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  #1  
Old 02-12-2017, 05:23 PM
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Black Diamond file for a blade?


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I found one of these metel detecting in the woods behind my home left from an old coal mine.It's been in the ground 65 plus years and it cleaned up surprisingly well. Can I use it as is or does it need some type of tempering? I'v drilled the pin holes with a carbide bit and shaped the blade and handle all the while keeping it cool.I am waiting for 648In. sanding belts to arrive in the mail for my great grandfathers old Sears and Robuck,a machine that I love to use.So until then I don't have much to do in the shop.I'm new to knife making but I really enjoy everything about it so far,I think I could live in that shop.
There is one thing I do not enjoy and that's breathing the dust generated from grinding.I can't wear a dust mask because my safety glasses fog over instantly.I'v been using a bandana around my face but it doesn't stop all of it.Anyone have any suggestions on how to avoid this? I grind outdoors also when the weather permits. Wood dust I can deal with but the idea of breathing rock dust bothers me.Kinda silly seeing as I smoke like a chimney. I wish I had pictures of the few knives made so far.They are nothing fancy,just sturdy and sharp.My crowning achievement so far was the old pocket knife that I rehandled for my brother using persimmon.I didn't use any stain,just slicked it up good and sealed it with a few coats of tung oil.From a distance it looks just like bone.I'v used barnwood for handles because I had nothing else,sanded down with brass pins and tung oil looks plain but people seem to like the look.Anyway I could ramble on all night about this,so I'm headed back out there.Take care
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Old 02-13-2017, 09:03 AM
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I expect you'll have to normalize or temper it a bit. File is so hard it would break like glass if you have to torque on it or stress it sideways much. How you go about this process,or check it after you have done something to it, I'm afraid I'll have to defer to someone else. But I've seen knives made out of horseshoe rasps before, so you are on a good track.
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  #3  
Old 02-13-2017, 09:16 AM
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Knife making from a file has always been something I want to do. When I end up having the time, I'll be following along the directions in this post:


How to Make a Knife From a File
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2017, 03:24 PM
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Build a nice fire with charcoal brickettes suitable for steaks. Put the file in the hottest part, pile coals on top and then forget about it until tomorrow. It will be annealed dead soft, easy to drill, cut, grind, shape and polish. Once ALL that is done but NO handle on it, you re-harden to file hardness and then 'draw it back' to about 55 RC. I can direct you how to to do that, too.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBelk View Post
Build a nice fire with charcoal brickettes suitable for steaks. Put the file in the hottest part, pile coals on top and then forget about it until tomorrow. It will be annealed dead soft, easy to drill, cut, grind, shape and polish. Once ALL that is done but NO handle on it, you re-harden to file hardness and then 'draw it back' to about 55 RC. I can direct you how to to do that, too.
Would like to know how you do this operation. You can post or send a PM.
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  #6  
Old 02-15-2017, 06:46 PM
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All carbon steels have close to the same properties. File steel is usually 1095 which is .95% carbon which is a lot. It is the carbon that makes it harden-able.

The temperature of transformation is about 1725F. That is a bright 'cherry red' in color. At that temperature weird and wonderful things happen among the molecules that allows them to be 'arranged' in several ways. Cooling slow makes the steel as soft as it'll get. It is 'annealed'. If the steel is suddenly cooled, it gets as hard as it'll get. "Quenching" can be done in many ways, but .95 C steel needs to cool at a rate supplied by common 'oil'. Auto transmission fluid in good. Water can be used, but there is a danger of cracking in long sections like a knife blade.

TIP: Instead of try to guess at what 'cherry red' is, just stick a small magnet to the part. When it falls off, the transformation temp has been reached, quench fast before it can cool any.

After quenching the steel will be a frosty, dark gray with black patches that will have to be re-polished to bright and shiny but be CAREFUL! If you drop it, expect it to shatter. It is file hard again.

"TEMPERING" or "Drawing Back" is the process of re-heating the steel to a much lower temperature that arranges the molecules for toughness. An oven is best because the entire blade can be heated to the correct temperature and held there to 'soak' which arranges ALL the molecules and not just a few on the surface, but blacksmiths have been tempering by eyeball since Roman times. Here's how.

Steel oxidizes as it heats up and turns color. You've probably seen springs that are bright blue. Spring steel blue is caused by the steel being heated to 550F. The lower colors are 'straw' color. A medium straw is 400F and perfect for the EDGE of your knife. That gives about a 55Rc. An axe or hatchet should be a little softer so a darker straw to purple and Rc 45 is about right.

Here's how to get the right color on your fifth try. Maybe faster if you're lucky.

Fill a tray or length of angle iron with clean white sand and stand the blade in the sand with the spine down and the edge sticking up. With a torch, heat the angle iron and sand from the bottom and slowly. It should take at least five minutes to see any color in the blade. You want to heat the sand through the iron and the sand transfers heat to the blade. As you see the color, SLOW DOWN with the heat. You want at least 30 minutes of even heat. The color will race up the blade as it gets thinner in section. Be carefull and let it very slowly climb the blade. Have the quench bucket handy in case it gets away from you you can quench to stop too much heat from the edge. It would be perfect if the spine was pale blue and the edge is medium straw.

WHEN you screw up and get too soft a blade, simply re-harden and temper again.

Here's a better description with more technicalities to it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temper...8metallurgy%29

This method does NOT work on any stainless steel and the more alloys in carbon steel the more the process changes.

You should be able to clamp a blade in a vise and bend it ten degrees without it breaking but only a fool risk a lot of work ruined by trying it. At least files are cheap and common and have the right alloys to be a very good blade.

I'll add this so you can see what 'modern SS' heat-treating is like. MUCH more complicated but I think worth it. I've used vacuum melt 440-C since 1970 but I was lucky to be on a deer hunt in Colorado and met the owner/metallurgist from Memphis Metal Treating high up on the Flattops a year before. He suffered my questions for a day and a half and satisfied me he knew his stuff and this is the process he used on my knives until dying young. The same process is done by MAXCOR in Colorado Springs and do my work now.

I do everything to the blade but put the guard and handles on and sharpen it. Anything that needs done-drilling, milling, grinding, filing polishing and engraving is done in the annealed state.

The blades are heated in an oxygen free atmosphere to 1785F and held there for 15 minutes.
The quench is in moving oxygen free 'air' at 70F. (High nickle allows very slow cooling to attain maximum hardness.)
The blades then go into liquid nitrogen at -325F for three hours. This is called 'cryo-genic quench'.
The blades are allowed to come back up to 70F and they're transferred to another inert atmosphere furnace for tempering.
They're brought up to 400F and held there for four hours, then allowed to cool back to 70F then the same process repeated again: 400F for 4 hrs then cool to 70F
Each blade is tested in a place I specify and guaranteed 58-59RC +/- half a point.

50 pounds of blades used to be $58 but that was nearly 30 years ago! Several outfits will heat treat individual blades by combining with other orders but it's plain to see, if you have a facility like this, you need TONS of metals going through every day to justify the expense of keeping things hot and cold 24/7.

154 CM is a WEIRD steel that takes even more exotic HT.

Randal has used O-1 bar stock for blades and heat treated in his own ovens for 65 years or so and nobody faults HIS knives!
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Last edited by JBelk; 02-15-2017 at 08:58 PM.
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  #7  
Old 02-16-2017, 12:23 PM
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When a boy , I made a knife by grinding a file to shape , I went slow and kept it cool. The blade was hard , but I got an edge on it. I didn't temper or heat treat it...didn't even know about such things . Attached a wooden handle and used it for years . One day I was cutting into something and gave the blade a little side twist / pry motion and the blade snapped...hard = brittle.
You can grind a blade from a file , it will be hard and will not flex , but once sharpened it holds an edge like all get out
I notice the Bladesmith article mentions you can grind a blade from a file , as is , maybe when he was a boy that's how he made his first knife too .
Gary

Last edited by gwpercle; 02-16-2017 at 12:28 PM.
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  #8  
Old 02-16-2017, 12:43 PM
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Grinding a file 'as is' would be like planting trees in solid rock....about nine times more work than needed and very hard on equipment. Fifty cents worth of charcoal saves many, many hours of work.
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Old 04-06-2017, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by snake eyes View Post
There is one thing I do not enjoy and that's breathing the dust generated from grinding.I can't wear a dust mask because my safety glasses fog over instantly.I'v been using a bandana around my face but it doesn't stop all of it.Anyone have any suggestions on how to avoid this? I grind outdoors also when the weather permits. Wood dust I can deal with but the idea of breathing rock dust bothers me.Kinda silly seeing as I smoke like a chimney.
Hi, your comment about dust deserves a reply.

Believe it or not, between smoking, breathing wood dust, and breathing grinding dust, the least dangerous is probably the smoking.

I frequent some CNC controlled wood router forums, where there is a lot of dust, and you can literally watch over a couple of years, people breathe that fine wood dust and it really starts to damage their lungs. A bag dust collector that recirculates the dust back into the room is not good enough to protect you. It takes water, water spray, or something similar to really trap the fine dust, and that is what is bad for you.

At a minimum, setup a fan that blows fresh air toward your face and away from the work.

If there is a way to safely run a water mist near the work without causing electrical risk, consider doing it. There are fans with water misters out there, mostly used for out door air cooling in dry climates, but the mist will help capture and aggregate the particles into clumps that your nose hairs can more easily filter out.

A surprisingly good method (but noisy) is to pull dust and dirty air away with a shop vac about 1/3 full of water. The water can go stale and moldy, so consider to add something like liquid detergent, bleach, etc.

So many great crafts people fall into the trap of thinking that wood dust is natural, so it must not be all that bad for you. So many promising people fallen by the wayside.

Last edited by HarryN; 04-06-2017 at 03:44 PM.
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