A Newbee In need Of Help.

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#1
Howdy folks, I am a 75 years old UK citizen who is learning to make knives on the cheap until I can afford good equipment.
I have made some out of files which are all from Sheffield England, some will cut brilliant and others very poor after 1 hour tempering at approx 400 degrees.
I anneal, drill and shape, re harden and temper, the temper comes out dark blue, do I need to temper some more, incidentally they are vert hard after re hardening.

I think it is a smashing hobby and it has filled a void in my life.

I would like to make some good ones and sell, giving ALL monies to Macmillan which is a cancer trust in UK,Iam not interested in profit, just happy doing something.

oooops, appologies for boring you.

Robert66.
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
#2
Hi Robert,
Any idea what steel the files are made of and are they case hardened files you are using or hardened all the way through. Also what is your heat treat process?
Justin
 

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#3
The files are all high carbon all the way through.

I first clen them

Use hime made fire brick furnace and propane torch to get them red as not to stick to a magnet, let them air cool

Drill holes for scales and grind blade shpe

Re harden, again reach red until it will not stick to magnet, plunge into newish engine oil or water, stir for 15 seconds and let air cool until I can pick it up bare handed, I run a file over blade and it is rock hard

De scale, polish and sharpen

Put into heated furnace for 2 x half hour periods to temper, it comes out deep blue all over, will do the paper cutting relatively easy but NOT hold an edge

Pin and Gorilla glue scales

Shpe handle.

Thanks for replying
PS. Nicholson, Stubbs, Firth files in the main which are the ones to get here, high repute.
 

JJB11B

Well-Known Member
#4
I think you’re tempering is too hot. You should be getting a Golden or straw color. Blue indicates your softening them too much in the temper n
 
#5
Apart from your heat treat problems Robert, welcome to our place. As to your tempering times, a single 2 hour tempering at a genuine 400F would be better than 2 x 1/2 hour in a "heated furnace". Use the kitchen oven if you have to to make sure you are not overheating the blades.
Even a mild steel blade properly sharpened will cut paper so that is not a definitive answer to a sucessfull heat treat process.
 

DanF

Well-Known Member
#6
I can't answer your questions but wanted to welcome you Robert. Hope you can get it sorted out quickly, and this is a wonderful hobby!
 

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#7
Thank you for the welcome and advice.

During the next few days Iwill try a lowertoaster oven temperature and also try our main oven if my wife allows atoll lol lol

I managed to obtain 3 x 10 inch old files from a car boot sale.
1 Nicholson
1 Tysak
1 Osbourne

ALL have been annealed now.

I am having 3 ceramic belts delivered tomorrow.

I went to the game Fair at Ragley Hall yesterday, the knife blanks were exceptionally expensive, could not find any flat plate.
Anyway I want to make knives not just assemble them

I will improve with help

I do not know why but have not been able to access this forum until now.

Thanks again
 

JJB11B

Well-Known Member
#8
400f is a good place to start. 204 Celsius. That can be tweaked but is a good start. My Nicholson file knives came out well at that temp. Now if I could get around to finishing them
 

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#10
My 4 x 36 ceramic belts, 40 grit arrived at 3.00pm today, I roughed a 3 inch file blade in 10 minutes, could go quicker., what a difference, finished it with a 120 grit prior to wet and dry.
 

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#11
Done the hand sanding, wet and dry, polished with mop and 3 compounds, successfully hardened it so magnet did not stick, as I tried to straighten it prior to tempering it cracked in 2 , I said a naughty word.

I have 4 more files annealed ready for working on.

I have made a few passable knives and sheaths but NEVER attained a decent edge holding.

I will be extra careful with the tempering now

I will get it right with your help.
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
#12
How thick are your files? If they are around 1/8” you could do the grinding after heat treat and tempering. Just remember to keep the blade from getting to hot while grinding by frequent dumps in water.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
#13
All the info on tempering is good, but be darn sure the oven is actually at 400F range. Oven and toaster oven thermostats are usually not that accurate. Get an actual thermometer that can read to 500F (or appropriate C) to check actual temps.
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
#14
Welcome Robert and good for you!! Not only in learning something new but in your quest for the monies to go to the cancer trust. Anyone who's life has never been touched by cancer won't understand!!


All the info on tempering is good, but be darn sure the oven is actually at 400F range. Oven and toaster oven thermostats are usually not that accurate. Get an actual thermometer that can read to 500F (or appropriate C) to check actual temps.
Ken is 100% correct on the oven and temps.

Re harden, again reach red until it will not stick to magnet, plunge into newish engine oil or water, stir for 15 seconds and let air cool until I can pick it up bare handed, I run a file over blade and it is rock hard
The best quench oil would be something like Parks 50. Check the link on the right hand side of the forum.
Parks AAA quench oil MSDS Parks AAA quench oil tech data

If you are unable to get that kind of quench oil, because availability or cost(and believe me I understand the cost issue). For your quench try Peanut or Canola oil, I think they may give better results!!

By stir for 15 seconds do you mean, (stir like you would your tea)?
Couple more things on the checklist are dipping straight in the quench and using either a dunking (like jigging a lure) motion or slicing like you're cutting the oil. Vertical quench works very well for me. When you stir one side of the blade will not be cooled as fast or equally to the other side. Grant you it may seem like something minute but the steel doesn't think so! By stirring you are not equalizing the heat reduction to both sides of the blade during the quench.

Done the hand sanding, wet and dry, polished with mop and 3 compounds, successfully hardened it so magnet did not stick, as I tried to straighten it prior to tempering it cracked in 2 , I said a naughty word.
Knife making will sometimes make you say a naughty word!! :D

When you broke the two did you look at the grain of the steel at the break?
If the grain looks like this,
1533494054030.png It is too large. The grain in this picture is too large as well but only on one side of the knife! 1533494203921.png
The advice given from this pic by a seasoned maker, ( Robert Dark ) was as follows. Either you lost control of your heat and over heated the blade prior to quench, OR, you didn't do any normalizing cycles prior to quench.
The maker of this knife said, this was an attempt at a hamon and the part of the blade that has the largest grain was the part that was covered with clay, isn't this the purpose of the clay.
The clay is suppose to slow the hardening in the area it covers so that it does not get as hard but, should not grow the grain but very little. So more than likely it was a failure of the quench process!!! Or he did get the blade too hot before the quench!!

Now here is a stack photo that shows it all!!
1533494664986.png Notice the one on the bottom, that is about as perfect of a grain you could ask for. I keep these photos for reference purposes and dig then out every so often as a visual to what I am trying to say. Sometimes my thoughts don't come out so well in words!!

Two things that I have learned about knife making is. Number one, consistency is the name of the game and a moment of wrong in the entire process can and will make for some bad results.

Good luck to you Robert and don't forget to come back. Oh and the number two thing I have learned about knife making is. The only dumb question, is the one you did not ask!!
 

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#15
Thank you again.

I have just finished a 10 inch file knife today, it looks and cuts ok but I am not confident the of the lasting sharpness or of it breaking as I still did not reach the appropriate tempering colour.

On the annealing cycle I turned the file around and heated both sides and ends ntil a magnet would not stick and let it air cool, I drilled, ground and shaped it easy.

I hardened it again in new engine oil using the same method and the file just skidded of it like glass.

I wonder if my tempering is wrong as you say, I will try to get proper thermometer tomorrow.

I reckon you will get fed up with me if I do not crack it soon. lol

Thank you.
 
#16
Thank you again.

I have just finished a 10 inch file knife today, it looks and cuts ok but I am not confident the of the lasting sharpness or of it breaking as I still did not reach the appropriate tempering colour.

On the annealing cycle I turned the file around and heated both sides and ends ntil a magnet would not stick and let it air cool, I drilled, ground and shaped it easy.

I hardened it again in new engine oil using the same method and the file just skidded of it like glass.

I wonder if my tempering is wrong as you say, I will try to get proper thermometer tomorrow.

I reckon you will get fed up with me if I do not crack it soon. lol

Thank you.
Do not concern yourself with returning to a topic a number of times. We all have an interest in seeing a new knifemaker succeding in every aspect of the craft so please do continue to report on your trials. One of the most basic of needs of a knife blade is propper heat treating so when you can be more certain of your tempering heats you should have the succes that will bring.
 

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#17


This is a 3 inch blade I tempered today, this is the first time I have reached this colour using my toaster oven ,
I went and bought a oven thermometer for £7 only to find out my toaster was way over cooking
This tempering was done using my new thermometer cooking 4 continuos 30 minute cycles at 410 degrees.

The blade is very sharp but is the cycle long enough to sustain???????????????? this is my concern.

That is a shadow in the middle of the blade.

I am getting there.

Thank you again
 
#18
I am not sure I understand the question sir. Are you asking if 30 minute temper cycles are enough to "make the edge hold"? I can say this much, the color looks good to me as far as a temper color goes. I am not sure I have ever attempted a 30 minute temper cycle most common temper cycles for me are 2 cycles at 2 hours a piece. As far as edge holding goes you will have to test that on your own especially since you are using mostly unknown steels; just make sure you keep good records of how you did each heat treat so you can hone in on the process that gives you the best result.
All of that being said there are far better people here to answer your question than I so take my advice with a grain of salt.
 

Robert66

Well-Known Member
#19
My toaster only has a 30 minute cycle so as soon as it clicks off I restart it pronto to give me a continuous 2 hours at 410 degrees

My knife steels come from Sheffield England which is renowned for files, knives and steel in general.
I will buy some proper steel as soon as I am certain of not wasting it.
 
Last edited:
#20
My toaster only has a 30 minute cycle so as soon as it clicks off I restart it pronto to give me a continuous 2 hours at 410 degrees

My knife steels come from Sheffield England which is renowned for files, knives and steel in general.
I will buy some proper steel as soon as I am certain of not wasting it.
I normally do two one hour cycles at 400. Run one cool down run another.
 
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