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Did you remember to remove the decarb layer before testing hardness after your quenching attempts?

I emphasize this to my students as they have often twice as many (or more) heats in than I do when I do a piece and so it's more of a problem for them.

Brian, the oil is a mixture of hardening oil (that I bought from a steel company) and ATF transmission fluid. I haven't had problems hardening with it before.

Thomas, I ground the faces before hardening. So there shouldn't have been any significantly decarb layer? At the last time the file skated on the faces, at the previous tries it did not.

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I have used old double jack 2kg (4lb) sledges to make straight and cross peen hammers as these are not freely available in the configuration used by smiths here in South africa.
I forge down the one side into a sharp end in either configuration then heat treat them in the way described by Frank above and have never had any problems.

I find that dedicted hammer type steel which is probably a medium carbon tool steel works very well for this type of exercise and there are always old hammers lying around at scrap dealers.

A slow steady heat gradually working up evenly to non magnetic on the faces is all that is needed.Natural cool off in a bed of vermiculite or ash and then grinding the faces shiny before the final treatment follows when Franks method is employed.
The Bear

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I just had a similar failure with a hammer from a torsion bar. It looked fine until hardening. I didn't temper immediately, and saw the crack. I went to anneal it to see if I could grind the crack away and the crack expanded down the length. The forging was done outside in the sun, so temperature could have been the problem. I hate seeing hours of work turn into a doorstop.

I'll see about getting pictures. What is a common torsion bar alloy? I assumed 4140 or similar, but it did get quite hard.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's the cracked hammer. The picture does not show the crack, but it starts at the face and goes back. It's 2 lbs, based on the Mastermyr viking hammers, but now it's a doorstop. I hardened it with the intent of trying a new heat treating oven soon for the tempering. I saw the crack a couple days later, before the oven was ready. I took a risk and lost.

post-1261-048848400 1287964525_thumb.jpg

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  • 3 months later...

Is it just me or has the time really started to fly?

I started to make another Brazeal type hammer right after the failure of the first one. Somehow it got buried by other projects. This week I finally had the time and energy to finish it. I again had to harden it twice to get it hard enough, without any signs of cracking this time. It feels pretty good to hammer with. I'll probably crown the "flat" face slightly more.

I've used the same material for punches, drifts, chisel, power hammer tooling and various smaller hammers earlier on without any problems. So I'm fairly confident that the cracking problem did not come from any forging mistakes. I just probably got it too hot the last time.


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