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Heat Treating and Metallurgy Discussion of heat treatment and metallurgy in knife making.

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Old 08-07-2015, 01:08 PM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Farmington, MO
Posts: 22

Hello all. Your forum has been great for helping along my fledgling attempts at knifemaking

I've been trying to puzzle my way through the science behind HTing and tempering without a lot of luck. I was reading the explaination on normalizing from and he says
Normalizing is used after forging the blade to even out all the chaos inflicted by the hammer.
That is the first time in my reading that I've seen that said. I'm working out of my apartment so I don't have the space or funds to forge blades so I go with stock removal. Based on the above quote do I not need to worry about normalizing since I'm not forging?
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Old 08-08-2015, 12:15 AM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Grinding can cause irregular stress in the blade that can cause warping so some would still recommend at least one normalizing cycle. However, if you are working with a stainless or other air quenching steel then you can send it out for heat treating and the treater can take care of that. Just talk to them an see what they feel is necessary.


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Old 08-08-2015, 10:15 AM
samuraistuart samuraistuart is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: San Antonio Texas
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Depending on the steel you use, you will absolutely need to normalize to get it to harden correctly....even if only stock removal. Case in point.....the carbon steels that Aldo sells (and other distributors). The 52100 especially is so heavily spheroidized, if you don't normalize it, you'll need to soak it at your hardening temp for an hour or more to get it to harden correctly. Best approach is to normalize, then thermal cycle, then harden with a short soak.

If you use 1075, 1084, 1095, 52100, W2....I would normalize them.

O1 usually comes ready to machine and need to normalize.
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Old 08-08-2015, 05:42 PM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Farmington, MO
Posts: 22
Thank you guys for your replies. I probably should have included it in my original post that for right now I'm using 5160 and 1080. From what I've read those both seem to be forgiving steels and the lower prices don't hurt either since I'm bound to FUBAR my first few knives
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:39 AM
Kevin R. Cashen Kevin R. Cashen is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Hubbardston, MI
Posts: 317
The actual purpose of normalizing is to bring the insides of the steel back to ?normal?, in some obscure texts it has also been called homogenizing. The idea is to put the steel entirely into solution (austenite) in order to completely rearrange carbide distribution, grain size, alloy segregation, achieve total recrystallization and annihilate any residual strain effects. It is very advisable after forging but may or may not be necessary after machining, and since it is a very high temperature heat treatment, resulting in excessive scale and decarb, it can be nice to not have to resort to it at times. If you have a steel that has more than .85% carbon that has been spheroidized, as Stuart mentioned, it may be necessary to normalize in order to prepare its carbide to go readily into solution for easier hardening.

For simple machining operations I would follow up with a stress relief (heat to 1200F and air cool) rather than normalizing. Machining does not affect grain size, carbide size or distribution or alloying, but it does induce strain effects which are easily wiped out with a simple stress relief. Your two steels of choice have very little carbide to worry about so the only thing normalizing would really be needed for in a stock removal knife is correcting alloy banding if it crops up, and if it really bothers you.
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