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  #1  
Old 02-20-2017, 08:16 AM
nflknives nflknives is offline
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circular sawmill blade

I have had a request from a coworker to build a bowie knife out of his dads circular sawmill blade from the early 1980's. My problem is what kind of steel would this be and how to heat treat and temper it. Would is most likely be 01 tool steel?? There are no numbers or stamps on the blade. It is approx 3/8 inch thick without putting a tape measure on it.
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  #2  
Old 02-20-2017, 08:47 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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It isn't O1 as O1 was never used for saw blades. It may be L6 or 15N20, either of which is a good blade material, or it may be something else entirely. If the blade is 3/8" thick then I doubt that the teeth have been tipped with carbide but if they have then the blade is likely useless for knives.

Aside from checking for the carbide tips the best way to know is to cut up some coupons and use them to figure out how best to HT that steel. Start with the basic treatment you would use for 1084 (non-mag and quench in warm oil). If that doesn't harden it then it is likely useless. But, if it hardens and the grain looks fair then try a few different temperatures until you find what works best ...


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Old 02-20-2017, 09:55 AM
nflknives nflknives is offline
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They are not carbide tipped
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:16 AM
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Good, then there is a good chance that whatever the steel is it will probably make a decent blade ...


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Old 02-20-2017, 11:12 AM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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What Ray said.

Most likely if it's a sawmill blade from the 80s it is 15N20, which would heat treat about the same as O1. L6 is a bit different, but not by a lot, get it up to 1500-50 and use hot oil around 130. 15N20 would be too hot at 1550 is only difference, but with 2% nickel the grain growth wouldn't be too bad. Matter of a fact 15N20 HT about 1480 being it's quench temp. Alpha Knife supply has simple HT instructions for 15N20.
https://www.alphaknifesupply.com/zda...eelC-15N20.htm

L6 has 1.7 nickel but has almost 1% chrome and .35% Moly in it depending who makes it, it may or may not have moly in it and the nickel can be lower as well.

Oh temper temperatures are a bit lower than O1 for both steels. About 350 for 15N20 for RC 60 and 425 for L6 for 60, I shoot for RC 58 to 60 with these as the nickel imparts toughness so brittleness isn't an issue. I don't see the point of going much past 60 hard as most people can't sharpen it unless they have a diamond and a machine or know how.
http://cintool.com/catalog/Oil_Hardening/L6.pdf

They are both forging steels Justin and if it's 15N20 a treasure as you can't get that stuff any thicker than 1/8" as it is mostly used in Damascus for the shininess it imparts because the nickel resists the acid etch, but it makes a great knife by itself. Matter of a fact if you etched a piece of it and it stayed shiny then it's 15N20 or high nickel L6 for sure in which case your HT is fairly simple other than hammering it thinner than 3/8" thick.

Heck they used to order bandsaw sawmill blades out of 1084 with 2% nickel added. A forging friend of mine up in BC Canada has a bunch of it 3/16 or 1/4 thick, I don't remember.
Ray lives in the PNW in Washington so he has run across this stuff from time to time I'm sure.

Last edited by jimmontg; 02-20-2017 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:19 AM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Ray, did you ever run into S series shock steel sawblades? I have, but for metal and I HT machine parts out of it, press hammer dies for the most part. I remember reading a knifemaking book back in the 90s and he said he ran into saw blades made from it, Boyle was his name.
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Old 02-20-2017, 02:30 PM
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I never saw a saw blade that I knew was S series steel. I have worked with it, made some very tough chisels from it ...


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Old 02-20-2017, 05:35 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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I take every carbide tipped blade that comes my way, they have always been L-6 (or similar) alloy. That being said. Make your knife, full quench with 375 temper and give that bad boy a soft back draw. It will be unbreakable.
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Old 02-20-2017, 06:09 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Oh, OK. I ran into non ferrous blades made from S5, at least that's what it said on the invoice. "2ea S-5 12" sawblades, non-ferrous only". For a cold saw, I do not remember what the steel cutting blades were made from, but they didn't have carbide teeth either, but small teeth. They were almost black, heat black not any coating. M4 type steel? Cut stainless and even 17-4PH hard steels.

S series steels can be made quite hard, S5 will quench out at 64-65, S7 what I made hammer parts from doesn't HT that hard, but makes great hammer dies for press forming. I do not know of a knife supply that carries S5 anymore. Metal suppliers yes, but they do not like selling small amounts, S5 would make some awesome choppers like axes and swords.

Does anyone know if it forges well?
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:19 PM
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I don't know how S5 forges but I did use S7, it reminds me of D2 in the forge - not quite as bad, but it will crumble if you let it get out of its forging range...


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Old 02-20-2017, 08:24 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmontg View Post
Oh, OK. I ran into non ferrous blades made from S5, at least that's what it said on the invoice. "2ea S-5 12" sawblades, non-ferrous only". For a cold saw, I do not remember what the steel cutting blades were made from, but they didn't have carbide teeth either, but small teeth. They were almost black, heat black not any coating. M4 type steel? Cut stainless and even 17-4PH hard steels.

S series steels can be made quite hard, S5 will quench out at 64-65, S7 what I made hammer parts from doesn't HT that hard, but makes great hammer dies for press forming. I do not know of a knife supply that carries S5 anymore. Metal suppliers yes, but they do not like selling small amounts, S5 would make some awesome choppers like axes and swords.

Does anyone know if it forges well?
Those blades would have been M-2 I think. I've run across them before.
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:32 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Very brittle steel too JM.

I remember a guy went and didn't tighten both clamps on the cold saw, the side where the part was against the stop, blade broke when that part wedged between the blade and the stop. $400 blade broke because of stupid.

I love cold saws. They cut as close as you can measure and do not throw sparks or hot chips of brass and aluminum like high speed saws. Just nice slow cutting saws with coolant cutting fluid running down the blade. M2 sounds about right for those blades JM.

Mind you I had a circular saw that was 3/8" thick and could cut a 24" I-beam. Had a 2 handed handle you pulled down and a foot rest you stood on to cut. High speed, threw sparks to the 30' roof and scared the heck out of me. Used binding chains to hold the parts. I wonder what that blade was made of. No carbide and 5 feet in diameter or more. Teeth were not small, like 2 tpi if that.

Imagine getting that blade and thinking it was from a sawmill huh? Blade was shiny like regular cold roll except a little brighter in color like some metal cutting bandsaw blades. Was only used on mild steel, they said it cost too much to wear out cutting stainless. In the 70s I can only think of the M series steels, but it didn't look like M2 type steels though, they are darker, not as bright I should say. Wonder if it was a special made alloy like those 1084 2% nickel bandsaw blades.

They still sell blades like that, my brother has one of those high speed steel cutters, he cuts stainless too, puts cutting wax on the sides instead of blowing coolant on it. Would be interested to learn what they were made of. They may have come from Armco in Los Angeles and they definitely did custom alloys back then. (I think it was Armco, had to go there once) I'll call my brother and ask him about it tomorrow.

Pardon my ramblings, had a long day and have to go get checked for a hernia tomorrow. So may not call my brother.
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