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Wood Carving Knife Blades


RobertV6

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My first post, but i thought to ask this group for any thoughts you might have. I am learning to carve the handles on my knives. I thought of buying a couple of wood carving knives, but the knifemaker in me wont let me. The making of them is simple enough, but the question i have is about hardness. I normally temper my knives back to about 56 Rc. I read on a site that sells them that theirs were about 61 Rc. What are would you recommend the preferred hardness of carving blade be?

Thanks for any help.

 

Robert

Hattiesburg, MS

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I all depends upon the type of steel used.

 

Some steels can be tempered to Rc 61 and will not be to brittle for carving, others require Rc 58-60 range.

 

Plain carbon steel that is forged will have better grain distribution and can be used at Rc 60-61.

 

My suggestion is to harden several blades and then temper to Rc 58, Rc 60, Rc 61-62 and test them for yourself.

 

This assumes you know the alloy and have access to the tempering temperatures and can accurately measure the temperature

 

A digital toaster oven is not bad for experimenting, it may not be accurate for temp. however, the results are repeatable for future usage.

 

Regards,

FK

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I all depends upon the type of steel used.

 

Some steels can be tempered to Rc 61 and will not be to brittle for carving, others require Rc 58-60 range.

 

Plain carbon steel that is forged will have better grain distribution and can be used at Rc 60-61.

 

My suggestion is to harden several blades and then temper to Rc 58, Rc 60, Rc 61-62 and test them for yourself.

 

This assumes you know the alloy and have access to the tempering temperatures and can accurately measure the temperature

 

A digital toaster oven is not bad for experimenting, it may not be accurate for temp. however, the results are repeatable for future usage.

 

Regards,

FK

 

 

 

Im not sure if i am going to hit the right button, here goes.

Yeah, i mainly lurk and read, thank you for the welcome.

ill probably use 1084 carbon steel. Ill make about 6 and temper them at various temps and intervals, then i can try each and see which works best, after that i should have the procedure down to make a few different styles. thanks for the input, ill post back what i find.

blue skies

robert

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Hi Robert,

 

Welcome to The Carving Path, even if it is three years late! I cannot answer your questions well enough so I will let others do that. Thank you for asking a good question!

 

Janel

 

 

Janel,

I just visited your website. After viewing your ....exquisite work, i am now reminded why i keep my mouth shut, and just read the forums here. Wow....beautiful.

 

blue skies

robert

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Hi Robert,

 

You did find the right button! Well done. You don't always need to use the Quote feature unless there is something needed to add to the message being written.

 

Thanks for the compliment. Please, keep contributing! I do look forward to finding out what you come up with when making the tools. Photos are also welcome!

 

Janel

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Hi Robert,

 

I have made many carving knives from 1095 steel by forging, oil quenching, and tempering back to a brown-purple color. (see my post on Notes on "Heat Treatment of Carbon Steel, A basic description of the hardening and tempering of steel tools" in the metalwork section).

 

I have know idea what the Rockwell hardness of them is, and no ability to test it, but they hold a razor edge much longer that any of the commercial knives that I have.

 

Phil

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Hi Robert

I have made a large no of small tools over a no of yrs. My first carving knife was made from a smoothing plane blade which takes and holds its edge well. Rc +-58-60.

Subsequently I have used a German steel (Bohler K460) to make small knives, chisels etc heat treated to +- Rc62 (following Bohler's prescription). I also made smoothing blades for myself and a Friend which have proven far superior to any bought blade.

Untempered they are as/more brittle than glass :lol: as I found out to my dismay.

Tempered they work well and so far seem to hold their edge well. I tend to strop frequently so my tools seldom get a chance to become blunt :P

Hopefully this has added some background to your knife making.

Looking forward to further report backs.

Toothy

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Hi Janel

 

When I temper the tools I try to temper to a pale straw. I harden by cooling the bright cherry red steel in ordinary motor oil. The Bohler recipe tempers in the oven (wifes kitchen!) at 160 deg Centigrade for an hour. This gives me the pale straw. Other steels may be different.

I have no knowledge of 1095 or 1084 steel but I also use silver steel which gives a good blade.

 

A 1mm blade is very difficult to temper :lol: but according to the rep if I harden in oil it gives a hardness of +-Rc 62 with the result that I dont temper these very small tools.

 

Sorry for the delay in answering, I dont log on too often and I evidently didn't tick the notification block :P

 

Toothy

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I made most of my miniature carving tools from better quality needle files. (the larger kind) I know, the traditional wisdom is that they are too brittle, but I used these constantly for many years, and yet have to snap one. Trick is, I never use them to lever material out. Just clean cuts. Tomorrow I'll add some photos of them. (too dark in the workshop by now.)

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Quite right, Yuri

 

I have made many tools from files, including knives from needle files. Provided they are tempered properly, they make excellent carving tools, and hold an edge very well. I have a hooked knife made from a small half-round file that I have been using for 20 years.

 

Phil

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Here are some of my tools. I simply grind them down, leaving the temper as it stands . (But very carefully, so as not to overheat the steel) The one on the right is a scraper, it's just a triangular file, ground down. It's the fastest by far tool to strip down a piece of bone to the clean bone. (I do a lot of that kind of work.) The knives have had straight cutting edges when made, you can guess at th amount of sharpening that went into them.

post-2194-1246679560.jpg

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  • 7 months later...
Here are some of my tools. I simply grind them down, leaving the temper as it stands . (But very carefully, so as not to overheat the steel) The one on the right is a scraper, it's just a triangular file, ground down. It's the fastest by far tool to strip down a piece of bone to the clean bone. (I do a lot of that kind of work.) The knives have had straight cutting edges when made, you can guess at th amount of sharpening that went into them.

Yuri

What do use of a grinder? Won't a diamond wheel lose its diamonds? Won't an Arkansas stone take too long? I'm new to all of this.

Sally

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Robert,

The carving tools (store bought tools) I use are a high carbon spring steel & hardened from

Rc 59 to 61... so it sounds as if you're in the right ballpark. Not that knowledgable about making

carving tools but I'm very happy with how these tools buff up to a mirror finish & hold they're edge

for a long, long time.

 

Speaking of keeping the mouth shut & reading the posts ... I too have ben struck dumb by the amazing

work here. It's turning me into a lurker & it sure takes a lot to shut me up. :lol:

 

Thanks for sharing folks!!

 

Slaightear

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Sally, I only saw the question today.

I have to confess I'm the least scientific sort of guy round here. What I use is a truly ancient double-wheel grindin machine, no idea what stones on it, both badly worn, as I picked the thing up from a junk sale. (the motor works fine, though) I only really use the coarse stone to grind the steel into shape, then, ignoring the fine stone it's over to the oilstone. The fine stone on a grinder simply tends to burn the steel too easily. The oilstone is a generic, hardware-shop bought one, no frills. One side coarse, one fine.

Don't let all these other guys going on about R62.5 versus R61.3 deceive you. They are just kidding, and try to look important. :lol: A bit of common sense will leave you with much better (and a lot quicker) results than all this specialised arcane knowledge.

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Sally (and Yuri)

 

Knowing the Rc number is useful. Most chisels and knives will be in the range Rc 58 -61. As the number gets lower you will have increasing difficulty sharpening the tool and it will blunt increasingly quickly the lower the value. It will however be more easily bendable. :lol: As the value increases so will the edge holding ability :D with increasing brittleness :o BUT at the expense of toughness with the result that thin knife / chisel edges are liable to chip. :(

 

As Phil says tools made from files, that is from the inner steel (teeth ground away) are actually made from high quality steel. The chances are that it is of a suitable temper if treated carefully during the high speed grinding process else they will need to be tempered correctly.

 

Sally I only use the high speed grinder for rough shaping and as I intend to harden later it doesn't matter if it 'blues'. Some of the shaping is done with files, grind stones in the 'Dremel', on the wet grinder and, like Yuri, on a carborundum (double sided bench stone) stone. The bench grinder has a 40grit coarse and an 80grit (I think) fine stone. I am unaware of diamond wheels for a bench grinder.

 

The most important aspect of carving is to enjoy it :D:D

 

Toothy

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Toothy, I actually am aware of the importance of the right steel. It's simply that for practical purposes it's not really necessary to know, unless you are starting from scratch. I mean when you pick up a rusty file from a junk shop, you have no idea what the Rc value is. But you can be fairly confident that the steel will be OK (unless made in China, in which case it can be rather chancy...)

Sally, one other rule-of-thumb. When you grind on a high-speed grinder, the sparks should be quite light. The redder they are, the softer the steel. (As far as I understand, the sparks are made by carbon in the steel. The redder they are, the less carbon.) But if the sparks are completely blindingly white, tat's bad news, because it's not steel, but titanium. (joke).(you won't find titanium files.)

There are diamond grindstones, but not as we know the idea of grindstone. They are polishing discs for lapidary.

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