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Recommendation? Heat treat for 5160 straight razor

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Andersoncustomknives, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Andersoncustomknives

    Andersoncustomknives

    12
    Nov 21, 2016
    I was recently commissioned to do 6 straight razors for wedding party gifts. These are going to be my first straight razors and the only steel I had that was thick enough to get a good hollow grind on was some old 5160 sheet stock. I’ve had good success at heat treating normal blades from this steel using the following recipe in my even heat kiln:

    Slow ramp (700f per hour) to 1530f
    Soak at 1530f for 15 minutes
    Edge quench in canola oil heated to 135f
    Fully immerse blade until completely cooled
    Temper at 350 for 2 hours twice

    My question here is, will this heat treat process work for a straight razor without causing warping or ruining the steel with how thin it’s ground or would I be better off using a torch and magnet, heating from the spine through to the cutting edge of the razor?
     
  2. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    It will work just fine, and thinness shouldn't be a problem because you shouldn't go past .030 thin before heat treat. Just grind thin after HT.
     
  3. Andersoncustomknives

    Andersoncustomknives

    12
    Nov 21, 2016
    Perfect, thanks for the reply! This whole project has been pretty daunting.
     
    Ian Fifelski likes this.
  4. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    Yeah, no problem. Good luck and have fun!:thumbsup:
     
  5. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    One more thing, I use a forge to ht, so I haven't hted 5160 in a kiln but I have never heard of it needing a slow ramp to temp. If you have found it to work though, :thumbsup:. I just think it may cause unnecessary decarb.
     
  6. MBB

    MBB Gold Member Gold Member

    240
    Apr 18, 2014
    Heat oven to temperature (1525-1530 F), put steel in oven, wait until temperature rebounds then start your timer for 10-15 minutes. Consider doing a pre-coating of PBC Anti Scale or ATP-641 to prevent decarb prior to putting steel in oven. Probably don't need to edge quench 5160, either. It's a deep hardening steel. Just stick it in the oil and if it warps, straighten during tempering.
     
  7. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    I personally think that’s to hot, but I like to dance around the lower limit. Then adjust the number of tempers and the temper time to sute your desired hardness. But this is just me and how I run my oven. 5160 is one of thoes simple steels that is not very picky. But in my shop I try and do test coupons of the steels. I step 25° up for each coupon from 1425° To 1550°. Then thy get hardness tested and snapped to inspect grain. I Normaly find the optimum temp to be lower then what is specked by around 50° give it take.

    But this is my shop and my Equipement. Your mileage may very.
     
  8. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    You can probably also temper lower, like 300F. Hardness is good for a razor.
     
    Beanman13 likes this.
  9. cotdt

    cotdt

    Oct 2, 2006
    I tested my favorite vintage razors and the best performing one was at 63.5 rc, made almost 100 years ago. The average ones were in the 60 rc range, and my brand new Theirs Issard razor, advertised at 65 rc, was performing poorly. I found it was actually only hardened to 58 rc. So I believe that hardness is very good for a razor.

    Making great razors is difficult business. I would say 90% of the razors I have don't reach that scary level of sharpness no matter how I sharpen them. Hair-whittling sharpness in the knife world is a low level of sharpness in the razor world, not enough to give an effortless shave. You need a great heat treat and great sharpening to get that amazing shave, and only 10% of my best razors can do that. If you don't have all the variables controlled then it may shave but pull and be uncomfortable on the skin. Better to outsource the heat treat to Peter's or some professional.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
  10. MBB

    MBB Gold Member Gold Member

    240
    Apr 18, 2014
    If you're going to go for high hardness as suggested, you probably should try a steel that can get there. 5160 may or may not be able to get to that range. 1095, O1, W1, W2, CruForge V, and 52100 will probably get to the 63-65 HRC range. Of those, Cruforge V is probably going to be the easiest to heat treat if you don't have Parks50/DT-48 for the quench.
     
  11. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    On top of that a very fine grained steel makes a HUGE difference. Hardness plays a role for sure but so does the alloy. I could do D2 at 64-65rc but it would be crap for a razor. But I bet A2 at the same hardness would be really nice. I have often wondered what a straight razor out of AEBL would be like. I have some thick drops. I might try it out. Plus I can get it into the 64rc range and maybe higher if I tweak the heat treat just a little bit more.

    But since we are talking hardness let’s alao look at edge stability. At such low edge angles you can get chipping when trying to sharpen. So I think there is more to a razor then pure hardness. There could be a point where it to hard andbyou cant get that super fine edge.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
  12. cotdt

    cotdt

    Oct 2, 2006
    Where can one get thicker stock AEBL? I too want to try it for a straight razor in 0.25" inch thickness.
     
  13. koduu

    koduu

    38
    Feb 26, 2018
    Definetly dont do an edge quench. If you do, you probably need to sharpen with a tape on the spine. Also id use a different steel - carbon steel with about 1% carbon if you are familiar with that specific steel or AEBL for stainless (needs cryo tho). And by that time you are done with the easy stuff and in comes the despair. Because of decarb and possible warpage you need to leave the material quite thick and finish grinding it post ht. Problem is the heat, so go slow and light, or get yourself a water stone. After that you need to sharpen and fix any geometry problems on a stone. This will be difficult to do without experience so use youtube and some practice pieces.

    Best of luck.
     
  14. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    The only way currently would be to forge weld stripps. I would do a stack of 3 so a weld does not end up on the edge. But there is a possibility that it could be upset in small sections for the spine. I have some thicker drops in the just under .200 stock. If you forged the “bevels” and upset the spine it could be possible.
     
  15. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Aldo has AEB-L up to .195".

    Steeks like Hitachi White and blue make superb razors. You can attain very high hardness and fine grain.
     
  16. EastCompassoKnivery

    EastCompassoKnivery

    77
    Feb 26, 2014
    In regards to AEB-L, I'm not sure that is a steel which can easily be forge welded let alone forged. You might reach out to Aldo at New Jersey steel baron to see if they have any thick AEB-L stock. (I source mine from there and the quality on it is amazing). AEB-L was originally intended to be a razor steel for razor companies and having made kitchen knife and straight razors from it it does take a VERY fine edge and you can harden it well into the 60's. The one down side is without a HT oven you will need to send it out for hardening. Best of luck with the 5160!
     
  17. Sam Dean

    Sam Dean Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 3, 2012
    Since AEB-L was developed as a "razor blade" steel by Uddeholm, it would probably make an awesome straight razor.

    Devin Thomas uses it in his damascus, so that kind of answers the forge welding question. Some kind of a damascus clad San Mai with an AEB-L core would be a real looker of a blade!

    Sorry, OP - way off topic...
     
  18. butcher_block

    butcher_block KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 6, 2004
    leave soem meat on the blade then grind post HT what size wheels do you have and what size razor are you looking to make this is what will determine spine thickness. total combined edge angle should be more then 15degrees and less then 18 (tho feather blades im told come shave ready and have a 22 degree edge bevel )
     
  19. Andersoncustomknives

    Andersoncustomknives

    12
    Nov 21, 2016
    Thanks for all the replies, I'll put this info to use and see how my first tester blade comes out. Tweak it further for the rest of them.
     
  20. jeness

    jeness

    34
    Jan 20, 2010
    I would buy some steel for that batch if I would be in your place. 5160 would be adequate most likely, but something like 1070, 1080, 1084, 1095 or O1 would be better suited for a razor. I have used various steels for razors, the harder and more fine-grained the better :)
     

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