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Resource for Heat Treating Knife Metals

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Marc Cooper, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. Marc Cooper

    Marc Cooper

    Apr 7, 2019
    I've been doing a lot of reading behind the science of heat treating metals. In fact, I find the subject fascinating.

    My problem however, is where the "rubber meets the road" in Knife Making. Everywhere I look I find somewhat different advise on annealing, hardening and tempering metals like 440C, NitroV, CPM154 and AEB-L.

    Is there a one-stop resource, like a book or website which would give me generally accepted steps for annealing, hardening and tempering? Any info would be helpful.
  2. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    The ASM Heat Teeater's guide is a good staring place.

    Alpha Kni8fe Supply has excellent HT info specific to blades.
  3. kmf600


    Jul 2, 2018
    A quick Google search shows there is an app, for the ASM guide, have you tried it?
  4. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    You need to go the steel manufacturer's website and view the datasheet for the given steel.

    In the case of AEB-L they don't have a great datasheet easily available. Sandvik's hardening guide for 13C26 is better: https://www.materials.sandvik/en-us...ife-steel/hardening-guide/hardening-programs/ Or you can use this guide to heat treating AEB-L: https://knifesteelnerds.com/2019/03/04/all-about-aeb-l/

    There was a Nitro-V datasheet but I believe it has been superseded by a newer recommended heat treatment.
  5. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    I don't wear goggles anymore. I wear a full face shield.
    What is an app? Is it a page you put in the back of your ASM book to update the contents? Is App short for appendix?
    JTknives, kmf600 and Keith Nix like this.
  6. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    Not sure if this is an actual question, but I think (emphasis on the word 'think' because I use my phone pretty much only for communicating with people and have yet to add an App to it) he's referring to a program (application?, appliance?) you download to your phone or other mobile device.
  7. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    make sure you take your advice from reputable sources. for instance if you look at knife groups on facebook i have seen people advising what type of transmission fluid to use for quenching cpm-154 lol.
    Busto and tkroenlein like this.
  8. Rsq

    Rsq Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 7, 2011
    First learn to read CCT (continuous cooling transformation) and TTT (or isothermal transformation) diagrams. Then look at different manufacturer's datasheets and study the CCT diagrams they publish. You will find the most reliable information you need in that one place, then you can start playing with parameters (starting with austenization temperature, then tempering times and temperatures, then the effect of subzero treatments on the tempering temperatures and times, since they change with and without cryo for some steels). A problem you will find is that many steels have different "correct" heat treats depending on their intended use, so the only way to really determine the best heat treat is to go off this type of data, pick a target based on the desired microstructure, and see how closely you can replicate it with your equipment.

    Other knifemakers' experiences will be invaluable and surely give you a better place to start than the manufacturer's datasheet, but in order to fully understand what they are doing, why they differ from manufacturer recommendations, and why it works for their purpose, you should still start by absorbing transformation diagrams.

    Larrin, who humbly posted above without linking you to the article on his site that I would send you to, has a lot of good information presented on his knifesteelnerds site. If you haven't already absorbed that, it's a great place to start.
  9. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    OK. So, you stick it on your rotary desk phone sort of like a travel sticker? What does it do for you after that?

    You guys know I'm just joshing ...but I don't do "Apps".
  10. Storm W

    Storm W

    Feb 19, 2019
    Stacy is feeling spicy today.
  11. NickBoyle


    Oct 9, 2015
    Don’t worry Stacey, there’s an app for that.
    ten-six likes this.
  12. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    The App has most of the text of the heat treater's guide which includes compositions and recommended temperature ranges. It is missing all of the charts and images which are probably more useful. The Heat Treater's Guide also doesn't have information for proprietary grades which is most anything made after about 1970, maybe a few years earlier. Many knife steel grades are not included. Grades where you can find some information include 1080/1084, 1095, 5160, 52100, W1, O1, A2, D2, and 440C. You won't find any information on CPM-154, AEB-L, Nitro-V, etc.
    razor-edge-knives and kmf600 like this.
  13. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    I thought so, but I don't do "Apps" either.....and I was kinda getting you back for correcting my "warning" about melting the frozen water bottle in the quench oil....;):cool::rolleyes:

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