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Hammer head by Daido YK-30?!


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Using YK30, is it possible to reach 55 ~ 58 HRC with 2 cycles at 220°C by only extending each cycle time? 

No, I am not crazy. 

Long story short: here in Taiwan is almost impossible to find AISI 1060 or similar.

Well, you do have options actually, but nothing that could be handle with a simple coke forge and a home oven. 

I live in a rural area and the only thing I can get here is Daido YK30. Daido says it's similar to O2, tho I dont know what did they smoke because it looks pretty different to me. I can't refer at O2 sheets for heat treatment...

I have to choose between 1045 and YK30. I already had experience with 1045 and meanwhile I found it very good for hardies I don't like it when it comes to hammer heads. So YK30 it is.

I want an hammer with head surface between 55 ~ 58 HRC after tempering. 

I made a knife with it first, just to test it. 

2 temper cycles 220°C x 1hr each. 

I don't have a durometer, I can only make a guess on its edge retention but I can tell this thing here is nothing under 60HRC. 

Now, since I can only rely on my home oven (when my wife is out) I can temper at max. 220°C. 

Online I can only find this chart that I attach here FYR. 

Please don't tell me that I need to find another steel or get myself a real HT oven for good... I wish I could. 

For now I just gotta deal with a small home oven and plenty of YK30. 

Thank you deeply, in advance for your attention and time. 


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When tempering the few hammers I have made, I:

  1. Clean up the faces of the hammer
  2. Heat up a piece of scrap steel that is roughly the same size as the hammer eye.
  3. Place the hammer on the hot steel and let the heat soak through the hammer from the eye out to the faces.

This usually takes several heats of the scrap steel to bring the faces to a purple (~280C)

This technique is called differential tempering and will keep you from getting in trouble with your wife for using the oven ;)

If knowing the hardness is critical for you, are you able to purchase a set of hardness testing files? They usually come in a range from 40-65 HRC depending on the set.


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Ahah yep, I read about differential tempering somewhere in the forum, it seems a reasonable alternative to oven. 

I still prefer oven treatment, but in my case I can't even call it a "oven", so yeah... I will consider differential tempering. Thanks!


38 minutes ago, Frazer said:

If knowing the hardness is critical for you, are you able to purchase a set of hardness testing files? They usually come in a range from 40-65 HRC depending on the set.


I didn't know such files existed! I just had a quick view on Amazon: way cheaper than durometers, thanks!!

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Posted (edited)

Aaaaah Thomas... Well said indeed! Thanks!

Actually I thought about it too. Tho I never made something with axles. 

With zero experience I can't help but feel a little awkward not knowing for sure what steel I am going to work with.

But most important I did't notice any car junkyard in my area so far.

Anyways, if I manage to find one I will give these axles a shot for sure.

Edited by Mod30
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Find an auto mechanic, preferably a small shop with only a couple of people working on cars and ask about getting the next axle they throw out.  "Get It From The Source" works well in areas where scrapyards are few and often strictly controlled.

Another way to hunt for alloy steels is to ask small machine shops if they have any "drops" you can buy. The left overs from other paid projects can sometimes be bought quite reasonably and in smaller quantities.

I've found a couple of very large axles at my scrapyard that came from large trucks and would make hammers with no upsetting or other tricks. Of course I live in a rural area with a history of mining and my local small scrapyard run by a family allows free access; here's a picture of a friend of my dragging a heavy chunk of railroad rail up to the scales---20 USCents a pound!


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I have used 1045 on a number of smithing hammer builds and been quite happy with the results.  I quench in water, large volume and strong agitation.  Sometimes I snap temper in a cheap, throw away toaster oven.  Other times I have differentially tempered using either a heated eye mandrel or oxy-acetylene torch (work from the eye out to the faces, just like Fraiser mentioned).

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From what I can find, the alloy content of YK30 steel is C: 1.05, Cr: 0.50, Ni: 0.25, Mn: 1.00, Si: 0.40, P: 0.03. YK30 does not appear to have content numbers for S, Mo, or V.

By comparison, the alloy content of O2 is C: 0.85-0.95, Cr: 0.50 or less, no Ni, Mn: 1.40-1.80, Si: 0.50 or less, P: 0.03 max, S: 0.030 max, Mo: 0.30 or less, V: 0.30 or less

In sum, this means that YK30 is slightly higher in Carbon, slightly lower in Manganese and Silicon, has the same amount of Chromium, contains a small amount of Nickel that's not present in O2, and does not contain (or at least is not measured for) Sulfur, Molybdenum, or Vanadium.

As far as hardness goes, the great Frank Turley commented a while back:


My home made hammers have been of old axle steel, medium carbon, hardened in water and tempered to dark straw, 465F...at the "hard" end of the heat rainbow.


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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Woops, sorry for the omission :P

Then ladies and gentlemen, here it comes the update. 

Finding an axle nearby is almost impossible. I mean I know there should be a place so full of axles that mechanics gotta dive into them to work. I just haven't find it yet. 

Good news is that I found a 1050 supplier instead, that gave me cutted scraps for free B)

This is the result. My first hammer... not the state of art but as first shot could be worse.  

It's a 400g flat wedged thing for tweaking small blades, it'll come handy. 

Thanks Frazer for the hardness test files suggestion, they work great and so I discovered that 1050 can be cooked out just as hard as I wanted :D



Edited by Mod30
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Good Morning,

1045-1050 is commonly used for shafts in machinery as well as most car/truck axles. The eye MUST be soft and the corners of the handle hole MUST be radiused. You will find that the square face that you have, will leave marks in your work from the outer edges. The joys of learning are what teaches you what and what-not, that works well and the reason for/against. It is your hammer and you can make it how you want it. The good part is, you can change it at any time.

Ask a number of Truck Drivers "Where do you find truck parts?" and/or "Who does your truck repairs?". This will get you a location of available scrap parts. Any steering or suspension part will be made from something similar to 1045 (they have to survive severe road conditions without breaking, yet can be hardened).

You have created a nice starting point with your Cutler/Sawyer Hammer. Enjoy the journey!!


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Glad I could help. Nice job! And you found some free 1050 as well? You'll make a fine blacksmith yet!

I agree with Neil about the eye and dressing the face a little bit, but you can make those modifications as you see fit. I actually like having a couple light hammers around. I think the smallest one I have is a steeled wrought Iron hammer weighing 225g. It was the first hammer I ever made.

I'm looking forward to seeing the next one!




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Nice hammer. I'm sure you'll get plenty of use out of it. I have a couple of smaller dogsheadish type hammers and I like them a lot. The small face moves metal nicely. Heres a picture of the smallest of the two. 



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Nice hammer Pnut!


Thanks for the support everyone!

Yep, this thing here will benefit from a better transition and a softer eye indeed. I will tweak it up as soon as I get a chance.


On 8/20/2021 at 5:07 PM, swedefiddle said:

The good part is, you can change it at any time.



swedefiddle, true story! That's exactly what I like the most about blacksmithing and in general metal carpentry.

But for the car axles hunting part... I dunno, my Chinese sucks and so far I didn't find local mechanics particularly ...collaborative :D

I'll keep on looking and asking around anyways, worst scenario I will have to drive to the nearest big city, nothing impossible.


Thanks again for all the support folks!

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