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I have been thinking about all of the blades and edged tools that I own.  All of mine have serviceable edges.  There is one type of steel that stands out as a consistent high performer though.  It’s the “blue paper steel” that many of my Japanese tools are made of!  I assume that many of you here are familiar with this steel.  I would like to get some for my tool and knife forging.  Do any of you know about a source that I might contact?  

I’m also interested in any tips that you might have for working or heat treating this type of steel.  I just admire the fine edges that it will take and how well they hold up as I work with them.

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could not find any in the listed suppliers? It is not much different than W1

C: 1.3-1.4
Si: 0.10
Mn: 0.20
Cr: 0.30%
W: 1.5%

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BFNMP,

Blue paper steel is called "aogami hagane".

One major Japanese source is the Hitachi Yatsugi plant in Japan.

The blue of its name comes from the color of paper the steel comes in.

Check bladeforums for more details.

SLAG.

S. S.  and Bigfootnampa,  the website I suggested has a list of the alloy components of "aogami hagane".

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Thanks for the info Steve and SLAG!  I plan to be at the BAM conference in May.  I’ll ask some of the vendors and Smith’s there and see if maybe I can get some while I am there.  I am not in any hurry... just thinking ahead.  I’ve picked up some older Japanese tools lately and I love them!  Some of the edges will literally shave hair with astonishing ease!  

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the Blue has a good reputation, would like an excuse to try it some day myself

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Mr. Foot,

Would it be worthwhile:

a) Contacting Hitachi Corp. 

And/or,

2) the Japanese trade attache at their embassy, or one of their U.S. consulates?

Just a thought that came to mind.

Happy hunting Bunkie.

Regards,

SLAG.

p.s.

You might,  also, contact Japan Woodworker for leads concerning a source for that steel.  (it seems that Woodcraft Corporation bought them out a little while ago, so they probably have a U.S.A. presence.) Woodcraft headquarters are in West Virginia.

p.p.s.  are you located in St. Louis? Perchance?

 

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I am currently in Branson... but my forge is still in my High Ridge location (just south of Saint Louis).  I have some moving to do.  I have a dealer that I trust in Japan... I’ll check with him about getting some of the steel.  I thought that some of the bladesmith suppliers in country might have it.  I used to do some teaching at the Woodcraft store in Saint Louis... but I know that they are not in the steel supply business.  Finished tools is likely all they will offer.  The tool that I like best is a hand forged gouge with a shallow curve that has been sharpened to a fingernail shape with an elongated edge on the left side (looking into the concave side of the gouge while holding the handle).  I think it’s pretty old and it might even be handmade steel.  I find it a remarkably handy tool and I think it will be great for spoon carving!  My plane blades are mostly the blue paper steel though and they have superb edges... better than my Swiss carving tools.

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Mr. B.-Foot,

Yes Woodcraft does not sell steel. The Woodcraft suggestion was to get into contact with someone at Japan Woodworker. They do sell Japanese woodworkers' tools but may have some information/contacts in Japan. A read of their catalogue will prove very interesting. I tend to salivate heaily during a good read.

.The Hitachi reference is of a manufacturer of that kind of steel. I am fairly certain that they are the well known Hitachi company. Large Japanese corporations tend to be heavily vertically integrated . Manufacturing all manner of products.

But your Japan(ese),  dealer should be a better bet for steel product information.

Good luck with it.

Branson is a great town. I am certain that you are enjoying it down there.

Regards,

SLAG.

 

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"I am certain that you are enjoying it down there."             Before the summer starts!

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Update.  I had a great time at the BAM conference.  I bought a new anvil from Jymm Hoffman. A thing of beauty that is solid cast H13 steel and about 110 pounds.  I also bought a new propane forge from Bob Alexander.  His beautiful Saint Bernard “Toby” was a really big hit with my son Lukas!  I also bought a couple of hammers and a few tongs.  The 1 3/4 pound rounding hammer from Nathan of Jack Pine Forge is a finely polished paragon of the hammer arts!  

I have ordered a “San Mai” blank of “Blue Paper Steel” to do some experimental forgings with!  I found it on eBay!  Apparently this steel is best used as a welded edge rather than as a monolithic forging.  It must be a bit brittle for forming the main structure of tooling.  I will follow up with results of my test forging experiences!  I also have ordered some O1 and some D2.  The O1 will be good for me... I think.  The D2 looks like quite a challenge!

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What are you wanting to do with the D2 and do you have access to the high tech heat treat equipment to get the best from it?  (Otherwise it's rather like buying a Formula 1 car to drive in the city: pretty, great bragging rights; but you really don't get the high end capabilities of it in city traffic.)

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Thomas I do not currently own a heat treat oven.  Even getting the D2 ramped up to preforging  temp (1450 Fahrenheit) looks daunting to me!  I could send it out for heat treating.  I want to make spoon carving hook knives with it.  Probably I’d begin with something like 5/16” or 3/8” drill rod.  I am looking into heat treating ovens.  At the moment it seems a bit of a reach for me.  I don’t want to invest a lot and not get good use of my equipment.  I am already stretching things a bit... what with my large inventory of tooling and slowly declining energy levels.  

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I don't think D2 would make a superior hook knife as compared to L6 due to flexibility issues.Fancy alloys do not make for better outcomes for every use!  

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Well my aim is to make my hook knives as inflexible as practical.  A rather stiff knife that will hold it’s shape as it cuts is ideal.  Limiting factors are that it must be able to follow the spoon bowl’s profiles without marring the wood on the back of the blade and it must possess a thin and EXTREMELY SHARP edge.  So wide blades are not generally good.  The best sort of architecture seems to be a blade with a thin edge, fairly narrow, with a bit thicker back edge that is rounded to slide through the curves of the spoon bowl.  I’ve never tried Forging any L6, but if it seems like a good steel to you I will get some and test it out.  My understanding of the L series steels is that they have lead in the alloys to facilitate machining processes.  It has always seemed to me to be an undesirable ingredient for my forgings.  I might do well with something like 1095 or other simple carbon steels.  I once made a carving knife from an old hollow ground planing blade for a circular saw.  It was OUTSTANDING!  I understand that such blades are usually made of something like O1 steel with an additive to increase abrasion resistance.  

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L series is low alloy not lead

Think of L6 as a 1075 with 5160s amount of chrome and 1.75 nickel.  If you use a Crucible melt add .0.30 moly

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Inflexibility often correlates with brittleness especially in very thin cross sections.  I would not like to be putting a lot of pressure on a thin sharp rigid blade..takes me longer to heal these days.

L6 has some inherent flexibility so may not suit your preferences. It's been used a lot in large bandsaw blades.

The L means different things for different classes of alloys; there are leaded alloys for machining, low alloy steel alloys and even low carbon for stainless alloys. It's a good idea to check what it means for a specific alloy.

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Aha!  Thanks Steve, I live and learn!

Aha!  Thanks Thomas... some times I learn more stuff right away!  This is a great forum!

BTW Thomas, no great amount of pressure will likely ever be applied to these blades.  Mostly they just whisper off fine shavings.  Reasonable stiffness is for extreme control rather than for heavy work.  I try to come off the knife with a spoon that will need extremely little sanding... or none at all.  Chatter or digging in is BAD.  See through shavings are GOOD!

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For future readers of this thread, "blue paper steel" and "white paper steel" are both made by Hitachi Corporation and both named for the color of the paper wrapping. White paper steel is a simple carbon steel with very few impurities (sulfur, etc). Blue paper steel is very similar, but contains some additional chromium and tungsten for carbide formation and edge retention; there is also a "Super" grade that contains vanadium for wear resistance.

White paper steel is basically a modern version of the classic tamahagane steel, while blue paper steel is white paper steel with additional alloying elements for higher performance. Both come in different grades, with a lower number denoting a higher carbon content. 

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Thank you for the information. If anybody is looking up heat treat info, [it is available on the Hitachi website].

[Commercial link removed would have been better to just tell us the unfirmation]

There is also info for aogami 1 and aogami super under the "YSS" tab on the left.

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This unassuming thread has turned out to be real gold for me!  Thank you JHCC and J.P. Hall!  Thanks to everyone contributing!  I have learned quite a bit!  I hope I can put the knowledge to good use!  I am grateful to be part of this community!

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Heat treat info for Aogami 2 from Hitachi's site:

Standard Heat Treatment temperature ( centigrade )

Annealing 750-780 Slow cooling
Quenching 780- 830 Water cooling (Oil cooling)
Tempering 160-230 Air-cooling
Delivery hardness ( HBW ) 229 or under
Hardening hardness ( HRC )

60 over

Aogami 1:

Annealing 750-780 Slow cooling
Quenching 780- 830 Water cooling (Oil cooling)
Tempering 160-230 Air-cooling
Delivery hardness ( HBW ) 229 or under
Hardening hardness ( HRC ) 60 over

 

Aogami Super:

Annealing 750-780 Slow cooling
Quenching 780- 830 Water cooling (Oil cooling)
Tempering 160-230 Air-cooling
Delivery hardness ( HBW ) 229 or under
Hardening hardness ( HRC ) 60 over

 

All identical heat treat schedules per the manufacturer. These do seem fairly loose. Having only a minimum hardened HRC, and as "low" as 60 given their reputation is interesting, although I'm used to Kevin Cashen's heat treat info for common steels on his site. I believe "slow cooling" is a fairly technical term.

 

That said, I only have a gas forge available to heat treat so this is plenty of information for me, should I ever get some of this in my hands. I am curious of a few things: Is there a minimum forging temp? Is there an optimal normalizing temp that isn't the annealing or quenching temp? And is the listed quenching temp ideal for all three? The spec for carbon content is a .1% range for each, but it varies  between varieties. Super is 1.4-1.5% and 1 is 1.25-1.35% Between this and alloying elements, I'd imagine that some of the temperatures would vary at least slightly. Although, they may operate under a totally different model. Since they cater heavily  to domestic knifemakers and toolmakers, I wonder if they just manufacture to tight and consistent specs, and leave the heat treat to the customers. If most of these steel go to that sort of user, I can understand not needing heat treat info as detailed as what other industries would require.

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