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Alright so I can tell the difference between high carbon steel and mild steel via the spark test, but I still don't understand how to tell what type of steel alloy you have (example: 5160, or W1, etc)

Also what two steel alloys should I use to get the most visible damascus pattern? And why they make the most visible pattern (I'm told a high carbon steel mixed with a steel that has a lot of nickel in it)

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there is a area in the knife making section that has covered all of this, I suggest you take a little time and read what is posted already rather than reinvent the wheel

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Well real wrought iron with close to zero % carbon makes a great pattern with pure nickel---He didn't say he wanted to make knives from it!

To tell the exact alloy you need to pay big bucks to have it professionally tested.  Cheaper by far to buy new known steel! Now you can sometimes guess by knowing what it had been used for and what alloys are usually for those things---but it's just a guess.

If I was cheap and isolated I would use bandsaw blades---for the nickel content and old files for the plain high carbon.  When I do BSB & PS for blades I test the pallet strapping by heating, quenching and hammering.  If it snaps easily it has some carbon content and so less likely to drag down the end billet's carbon content as much.

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never said he had to make knives, I said the information is there already, not the same thing

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Most stainless steels won't hold an edge worth a darn!  Doesn't take much to make a plain steel alloy that will hold an edge, takes more to come up with a stainless one that will.

May I commend 15N20 to your attention: 0.88% carbon, 0.40% manganese, 2.0% nickel

Forge welding stainless is not suggested for starting out  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve, I know you didn't; just trying to remind folks that pattern welded does not mean blade steel! Some very nice examples in "Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork".  If I get power to my shop and my new to me triphammer on line maybe I can finish my pattern welded spangen helm project!  (Another one that annoys me is when people equate "crucible steel" with "wootz" when most crucible steel even that used for blades was NOT wootz steel!  Dr Feuerbach mentions this quite clearly in her Thesis...)

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Well my problem is I can't buy known steel I just have a big shop that has a table full of rusty tools that I scrap such as pry bars and files, so I would like to know what common tools or things have nickel in it but also can hold an edge.

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I read all of those but I never found anything on making damascus with mystery steels so what I think Im going to do i make a billet from wrought iron and nickel to make a block of damascus but then save up so I can buy steels that I know will make good damascus knife

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Sorry, but from above the “BSB” is band saw blades and the “PS” is pallet strapping. They’re generally pretty easy to find.

The is an enormous amount of information in this site, but you may find members will push you to read through it. It’s a very good experience! I found myself reading posts for months before I ever signed up and posted. I can’t believe how much I learned. Don’t get frustrated, once you get a little more information ingested, you get answers that are more fulfilling. The guys just get tired answering the same question every couple days.

David

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Your best bet for starting out is going to go with the tried and true (and easy to heat treat) 1084/15N20 combination.  If you can't get 1084, 1080 will also do.

Note that these are certainly not stainless, though the nickel content of 15N20 will make it more corrosion resistant.

Note also that Steve's comment is accurate regarding mystery steel.  It typically is somewhat of a false economy to use it as you need to perform a lot of testing to ensure you will get acceptable results.  The cost in fuel, time, abrasives... will generally not be worth it unless you have a regular supply of the same steel down the road (which is unusual for mystery steel).

Finally, if you have a good source of wrought iron I'm sure you can get someone to trade for some simple 1084 steel.  It is pretty rare though, so I doubt you have it just lying around on your old tool bench.

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Please review the difference between "wrought iron" the material used 100+ years ago and Wrought Iron items made from mild steel or A-36 in recent times.  So Wrought Iron Fences made today are made from A-36 and not wrought iron.  Wrought iron fences made 150 years ago were made from real wrought iron.

I hate to break your bubble but we have had 11 year old kids here that were quite good smiths and have managed to sell stuff and buy fancier tools. Money made in high school may be the freest money you may ever see. When I was in high school if I mowed a lawn or shoveled snow or helped clean out a garage---all that money was *mine*.  Nowadays if I make any money I have to pay taxes, pay for food, pay for housing, pay for utilities, pay for my pickup and it's gas and upkeep, buy my wife fiber and spinning wheels, etc.  It might behoove you to sit down and make a plan as to stuff you want to buy and own before you are out on your own. (One suggestion; make sure it's easily movable, I've lost count of how many times I moved between 18 and 30!

I was lucky as when I was in High School my parents would give me tools for Christmas and Birthdays; so I stared out with wrenches, sockets, a good drill, etc---even took it to college with me. (A lot of my dormates made fun of me for that but by the end of the school year, *everyone* of them had borrowed at least one tool from me to use at college!)

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Thanks right now I'm saving up for a propane forge then a scroll saw and eventually a press I make around 40 dollars a week but my dad makes me put half of it towards college plus I also hope to pay for some blade smith classes but unfortunately most of the classes around me are all stock removal knife making. 

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Good to have a plan; I have a friend out here that was living on the financial edge for a long while;  my wife tutored him on making and sticking to a budget and he's now talking about paying off his house and paid  cash for a 50# little giant powerhammer.

Remember that after you forge you will still need to heat treat, grind and hilt the knives so the classes may still be worth it.  Of course there is the ABS school in Texarkana...(American Bladesmith Society)

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I would forget about a scroll saw and press for a while.  Scroll saw has pretty limited use for smithing or blade making and any press worth smithing with will run you over $2K.  You would likely be better off with a HF portable bandsaw (and some good blades), 4 1/2" angle grinder (get the one with the paddle switch), a 1 x 30 belt grinder, PPE, and  some quality abrasive belts.

Learning stock removal is on the critical path to being a knife maker, whether you eventually forge your blades or not.  Well worth the time to take a good class.  Of course it will make you want to save up for a decent belt grinder and abrasive belts, but so it goes.

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I'm going to drive with my mom to Indiana to attend a 2 day knife making class for 300 dollars

Also this guy in St Louis is willing to give me his bench grinder for free as long as we come and pick it up

and the the scroll saw is for wood working because for my moms birthday I carved/painted a picture of her horse and she showed her friends and they want one and will pay me (idk how much)

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15 hours ago, Jaegers Forge and Foundry said:

Well my problem is I can't buy known steel I just have a big shop that has a table full of rusty tools that I scrap such as pry bars and files, so I would like to know what common tools or things have nickel in it but also can hold an edge.

I know you're in high school but you're going to have to come to a few real world choices and understandings. As Steve said, mystery steel is always a mystery. To elaborate: I have a company that makes X widget and we've been using steel E for a typical production run, although when we first started, we did some in A, B, C and D (and they all made it out to customers) until we settled on E for our application. Then one day we found a one time super deal from a supplier on steel F, definitely not the same as E but we can make it perform the same way in widget X's application because our widget doesn't need to worry about things like wear resistance or edge retention. Etc etc.. this is scenario happens often. I can make killer high performance springs out of both 4140 and 1095, but I can't make a decent knife out of 4140 and I wouldn't use 1095 for a roll cage in a race car. 

So you can see the sausage, you just aren't going to know how it's made. Companies have a reason to keep their materials a secret. Firstly, they can change it up for any reason they wish. Secondly, it stops their competitors from copying them outright. 

Now, instead of making something lame like knives or pattern welded steel, why not learn the forging techniques behind everything? Sounds like you've got some scrap that's just a mystery, so learn how to draw, taper, punch an eye, make tongs, try your hand at some useful hooks, there's a ton of stuff your future shop will need and the first thing on that list is actual skills at blacksmithing, not mystery steel guessing or a laughable attempt at Damascus because you don't know what you're actually doing with a hammer. 

I'm not saying any of this to put you down or dissuade you from trying, but in life first we hold our heads up, then we learn how to sit, then crawl, toddle, walk, run --- after all that, if we've got the skill for it, then we jump the hurdles. There's no difference with blacksmithing. 

There's plenty of kids that have gotten mom or dad to help them in designing a charcoal or coal forge that won't burn down the property (if it does, you'll be glad you asked for help because they'll share the blame lol) done it very well and without costing an arm and a leg. When you understand how it's made because you built it, you'll understand better how to fix it when it breaks. Learn how to use it, improvise an anvil, start pounding out some metal. Worry about the gas forges and and fancy stuff later down the road. It's a long road anyway with some great scenery, take your time and enjoy the journey.

-J

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Is that class at Conner Prairie?  Did you look into the ABS classes? 

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No but I'll look at ABS classes

I found one in ohio thats an abs class for 250

but it doesn't say if its closed due to the coronavirus

nope they all are I think I'm just going to wait till classes in kansas city open up

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If you get a chance to get out to Ohio you really should try to attend a Quad-State Blacksmiths Roundup in Troy Ohio in late September.

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