HTS: Guide to Heat Treating Steel for knife and tool makers

Monday, December 6, 2010

Part 2: Improvised heat treating techniques for knives & tools.

The basic equipment needed is as follows:

Fire pit: this can be made in several configurations.
Some use old brake drums etc.. However I have found that a

clay patio fireplace (with a smoke stack) works perfectly and
holds up surprisingly well. Although in a pinch anything that will
hold hot coal will do; such as a grill, hole in the ground etc...
The size of the fire pit should be no less than 18" x 18".

Tip: Don't duct air in underneath the coal as this produces more
heat than is actually needed for this process. If more heat is needed
simply fan the surface of the coal from above until the desired
color/temp is reached.

Fuel for the fire: Seasoned Red Oak is absolutely the best and should
always be used when available; if it is not; common seasoned Oak
will work.

Tip: Cut the wood into small pieces in the 3" x  3" range. Doing
so will allow it to burn down quicker and more evenly into a nice bed
of coal.

Handling: Long handle pliers or blacksmiths tongs. The long handle
will give a more comfortable working distance from the heat source
while maneuvering the steel in the fire pit.

Metal bucket: The basic guide is 1gal per pound of steel being
quenched. If treating small parts or knives a large metal coffee
can will work great.

Quenching oil: Fresh 15w 40 diesel engine oil has been used to much
success although some prefer to use Olive Oil because of it's lower
flashing point.

Cooling rack: Such as an old grill or oven rack. This will be used to
place the steel on after quenching.

ALL Standard personal protection equipment.

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