View Full Version : Casting high carbon steel (leaf springs)

Canwell Knives
02-08-2003, 07:46 AM
Hi guys,
What happens to the 'quality' of high carbon steel after it is made moulten in a furnace and sand-cast?
If it were to be cast into something with a cutting edge; would the steel retain it's characteristics as before it was made moulten, or would things like the carbon content and other properties change. Also, could it be worked (hammered) and heat-treated in the same way?



Jamey Saunders
02-08-2003, 12:17 PM
For starters, getting any kind of steel up to casting temperatures is next to impossible without an induction arc furnace.

Barring that obstacle, the next thing that happens to people who cast metals is that they have problems with the carbon burning out of the metal. Some people try to offset this by adding carbon to the melt, but in general, they wind up with cast iron. Once you melt your high-carbon steel, you're not going to have the same makeup of metal as you did when you started. This will make quality control extremely difficult.

I would suggest forging. Been done for centuries, and works very well. It doesn't change the composition of the steel like casting, and it's a heck of a lot easier.

Chuck Burrows
02-08-2003, 04:59 PM
High quality steel castings are possible and have been done since at least the 17th century. (all steel is "cast" at first into ingots and is then processed in various ways to make sheet or bar or whatever.) Ruger is one company who produces high quality steel castings for not only the firearms industry but others as well. Granted most firearms are not "high" carbon, but high carbon steel blades have been successfully cast. You might check out info on wootz which if I understand correctly from reading the various info on the net is an ultra high carbon steel (ca 20%) which is cast into molds of the basic shape and then hammered into final shape.

That said the cost of steel casting equipment is probably prohibitive to all but those with deep pockets.

J. Loose has started a page on his website about Anglo-Saxon smelting techniques which might be of interest. You can find a thread on this in the Historical Inspiration forum.

Canwell Knives
02-10-2003, 05:21 AM
Thanks for the info. guys. If I do any smelting it will be with a chimney pot furnace. I'm going to look into Wootz steel and see what it's about.
Thanks again,