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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2003 7:28 pm    Post subject: One Manufacturer's Defense of 5160 as a sword steel         Reply with quote

Lately, I have heard of some knife makers having some problems with 5160. And just today I was notified that another sword site mentions 5160 having inclusions and a high degree of impurities....

Well...

Don't hardly know what to say about their experiences with 5160.......

But I will say, there's good steel manufacturers, and less than good steel manufacturers. Like cars, computers, TV's, kitchen appliances, firearms, heck even swords.......

Currently, the US imports a great deal of steel for domestic consumption. This has caused some domestic steel manufacturers to cut corners and costs, possibly causing the problems spoken of above......

But there are still domestic manufacturers that think in terms of "Made in USA" quality. It so happens that the steel supplier I use {Pacific Machinery in Portland, Ore} buys only the best in the US, and when US suppliers cannot offer similar quality, will buy overseas. For instance PM gets their 12L14 round bar from a mill in Australia.

However, they buy their 5160 domestically, from two different mills. They supply the westcoast truck industry with spring steel stock, and of course all of the NW sword makers.

NW swordmakers typically use 5160, 1060, 1084, or 1095, with 5160 being most common. The 5160 used by most NW swordmakers has proven to be the most consistent in results after heat treat for many of us.

As a small scale manufacturer, using CNC machines to rough the contour, I cannot afford to run into inclusions. Such things would destroy the carbide cutting tools I use.

The same thing with impurities. I depend on consistent results in heat treat, and impurities would give me real headaches in hardness, toughness, and strength results.

After machining over 1000 blades, and after having said blades machined, I can tell you that virtually every problem I've had in the heat treat of these blades has eventually been traced into something I've done in manufacturing. Either a change I made, or a mistake I made. No inclusions so far, and no impurities.......

5160 is available in every size I can forseeably need {have some 3/8 inch thick stock here now, having decided to machine something close to Xa.1[Records]). It has been consistent in quality for machining purposes before heat treat, has been consistent in results being heat treated, and has overall proven a superior steel.

There are no magic steels, but there are some steels that stand out for swordmaking, for one reason or another. Popular swordmaking steels are L6, 6150, 1086m, 6150, 1065, 1075, 1084, and 1095, with less popular steels also being used. Each swordmaker or swordmaking firm has different criteria. 5160 works real well for me.

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Howard Clark
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well Gus I have seen 5160 that was clean, and I have also seen 5160 that had so many non metallic inclusion streaks in it that it resembled wrought iron in it's appearance after an etch. The quality is quite variable, and of course it depends on who you buy from. Apparently Pacific is very particular about their suppliers, which is always a good thing. You cannot make first class stuff with poor raw materials. Obviously they already know and believe this. All of that is a good thing.

So far as I know, the only people using 1086 modified are me and those who got some from me, it is not a "standard" grade that is available easily. The mill I bought it from removed it from the stock list, even before I got delivery of my steel, and it is no longer possible to get without buying an entire mill run, which for the place I bought it from is 90,000#, and only in rounds. If you want flats, it is another mill (same company), but the order size jumps to 180,000#, and it has to all be rolled the same dimensions.

There are many good steels available to make blades from. If 5160 is working for you, and your customers, why worry about it ? There is no doubt it can be extremely tough, and gets plenty hard, so why worry ?
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Howard

Nice to hear from you.

Before today, I had heard rumors of bad things of 5160. Only rumors. Since you've seen such, I believe that someone in the US is supplying bad material.

As it stands, I'm not worried about the 5160 I use to make my swords. I'm actually more worried about my own state of mind, and ability to stay focussed..... I have a pile of blades that I screwed up over the last four years, ussually do to losing my focus at the grinding wheel at an inoppurtune time.

Why did I write this? Because a reputable and very often visited site claimed that 5160 has inclusions and impurities.

Shrug.......

I wanted to make clear that the 5160 used here in the NW, by Tinker and myself, does not have these problems. There are times that it doesn't take much to throw a potential customer off, and a blanket statement that 5160 has problems might lead some potential customers to shy away from a sword manufacturer that uses that steel.

As you stated, 5160 works fine as a sword blade steel. Particularly in my application.

swords are fun
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Scott Byler




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've heard a bit of folks who had concerns about the cleanliness of at least the new 5160 stock over time. I am beginning to use the stuff new as compared to 'old chevy springs' (which btw has usually served well on the little hobby projects I've done, with only one ever having any sign of an odd inclusion, and that only after I broke the blade over an anvil back...). So the idea that some of it isn't good steel concerns me.

I admit to seeing the site in questions description and having a similar reaction to what Gus had. It worried me a bit as I sort of like 5160 and will continue to use the stuff as it works well for me, and I'd hate to potentially lose a sale because of fear that the steel I use is garbage. (Not that I sell a lot or am a professional bladesmith, but I'm aiming in that direction, sooner or later).

So, will cleaning up a bar and giving it a light etch show potential bad areas or is a 5160 user kind of left to the whims of fate on this?
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 8:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this more of a concern for the maker rather than the buyer?

I'm assuming that any inclusions or impurities in the steel would become apparent as the steel was being worked, especially during the forging process. If the maker runs onto a bad piece of stock he simply discards it and selects a new piece. If he's repeatedly encountering bad stock with a particular steel then he'll find a new type all together.

If the maker is reputable, and knows his business then the customer has little to worry about.

Right? Wrong?
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I read this bit .....
"The 5160 currently available commercially is generally a "re-melt" of scrap steels, and therefore more likely to have inclusions and other impurities. 5160 generally is a fine steel for swordmaking, but we feel that the conversion to 1075 gives us more consistency and flexibility in our designs, as well as supplying us with closer historical authenticity, as is always our goal. "

....but basically , in my opinion, it's just a preference statement .... pointing out that certain batches could have more impurities etc!
I'm sure not all 1075 is equal either !

Vince Evans uses 5160 .... true he forges it , thus removing any possible impurities etc., but still & all, he finds it a good steel to work with ..... so that's good enough for me *g*

Marketing , smiths preference , to each his own ! Mac

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Darwin Todd





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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 10:46 am    Post subject: I agree with Patrick and Mac         Reply with quote

I remember reading a while back that A&A had switched from 1075 to 6150 because they were having problems getting consistant quality 1075! I guess then it really depends on your steel supplier. I agree with Mac, if you trust the maker let them use what works for them.
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Gentlemen,


If the maker is reputable, and knows his business then the customer has little to worry about.

Right? Wrong?


I've not had any failing products, but based on the reports of others, reputable dealers stand by their products and replace any rare failures, so 'right'. Anyway, Albion can't be too worriedabout 5160 because they've admitted that they'll still be selling stock made with it for a while yet, before they convert wholly to 1075. I think, as has already been said, it is a preference, that is set out on their web site as a bit of a marketing thing (look, we really pay attention to details of everything and are constantly striving ... etc. etc.).
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 12:35 pm    Post subject: Re: I agree with Patrick and Mac         Reply with quote

Darwin Todd wrote:
I remember reading a while back that A&A had switched from 1075 to 6150 because they were having problems getting consistant quality 1075! I guess then it really depends on your steel supplier. I agree with Mac, if you trust the maker let them use what works for them.


Yeah, if I was looking for trouble, this is something I would have referred to....

Can you imagine the hue and cry if I had had Josh put up something on his site, to the effect the reason I was using 5160 instead of 1075, is the experience A&A had with it delaminating in heat treat three years ago?

*g*

Its not the steel type, though it may be a bad heat lot, or maybe one supplier or other is doing some corner cutting they shouldn't.

The only reason I started the thread was to counter any negative thoughts about 5160 as such. That some folks have had some bad experiences with 5160 they have been supplied with, I don't doubt.

But with a good supplier, 5160 is still as good a steel as it was a year ago for swords. Just like 1075 is a good steel for swords, as long as the supplier supplies a quality product......

swords are fun
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 1:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Methinks the point concerning the steel has been hammered , or ground, out ......

Unless we hear different , from the top smiths that abound here, I'm gonna figure both 5160 & 1075 are just fine & dandy as sword steel !

The knowledge & skill in using them will be the determining factor here , I should think !

Mac

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"The knowledge & skill in using them will be the determining factor here , I should think ! "

That's exactly the point I was trying to make.

As long as the smith knows his stuff I don't care what he makes it out of !

I don't try to tell Ford how to make my patrol car, although lately I'm thinking that I should Worried
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David Stokes





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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have heard that the final outcome of the strength of 5160 is based on the quenching medium. Water or oil. I hear each one has a different effect on the steel. Of course i heard this from some guy spouting off at the Blade show, so this is just in one ear out the next..........
how does that saying go? Its not the steel , its the heat treat that makes a good sword, right?
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well Mac

Before totally giving up on this subject, I want to thank Howard Clark for his info, because until this morning I had no idea that there really was anyone having a problem with 5160. Unsubstantiated rumors don't get it with me, and until Howard told his story of seeing rather interesting 5160, that's all I had heard.

Made me do a bit of research on just what I'm getting these days, and what PM is doing to prevent these problems from happening here on the West Coast.

Well, up until the summer of '01 they were using two suppliers for 5160. After the summer of '01 they dropped one of the suppliers. Since I mentioned to the individual at PM I was talking to about this, that this was on a sword seller's site, and also on a Manufacturer's forum on an international site, I did not learn, officially, who the supplier was who was dropped. Nor did I learn officially why they were dropped.... but it wasn't a low bid kind of thing.....

Steel generally costs a bit more on the West Coast, than the rest of the country, because it is trucked over the Rockies, and over the Cascades to the various warehouses here on the Coast. Many of these local steel suppliers/warehouses aren't that terribly large as companies go. A bad rep quality wise could ruin one of them, especially in tough times. So they cannot afford to have the kind of problems larger suppliers in the midwest might be able to just shrug off.

Pacific Machinery is a terrific supplier of steel for the sword and knife industries, and might be worth a look for someone that has had problems with various steels in the past.........

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David White




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
"The knowledge & skill in using them will be the determining factor here , I should think ! "

That's exactly the point I was trying to make.

As long as the smith knows his stuff I don't care what he makes it out of !

I don't try to tell Ford how to make my patrol car, although lately I'm thinking that I should Worried


Exactly!

I'm sure back then folks didn't have a whole lot of choice to pick and choose (the earth was very, very big), they got what they got, and it was what it was. Where there many failures? I'd be willing to bet alot that there were, and many.

Don't sweat it Gus. You do great work.

dave
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Eric McHugh
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 3:22 pm    Post subject: Our Reasons for Switching         Reply with quote

Hi Everyone,

It is nice to be able to respond to questions. :-)

First, let me apologize for any confusion our news page may have caused. We were trying to word it in such a way that made it clear that this was about our issues with steel.

Let me delineate for you all our reasons for switching and making this statement:

1) This is clearly a regional issue. For whatever reason, some steel manufacturers choose not to follow the ASM standards for various steels. This is creating some diversity in the steel quality. Two years ago, the 5160 we were getting was working fine. It was economical and machined well. Now, we have been experiencing an increase in steel flaws. In addition, the material has been creating a great deal of tool wear on the mills.

2) Add to this the fact that we have three different types of steel: 1095, 5160 and 1075. Since we do our own in-house h/t, it makes for some difficult h/t runs since we have to make adjustments to tempering times etc. Peter, has been an advocate of simple steels for his swords (it is his opinion that they are closer to what was used then). We felt that it makes more sense to go with one steel that had the quality we wanted, was available in the sizes we needed, and was cost effective. We have had great success with simple steels including 1075 in our h/t runs, so we decided that this would make everyone happy. Remember, we have PJ, Jody, and Albion Mark which all have their own requirements. 1075 makes everyone happy.

3) Lastly, 1075 in our region is more cost effective. We were able to negotiate with a distributor for a price that was not that much more per pound than 5160. In addition, it is pickled and annealed. It machines like a dream and is very consistent.

So, that is basically our reasons for switching. Again, I apologize if we came across sounding like another manufacturer's swords are substandard because they are using 5160. This simply is not the case. 5160 can be a fine steel, but in our region, we have had great difficulty finding the consistency that we need. Moreover, high alloy steels do not fit into where we are going with our new line.

I hope this helps.

Find me on Facebook, or check out my blog. Contact me at eric@crownforge.net or ericmycue374@comcast.net if you want to talk about a commission or discuss an available piece.
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2003 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Eric

Actually, this helps a great deal. It helps explain everything, and it helps explain the questions I've been asked both yesterday, and today.....

Now I can point folks with questions of the steel to this thread...........

Thanks Eric

Gus

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