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KNIFE TALK => General Discussion => : Narheim May 11, 2016, 11:17:02 AM

: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Narheim May 11, 2016, 11:17:02 AM
Hello everybody
I'm making my first steps as a knifemaker, and I've just found a huge and unexpected obstacle: the total lack of sources for the equipment and materials required. Having managed to find a source for 52100 that seems reliable enough, the problem comes with the quenchant.
I've not found a single quenching oil retailer in Spain. Not to talk about something like texaco type A. I've found quenching oil distributors from Germany, but not only the price is high, the information and specs and vague to non existent. "Fast oil" "slow oil", that's all.
So I guess I'll have to improvise and use a natural oil or blend, or some other synthetic oil that's non toxic.
Any advice?

Thanks in advance!

: Re: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Joe Calton May 11, 2016, 08:26:16 PM

Welcome to the forum!!

I believe that it is more about what the smith brings to the table, than what materials or tools he has to work with.

now on to quenchants...... for 52100, I use Texaco that I got from ed. because I could get it from him and he likes it and I have had good times with it also. for 1095 and 440c, I use canola oil preheated to 130-140 degrees. for 5160 I use vegetable oil.

If and when I ever run out of Texaco and need to develop a heat treat for 52100 with another quenchant, I will probably start off with vegetable oil. veg oils: canola, veg, corn, olive, ect..... have a lot of good things about them that I like. they are food safe, so the smoke "should" be fairly safe. they are easy to come by, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly.

one thing I have noticed about veg oils, is that the ones that I have used, seem to work better and more consistent after they have been heated a couple times to drive out any water. the only small "downside" I have found with veg oils is that you will need to develop your own heat treat with them, but then again, you should do that anyway, even with commercial quenchants to make sure you are getting the results that you want.

so here is a process that has worked pretty well with me. pick an oil that you think has potential. say veg oil. fill your quench tank and heat it to 130-140 and just heat a couple pieces of steel and quench them to drive any water out of the oil. let the oil cool. and then take a sample piece of whatever steel you are using, heat it to non magnetic, and quench it in the oil and note the temp of the steel, and the temp of the oil. file test the sample, then break it. heat another sample up a little hotter, or run the oil a couple degrees hotter and repeat. log it all in your log book, and you will soon find where the steel seems the hardest, and the grain looks the best. both on the temp fo the steel, and the temp of the oil.

now make a knife and quench it with what seemed to work the best with the samples. using your tempering oven {I use an old toaster with a couple oven thermometers in it} temper real low, like 300 for 2 hours, cool to room temp, then another 2 hours. then grind the blade, and test the edge for edge flex. if it chips out, adjust your temper in 10 degree increments until the edge will fail the way you want it to. then repeat with another test blade using what you found on the first one to make sure it is repeatable.

you will now have a "base" heat treat. and can then try the multiple quench, longer tempers, lower quench temps, ect... until you find what you are looking for. the important things to remember are to:

keep a log book

keep everything as consistant as you possibly can

keep a log book

test everything, never just take somones word for something, a test will only cost you a couple blades, and then you will know for yourself, with your equipment

keep a log book

test, test test. test your knives in as many ways as you can think of. use them, abuse them. no one in the world should be able to tell you more about what your knives can and cant do than you.

and last, keep a log book.

if you are thinking that I believe very strongly in keeping a log book, then you are completely right! your log book, if you keep one, will become your most important tool in your shop. log in everything you think could be important, the date, the temp in your shop, where you got the steel, the kind of steel, the oil, oil temp. damage to the blade during the test, your thougths about the test, everything.

on my youtube channel, I did a couple videos taking you through the process above when I was working up my base heat treat for 440c, here is the first one     

: Re: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Narheim May 12, 2016, 11:53:51 AM
Thanks a lot!
I'm aware I'll have to experiment and develop my own method, but I want the best starting point and information possible. Better said, I need the best starting point I can achieve, since after a year without me or my fiancee finding a job we must start to make some profit ASAP.
I have already worked with 52100 (borrowed equipment and method, from flat ground stock), but I need to know how to do it with my own equipment (he had some oil purchased from the US), and achieve better results. I don't expect to just go and make a ultra high performance blade on my first try, just good enough to be making reliable users in the next few months and earn at least enough to keep buying the supplies needed to keep on developing my method.

Vegetable oil seems like a vague term to me. Would canola be any good for 52100, and if so, how much should I heat it for the first test? I know a bulk supplier of canola oil, so that would be fairly inexpensive.
Which vegetable oil would you say has the best cooling rate for this steel and HT method? Would mixing two types of oil be a good option?

I know that's much asking, but as said, I'm not exactly rich, and I must cut the experimenting as much as possible or I might end up spending all of my budget in propane, oil or steel and getting stuck in the process.
I basically need to jump as much of the "slow beginning" part of the 52100 HT learning curve so that I can reach the "steep acceleration" part before my funds are depleted.

I'll just write down the "keep a log book" reminder on my log book.  ;)

: Re: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Joe Calton May 13, 2016, 07:12:02 AM
the label on the back of a jug of vegetable oil that I have in the shop for 5160 says it is soybean oil.  the only time I have used it with 52100 is for the post forging quenches. the reason I use it for the post forging quenches is that I have a veticle sword quench tank that I keep it in for doing double edged large blades, it stays set up and full of oil al the time. whereas I keep my Texaco in jugs on the shelf, and take it out and fill the tank each time I go to quench 52100 in it.

now for the shortcut part. your logbook, and the method I described is the only shortcut that I know of. approaching your development with a logbook and a methodical method will cut years off your learning curve, and will produce much better blades much faster than the "Christopher Columbus method" of just sailing until you find something.

when I went to develop a base heat treat for 440c, I bought 2 sheets of steel from a reputable supplier. I was fully prepared to use up both sheets to find a good "base heat treat", and really expected to. I got pretty lucky and only had to make and test 30 knives or so to get something that I was happy with for a start.

here is the problem with data given, and not gained......   lets say I give you my heat treat for 1095. I use a pid controlled kiln for most of my 1095, canola oil, and an old toaster oven for tempering. I heat the kiln to 1500, place the blades in the kiln, and set a timer for 7 minutes for 1/16" stock. after the 7 minutes, I remove the blades and quench in 130-140 canola, then repeat for a total of 3 quenches. then place the blades in the toaster at 385 for 3 hours, then 2 hours, then 2 hours.

seems easy enough to follow right? like you could just follow that recipie and get good results?   What if your thermocouple in your kiln reads a bit different than mine? what if you don't have baffles in your kiln? what if your setup doesn't allow you to get the blades out of the kiln and into the oil at the same rate that my setup does? what if your toaster cycles further from the set point than mine does?

the logbook, a methodical process, and relentless testing is the only shortcut that I know of to make knives that perform the way that they should. it will not shorten your path up that curve that you showed, but it may let you walk it, instead of crawling it.

: Re: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Narheim May 13, 2016, 09:45:22 AM
Understood, and thanks again.

What I mean is, for example, that canola may just be too fast to work with 52100. What I talk about regarding that shortening of the curve, it's having, in this particular matter, an oil that I know can give good results, then I just have to test to find the right method. I just can't risk to be months testing just to find out the oil won't give good results at all and I have to start all over with a different oil and more material (that I just won't be able to pay). So I must find out which oil or blend can give a cooling rate that's right for the steel.
Canola is mostly used for shallow hardening steels, so that's my worry, it may be just too fast.

: Re: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Daniel Rohde (D-Vision) May 13, 2016, 11:54:58 AM
Joe knows his stuff alright:) as for your question about Canola Oil, I have used it for 52100 and it had performed very well. I have some Texaco type A from Ed that I use also. I would say you can get "good" results with any oil but you might have to prepare and temper the steel differently depending on the oil...

: Re: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Narheim May 13, 2016, 06:12:55 PM
Joe knows his stuff alright:) as for your question about Canola Oil, I have used it for 52100 and it had performed very well. I have some Texaco type A from Ed that I use also. I would say you can get "good" results with any oil but you might have to prepare and temper the steel differently depending on the oil...

Well, that's great news for me! Thank you Daniel. Canola is probably the cheapest and most readily available option for me.
Would you mind sharing some tips for 52100 HT with this oil?

: Re: Quenching oil alternative for 52100
: Daniel Rohde (D-Vision) May 13, 2016, 06:53:05 PM
Nothing too fancy from me. I use it at about room temp most of the time, but heating it too 120F is a good idea. You just have to keep in mind that its a faster oil. I know of a lot of people that use Parks 50 for there 52100 ( a HEPK master smith as well) and its a similar speed quench to canola(as far as I know anyway). You just need to test your blades with the system you go with. I tend to need to temper blade from canola oil just a bit higher than ones from Texaco. Edge flex is a good friend for those sorts of things....There are many variables with heat treating and everything that leads up to heat treating, I'm not sure how much the oil will hold you back, and canola should be fine IMHO.

As Ed likes to say"test it, test it, test it"....and a favorite of mine...."play with it" 

Keep asking good questions! I'm far from good at answering but I'll keep trying(Joe and Ed correct me if I'm wrong). Joe and Ed are really good teachers and they sure like testing.....

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