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I Forge Iron

etching acid


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Soaking means to hold the steel at a particular temperature -- no more, no less -- for a period of time. The changes that need to occur in steel to get it ready to harden properly don't necessarily all occur instantly when the hardening temperature is reached. (In some steels they're nearly instantaneous, but in many they're not.) Sometimes it takes a little time. That's what the soak is for.

Is it hard for someone with no experience to accurately judge steel temperature by color, given that steel at a particular temperature can look completely different depending on the amount of ambient light? Yes.

I have 1550 F and 1450 F Tempilstiks, and 1500 F Tempilaq.

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I should explain that the difficulty of judging color accurately is exactly why so many people recommend using a magnet to help you judge temperature. Unfortunately, even for simple steels you really need to go a bit past non-magnetic, and judging how far past non-magnetic to go, based on color, is still somewhat tricky. Trying to soak at that temperature only compounds the problem.

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Yesterday my first pattern showed up after I etched it in a fuel tank deruster. It's 32 layers so it's kinda coarse, and the contrast is low. This one was made out of construction steel and a wrench. My new billet will exist of a file and construction steel. Btw, do you call that mild steel?

Is it necessary to first temper a file before you put it in the billet? My first file billet got really brittle, and had cracks in it, i think ik the file parts. I did not temper the first file. The second, i did temper (once), and i was hammering at a higher temperature, not below orange. I think that is importen when you're hammeringe files? The seconds one turned out much better!

post-13495-025025400 1286014539_thumb.jp

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I understand. That flexibility comes at the price of weakness. It looks impressive because it's something most people haven't seen before (and it is somewhat impressive in the sense that making such a blade takes some skill), but that doesn't mean that it makes a better knife.

There is no need to temper or anneal steel if the first thing you do afterward is going to be to stick it in a forge and heat it to orange or above. Tempering and annealing are done to soften steel to make it more workable (or usable) cold.

However, good file steels tend to be very high in carbon, and that can make them tricky to work. They especially don't like very high temperatures, because the melting point of steel decreases as its carbon content increases.

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