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Robert Simmons

Working with Scrap Jackhammer BIts?

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Why soft? The chart I have for tempering says for punches it should be purple. Are your referring to another source of info?

Oh and thanks for all the compliments folks.


I am going to go out on a limb and guess that the source of info Grant is referring to is his several decades of experience. Remember when someone (Thomas? Frosty?) mentioned that if you ask X blacksmiths how to do something, you'll get at least 2X answers?

Appropriate time and temperature for tempering depends on the steel you're using, whether it was fully hardened in the quench, what sort of work you expect it to do, and any number of other things. What's more, oxide colors aren't the most reliable temperature indicators around. My point is that these various charts you're looking at are rough guides; don't take them as Gospel.

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I am going to go out on a limb and guess that the source of info Grant is referring to is his several decades of experience. Remember when someone (Thomas? Frosty?) mentioned that if you ask X blacksmiths how to do something, you'll get at least 2X answers?

Appropriate time and temperature for tempering depends on the steel you're using, whether it was fully hardened in the quench, what sort of work you expect it to do, and any number of other things. What's more, oxide colors aren't the most reliable temperature indicators around. My point is that these various charts you're looking at are rough guides; don't take them as Gospel.



I am not taking anything as gospel. I am wondering what the source is. If that source is his experience then that is fine, I respect that. However it doesn't help one little bit unless I can put Grant in some sort of high tech gadget and download his head. So if i cant rely on oxide charts from several sources, and the only other source is an experienced smith, then I am quite frankly out of luck and shouldn't bother.

I am sorry but all this vagueness and "it depends" and so on are all well and good and probably even accurate but that doesnt convey any information at all to someone new to the trade except probably the underlying message of, "Oh you green wannabe, get lost or go find a smith to apprentic under for 15 years before you post again." That may be how you feel but it doesnt advance my cause, or for that matter allowing new people to get into the trade. What newer smiths need is some guide that gets them near the target to the point where they can gain that experience that grant already has instead of saying all the time, "it depends."

So my next question would logically be, "If I cant download grant from somewhere and I dont have time to be an apprentice for 15 days, much less 15 years, how do I know the temper is correct or at least good enough?" If your reply "it depends" I will, for certain, scream.

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Try the tool. You know what you did the first time. If the tip mashes, then you need to reharden it. Normalize before attempting to reharden. If the tip mashed then purple was too soft, try straw to dark straw next time. If the tip fractured then the tip was too hard, since you ran the colors regrinding with care to overheating will expose a softer part of the tool, and you should be back in business. If the shaft fractures, then something else went wrong, and the tool is not repairable (may be recycled into something else though) and the fault may or may not not have been from heat treat.

Read, multiple sources help. Take classes, attend hammer-ins, ask questions. If you are confused, site your sources so we can look and give other sources, or explanations easier.

Above all, Have fun! This is a hobby for many of us, and a career for some.

Phil

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Robert, most of what we're doing here is not science. It could be science, in many respects, but we don't approach it in a nearly scientific enough fashion to make that work. (I.e., we don't even know what kind of steel you're using. We're just guessing.) So I think maybe you're hoping for a little more certainty than you're going to find.

It's true that you can't download Grant (even if you could, he doesn't have all the answers -- just a lot of them, and a whole lot more than me), but that's why we have the website: So we can compare notes on how we do things, on what works and what doesn't work for each of us, and (if we're lucky), why.

If I cant download grant from somewhere and I dont have time to be an apprentice for 15 days, much less 15 years, how do I know the temper is correct or at least good enough?


My answer to that is simply this: Try it. Nobody said the punch is a loss; Grant just suggested that it might be a little soft. So go for it. If it mushrooms too readily, it's too soft. Re-heat treat it. If it breaks or cracks, come back here and tell us about it, and we'll help you figure out what happened.

By the way, I normally temper in an oven with a thermometer (not just the built-in thermostat) so that I don't have to rely on oxide colors. That still doesn't solve the problem of choosing the right hardness is for a particular tool, or figuring out what temperature I need to temper at to get that hardness. But it helps eliminate one variable.

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Why soft? The chart I have for tempering says for punches it should be purple. Are your referring to another source of info?

Oh and thanks for all the compliments folks.


Did your chart say purple for .6% carbon steel? The temper color depends upon the carbon content.

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"The temper color depends upon the carbon content"

and alloy content!

Purple may be fine for some alloys and TERRIBLE for others. If the chart does not reference the alloy(s) it's good for then it is a bad chart! (Though with skill you can often figure out how you would modify a chart for a different alloy...)

Also personal preference is a big part of smithing. I mean we can make our own tools; so we can make them to suit ourselves and not some lowest common denominator that some large corporation thinks is the cheapest they can get away with. Think about it. Companies are not dedicated to making the *best*; just what has the best profit ratio. If you feel that a 34 Oz hammer is *perfect*; you will find that no company makes one---but I can name a half dozen smiths off the top of my head who can make you one exactly like you want it!

I personally like my knife blades softer than some makers I know and so will temper them to suit myself. (I like to be able to touch them up on a natural stone instead of having to have a diamond hone with me...) Does this mean everyone else's tempering instructions are wrong? *NO*! Does this mean my tempering procedure is wrong? *NO*! Just as you may not like the foods I like and vice versa. De gustibus non est disputandum

Note too that there is a LOT of hold over from the old days in blacksmithing that can be not only wrong but *very* wrong, (cf "packing the edge of a blade"). Would you trust instructions from a 200 year old medical book, even if it's re-printed in a modern book? Things that worked for blister steel and shear steel may not be a good thing for modern alloys---the temperature that real wrought iron likes to be worked at is above the burning temperature of many modern alloys and if you work it at temps that modern alloys generally do well at; it may fray like a broom! (However most folks don't work much with centuries old types of material---modern steels really start around the 1850's with Bessemer/Kelly process)

If you cannot work in such an environment then perhaps smithing is *not* for you. No slur on your character, it just may not be something that goes well with how you *are*.

May I suggest machining as a metalworking craft where utmost precision is considered a good and laudable thing! (as well as starting with known alloys and using calibrated instruments for heat treat, etc.) I have a friend who is a hobby machinist---he considers me to be a witch doctor and I consider him to be A-R---so we help each other out when the other's skills are needed for a project.

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Oh I can handle adapting. If I couldn't and I couldn't handle criticism I would have been gone long ago. However, adaptation requires a starting point to adapt from. If someone says "well purple will get you close but really you will have to try the punch and reharden it either harder or softer if it doesn't perform how you like it," then I can handle that. But when I always hear "it depends" and no one is willing to offer a starting point then its like trying to get a straight answer out of a politician.

What would be helpful to hear is something like, "Well Robert the hardening depends on the use, carbon content and alloys. Purple is a good starting color but if you do X and Y happens you might want to go harder or if you do Z and T happens then you might want to go softer. Experiment around to see what is appropriate for that stock." Now that would be helpful.

I am certainly not a smithing expert but in my humble opinion some people here are not really communication experts either. Though they are obviously very accomplished smiths, they seem to have trouble articulating some things. "It depends" works fine on a theory and forum but what am I supposed to do with the "it depends" in a shop? I want to learn and become better but that requires at least a starting point from which to build. I initially asked "if not purple then what color" or something to that effect and I was told "it depends" rather than some ways I could know which way to go either way and whether purple was even in the ballpark or completely off base.

BAH ... I didn't want to be in another argument over what I felt was a triumph for my green newbie blood but it appears that I am, yet again, in another.

Sigh.

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I am certainly not a smithing expert but in my humble opinion some people here are not really communication experts either. Though they are obviously very accomplished smiths, they seem to have trouble articulating some things.


Indeed, therein lies the problem. We are blacksmiths, not rocket surgeons, and for the most part, not english majors either.

I doubt that a single reply to you has been in the spirit of meaness. Try to thicken your skin a bit, I thought you saw we were kind of a rough bunch when you first joined.

Those few who come here only to harass or demean others haven't lasted long. Most of us are here to learn, to share our knowledge and to perpetuate the craft, using this forum as a record for those who follow.

The newcomer is the most important part of this enterprise, as it is he who asks the questions. Stick around, keep doing what you've been doing, don't take implyed or direct critisism personaly. It can be difficult, I know. I was new to this forum too, not so long ago. I posted something I was taught by a master blacksmith, a disciple of Francis Whitaker no less. I had a dozen fellows post in protest, listing all manner of problems this method would lead to. Yet when I posted the same thing, a couple years later, the only comment was from one smith, a veteran of some 34 years, who commented only that he uses the same method. Go figure.

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I thought Grant was the smith that forged John Henry's drill and hammer. Somewhere around here I got a bit, wonder if it would make a decent hammer? <_<
My don't we all get het up about things around here sometimes. I guess it all depends on what we're talking about, huh? :huh:
Put a smile on your face, light the forge and keep hammering :D

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Indeed, therein lies the problem. We are blacksmiths, not rocket surgeons, and for the most part, not english majors either.



That`s right we`re not rocket surgeons or brain scientists neither. ;)

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Well some folks here will get a bit tired and cranky if we get a person who posts time and again without getting out to the forge and *trying* stuff; but are happy when someone comes back in and says "I tried XYZ and got this and I wanted that---how do I get from here to there...?" (If you read the entire archives you will find a couple of examples of this.)

The proof of the smithing is in the doing! I get a lot of MatSci students in beginning smithing classes and a lot of book larning still does not equate to any smithing skills. OTOH learning to blacksmith helped one MatSci friend of mine get a MatSci job in a tight job market.

As for hardening and tempering: if you start hard you can temper to a higher temp multiple times---but failure mode may be catastrophic destruction of the piece. If you start soft you have to do a full heat quench temper cycle to get it harder but failure mode is usually bending/mushrooming. Which way you chose depends on how difficult the piece is to replicate and how you like to handle things.

If you want some starters: blades usually start temper at around straw to dark straw and then go up depending on alloy construction/design, size, personal preference, etc. *except* for high alloy blades that may require high tech heat treat to get the best form the expensive alloy

Tooling usually starts darker as it is often expected to withstand more abuse than a blade. Many tools are made from medium carbon steels and my be tempered all the way to blue.

However high alloy tooling---beloved of blacksmiths because it keeps it's strength almost to glowing has a whole nother heat treat paradigm.

Go not to the Elves for advice for they shall say both Yes and No!

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What would be helpful to hear is something like, "Well Robert the hardening depends on the use, carbon content and alloys. Purple is a good starting color but if you do X and Y happens you might want to go harder or if you do Z and T happens then you might want to go softer. Experiment around to see what is appropriate for that stock." Now that would be helpful.


Umm, I'm pretty sure that's the kind of answers that you have gotten. They're not laid out as 'if-then' statements, but that information is there and I think folks have been going out of their way to try not to offend.

I don't usually go in for the mutual congratulations threads, but I gave you a pat on the back for a nice hardy earlier in this thread. I did it precisely because I know I offended you in the tongs thread.

When someone says that blacksmithing is more an art than a science, they're not saying some mystical BS. They are saying that it relies upon judgment born of experience. Even if you spent thousands of dollars on pyrometers and computer controlled forges there are still things that are going to be learned best by getting a piece of metal hot and making mistakes with it.

You made mistakes went you built your first forge and you learned from them. You had trouble making tongs and you're a better smith as a result. You have now successfully made a nice hot cut and a punch and you have some helpful suggestions from your online friends for improvements next time. What is the problem?

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"Thomas, You da biggest elf I ever did see"

Yah; well I used to go out drinking with the Ents all the time...

Of course in the red hat I've been compared with a gnome on steroids a lot...

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Umm, I'm pretty sure that's the kind of answers that you have gotten. They're not laid out as 'if-then' statements, but that information is there and I think folks have been going out of their way to try not to offend.


Well if that is the case then fine. I just saw a lot of ambguity and I think the quote from Tolkien above is just about right. Adapted "Go not to iforgeiron for advice for they shall say both yes and no." :) Seriously though, its just that if you dont have that critical mass of base knowledge and are trying to acquire it, it gets frustrating. I appreciate all the help but just sometimes it feels a bit like riding in acar with Stevie Wonder driving.


I don't usually go in for the mutual congratulations threads, but I gave you a pat on the back for a nice hardy earlier in this thread. I did it precisely because I know I offended you in the tongs thread.


Honestly its hard to offend me. Frustrating me is much easier but I am not easily offended. To be honest I dont remember you by name. I am just trying to find my way in the forrest without doing things that are obviously stupid. I was looking more for suggestions than Kudos.

As it is from 4 pages I have learned some stuff but it certainly wasnt clear. now I am debating how I want to temper my hardie ... lol. I suppose I can always regrind it if I screw up. There is plenty of material there.

Perhaps some day ThomasPowers can introduce me to Arwen ... well ... I think my wife would kill me then .. perhaps not such a good idea.

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Sometimes simple questions have complicated answers. How to heat treat a tool depends on a lot of things, how much you know about the steel you are using, the shape of the working surface or edge, the temperature of the steel it will be used on, the cost of various kinds of failure modes and the smith's own preferences and superstitions.

As someone who started out breaking a lot of tools that I made and tempered, (including a hardy made from a jack hammer bit) I concur with Thomas, stay on the soft side. A crack or a chip can render the whole tool useless and a flying chip can be very dangerous. You can count on hitting the cutting edge of the hardy a few times as you learn to use it. Bending or mushrooming can almost always be corrected and redoing the whole heat treat process is not that big a deal.

For anealing, a bin of lime is popular. $5 from Home Depot. The piece is usually red hot or black hot when it goes in.

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I used to have entish drinking companions but tripping on their rails can be hazardous for your health, then an ent relative decided to give me a batting lesson so . . . Nevermind.

I'll vouch for Robert not being too thin skinned for a beginner. When referring to the blacksmith's critical mass though, the term actually denotes the point the waisteband prevents a smith from practicing the art.:o

Frosty the Lucky.

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As far as hardening and tempering the hardy, you might consider just using it as-is for a while. With this sort of tool it's best to err on the side of too soft, for safety and to prevent possible catastrophic failure. And it doesn't need to be very hard to cut hot steel. If it proves too soft to give good service in its current condition, you can harden and temper it later.

Just a thought.

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So I am trying to think of a strategy to handle this. I had thought that perhaps if I anneal or normalize them three times perhaps I should have an easier time working them.




there is no need to normalize or anneal before forging....once above austenine ( i don't know how to spell it.), it makes no difference

-Annealing-
I've wondered about this from time to time when people say they anneal first before forging... I always thought annealing will make the steel as soft as possible for cold working but it's still a lot harder than it would be at forging temperatures... does a previous annealing step really make it any softer for when it is re-heated to forging temperature ?

-Steel selection-
Fancy tool steels have never really seemed all that enticing to me...my "tool steels" are recycled springs and plain carbon steel (high, med, and mild) because they are cheap if not free and easy to work/heat treat.

-Your chisel-


OK so are you telling me it will make a crappy hot cut hardie? That is disappointing if true. I have been unable to find 5160 of sufficient size to make a 1" square for my hardie.


I was in the same situation when I made the hot cut hardy I am using now...so I used a thinner leaf spring and it sits in the hole corner-to-corner...it may not look like the traditional square-shanked ones...but it works well and was easy to make with the materials I had on hand.

Your's looks great !! And it will surely cut hot steel even though there is a good chance it is "only" plain carbon steel(that stuff is not useless)...that chisel will last longer than you think. :)

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what i was actually saying that it makes no difference to anneal before forging

Yeah, that's what I had always thought too...and if it did make a difference, it couldn't be very much.
I just notice once in a while people say they do it, that's all.

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If you are storing high carbon steel stock, it is best to store it in a known heat treat state...annealed and normalized are good choices that are easy to achieve. Storing as a finished part with a proper heat treat is the best choice, but stock can be processed to a part blank easier than to a finished part!

That said, if you are unable to complete a tool or part from medium or high carbon steel, it is safest to let it air cool in still air (ie: normalize) from a uniform temperature so the part has all its internal stresses relaxed. Some metals (high alloy, deep hardening, air hardening...) require slower cooling than still air to normalize.

It is worth doing a google search on your specific steel properties, as proper heat treat directions, including normalize and anneal, will be easy to find.

Phil

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I forged 2 hardies on Saturday from 2 small high carbon steel wedges; all I had to do was to use my screwpress to bump the end to square and the size for the hardy holes---I then took it to an anvil and hammered a blunt point on the end so it can be popped out of the hardy hole if it jams, (students don't seem to check if a hardy is designed to fit the anvil they are using. My current plan is to colour code anvils and tools so it's harder to make up an excuse of why they are using the wrong tool for their anvil...

Seemed hard enough just normalized (see students....)

I also ground off the mushrooming on a number of top swages I picked up at Q-S and then heated a couple of them and bumped them to serve as bottom swages on my large anvils.

I then forged a replacement for the arm on my swing arm fuller that broke at the State Fair, Used heavy coil spring and punched the mounting hole for a 3/8" bolt, normalized that one too. It will take another heat to tweak the alignment though.

Sunday I spent the afternoon in a church business meeting; but a student/friend brought over a work crew and cleaned out the first bay of the shop extension so we can work on getting a floor in . Amazing how much stuff accumulates in a "not ready for use" area.

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I then forged a replacement for the arm on my swing arm fuller that broke at the State Fair, Used heavy coil spring and punched the mounting hole for a 3/8" bolt, normalized that one too. It will take another heat to tweak the alignment though.


Hey thomas, I had considered making a spring fuller out of a spring. Have you tried this? Of course I would have to get a bigger spring from somewhere. I am working on that one.

Also do you prefer things like spring fullers over the guillotine tool? If so then why? Like I said I had been considering making a spring fuller but I am in a toss up about whether I would be better off with making a guillotine tool and some dies for it.

Oh by the way, the hardie works like a charm. 15 nails now and counting. :)

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