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Thread: Did I mess it up?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Northern utah
    Posts
    44

    Did I mess it up?

    I made my first attempt ever at heat treating some 1095. Got it hot, dunked in oil, let it cool down. File glanced off like it was glass, I was pretty stoked.
    Put the blade in the oven on 375 for 2 hours. Took it out. Cooled down. Back in 375, 2 more hours. Now the edges of the blade and tang are straw colored! Did I blow it by getting it too hot while I was attempting to temper? I haven't file checked the edge yet, but I was hoping to get some opinions.
    Thanks


  2. #2
    No. Straw is fine. You could drop the temperature times down to one hour each, but you didn't hurt anything.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Great Falls, Montana, USA
    Posts
    2,795
    The short answer is no, you didn't "mess it up". Degrees of the "straw" color are the first to appear in the tempering range of temps. In general those colors start at 350F, and the color changes for every 25F degree increase.

    There's far more to the "correct" tempering temp/color then just the type of steel. The type of grind, edge geometry, profile, and any number of other factors play into the "correct" tempering temp....in reality it is a "moving target", and can be different, even for different types of blades made from the same steel. Tempering is the one major area where the knowledgeable knifemaker can "tweak" things.

    I have to respectfully disagree with dropping tempering time to 1 hour. It CAN work for smaller, thinner blades, but experiments and research have proven to me that blades of 1/4" thickness generally require 2 hours to achieve the full affect of tempering.

    www.caffreyknives.net
    Caffreyknives@Gmail.com

    "Nobody cares what you know.....until they know you care."
    Visit me at Table 2Q at the Blade Show!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Valparaiso, IN
    Posts
    1,480
    Personally, straw color is what I shoot for. Sounds like you did just right to me.


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    -Andrew (Drew) Riley


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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by EdCaffreyMS View Post
    The short answer is no, you didn't "mess it up". Degrees of the "straw" color are the first to appear in the tempering range of temps. In general those colors start at 350F, and the color changes for every 25F degree increase.

    There's far more to the "correct" tempering temp/color then just the type of steel. The type of grind, edge geometry, profile, and any number of other factors play into the "correct" tempering temp....in reality it is a "moving target", and can be different, even for different types of blades made from the same steel. Tempering is the one major area where the knowledgeable knifemaker can "tweak" things.

    I have to respectfully disagree with dropping tempering time to 1 hour. It CAN work for smaller, thinner blades, but experiments and research have proven to me that blades of 1/4" thickness generally require 2 hours to achieve the full affect of tempering.
    What kind of changes/differences did you see?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Great Falls, Montana, USA
    Posts
    2,795
    What kind of changes/differences did you see?
    Because I've administered many JS tests for various people over the years, I am adamant that a single, 1 hour tempering cycle simply does not get the job done. To explain, a number of JS test failures over the years were due to blades breaking on the 90 degree bend test. In the vast majority of those failures, the individuals did one of two things.... 1. Tempered the blade for only 1 hour. 2. Fully hardened the blade, then attempted to do a "soft back draw". Whichever of those methods were used, the results were the same.... upon visual inspection of the broken ends of the blade pieces, it was clearly visible that there was an outer "tempered" zone, while the inner portion was still fully hard. What that means is that the tempering heat was not a long enough duration to covert the steel's matrix all the way through the blade(s).

    Further evidence was to grind into a broken piece of the blade(s).... it was obvious that the sparks changed between the time the belt hit the exterior surface, and once the belt ground through the "tempered skin", the spark pattern changed dramatically, indicating the the interior of the blade was harder. It's difficult to get an exact measurement on the actual depth, but in general, on the size blades used for the JS testing (10" camp/chopper style blades, with the thickest part of the spine being in the 1/4" thick range) those blades that where only tempered for 1 hour, had a "tempered skin" of approx. .020-.025".

    So what does all that mean? For me it's proof that the two things that are a constant with steel are Time AND Temp..... in order for changes in the steel's matrix to take place, it takes a given temp exposure, for a given amount of time, to achieve a specific outcome. I've also had a number of metallurgy tests done over the years, using different samples of the same steel types, which were tempered at different lengths of time.... from 30 mins, up to 3 hours, and from 1 to 6 times (cycles). Long story short, 2 hours X 3 cycles for the steels that I use gives me the results I desire. For me, and my desires, I suppose the word "optimal" could be used.

    I certainly can't state that what I do is "the best", but it's the best FOR ME. In 30 years of Bladesmithing/Knifemaking, the one thing I know for certain is that when you try to take "shortcuts", then you're settling for less then the best you can offer. If you'r not experimenting, testing, and seeking improvement with each blade you make, you're only fooling yourself. Knifemaking in general isn't about the "finish".....it's about "the race".

    www.caffreyknives.net
    Caffreyknives@Gmail.com

    "Nobody cares what you know.....until they know you care."
    Visit me at Table 2Q at the Blade Show!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    North central montana
    Posts
    659
    Thanks Ed...good stuff to know!
    Thanks,
    Smallshop (AKA Ted Hauser)


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    God puts the iron in the ground and the highlights in the wood....it's His stuff, we just get to work with it....make it nice.

  8. #8
    I was actually suggesting Kev use 1 hour tempers instead of 2 hour tempers, but still 2 of them. Was this knife intended to undergo the JS test?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Great Falls, Montana, USA
    Posts
    2,795
    Was this knife intended to undergo the JS test?
    I don't believe so, but in my mind that shouldn't matter. I was using the JS testing experiences as a practical reference as to how a person can interpret or "gauge" how the length of temper time can affect a blade. Not fussing, but I got the impression from that comment, that if it wasn't a "test" knife, then it wouldn't matter. To explain, I reach back into my experimenting/experience..... from the aspect of how temp, AND the duration of that temp affect steel, 1 hour tempering cycles simply do not accomplish the same thing(s) as a 2 hour cycles.

    It's difficult to explain without showing you the paperwork/reports on many experimental samples of steel, but its sorta like not baking a cake long enough....if you took a cake out of the oven at 1/2 the recommended baking time, and allowed it to cool to room temp, then put it back into the oven for the remainder of the recommended baking time, it simply would not work....the cake would either not be fully "baked", or it would be burnt..... basically it would not come out in it's best edible condition. Of course there are "factors" that could/would affect just how good or bad the cake turned out (I mention that because varying factors are present in everybody's knife shops), but for our purposes, let's just say it would not be the best quality it could be. The situation is similar with steel.

    From my viewpoint, I believe it's vitally important that each an every blade a knifemaker lets out of his/her shop, be the very best it can be (for the specific individual's current skill level). Why? It's all about building and maintaining a good reputation, and personal integrity. Just as much as any profession, and maybe even more so with being a Bladesmith/Knifemaker, a good reputation is something that is hard to earn, and very easily lost. I would also hope that any knifemaker would have an inner drive to offer the very best he/she is capable of producing. All it takes it letting one substandard product out the door, and it ending up in the wrong hands. Bad news travels at the speed of sound, and in today's world, hearsay seems to carry more weight then fact.

    All that being said, my point/advice is to ALWAYS do the very best you can. The only person you are competing with is the "man in the mirror".....if at the end of the day, you can look in the mirror and honestly say
    "I did the very best I was capable of today." then nobody else has anything to say about it. As for me, I certainly do not know it all, nor will I ever. I simply try to share my experiences, and help others not make the mistakes I have in the past.
    Last edited by EdCaffreyMS; 04-27-2017 at 09:33 AM.

    www.caffreyknives.net
    Caffreyknives@Gmail.com

    "Nobody cares what you know.....until they know you care."
    Visit me at Table 2Q at the Blade Show!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Billings MT
    Posts
    312
    Ed that sounds like good advice. Do your best people will notice if you're not.
    Ty Adams
    Instagram @tyadamsknives

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