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Trying to harden and temper a hawk, NEED ADVICE

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I'm trying to harden and temper a tomahawk made from a ball peen hammer head. I have no idea when or from what the head was made from. I assume tool steel, definetely carbon steel. It was heavily rusted when I rescued it. I don't have an original picture but I have a couple after the first session. I annealed it and want to get it back to at least it's original hardness. I'm not sure what temp or how long to oven temper it. I'm considering a coal forge tempering and quench.
Do you quench when you bring a piece out of the oven when tempering?
I've been reading a little on this but I have not found a lot on oven tempering.
Thanks in advance for any advice. This is the first piece I'm really trying to get the hardness and toughness right. The guy I'm making the hawk for says it's for display but I think it might get used, especially by his three boys.
Here are some in process pics.
I thought I would add some pics but for some reason I cannot upload them. I tried both loaders but no luck.
Thanks, BTKS

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Good plan to get it right...I could type for the next hour or two and get you headed in the right direction:However since I do not have the time or inclination to do that I can point you to a couple of spots where that has already happened. In the forms there are a few heat treat areas for you to fins all you ever wanted to knwo about this. read abou theat treating blades and also tools..lots in each of those areas..Also there are heat treat stickies. Read those and find wot you need. One big advantage of those areas is they were filled in by knife or tool makers. If after you read all of that information and try and fit it to your mystery steel. Yes it is dry reading,,,but it is also wot you need. Then if you need a clarification post it here........

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start getting the jargon correct: All steel is "carbon steel" some is low carbon, some is medium carbon and some is high carbon. Tool steel usually refers to high carbon steel though it is often used for high alloy steels nowadays. Hammers are usually medium carbon steels though old ones can be a range of different alloys---some old cheap ones were even cast iron!

Heat treating is usually a number of steps: annealing or normalizing, followed by hardening, followed by tempering. Some of the steps are often repeated others are not.

Under knifemaking there should be a heat treating sticky that will go over all of this in more detail.

Note that after tempering it doesn't matter if you air cool or quench for most alloys.

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I'll assume it's high carbon tool steel. Quench to harden vertically at a medium cherry red heat, preferably in oil to prevent warpage on thin sections. The hardening heat needs to be maybe one inch long at the business end. In the coal forge, heat at the edge of the fire for the short heat. The quenched portion will be file hard; a new file won't cut it. Full hardening gives you a known value from which you can back away by reheating to a much lower temperature (tempering). You'll probably want to temper to a blue surface color, about 560F. Tempering will remove brittleness and impart toughness.

We live in the TEMPERate zone. It is neither too hot nor too cold. A tempered blade is neither too hard nor too soft.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks guys.
I did a couple test runs then screwed up the courage to finish my project. All seemed to go well. A file would not cut after hardening and it would after tempering. It would cut but not nearly as easy as before hardening. It held and edge after a few strikes on dry hardwood.
I'm going to post in process and finished pics soon. The home page says there are problems as of now with pics.
Again, Thanks to all for the help.

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