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I Forge Iron

Steel IDing

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As much as I see Steel ID or metal ID come up in this forum I think we should make a forum solely for this sort of discussion. Just my 2 cents worth, and I dont want to add to anyones workload.

I have noticed that when a harder steel is stuck it creates a nicer ring than that of lower carbon steel. I know that things such as triangles should be made out of a higher carbon steel so that they ring the nicely, and does not clang. I dont trust this as a one shot deal to tell the composition of the material, but more of a clue that could help along with other tests like the spark test.

Would you agree with me when I say this?

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The 'ring' that you hear is subjective, and is affected by lots of factors, including carbon and other alloy content, tempering (or lack of), shape, attachment points, etc.

Wrought iron anvils are famous for their ringing sound, yet contain almost no carbon except for the face. Cast iron anvils have 2%+ carbon content, and have almost no ring. The 'T' shape accentuates the sound. Attaching a magnet as close as possible to the tip of the horn or heel maximizes the dampening effect.

I use Superquench on the corners of my mild steel dinner triangles to make sure that they ring. Suspending them from a loose metal ring sustains the tone, a leather thong and a choker knot dampens it.

For tubular wind chimes, the attachment point should be about 22% from the end. For bells and kinetic sound sculptures, end attachments seem to work best.

Temper and heat treatment affects the molecular structure, and that affects the tone. Non-Destructive Inspectors use ultra-sound to check batches of parts for heat treatment, as well as cracks.

And yes, all other things being equal, a higher carbon piece should ring more than an identical low carbon piece.

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I agree that one can almost depict if a piece of steel has been hardened because it is something I have also noticed. It really only yields a clue to the fact that it is different than a fully annealed (soft) piece. "Down on the farm" one uses anything to try to make better of the "I got nothing to work with" scenario. It would be nice to have a Rockwell hardness tester or a lab where I could polish up a sample and look at the micro-structure of a sectioned piece of metal. After all, one is only as good as one's ability to "check it". Thank you for bringing the "ringing" fact up. If someone was heat treating punches and got them all mixed up about which one's had or hadn't been done, that might be one additional way to clarify. Spears.

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