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Hey guys and gals. I have a customer that wants me to make a pick axe for gold hunting. I have the design all figured out. My question is what kind of steel should I look to use. He said something about 4130 or 4140 steel. Would 5160 work well. Or should I use some 1075 or what?

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9 hours ago, Frosty said:

Use what he asked for?

Frosty The Lucky.

That was my first thought, as well.

If I had a better idea, I wouldn't hesitate "second guessing" the customer.

But his choice seems like a good one.

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Yup. Use what the customer asks for..  If you have empirical knowledge of a particular reason why a certain steel would work better than share this with the person and explain why the other choice would be better.. 5160 in my mind and experience would not be a good choice as you need a toughness without shattering/fracturing. If you temper 5160 to the softness needed it would be to soft to hold a point..   But hey, I've seen stuff work for no reason.. 

 

If the guy is mining.. 5160 works great as wedges though.. 

 

Also a lot of the old time picks were wrought iron with steel points welded on..  Just out of curiosity why a new design? 

 

In the way back they used to sell steels that were specified for hand drills for rock.. I have a few of these.. Basically you heat it up, resharpen it, take a hardening heat.. Throw it in the water and it's good to go. No tempering at all.. The steel works great for rock drills but sucks for hot punches as the heat even if if never allowed to get cherry red just softens them to uselessness. 

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3 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

That was my idea as well, use an old rock drill, though being in an old hardrock mining area I can find sections of old steam drillstems at the scrapyard.

I'm always jealous of you guys down in Oil, mining, drilling areas.. It seems like they scrap more stuff or just leave it on the sides of the roads.. :)

 

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13 hours ago, Frosty said:

Use what he asked for? Too soft ad the axe will blunt quickly but too hard and the pick can chip and be a safety issue.

Frosty The Lucky.

He had a smith star making one and he used the 4140. That is why he was talking about 4140. He is wanting to sell these gold detector picks for between $110 and $150 depending on what kind of handle you want in it. I don't think we can make this and make any profit out of it if we use 4140. That stuff cost some $$.

 

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38 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

How large is your powerhammer?  Are you used to thinking in a "production" way?

I have the use of a 50lb little giant and a 20 ton press. I have never done things in a production way. All my work seems to be custom 1 or 2 item jobs. He is looking to make this a production setup.

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Not to rain on your parade, but since you mentioned your customer wants to produce these for re-sale to the public, make sure you've thought about the liability aspect if one of these picks fails because of a faulty heat treat and somebody gets hurt and wants to sue.

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At a shoprate of US$100 an hour can you make them fast enough to meet their price point?   Someone used to production work might help you figure out how to streamline the process.  You at least have some of the tools needed to speed things up already.

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10 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

As I recall New England has some granite and slate quarries around.  (and a heck of a lot more farms than out here!)

Unfortunately we also have too many lawyers and CT happens to be the Mecca of the insurance companies.  Hence, in CT at least, customers are not allowed to enter scrap facilities.  Someone got whacked in one in the '80s and legislators got busy.  The law was rescinded and now insurance companies won't allow it anyway.  So we have to get our steel BEFORE it gets sent to the scrap companies or it is lost forever...

Concerning the steel:  I'd go with the customer's request and start designing the tooling required to do production work.  A few well designed dies for the hydraulics press would do wonders.  It's beyond my current ability but I've seen some amazing jigs on presses that get lots of work done fast.  Tim at Big Dog Forge on YouTube has some ingenious jigs for his hammer and press.

 

Lou

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19 hours ago, jlpservicesinc said:

I'm always jealous of you guys down in Oil, mining, drilling areas.. It seems like they scrap more stuff or just leave it on the sides of the roads.. :)

Makes it nice to drop by the welding supply for 25' joints of used 3/4" sucker rod - $10 each.  Known steel, fairly clean, the last foot at each end is already upset to ~1-1/4" for top/bottom tool blanks, punches & drifts.  They keep it on hand for high end horse fence mostly.

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On 4/26/2017 at 6:03 PM, scottyp74 said:

Hey guys and gals. I have a customer that wants me to make a pick axe for gold hunting. I have the design all figured out. My question is what kind of steel should I look to use. He said something about 4130 or 4140 steel. Would 5160 work well. Or should I use some 1075 or what?

OK lol the client had another blacksmith forge one out for him. This other smith used 4140. The customer does not care what alloy is used as long as it hold up to the task. What would be a good alloy to use for a simple gold detecting pick axe. I just want to know a few types of alloys that would be suitable for this item that is all. I figured from everyone's comments 4140 is good but at there any others?

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On 4/27/2017 at 0:08 PM, ThomasPowers said:

As I recall New England has some granite and slate quarries around.  (and a heck of a lot more farms than out here!)

They used to..  But most have been filled in or are filled with water.. Most are on private property as well and have been off limits from back in the 40's.. I've done a few Scuba runs in some of the abandoned mines,quarries but the water is usually dark and cloudy and removing stuff can be problematic as well.. 

 

13 hours ago, aessinus said:

Makes it nice to drop by the welding supply for 25' joints of used 3/4" sucker rod - $10 each.  Known steel, fairly clean, the last foot at each end is already upset to ~1-1/4" for top/bottom tool blanks, punches & drifts.  They keep it on hand for high end horse fence mostly.

YUP,, Rub it in.. Salt in the wound..  Ouch,  yup, I see how you roll now..   :)

Love to get a few samples but it's not something I'll go out of my way to get..  4140 here is a decent price or at least it was last year.. 

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Might think about 1045 should move easier under the hammer, not quite as good but I would think it should work well enough. Less $$$$ for the steel. easy to heat treat. In production with a small hammer (50# LG) moving easier should help in getting out product, make a prototype see if it is the 1045 will do. You need to do a few prototypes to see how much time and material it will take and to start to sort out how to tool up for the job anyhow. If he is doing the marketing and handleing and you are just forging the head I would think you will need to make them for around $40 if he is selling them at the mentioned price point, so you would need to spit out at least 3 per hour including heat treatment. He will need to have a fairly large order to make this worthwhile for you. Going from one offs to production might not be how you are made, or it might be really good for you but it will be different and take a different mindset. Just how I would look at it.

 

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My question becomes what is so special about the design?   A pickax can only be designed so many ways and still be useful especially in hard use.. If the soil is rocky is where you will run into problems..   A pick  will hold up better in those conditions vs a pickax..  the Ax side will not like to be used on rocks very well and then the question becomes if the person wants to use it as a prybar as well.  I new a guy who would shove the ax side into a crack and start prying on the handle sideways trying to pop out the crack.. 

So, what is so fancy on the design? 

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