Andrew Golabek

First attempt at making crucible steel

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Today I was successful at melting down some old bandsaw blades, and drill bits along with some old pieces from knife testing, in my propane furnace! Got a small lump of steel, have yet to check it in anyway for carbon, but this is the first step! Any suggestions on how to proceed? Keep in mind I do not have a forging press or power hammer.

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I spark tested it today, and polished up the bottom face to check if there is any visible porosity. Unfortunately my camera didn’t focus well during the spark test, but I’ll describe it;

The sparks were dark red, and very short without any visible branching. I compared it to o1, and mild steel which both sparked xxxxxxx a lot more. Then compared to a high speed steel drill bit, which had quite similar sparks however the crucible steel had slightly shorter ones, and less.

current thoughts are; due to the saw blades and drill bits used to make the steel, and the other scrap metal/forge scale, it has a relatively high tungsten and molybdenum content, and a medium carbon content. Perhaps the carbon content is slightly low but I’m not sure since it was mostly high carbon steel as input and it was melted under reducing conditions the whole time with a thick layer of charcoal covering, and glass. 

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When I start forging it into a billet should I forge it making the top and bottom the ends of the billet, or should I forge it from the sides? I was thinking from the sides since it has one side which is not very smooth due to a piece of trapped charcoal

and if one way is preferable, why?

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I haven't done this before, so I cannot provide any useful advice. I am interested in seeing what you accomplish with the steel, though. 

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If you haven't already done so I suggest reading through this topic and perhaps contacting Daniel C for some guidance.

 

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I’m going to either remelt this one and add some mild steel as the carbon content seems too high (it starts to crumble quite easily)  or just start from other materials, as the hardness at temp is very high. 

Other options are; make some new tongs and be very patient forging it out ( I don’t have a press/power hammer) 

i was attempting to hot cut it in half, and a corner just came off.

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If the drill bits or other items you used were made of high speed steel it's not surprising that your puck would remain hard at high temperatures.  Since I've never attempted what you're doing I have no firsthand knowledge, but based on what I've seen here and other places the initial shaping of the puck needs fairly tightly controlled temperatures and relatively gentle persuasion to keep everything together until the steel has been worked for a while.

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I know that Pendray mentioned thermal cycling to produced a decarbed shell around  wootz pucks to help hold it together during the early stages of forging. I was standing right next to him when he said it---I volunteered to be his assistant when he demo'd at Quad-State one year. He was demoing welding chevrons of pattern welding and wootz to make a blade like a historical one did that way.  Very impressive and very tricky!

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The crumbling isnt necessarily a too high carbon issue. Your issue is not knowing carbon content and not knowing proper temps to work it at.

Thermal cycling is good for diffusion. It creates a shell so to speak, but it benefits the pattern as well....if you can get to a pattern :ph34r:

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His point was that hIgh alloy can be forged IF at the correct temps

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On 6/19/2019 at 5:14 PM, Andrew Golabek said:

It is definitely not because of the incorrect forging temperatures, but rather the high alloy content

High alloy crucible steel is properly forged all the time. For instance stainless crucible steel with really high Cr content. Typically those flavors have other alloys such as nickle in them as well.

If it wasnt incorrect forging temps, what is your estimated carbon content and what temps was this forged at?

On 6/19/2019 at 5:14 PM, Andrew Golabek said:

It is definitely not because of the incorrect forging temperatures, but rather the high alloy content

And why the definitive statement if this is your first attempt?

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