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file knives

Archie Zietman

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I have just been given my first real comision: a whittling knife. I know that files are good carbon steel, so I'm gonna make it out of one. I have a question though: How should I do the quenching? Cherry red in oil that is 78 degrees F? also, what is the average amount of carbon in a wood file?
Thanks in advance for your help,

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You might want to drop in here:


...and scroll down to:

Forged Blade Tutorials

Also some good info at:


File steel is very high carbon; I understand that a lot of them are 1095. That'd be around 1% carbon.

BUT... a lot of modern made files are not HC, but are simply case hardened. Do some research on spark testing steel so you can learn to at least tell the difference between HC and mild. And learn to spot old Nicholson "Black Diamond" files at yard sales and old garages and hoard them like gold.

Until you get used to looking at the colors in steel, use a magnet. Heat your steel gradually and evenly just to the point that a magnet will no longer stick to it (use a hard magnet with a handle). This is, as far as us scroungers are concerned, the critical temperature.

After forging, you need to take it to critical and then stick it in a can of ashes or vermiculite and let it cool slowly (over night). This is a basic method for annealing steel. When it's cool, it will be as soft as it is going to get. This is when you do any filing, drilling, grinding and sanding you are going to do. THEN you proceed to heat-treat your blade.

I'll leave it at that. You really need to study all of the tutorials above (for starters). Way too much good information to just let it lay there.

Good luck to you.

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