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Toni Leivonen

Location: Finland
Joined: 20 Jul 2014

Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2016 12:38 am    Post subject: Mystery Steel Knife Making         Reply with quote

Should it be done? I hear that most of the problems is with getting the heat treating right, if you do would it be worth it? Is it worth it even for just practice work? A friend of mine claimed that the forging and heat treating of it would cure any possible damage within the steel, but I kinda doubt it, is it legit?
Should mystery steel ever be used?
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Andrew Gill

Joined: 19 Feb 2015

Posts: 150

PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2016 2:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why not try it? The only reasons I can think of for not using the steel would be if:
1) The knife was to be sold to a customer who had specified the use of a particular steel on comissioning the piece (obviously that is dishonest)
2) The knife would be used hard and someone's life might depend on it (eg. it would be used by a mountain climber, sailor, soldier, etc). And even then, if it were tested rigorously for sturydiness, edge-keeping and other vital properties, it would possibly be acceptable. I still don't know what steel my first self-made knife is made of, but I still have it despite decades of abuse.

Remember that knife makers in earlier centuries did not have access to steel of the uniformity and purity which we had today, yet they were able to make acceptable or even good quality tools and weapons with what was available to them.

You should do some simple tests on the steel (like the grinder spark test, flexing it and checking hardness with a file, etc) to get a better idea of its properties before starting to make a knife out of it; if it becomes obvious that it is mild steel or something similar, then it will save you wasting some effort to make something which will probably be useless except as a letter opener or piece of art (and perhaps for practise). If you suspect there are cracks inside the steel (eg. an old broken car leaf spring) then I'm told you should do some of the forging at forge-welding heat so that they are welded closed. But for a short-bladed knife this is probably less of an issue than for a sword blade.

Last edited by Andrew Gill on Mon 08 Aug, 2016 12:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Addison C. de Lisle

Location: South Carolina
Joined: 05 Nov 2005
Likes: 27 pages

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2016 8:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not a fan of scrapyard steel. If you're just making a test piece that's one thing, but tool steel isn't that expensive and I'd rather be sure of the quality and the grade if I'm working on a project I care about, and avoid nasty surprises. Sure historical smiths worked without the advantages of modern steel, but why make things harder on yourself to save a couple bucks?
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Mark Griffin

Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 802

PostPosted: Sun 07 Aug, 2016 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I bought a huuuge box of old files off ebay recently and am now having fun trying to forge them. I'm getting a 35ish hit rate on suitability so for the price I paid, about $2 each, not bad. But in general, if you know what you want to make, you'll know what materials you need so making a bit blind from random stock might be a false economy
Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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