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Random questions!


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As a fairly new member to the site and in the interest of not just lurking, I thought I would direct a couple questions at you fine fellows (and lasses if there are any).

1) I am currently involved in the process of making a sword via stock removal (yay files!). It is 5160 steel and I do not currently have the ability to heat treat or temper this sword because my forge is out of commission! Any suggestions on heat treating vendors that handle oil quenching?

2) Having read several other posts this morning and still finding myself lost, what grade stainless would you folks recommend for a sword (longsword style) around 36" (30" blade). I need it to be light but still hold a good edge.

3) I was looking around on the internet for heat treating services and came across an interesting term I had not read about. I am accustomed to the usual methods of quenching or air cooling so this was fairly suprising. To get straight to it, Cryogenic Quenching.

After reading about this method (found here at the bottom of the page) I was wondering if it was superior to normal quenching or hardening methods traditionally used. As a three time college failure, the chemical conversion makes little sense to me and I was hoping someone might be interested enough to explain its effect on a finished project for me.

4) Is there a portion of the Forum dedicated to sketches or plans for projects seeking review?

5) I have made a number of stock removal method knives from Chainsaw bars, but I must admit to being lost as to the type/grade of steel they are made of. Anyone know off the top of their head?

6) Any advice or tips on balancing? Last one! I promise. I try to balance my blades about 1" from the hilt, blade-heavy. Not pocket knives and such of course but longer work. I prefer the blade heavy balance personally and none of my customers have complained but I love to hear from others about their preferences! Knowledge is meant to be shared.


Edited: Clarity

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Welcome to a great source of information Doc. I understand you questions pretty well they are alot like what I had when I staerted. i am a knfe maker not into sords. However yur questions are pretty well fit all for blade types.

First cryogenic. It is not a replacement for the hardening process normally used. It is an additonal part of a total heat treat package that adds something to the finished product in some of the blade steels.

Now for your heat treat need. I think of spring shops to heat treat this kind of steel as they liekly do d laot of it. However I am not sure any of them will work on a sord. Think about the liability if there is a failure with injury or death later. They will only have your word for the steels composition.

Google blade heat treating services and call a few spots and see if they will do your work. You could post sketches right here and I am sure you will gete thougths from several folks.Balancing to me is so personal I do not know of hard guidelines that will help you. With knives I can make similiar knives that if you balance them at one point and they are about the same. If the handle shape is a little different they feel quite different in hand as to balance. A suggestion that will help you a lot is to handle well made sords as often as you can and see how they feel. And if you were to read everything on this forum concerning heat treating it would be well worth your time.

Also as we wait for book four. If you pick up the complete bladesmith by Jim Hrousalas it will be like having him in your shop. Anytime you wish. Have fun!

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Firstly what country are you hunting for a heat treater in? South Africa, Australia, Finland, Chile,... Editing your profile to supply a general location will help a lot in this type of question on the World Wide Web!

Secondly: I know of no stainless alloy I would suggest for using as a long sword save only for display purposes

Thirdly *most* simple steel alloys do not have enough retained austenite to make cryo processing a good idea. Most high alloy steels that would profit from it are not generally considered sword steels.

Fourthly I would post a thread under the applicable subforum and ask for comment.

Fifthly: No

Sixthly the balance point depends on the type of blade you are making. Many swords balance further towards the tip for chopping blades and others closer to the guard for blades used for point work. Perhaps more important is the WEIGHT of a using blade. For nearly 1000 years the average weight of an european using sword was about 2.5 pounds *total*. Oddly enough this weight is also right for japanese blades though they do tend to be thicker in cross section than european ones.

May I strongly commend to your attention: The Complete Bladesmith, The Master Bladesmith and The Pattern Welded Blade all by James Hrisoulas

If you are in America you can ILL them through your local public library.

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Thank you Mr. Powers. I had thought my profile filled out, but apparently neglected to save the changes.

Sorry if my questions seem redundant, but I have barely managed to scrape the surface of this lovely website and needed a more timely response.

My ignorance of steel grades and the chemistry of metallurgy (I was shown temper by color and it was never explained further) prompts my question about the stainless grade, and with that dismissed I would ask what grade steel you would use if you were to begin crafting a longsword of the specified dimensions.


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I'm out of Socorro NM; going to be in this neck of the desert any time soon? I can show you my library---if you are not afraid of dust!

Are you aware of the SWABA meeting on Jan 14 in Albq and the conference in Las Cruces in February?


Lets see Terrell Perkins was in Capitan last I heard, Have to look up the old member's list to see if I can find anyone closer; of course there are a couple of good smiths in Mountain Air.

Now as a good steel that is easy to find, fairly easy to work and heat treat and works well for swords I would recommend 5160 and I would source it at a place that makes replacement leaf springs for vehicles and buy the UNUSED stock. Used leaf springs may have micro damage to them that you won't discover till after you put a lot of effort into a piece.

Stainless tend towards brittleness, not so much a factor in small blades but a big problem in large ones!

Think hard about attending the Conference; best way to meet a lot of smiths in the region and I'd like to introduce you to Pep Gomez of Radium Springs who has all the pretty bladesmithing toys (powerhammers, rolling mill, grinders, etc and so on...)

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1060 through 1084, I like 5160 or L-6.

NO stainless for any sword.

Read the heat treat sticky's its explained there. http://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/56-knife-stickies-here/. Also you could look for more information in the blades Heat treat section.

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Thank you Steve, I have actually made it over to those sticky's. A very nice read and quite informative on the topic, unfortunately I was asking more in the hope that someone might know a commercial facility that can heat treat blades for me until I can get my shop completed (or at least functional).

Thomas, I am very familiar with Socorro, I actually went to college there and worked at the Walmart for a while. The SCA chapter on campus was one of my first forays into reenactments and helped shape my armoring skills considerably!

I intend to join the SWABA as soon as I can, and I may even manage to get to that meeting on the 14th if I have completed the entry requirements.

As to steel, I am lucky enough to be situated less than a mile from Huey Manufacturing Company, a rather large distributor of raw steel of various grades. Knowing the proper grades will go a long way towards helping me choose the right product, and I even get a discount for being a local. haha.


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One nice thing about steel grades is the heat treat and working specifications are generally written out so someone with a basic education can get the needed information out of it, no college degree required. If you google

<steel type> steel specifications


5160 steel specifications

You will get several returns with considerable information including the forging temperature range, and heat treatment temperatures and process(es), and if cryogenic treatment after hardening if recommended (generally not recommended makes no mention)


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Before I started to build a gasser, I used a long pipe with little holes drilled along one side and 2 bags of store bought cowboy brand hardwood charcoal to heat the blade. then you can use ambeint temp above that after quench to temper, I used the BBQ with enough coals to keep it at around 450 F.... cost about 13.50 for the pipe, real charcoal can get hot enough with out air if you wait long enough or use a hair dryer to speed things up

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