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I Forge Iron

tips for forging 440 stainless


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The best tip for any of the carbon stainless series is to grind profile and shapes and send out to a profeesional for heat treat. They do not lend well to forgeing unless you have a lot of experience witht hme. After forgeing,( I did not expect this to prevent you from forgeing) Grind the blade clean and check it really close for cracks. Use some kinf of magification to examine. Another test is to hold the blade lightly near your ear and tap it with a piece of meteal, listen for a ring, if it has a dull sound it has cracked. Will only work if you have removed all scale. Cracks are fatal to the blade. The other problem is heat treat. Suggested heat treat is bring up to 1500f for one hour then raise temp to 1950 for one hour air quench at room temp then cryo treat at -100 for one hour two times. This procedure does challenge most shops. There are folks that forge this stell and oil quench. You may be one of them I am not and I go with sending them out, Mos of my knives are stainless and I am comfortable with how they leave my shop.
The last 440C ran me about a buck an inch. Pretty hard for me to practice new skills on that price metal. I hope you have no problems,,, enjoy.

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This HT problem is the main reason $50 to $150 swords made of 440 SS are junk, because there is NO way they can be Heat Treated and sold for any profit at those prices. therefore logic dictates they are not heat treated properly if at all. Also lending a bad name to SS for blades, Not because of the material itself, but they way it has been (mis)used to make blades

I have forged 440C and I advise you to take it easy. do NOT rush the moving of the metal, nor thermal cycle, and allow to cool in the hot box, rather than air between forging sessions. and you will have a good start.

Unless you have the HT setup already, Listen to Rich Hale and hire that out for the best result.

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This is gona sound like a smart-ellic, but my suggestion is don't forge it. I spent nearly two years of the Bladesmithing career forging stainless steels. Nothing I found made me believe it was viable, and many things I found speak against it. The forging temp ranges for stainless steels are very narrow, and very specific to each type. Most are only a couple hundred degrees. Striking the steel above or below the proper temps will cause cracking or crumbling.

Nearly all of the stainless steels are going to require you to have a computer controlled heat treating oven to achieve a good heat treat. Even with all that, it has been my experience that most stainless steels simply will not exhibit the same levels of toughness, and durability as carbon or simple alloy steels. That's not knocking anyone who uses stainless steels, just my opinion, based on 25 years of knifemaking experience.

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Hello All....Hope no oner minds a comment or two from someone who does this on a semi regular basis..

First, to Steve: I dunno if you are aware that the "440" stainless used in the el cheapo "sam-mary" swords and other SLO's (sword like objects) are 440A... NOT a steel suited for cutting anything other than hot butter in my eyes... It is cheap, and you are right they usually are NOT heat treated very well.

Allot 440C was for decades one the "standrd alloys" used in custom knives, and it can be forged IF, like Ed C said you are very careful as the working ranges are quite narrow and a little to far one way or another and you can ruin it. Heat treating can be a bit of a pita but it can be done. It is a hassle but if you want quick and easy, send it out to be done.

While it can make a great knife, it doesn't matter if it is forged or not. I hot work almost everything (heck..I even welded up a blade using Stellite 6K ONCE..never do it again for various reasons..) I do because it allows me more blades per bar of material, and a lot more "artistic freedom" than just grinding to shape.. The Venerable Mr R. Engnath (may he walk with God) and I would get into each other's heads about forging vs grinding on a regular basis..

Thermal treatment is more important than anything else when it comes to cutting. If it's dead on perfect it will cut and cut..if it's a botch job, it won't perform. It's that simple.

Now if you want to see the difference between the way it moves and responds to the hammer..great.. if you want to give it a serious go and making a decent knife, then I would have to ask the following question..How many knives have you forged and from what materials?? Once you answer that, I can give you some tips.

Hope this helps and that no one mind the ramblings of a demented desert rat..


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If by regular steel you mean mild steel ,, mild steel has nothing to add to a blade. It is not meant for the things we want a blade to do. If you mean a carbon steel that is meant for knves and not stainless. I have nto welded that with 440C. Nor would I as the problems mentioned in the above posts would be problems in the billet. Cracks, difficulty in heat treat etc. I believe JPH has welded stainless billets and a few others on here have also. But it is not for the weak of heart or newcomer to the game. If you want to learn knife making get some basic knife making carbon steel and a good book. Also check with the bp on heat treating in the files. Nice steels include 1084, 1095 and 5160. They are easy to work and heat treat is doable at home with a forge.

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