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I Forge Iron

Carbide Steel


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I'm in the middle of a knife made from a rail drill bit. I've annealed twice, forged the rough blade, ground and am currently sanding at 180 grit. My last attempt with this steel was for my daughter and only my 3rd knife. It turned out OK she likes it but this time I know more and am trying to get the most from this steel.
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The bits are made by TIPCO and the picture matches their carbide bits.
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My local metal shop has a heat treating oven and a hardness tester. They will be drilling the tang for me (I could not drill the last one).

any info or advice would be greatly appreciated

Thanks Bob

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Usually when people talk about "carbide" -- as in carbide drill bits -- they mean tungsten carbide (WC), and WC is not steel. Period. I doubt you can forge it, and I'm certain it doesn't quench harden. Often WC is just the brazed-on cutting edge of the tool, although there are solid WC bits nowadays. But I'd be extremely surprised if you were able to forge one into a knife. If I had to speculate, I'd guess your bits are some probably kind of high speed steel. Very red hard, difficult to work without destroying them, but at least steel!

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I didn't think it was the WC. People have made knives from M2, it is a good steel that is used for many high speed drill bits. One of the problems of using a mystery steel is this unknown thing, and it doesn't help when a manufacturer creates their own names to boot.

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They are rail bits. the drill clamps to the track and drills through the web. my buddy says they get about 8 passes out of one side, then turn the bit. In our area they are obsolete the rail is now welded. these were rescued from the scape pile.

They are very hard to work, it took 2 of us about 1 1/2 hours with a sledge to break down 2 bits to billet size. They are resistant to grinding and finishing. However the first knife is still very sharp after about a year in the hands of a 12 year old.

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High Speed Steels can make good knives; it's just a pain to work with and most smiths or even most knifemakers don't have the heat treat equipment to get the most from these alloys (and can easily mess them up trying to "eyeball it").

I've a couple of those "bits" myself, haven't done anything with them; they're in the scrap pile...been thinking that a san mai with it as a center layer might be interesting.

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