Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Case Hardening and alloying

Recommended Posts

Ok I am new at this so go easy on me please.

I have three questions I would like answered, which are probably really dumb, but here goes anyways.

The first question is about case hardening. I have had it suggested to me, that I might be able to take an iron sword blank and increase the carbon content of the exterior of the blade by quenching the blade in a mixture of old engine oil and coke. Apparently multiple applications are needed, but each time the process is repeated the iron will bond to the carbon in the oil and eventually steel will form on the outside if the iron is beaten while red hot and then quenched in the oil coke mixture again. This means that the core of the blade remains a softer iron and becomes higher in carbon content towards the exterior of the blade. Is there any truth to this?

The second question is about alloying radically different hardness metals together. If i have iron and heat it to red hot then pound the surface covered in powdered titanium or platinum. Will the iron take on some of the properties of these metals or will they just form a crust and fall off? This method was suggested to me as a way of adding radically different metals together by beating and folding the iron while red hot with a dusting of the higher temperature metal in powder form on the blade. Can this form of alloying be used to change the overall color of the blade by adding things like cobalt at the same time?

My understanding is that you end up with a sandwich of low carbon iron and razorblade thin layers of titanium when you are done. :cool:

I want to use both techniques on one sword what do you guys think?

The last question is about harmonic frequencies and blade length.
My understanding is that different materials at different lengths can produce a pure tone or note. Is it true that having a blade a certain length will allow the blade to vibrate at a certain frequency which helps in aligning the grain of the steel as you beat it. I have also heard that if a blade is at a length that will not produce a note when struck that it can actually make the steel harder to work and that the grain of the steel will be harder to normalise because of the harmonics of the blade. Any truth to this, or does all the magic happen in the fire and less during shaping or folding?

Edited by KnarfleTheGarthock
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The really short answers:

1. no
2. no

Now, if you want to get into the long answers, you have got a ton of reading and studying to do.

Case hardening is a do-able process, but it only goes a couple thousands deep. One good go on the shapening stone, and your harness is gone.

I'll leave the titanium thing to someone else. It is basically a fantasy notion that has been perpetuated from fiction. Sure, titanium has its uses, but sword reinforcement is not one of 'em.

If you are really interested, get into this forum, Don Fogg's forum, British Blades, Sword Forum, etc., and learn the proven sciences of forging and heat treatment. I guarentee that you'll find enough magic there to last you a life-time.

Remember, the only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask. Just be ready to hear the answers when you ask the questions.

Jump on in, ask and learn... that's why I come here regularly.

My $.02


Link to comment
Share on other sites

sounds like someone has been feeding you fables... a lot of hogwash in that stuff if you want to make a sword that has a soft core with a hard edge look up pattern welding or damascus. the case hardening you could do by method decribed is really crude and not worth messing with ...also case hardening is not good idea for edged weapons (usually only goes 10-20 thousanths of a inch thick) as wear and sharpening will go thru to the soft core.. this kinda stuff is in the mith buster catagory and not nessary for a good sword... if you are starting out just use a good steel (like 5160 or 1095) and harden and temper it correctly (check under hardening steel on this websight)..good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As has been mentioned you will probably scale off more thickness than you case harden.

If you really want to get into solid phase methods of increasing carbon in a piece of iron/steel may I commend to your attention "Steelmaking before Bessemer, vol 1 Blister steel".

For number 2 it all depends on how well such items diffuse in steel at the temps and times you are using. However Ti is softer than steel, I cut Ti (CP 1 & 2) with a cheap steel hacksaw blade. Why do you want it in a blade? Platinum is a comparitively soft metal too. Please don't tell me you are basing this on the hype used to sell razors on TV! Please read the Ti FAQ over at swordforum.com.

Number 3 is BS too, sounds like it is based on the old higher frequency vibrations" hogwash a fellow used to try to sell overpriced swords with. Where vibration becomes important in a sword is that the grip should be at a vibration node (zero point) so that the sword doesn't "buzz" you hand or try to leap out of it when you hit something hard with it. Note that the "sweet spot" should be a node as well.

Have you read "The Complete Bladesmith, The Master Bladesmith and The Pattern Welded Blade" all by James Hrisoulas? If not read them! ILL them from your local library if you are in the USA.

Pity you are ashamed of your name and location or perhaps we could suggest places to go to get the straight info.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is not that I am ashamed of myself or my lack of knowledge. :mad:

All I am doing is asking a bunch of more experienced people to give me their opinion on things that I have heard and that sound interesting.

As for why I don’t give out my personal information, well if you don’t understand the need for internet security I guess your ignorance shouldn't bother me. After all, I am ignorant about many aspects of blacksmithing and ask for your patience don’t I? :rolleyes:

You can go to http://www.btplc.com/onlineidtheft/onlineidtheft.pdf to read more information

However I will ask that if you don’t have anything useful to add or if you are feeling particularly bullish and want to write an angry or vicious statement in the future. Well I would just ask that you control yourself better. ;)

Thank you for your self restraint to those who have it and to everyone who has tried to answer my questions for me. The information is useful to me and I appreciate you taking the time to answer.

As to my reasons for wanting to use titanium and platinum... I am looking for some of the color and texture that comes from using these metals together. I was also hoping to impart some of the corrosion resistance of the platinum without losing strength and flexibility that makes a sword a good weapon. Obviously the melting temp of either platinum or titanium are far to high to add iron or steel when they are at the melting point. The iron or steel would just burn off right? So I am investigating alternative methods. Also I was under the impression that titanium was harder than a soft steel or iron. I am still learning. Is it the other way around? I know that I must read more. What i am really looking for is a bunch of layers that are bonded together of soft hard and pretty. I want my cake and want to eat it too I guess.

Case hardening as I make each of the folds would allow layers of 10-20 thousanths of a inch thick of higher carbon right? That is what you guys are saying. I know I am going to be fooling around with the temper as I do this. I also know that it will take a long time and lots of stages and folds to get what i am thinking of, but it might work out in the end. Or am I just wasting time even trying?

Apparently there is a seamless welding method that uses weight and a spinning motion to mix two dissimilar metals at low temperatures. Unfortunately it takes a huge expensive unavailable machine to do it and the only one I am aware of is at the DARPA navel advanced research facility. :cool:.

My alternitive method:
1. get 2" wide iron barstock at 0.5 cm thickness
2. heat
3. Apply powdered Platinum and beat the crap out of it
3. hot mill till 4" wide and 0.25 cm thick
4. raise tempeture till cherry red
5. quench in oil and coke
6. put out the darn fire
7. heat
8. fold in half lengthwise
9. heat
10. add titanum powder and beat the crap out of it
11. hot mill till 4" wide and 0.25 cm thick
12. heat
13. quench in oil and coke
14. put out the darn fire
15. heat
16. fold in half lengthwise
17. go to step 2

I guess I should have included this as part of my original post.

Edited by KnarfleTheGarthock
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Case hardening as I make each of the folds would allow layers of 1000th mil high carbon right? That is what you guys are saying. I know I am going to be fooling around with the temper as I do this. I also know that it will take a long time and lots of stages and folds to get what i am thinking of, but it might work out in the end. Or am I just wasting time even trying?

short anwser yes!
you should read a few books on damascus and pattern welding ... they will give the color differencial you are looking for ...corosion resistance isnt something you should have to worry about (its a SWORD) ! as far as innernet security how is the place you live going to make any difference? If they want to track you they dont need your state or country to do so... the reason we want to know where you are is to find out if there are any smiths in the area you could learn from .... good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Go to the top of the forum page, click on user cp, your profile, edit your details, enter your location and save. We request this information as IForgeIron is visited by over 50 world wide counties each month, and it helps us in providing you answers in your area.

IForgeIron is a family forum and will not tolerate personal attacks. If you have used the site, you understand this already. We do not mind answering questions, but we try to correct myths, and expose Hollywood hype as such, a dis-service those interested in metalworking, and the real world.

To increase your knowledge on knives, swords, and sharp and pointy things, may I suggest you join in on the IForgeIron Friday Night LIVE Chat at 10 pm eastern time US. It is a non structured question and answer session run by some experienced and knowledgeable knife makers.

Any book by James Hrisoulas would be well worth reading, and he has written 3-4 of them.

Welcome to IForgeIron, enjoy your visit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


ROFL..where on earth did you come up with this stuff??

OK seriously now....while you most certainly CAN add C by cementation, and it has been done for centuries and centuries before the "Industrial Revolution" and the automotive indstry got everyone thinking more or less "alike" steel/iron wise..I have to ask why would you want to?

If you really want a "super hard" edge on a "tough" steel body simply get a piece of 1055/60 and hairpin weld on a edge of 1084/1095. Heat treat like a 10XX series steel and there ya go... Now if all you want is a single egded blade, the weld would be a bit easier...

You can always hard face the body of the blade with Stellite as well...I have done that and boy did those ever cut...

No need to go into all the weirdnesses and everything else you mentioned. I wouldn't even be concerned with the corrosion resistance unless you plan on making it your dive knife/sword or slay sea serpents...

I will be the first to say that I have done some really weird stuff in the name of hard research (like the cadaver tests I did with the DoJ back in the early 1980s...and all the Old Wive's Tale stuff like quenching in blood, wine and other SLTT) but nothing as elaborate as what you are describing...

Ti while it is a useful metal is simply not suited for an edged tool/weapon. Jon Gonz found that out about 20 years ago... Now if you want to TiN the edge...THAT will work and give you some excellent cutting ability but that will last only until you wear through the TiN coating....

Oh by the way cherry red is no where near hot enough to get a Fe material to bond the way you are wishing it to....Then again..what do I know anyways??? I just feel that you are asking for a whole lot of work and only will be disappointed at the end..

Still, as I have always said..experience is what you get when you don;t get what you wanted to...

Good luck..


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read over the 27 page report on Internet Security and will suggest the following:

Question why a Web site is asking for information about you? Think about whether it is somewhere or someone you want to give your details to. Only use secure web sites and also use common sense when it comes to phishing emails and web sites

IForgeIron requests a real working email address in order to contact you if needed. This would including site verification purposes, to be sure you are you, and to provide answers to questions more quickly than your next log in.

IForgeIron requests your location (state or country) so we have some idea where you live and can adjust the answers to be more helpful. No use telling you there is a free anvil at the corner of walk and don't walk (choose-a-country) if you are on the other side of the world.

I have seen the IForgeIron community grow, and have seen new people with a sincere desire to learn get help and assistance, and lots of it. I personally know of more than one now accomplished blacksmith that has learned blacksmithing from the internet.

Blacksmithing, and bladesmithing are both very dangerous. As blacksmith or bladesmith, we weigh the risk against the reward. There is no guarantee in life or on the internet. If you feel your identity may be compromised on any website, may I suggest you not visit that site. If you feel your identity or your computer may be compromised by using the internet, then unplug the internet from your computer. Leather aprons, and safety glasses are just as important as firewalls, and anti-virus programs. Only you can make the proper decision for you.
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Thank you so much, I really appreciate your candour and detail. Thank you for providing suitable alternative systems of modern bladesmithing. I will be sure to include them as valuable data.

As I said in the beginning I am asking about things I was told by someone else. Having someone say not only that it is silly but also providing me with an explanation as to why and adding comments on the correct method of modern sword making; make your post the most valuable in the room so far.

Thank you, you have saved me hours of reading and provided useful answers to the question I was asking, both quickly and efficiently. You sir are a pillar of respectability.

I cannot express to you enough, how nice it is to get a straight answer. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel a storng urge to jump right in here...welcome to the site and I will give you the same advice tha I ws given and have passed on to a lot of folks. Learn the basics of forgeing Learn what metal does when you smack it with a hammer which way does it move on different parts of the anvil and with different shape and sizes of hammers. The check out the blueprints for items that may catch your interest and let you build skills in forgeing. I know you want to movdes right into sords and Maybe you have done the ground work and are ready, If not you will actually learn faster by learning basics. Mild steel for a while then something with more carbon,,the work different. Then on to higher carbon that may make aknife blade, The simple steels to heat trat start with 10 like in 1084 1095 etc the last two digits denote the carbon content larger number more carbon. Last word of advice is listen to anything you can get from JPH he literally wrote the book on this stuff. The complete bladesmith is a great starting point after you get some groundwork done. Enjoy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to thank everyone for their advice I have a great deal to learn, I know some, but could afford to learn much more. I am very excited about the thought of exploring this wonderful craft with you. :)

I wonder how long it will take to read all those books? Thanks for the titles I will go look them up :)

Thank you. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a question do you ever feel the need to experiment with materials that you made yourself? It think it would be cool to try and smelt some ore myself! Perhaps alloy that and turn it ito a beautiful thing of form and function. Something that will be apreciated as a thing of beauty that others would enjoy. Whoever gets to do this porfessionally is a lucky person I think. It is almost like making jewllery. But thats just my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am sorry if you found me brusk; I must blame it on low blood sugar (insulin dependent diabetic) and a reaction to your name.

Visit Sword Forum International and read about a fellow's experimentation with using thermite to alloy metals in his backyard.

Also note that very different melting temps do not prevent some metals from alloying---the melting point of copper is way higher than that of zinc---such that zinc will burn at that temp yet brass has been a common metal for a thousand years or so. Disolving one metal into another can sometimes be done with one molten and the other solid---Al-Bronze is made that way with only the AL molten.

BTW One can say " I live in New Mexico, USA" without telling folks your street address and makes it very handy for people to mention that SWABA, the local ABANA Affiliate, will be having their meeting June 7th in Santa Fe, contact me for more details...

As for internet security; well I predate the internet; did my first programming on a teletype storing programs on punched paper tape. If you are worried about security I am sure you are using Linux like I am. Hard to say you are concerned with security if you use a microsoft product...As a parent I commend your worries; but you can provide some info without throwing the door wide.

As for case hardening and folding: you are more likely to scale off a deeper layer during the welding than you can case harden. Look into how cementation was actually done. I recently made blister steel in my forge from real wrought iron for a project I am working on, buried the WI in a pipe full of powdered charcoal, sealed the ends and threw it in the gasser to sit during several days of teaching smithing. Visible blisters on the metal!

A *lot* of us have played around with experimenting; many with years of background first. I spent about 10 years working with people who were smelting wrought iron from ore in Y1K bloomeries. I have used Theophilus' suggested quenchant from Divers Arts---written in 1120 C.E. I have read about other renaissance quenchants in "Souces for the History of the Science of Steel", both volumes of "Steelmaking before Bessemer, vol I Blister Steel, Vol II Crucible steel" and "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" the best modern book on the metallurgy of armour and a passel of other books.

JPH did not save you that time; you *still* need to do the research to give you a solid grounding to know what you are actually trying to do. The internet is a frail reed to lean on when it comes to indepth knowledge! Pay him back for his efforts by reading his books!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe think of it like this you are starting I think in the first grade,,knives may come along about 4th grade,,,sords about 8th makeing your own steel is upper division stuff. But what I think you will find as you go along is pride in your work and fewer failures from rushing things. I hope I did not misjudge where you are at in the process,,,,,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well said Thomas, Rich. Tell us were you live, Knafle. We don't want your address or social security #, but as Glenn has explained, there may be someone near you that can give you help and advice. Listing ones location will not make them anymore vulnerable to internet attack than if they remain anonymous. One thing is for certain, no one in your area can help you if you can't be found.

Edited by Dodge
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again thanx you, I am already collecting the suggested reading material and will endeavour to learn more about this fascinating subject. My original question was part of a research project, but now that I have started learning I am finding it hard not to want to learn more. This is so fascinating, there are so many variables to understand and try to control, so many new skills to learn. It will take time. The first step will be reading the material you guys suggested.

As for my personal information, you will just have to learn to accept that I will not, at any cost reveal more, than is absolutely necessary about myself. Please try not to take offence it has absolutely nothing to do with my estimation of your personal honour. Also I would ask as a personal favour that the subject of my identity be left alone completely. I will not respond to any further questions about this.

As for the name I chose:

To Knarfle The Garthock;
A form of punishment on the planet Remulak. The offending conehead is placed in a Coliseum-like arena containing thousands of spectators. When the garthock is released the prisoner must battle it using only a hook and short staff. If the garthock is successfully Knarfled (killed), the prisoner regains his honour. If he fails the conehead is killed and eaten by the garthok.

You have betrayed your cone heritage; therefore, you will . . . knarfle the garthok!

It is an expression that was made popular by the movie coneheads and refers to accomplishing something impossible. I know it is a little more obscure than the Conan reference that is my sig. but still, thought did go into the choice.

I realise that everyone here uses their name and if my pride was the only thing at stake I would do so as well. I am hoping that this will not preclude me from your company, but if that is the case than so be it. I don

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We'll take you on your own terms; it's just really depressing when you spend a lot of effort typing out where exactly to find something in the USA only to have the asker reply, "But I live in Australia or South Africa, or Poland, or Argentina, or..." World Wide Web you know. And many of us have fingers much better for holding hammer and tongs than pounding a keyboard.

(I personally could have a major accident and lose several fingers and that would not slow my typing down at all...)

Note that many folk use nick names here; just ones easier to type/use in conversation. You'll probably end up being known as KTG; shoot you may even end up meeting TGN!

I guess I can't invite you over when we do a bloomery run or get you in touch with a person local to you to teach aspects of the craft you want to learn. That's OK; but since you have an interest in the more esoteric aspects; it may set you back possibly 5 to 10 years of re-inventing the wheel---which in the mean time will still be rolling forward!

I have had several students who "learned" to smith off the internet (sometimes in games!). Very amusing when you put a hammer in their hand and point them at a forge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest mod07

There is legal issue that has come to our attention. We are a family forum, and we keep a "G" rating on the subjects, polite and helpful, that is one of the the things that set IFI apart from the rest.


Giving Minors weapons, or assisting them to manufacture one, without adult parental consent is a felony in some places. IFI does not wish to go against parental desires, nor violate any laws.

The questions, comments and attitude of this so called Knarf person indicate he is in fact a child. I am lead to believe his parents would not allow him to take part in this activity by his comments about refusing to answer any questions about even a first name or geographical location to anyone here.

Making blades can be dangerous, placing one in the hands of a child is too. We are a teaching tool, and sharing is what we do, but remember safety and local laws when dealing with children, and weapons.

Is he hiding from us ? or his family?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was thinking along these lines as well...now that I have seen what he has written..I for one will no longer answer any more of his/her questions..Methinks we can have another 'river-gazer" here...I feel that I may of already given out too much info..

Funny..he is so paranoid...He must either be a Kennedy, Getty or some other "rich and famous" family member to live in such a terrorized mind set.. the only thing that comes to mind is the old Spanish saying "A life lived in fear is a life half lived"..

Sheesh...he is so frightened of someone "stealing his ID"..geeze..then again,..no one would want to be me anyways so I guess I have nothing to worry about...

After thinking it over and looking at his responses...this person is hiding for a reason...what ever reason(s) that me be...and I doubt that it is fear of someone stealing "who he is"


"American-ized" name James P Hrisoulas
Real name Dimitrios Apostolos Chrisoulasadides...
Henderson NV

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not worried about telling him about books he can check out at a local public library.

His personal "style" does scream "teenage boy" and there can be several reasons why he wants to keep himself to himself.

Shoot I myself used to be part of the Federal Waitress Protection Service until I found out that the tips were lousy....

JPH; I'll be you if I can have your publisher send back the proofs of your next book to me!

Edited by ThomasPowers
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...