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TruebloodLowery

Please help identify this material

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Hello, I would like to use this item to form the butt, cheek, and eye of an axe.  I have attached a picture of the item and a video of a spark test.  A little bit of research leads me to believe it is composed of medium carbon steel.  Would anyone please help me correctly identify the material?  Thanks so much in advance!

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Welcome aboard... Have you read this?  READ THIS FIRST   It will help you to get the best out of the forum. Your video doesn't play well enough for me to ID the sparks. Have you tried searching for one of the many threads about spark testing. I did a quick search that is suggested in the Read This First thread and this thread came up along with a half dozen or so about the subject.

 

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Hello and Thanks for the welcome.  I did read that first, and I also read a file about Metallurgy that was linked as a resource on this website.  The sparks appear a golden yellowish color and are roughly 6 inches in length, with either "sprigs" or "forks" at the end.  I am fairly new to blacksmithing in general, so I wanted to ask some more experienced folk.  Based on the chart you linked, it could possibly be a form of cast iron.  I didn't want to waste the item if it is not suitable material for an axe.  Thanks again for your help!

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You might want to edit your profile to show your location because so many answers depend upon where in the world you are located. Different locations/countries use different steel when making tools. From the mushrooming on the hit end of that wedge, I doubt it is cast iron. Most tools made to be struck are not made from high carbon steel, in my experience at least. I have seen wedges made from wrought iron up to steel like 4140 but it's hard to tell from what I can see. I would forge the end down into a tile, quench it in water to check with a file for hardness and do a break test to look at the grain.

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Good Morning,

It looks like an old Logging Wedge, Falling Wedge. It could be made from anything that was handy. It will have lots of tiny cracks in the striking end. Any of the curled edge can become a projectile and cause HUGE health risk.

Neil

 

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So no that is NOT a cast iron spark spray; I've had trouble differentiating sometimes between Wrought Iron and Cast iron, (and HSS); but the bursts are definitely a steel on that one.

Now what are you wanting for you axe?  Wrought Iron body/steeled bit, Mild steel body/steeled bit, Medium C body/steeled bit, All High C.

I'll figure you know enough to cut off the top part to remove any cracks that might be in there.

Now to "correctly identify" it you will need to send it out for testing; usually more expensive than buying known steel.

If you plan to steel the bit; it doesn't matter so much what the body is save that you would like it to be lower C/tougher than the bit so heat treating is easier.

Finally what not try it and see?  If this is your first try you are not expecting perfection are you?

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Thanks for the heads up swedefiddle.  I did a bit more careful grinding and you’re correct about it having many cracks in the mushroomed area.  I will be sure to get that top area cleaned up to prevent projectiles.

ThomasPowers, my main concern was whether it would be suitable material (I’m wanting a tough material that is not brittle) to form the head of the axe.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that wrought iron or cast iron would not be as good as mild steel for those properties.  

So, I suppose I don’t “need” to know the exact material.  I did want to ask around and learn though.  I’ve seen high carbon steel sparks and this was definitely different. 

I plan to use a 5160 bit and forge weld it to this steel.  It’s my first axe, but I have made small tomahawks with this method and they turned out ok.  If it fails, then oh well.  I can try again.  You’re right, I’m not expecting perfection haha.  

Thanks for your responses!

 

 

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Cast Iron is right out!  However real wrought iron has been used for that purpose for a millennia+; but it is not as good a choice for toughness as a good clean modern mild or medium carbon steel. For doing historical replicas WI is the correct choice for most of the last 1000+ years

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My take on this would be that it is not cast iron, that is inappropriate for a struck object and would have not mushroomed at the struck end.

You could try heating above critical and then quenching the edge and testing it with a file to see if it will harden, you can then continue to make a qualified decision on what is needed for the edge you require.

If you want to put a steeled edge on then you can do so, or maybe you just want to try that for practice.

Whatever you choose, enjoy and let's see the end result.

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Just a quick update.  I believe that I purchased this at an antique store in the Southeastern corner of Indiana, where I used to live.  (I have updated my current location to Washington State).  First, I annealed the piece.  Then, I removed the mushroomed edges and cracked areas.  While cleaning it up with the wire wheel, I noticed there appears to be a stamp of some sort.  The letters " O, W, E, and R" seem visible, as well as a possible Spade symbol before it?  I'm not sure what to make of that.  I've attached a picture.  My only possible solution is that it could have been passed down to me from my grandfather (our last name is Lowery), who gave me many of his tools and odd bits of metal.  If that's the case, then I did not purchase it at the antique store (where I bought several old tools and bits of metal).  He grew up in the northern Kentucky area, so it was possibly used there.

I've decided to go ahead and try to use it as the base for an axe.  I plan to forge weld a bit of 5160 steel for the edge, after it's shaped up.  I'll post some updates when I've made some progress- currently working on another piece that just finished tempering.

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Hi Trueblood! I have no idea about your metal but I caught your name! My mom’s maiden name was Lowrey, I know it is spelled at least three different ways. Her Cherokee family is from north east oklahoma. I guess it doesn’t matter but just thought I’d bring it up!!

 

Bill D. 

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Before you make you axe out of that I would recommend making a test sample out of a small piece and see how it hardens. If it hardens with oil that could change how you heat treat and temper the final axe.

Just my two cents:)

David

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Hi Lazyassforge/ Bill, thanks for sharing!  I’m very interested in my heritage, so the more I learn the better. 

Goods, I will do a test sample and see what happens.  Someone above also recommended a break test to see the grain structure, which I’ll also do.  I’ll post the results when I get the tests done.

 

 

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I removed a portion of the item, heated just above critical temperature (checked with a magnet), and quenched it.  It hardened up and skated a file quite nicely.  My next question before doing a break test is, should I temper it?  I think that if I temper it, it will be a lot harder to break.  Also, I'm not sure if tempering has any impact on the grain structure or not.  If I do temper before doing the break test, I'll get a better idea of how the material will behave when I use it.  Any help is again greatly appreciated!

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Good Morning TBL,

The reason you have been asked to harden it and break test it, is to see which medium is best to use for hardening. Harden your minimum of 3, sample pieces with water, oil and air. You have to break each piece in exactly the same way. Depending on how it broke, will answer your question as to what to use, to harden it.

Hardening makes sample pieces hard like Glass, Tempering takes the brittleness out and makes it tougher (softer, not harder). This is a new language for you.

Enjoy the experiment, wear your safety gear, break going away from you, to stay out of the line of fire of the bullets.

Neil

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If you search: improving heat treating bamsite.  You will find a very informative free PDF about break testing. I can't seem to save a link to the PDF or I would just post that. 

Pnut

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Thanks. I saved the post to my clipboard. 

Pnut

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Thanks for linking the information about the break test.  I read through it and the test was a success (i think).  After quenching in oil, I let it cool to the touch and tempered at 425 F for two hours.  It was a dark blueish color after tempering.  I then took it out to break it.  It  bent over a lot (exhibited ductile failure), and took probably 10-15 hard hits from my hammer (not my good forging hammer) before a crack formed.  I've attached some pictures.  Sorry I couldn't get a better quality picture of the grain structure.  The color on the inside of the material is much lighter than I expected, but I have never done a break test before.  Overall, I think this is what I want from the material for an axe.

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