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  #1  
Old 03-18-2017, 01:05 PM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
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Old file info

Found a small batch of old files at the flea market. Being a bit interested in pounding some steel just for fun, I know some of you have some knowledge of old files. So what I've found thus far:

Some old Nicholson, USA including some marked "Black Diamond" IIRC old USA made Nicholson's are supposed to be pretty good.

Some old Simonds, Marked USA seems I recall these as supposedly pretty good steel too.

A couple misc. marked, "Heller" "Sun Flower", "Grobet"(Swiss jewelry file), one "K&F".

A couple of big boys flat/half-round: one marked Made in Germany no name apparent but what looks like a horse jumping through a hoop stamped on it, can't see a name.

The other is a Heller Nu Cut with what looks like a horse stamp on it.


I know, unknown steel but I'm just wanting to use them for learning about forging and mostly just for fun. Those two big ones could make a couple small tomahawks.

Another question, should they be annealed before forging or forged then annealed then ground and heat treated?


edit to add: Also found an old forged 3 lb. straight pein hammer and a 2 pound sledge hammer.


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Last edited by WNC Goater; 03-18-2017 at 01:08 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-18-2017, 01:50 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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What you might learn about forging is that some mystery steel just falls apart. But, in case that doesn't happen, no point in annealing it before forging - just forge it. After that, anneal and so on ....


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  #3  
Old 03-18-2017, 02:58 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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I'll use the original Black Diamond and Pre 1980's Nicholsons as these run around 1.25% carbon and make excellent blades. I haven't had a lot of luck with Simmons but I've been told the old ones are similar to the old Black Diamond and Nicholsons, other files are a crap shoot. Some are real good, others are case hardened. Even some rasps and files from reputable makers can be case hardened so it's a good idea to test them before investing the time to make a knife.
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Old 03-18-2017, 11:55 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Some of the old ones were made of W1 and now are more likely 1095+ on the carbon content. Like Ray said just forge them, equalize and then anneal. You have a HT oven and that makes annealing easier as you know the precise temperature. Here is a general guide for heat treating high carbon steels and please note it's using 3/4 round stock so adjust your methods accordingly. Oh and no water quench as you have mystery steel.

http://cintool.com/catalog/Water_Hardening/W2.pdf
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Old 03-19-2017, 06:31 AM
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Tip - make sure you grind the teeth off the edge you plan to be the cutting edge and about 1/4"-1/2" up both sides, before you start forging the blade to shape. Otherwise you are just forging micro stress points all along your blade edge.....not good.

Do a snap test on the tang or tip and check the grain pattern. You can also use a cutoff wheel and cut off the first 1/2" from the tip, sand clean then etch in ferric or vinegar. If it's casehardened it will be obvious either way.

Most of the old Simmons responded the same way as Nicholsons as a 1095 range steel (not tried any newer ones). The Black Diamonds had some additional alloying that Nicholson would not disclose, but worked and responded best when HTd as O1 (go figure). Nicholson did at one time state that their regular "Nicholson's" were 1095. No telling what they are now as they no longer respond to request for info/specs.

The Sunflowers are/were made in Pakistan & India (at least I've seen some stamped with either country)....some good some junk.
Gorbets are reported to be "silver steel" which usually translated to 1095 spring steel.
The Heller's farrier's rasp I have seen listed as 1070 somewhere (can't recall at moment), but make decent wrap-around hawks.

Sounds like you have some fun forging ahead of you. Good chance to do some testing and comparison work.
Got nuthin on the K&F.


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  #6  
Old 03-20-2017, 04:19 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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I have 6 K&F 6" half rounds. Brazilian made btw.

My last company bought them for me to file the edges of laser cut holes. They didn't hold up well, so either they weren't HT right or are low carbon, maybe 1070. I needed half rounds for their versatility. I have some big old Nicholsons that are still good after 40 years. I oil my files, like you are supposed to. I found Remington oil is the best as it leaves a thin coating of teflon when it's dry.

Maybe next blacksmithing class I'll take the half rounds down and forge them into a big billet mixed with 15N20, if they do not fall apart. Might make some unusual Damascus. Files, 1080 and 15N20.

And btw if you want to know what a file is made of call Peters HT service and ask them how much to analyze them. They have a laser spectrometer analyzer which hits the metal and vaporizes it and can read the elements in the metal from the vapor. I do not know how much they would charge, but I was talking to them about throwing in 2 file knives in with a batch of O1 and he said they will check the files to see if they can be HT in with the O1. You can call them and ask for Brad, but I don't think it would cost more than $5. At least you would know what you have.
http://www.petersheattreat.com/

Last edited by jimmontg; 03-20-2017 at 04:25 PM.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2017, 04:45 PM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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Nicholson Black Diamond files have been discussed at length herein. There have been many who indicate that they are 1095 with added carbon.

A few years ago, wanting to get the straight answer from the horse's mouth, I called Nicholson. After getting bounced around a bit from tech guy to tech guy, I finally landed with a gentlemen who indicated that their steel blend is proprietary and that he could not reveal it. I told him what I had heard about the 1095 plus carbon recipe. He was non committal. We actually had a lengthy conversation as I explained not only that I wanted to make knives from their old files, but we even discussed the types of knives. He himself was not a knifemaker, but he was both curious and guarded at the same time.

Grateful for his time and attention, but getting just a bit frustrated, I asked him how I should heat treat it for a good utility knife. I think at this point, he realized that I wasn't a competitor. There was a long pause... and finally, he said, "Heat treat it exactly like W-2". He said nothing more.

I thanked him for his time and advice.

Take that story for what it's worth.


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Old 03-20-2017, 07:13 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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Andrew, if you've ever been on New Jersey Steel Barons sight in the recent past you might have seen he was selling NOS Nicholson files. These tested out at around 1.25%C. I've met Aldo, and the gentleman who Aldo bought the lot of files from. This guy worked for Nicholson back in the '70's as I recall and when they retooled (early '80's) he bought out all of their old stock and has been selling it since then. He confirmed the carbon content and that the old files were harder (70RCH compared to the newer ones at 64RCH). I've used a band new Nicholson and it still wouldn't cut like a rusty old Black Diamond. It's almost impossible to determine the carbon content of various files, that is why I almost exclusively use these. I almost got burned by using a brand new file bland in a Damascus billet, this stuff was odd as it wanted to burn and short in my gas forge.
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2017, 11:56 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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I called Peters today and the guy said to call back tomorrow (Tue, Mar 21) as Brad goes home a 4, so I'll let you all know what the pricing on the steel analysis will be.
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Old 03-21-2017, 04:55 AM
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$5 a pop would be sweet.


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  #11  
Old 03-21-2017, 07:37 AM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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JM,

I buy a great deal of steel from NJSB--my favorite supplier.
I buy my old files from a local surplus dealer called The Yard (every town should have a store like this).
I used to get 3 files for a dollar and I would only accept Black Diamonds. I still have a stack of them annealed and ready to go for any project that calls for one.

I find that wet sanding by hand in ferric chloride will give a Black Diamond knife a flat black finish almost identical to Parkerizing. It goes deep too--the more you work it with the sand paper and FC, the darker and more durable the finish becomes. That was a fun discovery. It's good blade steel.


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  #12  
Old 03-21-2017, 11:56 AM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Peters file testing price.

Is $5 per file, a little expensive, but it won't be mystery steel anymore and that's one or forty files. Mark them with a diamond point dremel or whatever you have. Shipping will depend on weight. A simple mark them with a number 1 2 3 4 5... will do. It at least tells you if it's worth messing with. Case hardened 1020-40 isn't going to make a good knife. Grind a shiny spot until there are no teeth.

Mr Garrett, applying Super Blue with a scotch brite pad does the same if you don't want a shiny finish, but probably not as durable as the FC etch. The blue does shine up a bit with 0000 steel wool or light brass brush.

Last edited by jimmontg; 03-21-2017 at 12:48 PM.
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  #13  
Old 03-21-2017, 12:50 PM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crex View Post
Tip - make sure you grind the teeth off the edge you plan to be the cutting edge and about 1/4"-1/2" up both sides, before you start forging the blade to shape. Otherwise you are just forging micro stress points all along your blade edge.....not good.

Do a snap test on the tang or tip and check the grain pattern. You can also use a cutoff wheel and cut off the first 1/2" from the tip, sand clean then etch in ferric or vinegar. If it's casehardened it will be obvious either way.

Most of the old Simmons responded the same way as Nicholsons as a 1095 range steel (not tried any newer ones). The Black Diamonds had some additional alloying that Nicholson would not disclose, but worked and responded best when HTd as O1 (go figure). Nicholson did at one time state that their regular "Nicholson's" were 1095. No telling what they are now as they no longer respond to request for info/specs.

The Sunflowers are/were made in Pakistan & India (at least I've seen some stamped with either country)....some good some junk.
Gorbets are reported to be "silver steel" which usually translated to 1095 spring steel.
The Heller's farrier's rasp I have seen listed as 1070 somewhere (can't recall at moment), but make decent wrap-around hawks.

Sounds like you have some fun forging ahead of you. Good chance to do some testing and comparison work.
Got nuthin on the K&F.
Thanks for the info.

Looking forward to it. I've built a new gas forge and burner. Also working on converting an old air tank to a charcoal forge. I'm envisioning all manner of pounding steel into projects, not just knives! But I am particularly interested in making some tomahawks.

I just need an anvil. I only have a little 28 lb.-er. Got it from a guy for $10 years ago and have had it in my jewelry shop ever since I hung out the shingle. I've got feelers out with some people in the area to keep their eyes & ears open. I've found a few on Craiglist but most are very proud ($$) of them. I know somewhere around here, in a barn or shed someone has an old anvil slowly rusting. Just got to get the message out to the right ears. There is a guy over in Sweetwater, TN that apparently refurbishes and sells them. That isn't too far to travel if I could find something.

Obviously, I don't want to sink a whole lot of pesos into it if I can help it.


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Old 03-21-2017, 12:56 PM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
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Andy glad to know about the Black Diamonds. I got a few of those.
And a couple big 'ole rasps that will make a couple folded hawks.

Jim thanks for the info. Good info to know about the metallurgical analysis. Not really that serious with these files as I'm mainly going to just pound on them to learn so it isn't that critical at this point. Going forward I have some info to go on as far as what to look for.

And speaking of Aldo, anyone else notice he's out of stock on about everything? I've quit even looking for
0-1 from him, he hasn't had any since about last summer. I just order it from Sheffields now. Perusing his site shows he's out of a LOT of carbon and tool steels. I was wondering if he's selling down to retire or something.

Thanks to everyone for the info and input about the files. Any other info welcome.


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Old 03-21-2017, 05:24 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Goater, check Sheffield for the unground O1 in bar or sheared sheet. Much cheaper than P&G. Also contact Cincinnati Tool Steel Company. NJSB gets some of his steel from them I happen to know for a fact. Their shipping is $20 flat fee, one pound or twenty+. Thinnest L6 is 3/8" sheared sheet. O1 is thinner, but they have several locations and not every location carries everything, but they have some good "from the book" HT data too. Having forged L6 I can tell you it makes great axes. They have it in 1/2" plate too, cut to size.


http://www.cintool.com/page.asp?PageID=2

http://www.sheffieldsupply.com/SUPPLYCAT.pdf
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