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I Forge Iron

Ball bearings for knife making??


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I think 3" bearing could have lots of great uses to the extent that it would be kind of a waste to use them for knives. Good steel, so I've heard, but you would have a heck of a lot of forging to get a knife, a heck of a lot, as compared to forging a file into a knife.

There could be other considerations though.

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It is best to anneal ball bearings prior to forging. Heat to a bright read heat then put them in a bucket of ashes or vermiculite to cool over night. I hear lime works good also. They can shatter when your forge them if you don't anneal them first.

For a 3 inch ball bearing you better have a power hammer or a strong arm. I have some 2 inch tall 2 inch diameter roller bearings and it takes one heck of a lot of pounding to get them into a bar for knives by hand. Also 52100 is difficult to work with, it is easy to stress crack it by hammering it too cold.

Some bearing races are 52100 also but some are case hardened mild steel. Easiest way to check is to grind a spot with a belt sander or angle grinder then try to file that spot. If it is case hardened you will be able to cut the spot easily with a file because the hardened area has been ground away.

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I am the machine shop supervisor in a factory that makes roller bearings. Really big ones. Most of our races and rollers are made of 52100. These are typically through hardened. Many, if not all, of our tapered bearings are made of 3310 and 4320, and case hardened to a depth of around .100".

I have a pretty limitless supply of 52100 scrap, and can attest to the fact that it is difficult to work with. You will want to anneal any rollers or balls that you have scavenged.

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YOU can buy 52100 steel from some of the knife material suppliers in shapes and sizes suitable for making knives. Why spend the extra time beating on a large ball or roller bearing..Three inches diameter would be a challenge size wise for my 50# little giant. Before I could beat it into a bar I could take a new piece of bar stock and have it forged or ground and into the heat treating process .

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