Hand Tools Archive

Re: A great and helpful summary...

I have some mixed opinions on grinding the teeth off or not, but your description of smashing the teeth down brought back memories of my dad explaining that that wasn't the way to do it and prompted my post. I think probably if you heated it up hot enough to burn off the surface junk, scrubbed them with a wire brush well, then applied flux and hammered them down well at moderately high heat there would be relativel little chance of issues. OTOH annealing and grinding wasn't super hard to do either so.. its probably worth it once you consider the amount of effort expended on the rest of the exercise. I'm also thinking my dad probably had some good reasoning behind the warning (he usually did hehe).

There's also the probability that small flaws like that won't show up until after some use. We had a kitchen knife from that had a number of stress flaws along the back of the blade. These weren't visible at all (at least not visually) for at least 5 years (might have been longer), but one day it got bumped and the blade broke into three pieces! Examining the breaks and then looking at the blade closer I could see where the flaws were pre-existing, and had slowly propagated into the steel. Having a blade catastrophically fail on a knife or a chisel can be a really bad day.

I think the main thing I learned from the whole exercise is that the traditional double plunge tempering is quite difficult to get just right. Hardening then tempering after is much more forgiving, but there is certainly a fair bit of a hit and miss aspect doing small amounts in a make-shift home environment either way. I'd bet that you'll be able to get to where you're 95%+ serviceable, although they likely won't all hit your idealized goal. That is part of the risk of craft or some such heh.

I agree in general that (somewhat) lower carbon is more forgiving, the usability characteristics of higher carbon when it works out right is pretty nice though. My take is that theres some amount of acceptable "didn't work outs" to get the piece you're looking for. I'm also quite sure that file steel varies considerably depending on the source so you're definitely going to be fighting a lot of inconsistency there, again for messing around.. probably worth it. I also believe (with minimal supporting evidence) that older files (say pre-1990 with some variance around that) were generally simpler high carbon mixes and will very likely yield better results with the type of processes we're talking about here.

I've certainly planted my fair share of tools and knives. This one was just particularily hard because it was certainly the best I've ever done. On the other hand if you don't carry something like that you're not using it so what do you have it for anyway? I've never been to much of a having just for having kind of person, others might feel differently.

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