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Thread: hardening cheap tools

  1. #1
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    hardening cheap tools

    This is related to my question about blue tools but I'll make a separate question out of the issue.
    When I'm working with parts for my traditional style muzzle loading rifles, hardening is often important. For example, the frizzen (striking part for a flintlock rifle) must be plenty hard. It is almost never known what kind, or quality, of steel was used to make a given frizzen. To harden, the technique I like is to coat the face with oil, cover that with Kasenite, clamp in a vice or hold with a pair of pliers over a can of water, then heat from the back with a torch until the whole thing turns as near yellow as your heat source can do, then quickly release and drop into the can of water. If there is a sorta explosive sound when it hits, you have gotten a good treatment and now have a hard, good sparking, frizzen. I also have heated a frizzen without the Kasenite and, when yellow, swirled into a can of old motor oil but that makes the part, sometimes, too brittle.
    The question: will this technique work OK on turning tools of low quality to give them a hard cutting edge? Recommended?

  2. #2
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    Check out www.RexMill.com I believe he has some articles on heat treating on his web site. But bottom line is probably.

    There are tricks to different steels and oil is often the hardening medium. Problem with oil is it often flashes and you need a lid to put out the fire. Some steels (A2) are air hardening. You don't quench them at all.

    Then there is the risk of getting them to hard and they become brittle. One good catch and you snap the tool in half.

    So, yes you can probably harden it that way. But there is more to be considered too.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Horton View Post
    Check out www.RexMill.com I believe he has some articles on heat treating on his web site. But bottom line is probably.

    There are tricks to different steels and oil is often the hardening medium. Problem with oil is it often flashes and you need a lid to put out the fire. Some steels (A2) are air hardening. You don't quench them at all.

    Then there is the risk of getting them to hard and they become brittle. One good catch and you snap the tool in half.

    So, yes you can probably harden it that way. But there is more to be considered too.
    I understand that, Jeff. The frizzen thing probably wasn't a good comparison. I once shattered a 200 year old knife blade that I had hardened by accidentially tapping it against a vice. Knives, and such, do need the tempering step.

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