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I Forge Iron

High carbon steel in axe blade

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I am new here - so be nice.

I just started out with blacksmithing - in fact, my anvil is a piece of railroad track and I am still working on my forge.

I want to make a double bit working axe and have read various articles and viewed several videos on this topic, but due to my limited knowledge there is one thing I do not understand.

In all of these articles and videos they forge weld a small piece of high carbon steel into the bit of the blade. In one instance it was actually a piece of leaf spring.

Why not forge the whole axe out of leaf spring? I should think that it will give you a product which will absorb the impact of the blow better when using the axe.

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Welcome! And may I suggest you give a general location on your profile to allow location dependent answers to be given. General, like mine "Central NM".

Modern axes are made entirely from high carbon steel; however even as late as the American Civil War high carbon steel could be 5 to 6 times more expensive than wrought iron. As a gedanken experiment imagine your sales of axes if yours cost 5 times as much as the other fellow's axes. (Some people also claimed that the shock absorption of wrought was better, Some claimed you could go with a harder edge as it was cushioned by the WI, etc; but cost was the defining item) It's much like cars; you can buy a car that costs 5 times more than the one you did and it would be WAY NICER!---But you don't see a whole lot of them on the road...(well I do; but 5 times the cost of my pickup would still be below the cost of a new one...)

So if you are not going "traditional" go ahead and make a HC bodied axe!

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the modern method is to start with all steel slit and drift or punch a handle hole and forge to shape ... it os easier if your going to forge weld to use mild and (argueably) it makes a better axe because the mild being softer absorbs impact better where on the edge (where you need it )the steel gives you a hard edge. forge welding mild to high carbon is easier than high carbon to high carbon also the mild will protect the high carbon keeping it from burning as bad... also mild is easier to form (forge) to shape ... also the traditional way was to weld insert of high carbon because high carbon was more expencive.for this discussion ive used the term high carbon to refer to a steel between .6to 1.0 carbon typically used for cutting edges on axes...hope this helps

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I've never had any problems with a HC to HC weld as long as it was plain 10XX steels, Ni or Cr alloys can be more of a pain to try to weld to itself.

When you are welding HC to HC you don't need to get it as hot as you do for welding Mild so you don't need it shielded. As you are welding HC to HC with *no* sparks there isn't a problem with it burning. When you weld mild and HC then you need to be in the welding range of mild which is a bit high for welding HC and so causes problems.

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Thanx for your replies - much appreciated.

I am from Waverley, a suburb in the town of Bloemfontein in the Free State province, almost right in the centre of South Africa.

One of the main reasons for me using HC for the whole axe head was because I got a 5kg (11 lb) piece of a truck leaf spring for free and thought it would make a good axe. The leaf spring is about 89mm (3 1/2") wide x 14mm (1/2") thick x 522mm (20 1/2") long.

Now, surely I won't be using the whole piece for making this one axe - so I will save some for other axes, etc made in the traditional way.

I was just concerned about the workability of the HC, but seems from your replies that it won,t be a problem. I would like though, to also make an axe from mild steel with a HC inlay at the bit and then compare the performance of both axes in terms of absorbing the impact of the blow, keeping the cutting edge, etc.

Is there somone who can tell me what coke really is and where in SA you could find some? I assume it is not the same as anthrasite?

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