I can work near the edge,

amcardon
01-21-2010, 08:28 AM
Bring on the quench wars!

Mike Barton
01-21-2010, 09:55 AM
Bring on the quench wars!

QUENCH WAR

That has got to be the perfect title for the results thread 2thumbs

Mike

Kevin R. Cashen
01-22-2010, 03:43 PM
I visit enough sites that some I just have to mostly lurk at in order to balance my schedule, but I am always looking for sites that show great potential for open minded exploration of fact based advancement of our craft. The latter is one of the reasons I post less frequently on many sites due to the mind field one can find themselves in for not being P.C. This site shows great promise, especially with Delbert’s guidance, so I lurk here occasionally but only care to give input where I feel it can be helpful, but more importantly welcome. I sincerely hope this post will meet those parameters for all present, if not I will not trouble you more.

I have spent a many years of my career struggling with standardized testing that will yield real reliable numbers, and attempting to identify trouble spots in the interpretation of testing results. An awful lot of misinformation about what happens in knife steel has resulted from innocent misreading of test results, I have often found that our own eyes will indeed lie to us if we don’t very carefully identify what we are actually seeing. I used to focus on single general tests for analysis, but then I found that the more accurate the test, the smaller the part of the overall big picture I could see because reliable, accurate tests must eliminate as many variables as possible outside the specific property measured. So, often what I saw on the Rockwell tester made no sense until that same sample was placed under the metallograph.

If I can offer a few suggestions to help out with your testing, these are some things that I found and overcame in my own testing along these lines:

Hardness testing, when not done very carefully, can be more misleading than one may suspect. Portable testers are fine for ballparks on the shop floor, but lack the same certifiable results that one could get from a properly calibrated bench top unit. A single test does not provide enough information, and I always do at least 5 readings in order to average. The readings need to be an even sample pattern across the test piece. The test sample must be a flat level surface, bevels can’t give proper readings as one side of the penetrator crater give more than the other, and edges tend to flex and render the reading worthless. There can be no distortion in the test sample that could cause the least bit of movement, and this is just one reason why 1/16” samples would not work, as well as the thin stock taking the penetrator differently than a solid mass. If you would like to test varying thickness in the same piece, grind the sample in steps, I suggest that you start with ¼ stock and remove 1/16” at a time.

The other reason for this stepped sample is that to go with the thinnest possible section is an unforeseen bias in the results. We think the edge is all that counts but any steel with carbon will harden in almost any quench if it is that thin, resulting in no significant differences across your sample data, and making all quenchants appear equal. But you are but testing whether the edge of any given knife will be hard enough, you are testing the quenching ability of various mediums, that will only be reflected in the depth of hardness in increasing thickness. This is how industry measures depth of hardness and the effectiveness of quench.

A real hurdle is the apples and oranges comparisons in the quenchants. Will they all be preheated to their own optimum temp? Or will you try to even the playing field with one standard temp? Will the oil be the exact same temp for the last sample as the first? Will agitation be exactly the same for all? Eliminating agitation will shift the test from heat extraction to vapor formation. These are just a few of the obstacles I have faced in this line of testing.

A serious problem I spent a few years overcoming is precise duplication of soak times and temperatures. If you get this part off your hardness test will indicate miserable performance in the oil, when the oil never had a chance to work its magic on a piece of steel that was not prepared the same as the others. Decarb and oxidation, as well as the process of removing them will skew the results in ways that had nothing to do with the oil, except that the oxides could prevent proper liquid contact.

I think you are doing good to only focus on Rockwell hardness for the first tests, and doing as-quenched is indeed the only way to go. I would suggest distilled water and not brine as your control, water is the standard by which quench speeds have been measured for years with the scale of “H” factor (water being 1, brine =2.0, medium oils = .30).

Your “quench wars” does sound like a lot of fun, and if my technical geek suggestions could interfere with that please stick to the spirit of your exercise. But if the fun factor and the informal nature is a major component, I beg you gentlemen to embrace the results in the same informal spirit. Many people read things on these forums and take them quite seriously and the results you present could greatly influence decisions people make, there may be responsibility with that. Not that I am raining on your parade, I keep many of my own findings for my own consumption simply because I want to be certain they are error free before going public, and I am too neurotic to ever reach that point.

In fact, I have my own predictions for your results based on previous measurements, however, I will leave them from this post for the same reason I would not want them if I were in your position, until I was done. The human factor and biases based on previous information is one of the largest of all obstacles in accurate analysis.

A book I would highly recommend for you endeavors would be “Quenching and Martempering” by ASM, it would be a treasure trove of information on this topic.

I will shut up now, but wish you gentlemen luck and lots of fun. :)

Sincerely
Kevin R. Cashen

BossDog
01-22-2010, 04:37 PM
Kevin,
Nice to have you and your expertise here at KnifeDogs...
feel free to jump in anytime, anywhere...


This is going to be a fun and educational event. I will watch this with a great deal of interest. If there is anything I can provide to help, let me know.
t

Gabe Newell
01-22-2010, 05:42 PM
Hey, Kevin.

Great to see you posting here.

Wayne Coe
01-22-2010, 06:25 PM
Kevin, You gave more information that I could have dreamed was needed here. It looks like you should be appointed OAQW "Official Advisor of the Quench Wars"2thumbs

Rusty McDonald
01-22-2010, 06:59 PM
i have that book in an older print and it has helped me A great deal.
So does this mean you will take the samples and do a photo annalysis? That would be great!


I just wanted to add that the quenches will be done as similarly as possable. As every one knows you can never get the exact same results every time unless you can control all of the varriables which is an imposability. I can only control what I know like soak times, tempratures (in a digitaly controlled evenheat oven), quenchant temps and agitation. I even plan on drilling a hole in the test pieces to attach a piece of wire so my tongs wont take any of the heat out. To ensure the tests are as close as possable in a real life setting. I will document every step I take with each type of steel and each quenchant. If there is any suggestions that could help in this please feel free to tell me.

Darrin Sanders
01-22-2010, 07:47 PM
Hello Kevin, good to see you here. I am well aware of your extensive testing & research and consider your thoughts, opinions, & guidance very valuable. Actually, as this was getting started I was hoping you would post here with your wealth of knowledge. As far as I'm concerned feel free to say exactly what you think as this progresses. Although I wasn't going to impose by asking without you posting here first, I like Rusty would greatly appreciate you doing the testing & analysis if you would care to do so.

Delbert Ealy
01-22-2010, 08:41 PM
Thanks Kevin for the encouragement.

I would like to say that I know Kevin personally and I know like me he relies on knife and swordmaking as income for his family, I also know that he devotes a significant portion of time to things that do not benefit him financially, directly. I am happy to have him share his wealth of knowledge, but please refrain from adding to his workload unless he volunteers. I say this not to offend, but as a kindness to a friend.
Thank you,

Darrin Sanders
01-22-2010, 09:30 PM
Hope I didn't overstep by asking, I do not want anyone to feel obligated to do anything involved with these tests. Like I said if someone would like to help great, but if they decline for any reason whatsoever I myself will understand and not be offended. I just think that whoever helps in whatever way they can, will be helping the whole knifemaking community by possibly finding a readily available quality quench oil.

Kevin R. Cashen
01-23-2010, 12:42 AM
First I would like to thank Delbert for his concerns as they are legitimate as for my time constraints, but then I would like to wholeheartedly express how honored I am by Rusty and Darrin’s confidence in my work in any of these areas. I am not bothered or offended at all by your requests but am very flattered. However my time constraints are a problem even for my own research these days. Rockwell testing is fairly quick and can be done by anybody well versed in the use of the machine, but metallography is very time consuming in the sample prep and can gobble up so many hours that the price I needed to do it for others became prohibitive in order to justify my time away from making my own blades.

I am very encouraged by Rusty and Darrin’s sincere approach to this project and will advise in any way I can, but for the analysis I prefer to be in control of the process from beginning to end in order to insure the conclusions are ones I can embrace with confidence. With all the factors I have pointed out (and these are just the beginning) I would hate to have it said that Kevin Cashen found that McMaster-Carr oil left more pearlite in 3/16 steel than peanut oil, without being able to back that up with my oversight of the entire process and being certain of all the variables.

I guess this is the real reason I felt compelled to post to this thread, Darrin’s point on doing research for helping the whole knifemaking community by possibly finding a readily available quality quench oil, is a very noble approach, but with it comes great responsibility. I truly feel very saddened for our craft by the amount of misinterpretation of results already accepted as fact that has made in into circulation on the internet and on the printed page. Thus I encourage the concept of testing one property (hardness in this case) at a time, but keeping in mind that this is but one small part of the overall picture.

For example, if maximizing hardness is your only criterion then you already have brine as the hands down winner, and the testing isn’t even necessary. The problem is that once you establish the best heat extractor you now need to move on to numerous other factors in determining the right quenchant. Short of the steel-stressing extremes of brine or water, there are quenchants capable of achieving maximum martensite with a minimum of stress.

Another consideration, and one that is critical to the custom knifemaker, is consistency and repeatability. This is governed by the long term stability of the quenching medium, as well as the ability to duplicate the exact same performance with the next batch used.

To my knowledge the first bladesmith to be familiar with Parks #50 and mention it in my presence was Dan Maragni many years ago at Ashokan when he gave some to me. I then started ordering it, using it with a passion and recommending it to other makers at hammer-ins and online. That was a very long time ago and I am confident I have been using the stuff longer than the majority of knifemakers who have heard of it. It is a wonderful product that offers quench speeds I have not found in any other oils, however it is made by the darned strangest company I have ever encountered for not wanting to sell their products to the public. Thus I no longer recommend this wonderful product, due to the fact that it is just too hard to obtain, and when you do find it available it through other people they seem to take full advantage of their ability to offer it (let’s just say that I have bought 55 gallon drums of the stuff, I know what the stuff goes for a gallon directly from Parks).

I cannot tell Rusty and Darrin how much I appreciate the effort to quantify two actual quench oils rather than resorting to any number of other substances that can simply cool steels without the same considerations for all the numerous other factors. The McMaster-Carr 11 second could be a reasonable replacement for the #50, but I would suggest you not ignore the Houghton International products that their R&D guru Scott MacKenzie has told me is more than a match for the Parks.

So I while my workload keeps me from taking too active of a role in this project, I am also by no means discouraging the worthy efforts involved, I would also like to see the resulting information as accurate, objective and useful to our craft as it can be. In this I would like to find how I can best help even if I cannot physically assist.

Kevin R. Cashen
01-23-2010, 12:59 AM
Kevin,
Nice to have you and your expertise here at KnifeDogs...
feel free to jump in anytime, anywhere...



Wow! Thank you so much for this very kind and personal welcome. One other concern of mine is always how popular and well received my findings and information can be with those involved on any particular forum, and I am rather old school about proper manners regarding the bringing of discord to the house of my host. This welcome gives me some peace as well as a little more caution to be certain I can return the hospitality appropriately.

There are also those forums where one wonders how much they really have to offer beyond the wonderful input already available and, with people like my good friend Delbert helping here, my ability to expand too much on the knowledge base is limited to much more specialized topics

Darrin Sanders
01-23-2010, 04:21 AM
Thanks again Kevin, you not being able to physically assist in this endeavor is perfectly OK & understandable. Anyone interested in this experiment is more than welcome to contribute as much or as little as they would like to. I agree that adding a sample of Houghton oil would be beneficial to this test. So if anyone reading this would like to donate a sample of any type of readily available quality quenching medium feel free to do so. Rusty is doing the testing so I will let him decide on how many different materials he would like to test.

Wayne Coe
01-23-2010, 09:38 AM
I have seen several mentions of Brine Quench here but no mention of Robb Gunter's Super Quench. Rather than clutter this thread I will post some info on Super Quench on
Shop Talk.

Carey Quinn
01-23-2010, 10:30 PM
Kevin,

It's good to see you here. I always appreciate you so willingly sharing your knowledge on metallurgy. It is sometimes way over my head but after reading many of your posts on several forums and your excellent web site I feel I have learned enough to make a very serviceable knife.

Thanks for all you have done and shared,
Carey

Kevin R. Cashen
01-24-2010, 06:23 PM
Kevin,

It's good to see you here. I always appreciate you so willingly sharing your knowledge on metallurgy. It is sometimes way over my head but after reading many of your posts on several forums and your excellent web site I feel I have learned enough to make a very serviceable knife.

Thanks for all you have done and shared,
Carey

Thank you very much Carey. I cannot fully express how much sentiments such as this really mean to me, while many see new information as a threat to the status quo, messages such as yours show that providing that information is not an entirely thankless task. Most important is your pogress on a serviceable knife 2thumbs, idle chat about metallurgical concepts is one thing but putting it to use in making better knives is really what it is all about. Knowing I can help in any way in this is the greatest reward.

Carey Quinn
01-24-2010, 09:45 PM
Thanks for the reply Kevin. I hope to stop by your booth at the Blade Show this year and say hi if you're going to be there.

Carey

Sean Cochran
01-26-2010, 10:06 PM
Rusty and Darrin, I appreciate you guys taking time to do this. I am very interested in the results with the 1095.

Kevin,
I know it has been said already, but thank you for providing your input as well. I have read your material on BF and it has helped me very much.

Darrin Sanders
01-26-2010, 10:58 PM
No problem Sean, actually Rusty is doing all the work all I did was supply a piece of 1095 & some oil. Had some problems shipping the oil but I got it sent today. Rusty should have it in a couple of days.

Rusty McDonald
01-29-2010, 12:20 AM
Ok Darrin I got the Oil today and will try to start on the quenches this weekend.

Rusty McDonald
02-24-2010, 08:46 PM
Alrighty then! I got the steel cut in to like sizes today and am drilling holes in them to put a piece of wire trough to use to hold them in the quench. Dont have pics now but will get them as soon as the holes are drilled probably in the morning.. Will have this done as soon as I can.
I have 3 sets of tags of 1084 and 1090 one set will get distilled water, one set will get Parks 50, one set will get McMaster 11 second quench. Before I do this I have to go to town to get a thermometer that I can take pics of for the oil and water.

Darrin Sanders
02-24-2010, 09:14 PM
Sounds good buddy. If you need anything else on my end just let me know.

Sean Cochran
03-06-2010, 12:36 PM
Had any time to work on this guys? No rush, Im just real interested in what you come up with.

Sean

Darrin Sanders
03-06-2010, 08:35 PM
Haven't heard from Rusty in a few days. If he doesn't reply here I'll PM him tomorrow.

Rusty McDonald
03-19-2010, 02:16 AM
Alright People I just got finished with the Quenches and will have Pics to put up, But it's 2:15 and I'm tired and need some sleep, Sorry for the wait had some personal things to take care of.
Rusty

Ernie Swanson
03-19-2010, 07:20 AM
I am pretty excited to see how this turns out!!

Frank Aguirre
03-19-2010, 12:34 PM
I just bought some McMaster CArr for 1080 and can't wait to see the results from all this. Thanks for taking the time guys.

Rusty McDonald
03-20-2010, 07:32 PM
Ok so Here are some Pics of what I did.
The first is the steel I started with a bit of 1090 and some 1084 I had

In the second I had cut them with my bandsaw

Third I skiped ahead and drilled holes in each for wire to hold the pieces with when I quenched them

Fourth is normalizing the steel, a process I go through each time I quench, heats to dull red and let them air cool to black again this is done 3 times

last pic is more normalizing.

Rusty McDonald
03-20-2010, 07:41 PM
More normalizing, last heat and cool.

Setting up the oven, I put my oven to 1100 degrees to soak for 20 min to get the steel settled to a even heat in the oven.

then up to 1450F for the final soak for 15 minutes. after that it's in the quench. the pics got out of order but you get the idea.

Rusty McDonald
03-20-2010, 07:46 PM
The finished product ready to be sent to get rockwell tested.

four set of two, one 1084 one 1090

One set in Water for a control point

One set in Parks #50

One set in McMaster Carr 11 sec quench

One set in Vet grade Mineral Oil.


And my part is done.

Hey Darron you want this oil Back?

Sean Cochran
03-20-2010, 09:31 PM
Rusty, I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I cant wait to see the results.

Darrin Sanders
03-20-2010, 11:28 PM
Hey Rusty, glad to see you finished them up!! Can't wait for the results. Thanks again for doing this. And no I don't need the oil back.

deker
03-23-2010, 05:52 AM
Rusty,

Out of curiosity, why are you not normalizing with the kiln? It seems to me that introducing an uncertain set of temps from a forge at a stage such as normalization could severely skew results. For example, let's say one piece gets overheated a bit. This over heating would affect grain growth and/or carbide formation which could then skew the results for that piece when tested against the rest.

Not trying to rain on your parade or cast aspersions at your technique, I'm just curious.

Thanks for taking the time to do this,

-d

Rusty McDonald
03-23-2010, 09:25 AM
Deker,
Good question, I guess I could have used the kiln to do this as well. I was very careful not to let them overheat. they never actually went in my forge just at the door, I was acting like a rotisserie and moving them around to make sure they never got too hot and each piece heated as close to the same as I could. They never got over a dull red. You have to admit that even in a kiln there are hot spots, like mine in the back will get hotter than at the door. And these temp differences aren't very noticeable, but I know not to put a long knife in my kiln tip first. I keep the small stuff as close to the temp probe as I can.
Like I said before I wanted to do a real world type quench with as many of the variables as I could the same. Now there may be a piece that is out of tolerance because I used my forge to normalize them. I doubt there is but now the stone is thrown and I cant get it back.
Rusty

deker
03-23-2010, 10:13 AM
Deker,
Like I said before I wanted to do a real world type quench with as many of the variables as I could the same. Now there may be a piece that is out of tolerance because I used my forge to normalize them. I doubt there is but now the stone is thrown and I cant get it back.


Sorry to monkey things up for you :( How were you judging the normalization temps? Did you have a pyrometer at the forge door, etc?

I just got my Evenheat and I plan to use it for every stage of heating that isn't forging. This means normalizations, stress relief/spheroidizing, tempering, etc.

-d

Rusty McDonald
03-23-2010, 12:02 PM
Sorry to monkey things up for you :( How were you judging the normalization temps? Did you have a pyrometer at the forge door, etc?

I just got my Evenheat and I plan to use it for every stage of heating that isn't forging. This means normalizations, stress relief/spheroidizing, tempering, etc.

-d

You didn't monkey things up. I did it by the color of the steel the way I always do, I just wanted to start with the steel in a semi same state. Now one may have gotten a few degrees more than another but they were all pretty much the same.
And as far as I can tell by using a file all of them are hard as wood peckers lips. But the Mineral oil is a bit softer. and the water did it's job extremely well, But we will see when the results come back.

joe levy
04-12-2010, 12:37 PM
just recieved the samples in the mail. Will test them as soon as possible. I need to clean off the scale and test the hardness. Hope to do it tonight.

Joe

joe levy
05-03-2010, 02:35 PM
Sorry for the delay posting this.

1090

Water-60 Rc
Mineral oil-31 Rc
McMaster Carr-29 Rc
Parks-63 Rc

1084

Water-59 Rc
Mineral oil-33 Rc
McMaster Carr-41 Rc
Parks-61 Rc

Not what I was expecting, but it is what I measured.

McClellan Made Blades
05-03-2010, 03:56 PM
Sorry for the delay posting this.

1090

Water-60 Rc
Mineral oil-31 Rc
McMaster Carr-29 Rc
Parks-63 Rc

1084

Water-59 Rc
Mineral oil-33 Rc
McMaster Carr-41 Rc
Parks-61 Rc

Not what I was expecting, but it is what I measured.




I've got questions, probably some assumptions, but I can't see how the Mcmaster Carr pulled a 41, when I quench, I check it with a file, and it skates across the edge without biting into it. The tests on my knives that I've done, (keep in mind nothig fancy, mostly just abusive chopping) showed no rolled edges, no chips, really just good over all performance. I have chopped seasoned oak for 30 minutes to an hour and still had a serviceable blade, not always hair popping sharp but no rolled edges, or chips. A 41 RC is not hard enough to make a servicable edge, so I'm a bit perplexed with these results. It seems all the others are about where they should be, but from my, admittedly limited, experience, the McMaster Carr, should be holding at least in the higher 50's to have a maintainable edge. Thats it, I'm buying my own tester, that is truly the only way I'll know for a fact if I'm getting the right hardness on my HT. This has been a great experiment, but I think it needs to be done again, because as stated earlier, we are looking for repeatable outcomes. We need to see if they are repeatable, on all accounts, not just the Mcmaster Carr, but the Parks, probably not necessary to do the brine, as most folks arent going to risk their blade to that much stress, I did it once on my very first knife, I still have it ...well, most of the pieces. I have kept it to remind me what not to do, and brine was a heart breaker, as well as a blade breaker. Please keep in mind that was my experience, at the time I was using very thin steel, my grinds where not as good as they could have been, and niether was my finish. So many variables, that can have a pretty big impact on the out come, I think this test would be best repeated by using a basic knife pattern, something simple, smallish, that would be the best way to tell which quench is doing the best. Like Kevin said, Parks is great stuff, but being able to get it, from the strangest company in the world. Not something I want to deal with, that's why I went with McMaster Carr, there is also Hough (sp), from Brownells, that might be another good one to test. I've heard a lot of good things about that, but I've already got the McMaster Carr, so all I need to do is add to it. Pretty interesting stuff, and thanks for doing the tests, would love to see some more on this one, Rex

LRB
05-03-2010, 04:40 PM
Brine is less apt to crack the steel than plain water. Brine is faster than water, but gives a more even cooling due to the salt. Uneven cooling is the main culpret in cracked blades, according to everything I've read, and the limited experience I've had with brine quench. Going by your figures, there's a lot that just doesn't make since. 1084 should have gotten into the 60"s with a mineral oil quench. I think you have a problem with the testing somewhere. If you have the time, could you review how it was all done? Temps of the steel, quench, ect.

DrThunder88
05-04-2010, 01:58 AM
Interesting results! Thanks for conducting and posting this experiment. I love forums like KD for this kind of stuff.

Troop
05-04-2010, 07:04 AM
Great stuff!!! Thanks for posting.

Original
05-04-2010, 11:01 PM
Yes, very interesting read and thank you for the testing, Kevin did kinda say what the outcome would be, but who want's to deal with that weird company..

jkf96a
05-05-2010, 11:14 AM
Not what I was expecting to see either. Is 1450 a high enough austentizing temperature for these steels? Would 1475 or 1500 do better?

wdtorque
05-05-2010, 11:25 PM
Just read the whole thread at once. Not at all what I was expecting. ????? Dozier

Seth Howard
05-20-2010, 11:08 PM
New to this forum. Love the test!

I think one thing that is not being taken into account it the thickness of the samples. How thick did you use, 1/16 was mentioned and Kevin suggested 1/4. Either of these is thicker that the edge of a blade and thus maybe some of the supprising results. Make steel thin enough and a good wind can harden it. The thicker sections may be showing the various oils actual cooling abilities ... or I could be blowing wind myself.


Seth

Kevin R. Cashen
05-21-2010, 08:57 AM
...If you would like to test varying thickness in the same piece, grind the sample in steps, I suggest that you start with ¼ stock and remove 1/16” at a time.

The other reason for this stepped sample is that to go with the thinnest possible section is an unforeseen bias in the results. We think the edge is all that counts but any steel with carbon will harden in almost any quench if it is that thin, resulting in no significant differences across your sample data, and making all quenchants appear equal. But you are not testing whether the edge of any given knife will be hard enough, you are testing the quenching ability of various mediums, that will only be reflected in the depth of hardness in increasing thickness. This is how industry measures depth of hardness and the effectiveness of quench...

While the HRC results seem not to make much sense, they are not all that suprising to me. Lots of things beyond the quenchant alone being reflected there. As always, the devil's in the details.

Patrice Lemée
05-21-2010, 10:34 AM
Well the only thing I know is that I received a pail of Parks so I love the results as they are. :D

Thanks for doing this, much appreciated.

Kevin R. Cashen
05-22-2010, 12:16 PM
Let me continue with my line of thought concerning testing and results. I actually like these results because they make us stop and go “what the @#!$?” That is a good test! The best tests always produce 10 times more questions than they do answers. When I do a test, I am always disappointed in predictable results. Testing is for finding the unexpected or shortcomings that can be improved upon, tests that only confirm our claims and beliefs is called marketing , and the majority of the “tests” you read about in magazines is exactly that. So this test is good, it surprises folks and makes us reconsider our conclusions.

Now the next step, which can be even harder than the initial work is carefully and properly interpreting the results. Most of this is trouble shooting the data, which is easier with as few variables as possible, the bad news is that this exorcise involves too many to count. It is in the interpretation of the results that most misinformation in the bladesmithing field has been born. That is why it can be so touchy correcting that information without people feeling that you are questioning their honesty. Heck they saw the results with their own two eyes, are you calling them a liar? Unfortunately coming to a reasonable conclusion based upon the observed evidence can be completely sincere and honest, and still be totally wrong. This is why tests that shake up your preconceived notions are the best, they keep us looking at all possibilities without becoming complacent, or relying on assumptions.

In interpreting the results, assumption is the most dangerous pitfall, and it is why keeping our mind clear of predictions of outcome before interpreting the data can be very important. Does this sound patently obvious to folks? Well consider this- how many reading these results had second thoughts about the effectiveness of MacMaster Carr oil, but at the same time automatically assumed there had to be an error in the readings from water? After all, we all know that water is the fastest of those quenchants (I can assure you that P #50 is fast but it does not beat water), but none of these results must to be incorrect any more than they must be correct. The proper way to approach the interpretation would be as if we had never heard of, or knew anything about, any of the liquids used, including water, and then start deconstructing things by considering the properties involved.

If you think this is tough, I actually do heat treating consulting for some production companies, just try to work out over the telephone what could be going on when steel decides to defy the very laws of physics in a heat treating quirk. The only way out of that morass is to examine and record every approach, change just one variable at a time, re-examine the results for any effects and then move to the next variable. Often the answer will reside in a factor so far removed from the area on which you are focusing that you realize that everything within the sphere of existence of that steel must be considered since time didn’t start and stop just during the operation in question but continued to effect the outcome on every subsequent test.

Variables, variable, variables… so long as there are variables, easy answers are a pipe dream. :(

LRB
05-22-2010, 04:28 PM
Kevin, you are truly a treasure to those of us that appreciate what you do by sharing your time and info. Take care, and please keep it up.

McClellan Made Blades
05-22-2010, 07:02 PM
Kevin, you are truly a treasure to those of us that appreciate what you do by sharing your time and info. Take care, and please keep it up.

I second that, We are ALL busy, Kev is probably busier than most, but he takes his time to help those with lesser knowledge, I guess what we're trying to say is THANK YOU!!! That isn't enough, but it's the best I have right now. When I can I will show you how much I appreciate all you do. And PLEASE do keep on sharing because without your help, I know a lot of folks would be lost, me for one!

Kevin R. Cashen
05-22-2010, 07:49 PM
... We are ALL busy, Kev is probably busier than most, but he takes his time to help...

I am actually so busy right now that typing on this forum was a stress relieving 10 minute break:). I have been hunched over a dagger pommel for 3 days now staring at the metal carvings through the optivisor until I can now no longer feel the end of the finger that was guiding the tools, so forgive the extra typos;). I have my doubts that most of that last post will be helpful to many other than myself for changing gears in my thought process for a bit.

And, as always, you are most welcome. So long as people are willing to talk about all of these concepts and keep the learning moving forward for all involved, especially myself, I will be happy to help out or just chat.

Kevin R. Cashen
05-25-2010, 09:19 AM
... I beg you gentlemen to embrace the results in the same informal spirit. Many people read things on these forums and take them quite seriously and the results you present could greatly influence decisions people make, there may be responsibility with that. Not that I am raining on your parade, I keep many of my own findings for my own consumption simply because I want to be certain they are error free before going public, and I am too neurotic to ever reach that point...

I am not psychic, but I have almost made a career of tracing the origins of misconceptions in the knifemaking business. There are now people abandoning McMaster Carr oil as if any results from this exercise could be considered conclusive. Rusty and Darrin have made a great start down the road of finding some answers about quenchants, but with this test they are still leaving their driveway on a very, VERY long journey.

Folks, I am not abandoning Parks #50 for fear of cracking since this thread shows it is faster than water, nor would I abandon 1084 for 1090 due to it showing higher hardness from the baseline of water, since it is a fact that 1090 is perhaps the shallowest hardening of high carbon 10XX steels. The same would apply to the McMaster Carr numbers.

Have you ever, hesitated to show somebody your knife before it was finished because you knew that half done it would in no way resemble the finished product and you wanted the only image people had of it to be when it was complete? Test results are even more like this. To make any decisions about your methods based in this thread is very unfair to Darrin and Rusty, and damaging to bladesmithing as a whole.

In my first post in this thread I was trying as hard as I could to be gentle, but I posted because I saw the potential danger in this thread. Bladesmithing will be decades repairing the damage, if it ever fully recovers, when guys with access to space in the printed magazines publish results of their "testing" (I use the word VERY loosely concerning the Mags) without due consideration of the whole picture, and Rusty and Darrin made a heck of a lot better attempt at an actual study than much of that stuff.

Please, Please, Please view this thread as just scratching the surface enough to create the questions we need to prompt a deeper look at the subject, as that is the only way to allow it to contribute to our knowledge and not become one more pile of bad information that could take years to overcome.

McClellan Made Blades
05-25-2010, 10:34 AM
I am not psychic, but I have almost made a career of tracing the origins of misconceptions in the knifemaking business. There are now people abandoning McMaster Carr oil as if any results from this exercise could be considered conclusive. Rusty and Darrin have made a great start down the road of finding some answers about quenchants, but with this test they are still leaving their driveway on a very, VERY long journey.

Folks, I am not abandoning Parks #50 for fear of cracking since this thread shows it is faster than water, nor would I abandon 1084 for 1090 due to it showing higher hardness from the baseline of water, since it is a fact that 1090 is perhaps the shallowest hardening of high carbon 10XX steels. The same would apply to the McMaster Carr numbers.

Have you ever, hesitated to show somebody your knife before it was finished because you knew that half done it would in no way resemble the finished product and you wanted the only image people had of it to be when it was complete? Test results are even more like this. To make any decisions about your methods based in this thread is very unfair to Darrin and Rusty, and damaging to bladesmithing as a whole.

In my first post in this thread I was trying as hard as I could to be gentle, but I posted because I saw the potential danger in this thread. Bladesmithing will be decades repairing the damage, if it ever fully recovers, when guys with access to space in the printed magazines publish results of their "testing" (I use the word VERY loosely concerning the Mags) without due consideration of the whole picture, and Rusty and Darrin made a heck of a lot better attempt at an actual study than much of that stuff.

Please, Please, Please view this thread as just scratching the surface enough to create the questions we need to prompt a deeper look at the subject, as that is the only way to allow it to contribute to our knowledge and not become one more pile of bad information that could take years to overcome.




Very well put Kevin,
I'm no master of anything in the knife making world, but I have to rely a little on my own experiences. The Mcmaster Carr quench has done me very well, through my own testing I have found that my blades hold up to what could be considered as abuse, there are so many variables when ht'ing steel, as someone else stated the temp the steel was taken to, being just one. I'm not knocking the guys that spent their money and their time to do this test, matter of fact my hat is off to them, and I would say keep up the good work! They didn't post their results to make anyone feel bad or good, I believe they posted the results they got, even if some folks don't agree with them. I admit I was ready to abandon the McMaster Carr quench oil, funny thing is I had just re-ordered 2 more gallons right before this test was started. I've always gotten great results, I've alwys been more than happy with how my blades turn out, so if it works, why change? On the other side of it, I don't have to deal with a company that really doesn't want my money. I know, I called them myself, and got the usual response they tell everyone, "they don't sell to the public", like they are too busy to sell me 5 gallons, or that I'm just not important enough. They did refer me to one of the places that they said does sell it to the public but when I called them they told me they didn't. I would also like to point out there is another quenchant that was left out of the test, Houghton, from Brownell's, it runs about the same price as McMaster Carr, and works pretty well from what I've heard from other makers that use it. Take the test for what it's worth, but don't abandon what you already KNOW. And again the fellas that did the test, THANK YOU!!! Rex

Shane Wink
10-03-2010, 10:46 AM
I know this thread has been dormant for a few months now but has anyone posted some thoughts on how the results ended as they did? I am no one at all and I am not stating anything but rather I am asking. From information that other Knowledgeable ppl have posted in the past do the results point to the formation of a vapor barrier between the steel and quenchant slowing the cooling process? Was agitation used in the quench tank and agitation of the pieces being quenched?

I ask these things in an effort to try and learn and again I am not saying this is the cause.

LRB
10-03-2010, 05:14 PM
I think you are wasting your time. You need more than a hardness tester to see the true results. You need high tech stuff like Kevin has. Hardness is not the full story on the quality of a heat treat, and if hardness alone is what you're going for, you're gunna have to test multiple times in different areas of the steel to see what you have. You will not be the first to run such tests, and I would bet a phone call to Kevin would save you the trouble. I also think you should include brine in these tests.

Kevin R. Cashen
10-05-2010, 08:46 AM
I am treading lightly here, since my concerns for the interpretation of results already has me behaving like a bull in a china shop here. Rockwell tests are wonderful things in that they can be done by anybody. The Rockwell method was developed to eliminate human error through direct reading as opposed to other hardness tests that rely on the human eye measuring the size of an impression in a middle step of the procedure.

I would be confident that the Rc readings are what they are, but the one thing that the Rc tester cannot tell you is why the readings are what they are, and it is in the attempts to interpret that “why” that the door is opened for trouble. The samples are what they are, they will each have properties and characteristics that are now set in stone and are undeniable, it is the history leading up to their current condition that is the key to the questions. I cannot say it enough that quenching is one of the most incredibly complex operations we deal with in processing steel and totally understanding it could require more time and effort that most of us may have to give. There is not enough bandwidth available to cover all the possible variables in the process leading to the results.

My input couldn’t differ much from what already has been. High tech, or anything in my shop is no more effective than a file without the missing pieces in the history of the process. I could find pearlite in many places, but all it means is there is pearlite there, it is finding out exactly why it is there that is the real trick and unfortunately even the microscope can’t see through time.:3:

gnique
10-06-2010, 12:08 PM
This question may not be germane to this experiment but I still would like to be informed about a process that was done during preparation of the steel coupons. It looks to me like that the steel that was used is just plane ole flat stock steel. Other than cutting coupons and drilling holes no cutting, grinding or shaping was done - is that not right? Why then were the coupons normalized? I don't see the reason for this step. Isn't the only reason for normaization is to relieve induced stresses due to forging, grinding, etc? If unworked factory flat stock was used for the test why normalize? I am NOT criticizing I am just asking a question. My intent is to understand as much about the results of this test as I possibly can. I really do believe what Kevin said earlier. This stuff needs to be thought about and understood in a real and rational way otherwise we risk generating more myths and false "facts". Thank you for doing all this work. It is much appreciated by us all. I think that the best way that we can SHOW our appreciation is to delve as deeply as we can into the results. Sincerely - Nicholas Jasper

Darrin Sanders
11-22-2010, 09:08 PM
Finally found someone locally with a hardness tester who was willing to test some stuff for me. Keep in mind that these results are for MY H/T process using MY kiln and MY oil. Other peoples results may/will vary. Pieces were blade size pieces with no bevels ground, they were profiled only to keep them flat for testing purposes. The steel used was 3/32" CRA 1095 from Admiral. The oil used was Mcmaster-Carr 11 second oil. My quench tank is a large electric roaster and the oil was at 125 deg. at the time of the quench. The test pieces were brought to 1475 deg. and soaked for 5 min. then quenched. It may also be worth noting that my quench tank is immediately in front of and just below the front of my kiln. This allows me to go from kiln to quench in less than a second. Ok here are the results.
Piece #1 tested as quenched HRC=67 in three different spots.
Piece #2 tested after a 425 degree double temper=HRC 62-63.
I was pleased with the results. I intentionally tempered on the low side in case as quenched hardness was a little low. From now on I think I will temper at 450-500 depending on desired hardness and intended use of the blade. I'm a whole lot more comfortable using the 11 sec. oil now that I have test results from my own H/T process. Everyone please feel free to comment or ask questions if I left anything out.
Thanks, Darrin.

McClellan Made Blades
11-23-2010, 01:45 PM
Darin,
These are the type of tests we need! Great job! I've been using McMaster Carr 11sec oil for a year now, although I haven't done any extreme testing I've been pleased with my results, my customers, as well, are very pleased with the way my knives have performed for them.
Big question, once you put the steel in the quench, did you agitate it vigorously? I believe that agitation is the key to the rapid cooling needed to get the hardness we're looking for. As Kevin has said it breaks up the vapor jacket created once the hot steel enters the liquid.

I'm excited about the developments with Maxim Oil, I still feel like we need a faster oil for 1095/1084/W2, and as Kevin has stated 1095 requires a 6 to 9 second oil, (see Kevin, we are learning, albeit slow, you are making a huge impact in our understanding of metallurgy, and for that I say THANK YOU!!!) My faith in McMaster Carr never wavered, the only thing I questioned was the speed, I knew that I didn't want to give my hard earned money to a company that doesn't value us small guys, I called Heatbath myself, they gave me the usual spiel they give to folks that aren't going to buy a train load of their quench, while it may be the best out there, or at least the most widely used by knife makers, I can't fathom the notion to buy it when they don't care about my business. Even if I can get it from other sources, "it just don't set right with me."
Darin, keep up the good work, your numbers look really good, I would like to see some results on some thicker 1095 and 1084, I tend to make bigger knives, choppers and such. Just like the late GREAT Bill Moran said when asked, "Why do you carry such a big knife?", his reply,
"Because their FUN!" Thanks Rex

Darrin Sanders
11-23-2010, 05:27 PM
Hey Rex, like you, me and my customers have been pleased with my 1095 blades quenched with Mcmaster-Carr oil. Now I have a little data to reinforce my confidence. To answer your question about agitation, yes I move the blade in a fore and aft motion and also a little up and down motion too. Anything but side to side. I too think this is very important. I also agree with you about my money going to a business that appreciates it and I believe Mcmaster-Carr does. I think they provide a readily available product at a reasonable price that works well with the majority of steels used by knifemakers. Now that I have access to a hardness tester I intend to test other thicknesses of 1095. I started with 3/32" because no matter what thickness the spine is these results should show that it will harden far enough up the blade to make a serviceable knife. At least I hope I'm right. I still have more questions than answers but I will continue to test and show results as they are available. And I do appreciate all legitimate questions and gainful input. To me knifemaking is 99% about H/T and performance and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I keep my mind, eyes, and ears open as I try to educate myself in this area. Thanks Rex, Darrin.

Kevin R. Cashen
11-24-2010, 05:05 PM
Darin,
These are the type of tests we need! Great job! I've been using McMaster Carr 11sec oil for a year now, although I haven't done any extreme testing I've been pleased with my results, my customers, as well, are very pleased with the way my knives have performed for them.
Big question, once you put the steel in the quench, did you agitate it vigorously? I believe that agitation is the key to the rapid cooling needed to get the hardness we're looking for. As Kevin has said it breaks up the vapor jacket created once the hot steel enters the liquid.

...(see Kevin, we are learning, albeit slow, you are making a huge impact in our understanding of metallurgy, and for that I say THANK YOU!!!) ...

...when asked, "Why do you carry such a big knife?", his reply,
"Because their FUN!" Thanks Rex

No Rex, thank you! Your kind words are greatly appreciated and are the payment that keeps me going in my efforts to share. But I cannot stress enough that my sincerest hopes are that information I provide lights enough fires under people to get them all researching on their own, especially to verify if I and others actually know anything we are talking about. My favorite people are the ones who start reading metallurgy books to see if I am just full of @#$%, they are independent thinkers who keep me on my toes, confirm the sound principles I work with, and usually become good friends. We don’t need yet another school of blind recipe followers, and the future of our craft looks exciting with all the people gathering sound facts with which to write their own recipes.

P.S. Fun is indeed the best reason to carry a big knife, or even forge them. I think bladesmiths are wired different about “fun” though. I just spent and entire day looking through a microscope at parts of another microscope to insure my cleaning is leaving all the optics in my metallograph immaculate and dust free so that I can have fun looking at the inside of the blades, heck I even found cleaning the thing kind of fun… to be honest bladesmiths really aren’t all right in the head.

McClellan Made Blades
11-25-2010, 04:14 PM
No Rex, thank you! Your kind words are greatly appreciated and are the payment that keeps me going in my efforts to share. But I cannot stress enough that my sincerest hopes are that information I provide lights enough fires under people to get them all researching on their own, especially to verify if I and others actually know anything we are talking about. My favorite people are the ones who start reading metallurgy books to see if I am just full of @#$%, they are independent thinkers who keep me on my toes, confirm the sound principles I work with, and usually become good friends. We don’t need yet another school of blind recipe followers, and the future of our craft looks exciting with all the people gathering sound facts with which to write their own recipes.

P.S. Fun is indeed the best reason to carry a big knife, or even forge them. I think bladesmiths are wired different about “fun” though. I just spent and entire day looking through a microscope at parts of another microscope to insure my cleaning is leaving all the optics in my metallograph immaculate and dust free so that I can have fun looking at the inside of the blades, heck I even found cleaning the thing kind of fun… to be honest bladesmiths really aren’t all right in the head.

Kevin,
I was looking at some metallurgy books the other day, but it's difficult to choose which one would be a good one that would have information that would pertain to knifemaking, can you give us some suggestions? I know you've mentioned one before, but I don't recall it. I'm sure there aren't any that are specific about knifemaking, maybe you need to write that book??? Huh, Idea?

As far as bladesmiths being right in the head, I think that 2 of the requirements are that you must NOT be right in the head and you must be the best of the good people in the world!

Hope you got your optics straight, nothing more frustrating than a dirty lens, when your working on something you need to see NOW!

I must point out that all the Thanks in the world is owed to you, the amount of time and effort you take to explain the details is enormous. The least we can do is try to understand and (for me) possibly learn some of it. So thanks goes all to you, Rex