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Hi all, I'm a relatively green blacksmith/knifemaker with a bit of query that I hope you can help me with.


I recently started using proper coal (anthracite) in my forge having before used charcoal and the increase in heat took me by surprise. Under a fast blow the coal managed to melt the 01 steel bar I was hoping to forge out into a blade in half! 


Now I'm not overly familiar with the rules of decarburization but from what I've gathered if the heat oxidises over critical temperature the carbon "leaks" from the metal. Now I went ahead and forged out a blade from the remaining stock but my question is this:


Being that the steel has been melted (and then obviously heated and beaten several times to forge to shape) upon heat treat am I just going to be left holding a sharpened piece of mild steel? 


It sounds like a foolish question even in my head but I have to know whether going through the HT process is worth it or if I should just chalk it up to lesson learned. 


Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 




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My suggestion would be to continue and finish your HT and then check on the items performance and see how it works.


Melting or burning the outer/ends of a bar of a tool steel does not necessarily mean it cannot be worked into a usable item.


By completing the process, you will at least have the hands on experience of what happens when.......  and you can file this in your memory bank for future projects.


Have fun with your forging journey, it's a long road, but a great adventure!

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Welcome aboard, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in your header you might  be pleasantly surpised at how many IFI folk live within visiting distance.


Not being a bladesmith kind of guy I can't offer much about your globulated steel. Keep your eye on the game! anthracite isn't smithing coal per se but some will work well enough. Does it coke up for you?


In general a coal fire doesn't need to be as deep as charcoal. How much air it needs depends on variables I don't have herre, your situation is your situation and there are where the variables are defined. Regardless you have to keep an eye on the fire and what's happening. don't stand there and stare into it, that's not good for your eyes, especially a gas forge, IR can damage your eyes and cause cataracts. Still you have to keep an eye on it. That's all that happened to you, you over cranked a bit and didn't know what to look for. Happens to us all, everyoje gets caught short once in a while.


The mistake isn't what counts, it's what we learn. I should be a PHD for all my mistakes but nobody gives sheepskins for real world stuff. <sigh>


Frosty The Lucky.

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Unless you have a cheaper  place to get 01 than I do it may save you some money to get all the moves down for forging from scrap steel. A huge item here is fire management. How the fire works and wot it takes to fire up and keep it going is a seperate skell from forging and they have to play well together. Below in the forums there is a section on making knives that you may find some usable information in.

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Same thing happened to me the first time I tried smithing, using anthracite and managed to get the darn stuff lit. Fire management is a lot different with anthracite. It burns a lot hotter, and takes more air to keep going. (I still finished the knife. It's a terrible knife, not even much good as a letter opener, but I kept it anyways.) In my experience, no it doesn't really coke much.


Try bitumous, it's more expensive, but you'll use a lot less coal and have a great deal more control over the fire, so it more than evens out. If you are still using the anthracite for awhile, don't keep your steel in as long, especially as it gets drawn down. And watch the fire. If you start seeing sparks or hearing the hissing sound, your steel's burning.


I'm green next to most of these guys, but used anthracite a lot whilst working on the basics. Good luck and keep at it!

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There's a lot of info in the wings here, take a look at knifemaking 101.  As far as the burning/melting of your steel.  Cut off the bad portion and work with whats left.  The changes that took place within the steel will greatly effect the final product.  Being a newb I would suggest calling a wrecking yard or local auto shop and inquiring for some broke leaf springs.  This steel is forgiving under the hammer, makes a great knife and you can usually get it for free (or offer them a knife made from it).

Good luck, post pics.

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As a knife maker, I'd say getting the O1 that hot may have really damaged the structure of the steel beyond management. Finish the blade though, practice working a piece from beginning to end still teaches you a lot about the craft. It's not the shape you wanted when you started out but accidents happen and being able to adapt and go with the flow is an important part of any art. Good luck!



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