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I Forge Iron

If it's not S2...


David Kahn

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I have a couple of blocks of tool steel in my shop that I thought was S2. I was sending some other material out to be tested, and chopped off a piece of my "S2" to have it checked as well. Results came back as follows:

Carbon: 0.60 %
Manganese: 0.80
Phosphorus: 0.017
Sulfur: <0.005
Silicon: 2.09
Nickel: 0.12
Chromium: 0.23
Molybdenum: 0.34
Copper: 0.10
Aluminum: 0.01
Vanadium: 0.18

So, 50 percent more carbon, pretty much double all of the other normal S2 alloys (except for Moly), plus some vanadium. Is this really S2? If not, anyone have any idea what it actually is or how to heat treat it?

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Looks pretty close to me, even the vanadium.

S-2:

  • C: 0.65-0.70%
  • Si: 1.00-1.25%
  • Mn: 0.45-0.60%
  • P: 0.025% Max
  • S: 0.025% Max
  • Cr: 0.10-0.30%
  • Mo: 0.40-0.50%
  • V: 0.15-0.25%
Oh, it's you, David! Where'd you get your specs for S-2 from?

As a side note AISI 9260 is a cheap substitute for S-2:

Carbon, C 0.560 - 0.640 %
Iron, Fe 96.085 - 96.89 %
Manganese, Mn 0.750 - 1.00 %
Phosphorous, P <= 0.0350 %
Silicon, Si 1.80 - 2.20 %
Sulfur, S <= 0.0400 %
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Maybe I have the wrong specs for S2. I thought the specs were:

Carbon 0.4 - 0.55
Manganese 0.3 - 0.5
Molybdenum 0.3 - 0.6
Phosphorus 0.03 max
Silicon 0.9 - 1.2
Sulfur 0.03 max
Vanadium 0.5 max

Maybe the stuff is actually AISI 9260? Or perhaps this material varied more than I thought?

As to where I got it, the material I asked about above, I got from Howard seven or eight years ago in exchange for a bunch of nice old wrought iron anchor chain. I've been looking, unsuccessfully, for S2 ever since, because it seemed like it would be a good material for swords. At Ric Furrer's suggestion, I e-mailed Aldo ( http://njsteelbaron.com/ ) a couple of months back, initially thinking that maybe he knew somebody who could do a small custom run. Miraculously, he was able to find me about 800 lbs of 3/4 inch round bar stock. Just had it tested, and it is indeed S2, so I'm a very happy guy. All I ahve to do now is heat it up and run it through my rolling mill, and presto, I'll have S2 blade stock!

Anyways, thanks very much for the intel Grant.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looks very close to S5. Close enough that it probably *is* S5. If you don't want it, I could probably be persuaded to take it off your hands. :)


Sure enough, it looks like it's S5. Thanks Matt. I'd been heat treating this stuff as though it was S2, and getting cracks. (And not a very good temper line.) No wonder. Now that I know what it is, it should be fun to play with.

Moral of the story, at least as far as I'm concerned, is, before investing dozens of hours forging, filing, heat treating, finishing, etc., always test to make sure you know what you're working with.
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  • 1 month later...

Sure enough, it looks like it's S5. Thanks Matt. I'd been heat treating this stuff as though it was S2, and getting cracks. (And not a very good temper line.) No wonder. Now that I know what it is, it should be fun to play with.


how does tempering leave lines?
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