Heat treating when performance isn't critical

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by eyeeatingfish, Feb 25, 2021.

  1. eyeeatingfish


    Dec 9, 2003
    Currently I am working on a stainless damascus pizza cutter (unknown exact steel composition as it was cutoff pieces) and I was debating heat treating the blade and handle parts in my coffee can forge. Since it is just cutting pizza and such where edge hardness is not critical I was wondering if a specific heat treat was not necessary. Edge won't be super sharp and I just don't want it to roll from being too soft.

    There are also other times where I may make something out of scrap stainless knife steel or damascus and I was wondering where I would have to send it out. Things like jewelry, a pry bar, or when using steel as a part for something and just don't want the piece to bend.

    Is there any universal way to just do a basic heat treat? I already know specific temps and soak times as well as certain quench methods are advised depending on the type of steel. Can I just heat to cherry red then quench in oil and do an aggressive temper process to make sure I have some hardness but not too much? Likewise with the bracket that will hold the cutting blade, I want to give it some hardness so it maintains shape but it doesn't need to be knife hard.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. leifjl

    leifjl KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 27, 2011
    Short answer is no.
    Don't try to HT something that you have no idea about.
    You're setting yourself up for wasting a lot of time, trust me I've done it many times over.
    LCoop and Natlek like this.
  3. JTknives

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

    Jun 11, 2006
    Cherry red will not do it for most alloy steels. Simple carbon steels you can eyeball and after playing with it get a decent heat treat. But most of your other steels need a precise temp and controlled soak time. All stainless steels need high temp in the 1800°-2100° range to harden up. And usually thy require at least a 1/2hr soak time. There are some alloys that do not fallow this standard and other precipitation hardening steels that just need a 900°-1150° temper to harden.

    But now onto the more pointed question. Do you know what alloy this steel is. If it’s just a random scrap then it’s much more likely it’s a non hardening stainless like 303, 304, 316 exc. where did you get it from? This will give you a starting point on what the alloy could be and if it will harden.

    But now the next question, why not use a circle of AEBL and have it heat treated. Would not cost you very much to have someone like my company cut and heat treat one for you. But if your convinced that you have to use your steel then I would skip the heat treat all together and I would just cold work the edge. This will work harden it to a point where its tougher.
  4. David Mary

    David Mary Moderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 23, 2015
    @eyeeatingfish Jarod is the real deal, and my go to for plasma cutting and heat treating blanks. His work is top notch and I can't recommend him highly enough.
    Wyo Coyote, noseoil and Ron Raducanu like this.
  5. DevinT


    Jan 29, 2010
    I hate threads like these.

  6. JTknives

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

    Jun 11, 2006
    Thy keep you young and full of life ;)
    DevinT likes this.
  7. eyeeatingfish


    Dec 9, 2003

    The damascus I am using currently is from Vegas Forge so it is good knife quality damascus. I may be able to match up patterns and see if their website indicates which pattern is which stainless steel but no guarantees they never change their recipes. Their website did give general heat treat instructions for SS damascus at 1,925 so maybe they choose alloys that all heat treat similarly?

    I bought a box of cutoff damascus from Vegas Forge. You can get decent size pieces (some as long as 3 inches) but you don't know what you get. I used gun blue to sort out stainless from non-stainless. I bought cutoffs once before from Chad Nichols and made a few knives and had them heat treated by Texas Knife Supply. I don't know if I will bother with the cut-offs again though.

    The pizza wheel is also a piece of damascus so I am going for the real nice look. I understand what you mean by just getting some AEB-L because then I could make the wheel bigger too. I have some pictures but not sure how to post, been a while since I have been on this forum. Don't have a paid membership anymore :(. The wheel and the arms that hold the wheel are stainless damascus and I welded on a stainless bolt to which I will attach a handle on after heat treat.

    I understand the soak time is part of getting the the "crystals" in the metal to go into solution and distribute a certain way (very poor explanation I know) so maybe a SS knife steel would only get a real surface level hardness if it didn't have the soak?
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
  8. eyeeatingfish


    Dec 9, 2003
    Thank you. I don't have any loyalty to any particular heat treater yet so maybe I will check him out on my next batch of knives for heat treat. If I ever get around to doing runs of my designs I would look to someone to cut the blanks.
    Bigfattyt and David Mary like this.
  9. JTknives

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

    Jun 11, 2006
    Don’t take this the wrong way but I'm confused. Your making a stainless Damascus pizza cutter and want to make it real nice looking. Why put in all that work and just half ass the heat treat? When I read your first post I just seen scrap stainless so I was thinking a circle scrap from like a stainless sink. Just some random alloy junk and you where just wanting to whip together a simple pizza cutter. Without a doubt if I was using stainless Damascus I would heat treat it proper to 58-60rc. I also would not had welded a bolt for the axle. I would of used a stainless corby bolt and turned a bronze bushing to ride between the wheel and axle.

    But this is just me and I usually over do stuff. This is your project and you can do it how ever you like but I would highly recommend heat treating it.
    Pinoy Knife likes this.
  10. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    If the damascus is stainless, it has to be hardened to get a good pattern and retain its stainless attributes. Unhardened, it will rust. Even carbon steel doesn't show the pattern as well until it is hardened.
  11. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    i think a pizza cutters edge is extremely critical :)
    Bigfattyt and TheEdge01 like this.
  12. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    I like to answer the OP's main question like this:
    If you went to a doctor and he said, "This isn't a very bad cut, certainly nothing critical, I don't need to wash my hands." - would you think that was OK?
    Pinoy Knife likes this.
  13. TheEdge01


    Apr 3, 2015
    I agree! It’s like putting a $5000 set of wheels on a junk car.
  14. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    So close yet so far.
    You should have gone with Uniroyal Tiger Paw on a Hellcat Charger analogy.
    TheEdge01 likes this.
  15. Jarrett Fleming

    Jarrett Fleming Moderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2011
    1925-1950 hold 30 mins, quench between aluminum plates
    temper twice at 400 2 hours
    Your pizza cutter should be just fine.

    I wouldn't sell it.
    Bigfattyt likes this.
  16. JTknives

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

    Jun 11, 2006
    Who’s up for a group buy on aebl pizza wheels lol
  17. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nope, you and Salem need to come through with some multibar damascus!
    Storm W and Wyo Coyote like this.
  18. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016

    Pizza Slice Damascus

    You bet your ass I’m in !
    Richard338 likes this.
  19. eyeeatingfish


    Dec 9, 2003
    I thought I would send the blade out for heat treat but I wasn't sure how important it was to heat treat the arms that hold the blade. Plus it wasn't just this one project either, like I mentioned sometimes I make jewelry pieces and for those I definitely don't need anything like knife level heat treatment so it was sort of a general question as well.

    I wish I could figure out how to post pictures but here goes my best description. I took the SS damascus and made two arms about 3" long. At one end I drilled holes and the axle will bolt on. At the other end I welded on a piece of SS damascus to set the space and connect the arms together. So it looks like a "U" shape of steel. At the bottom of the "U" I welded on a 5" threaded SS bolt which I will put a handle on and then use a bolt to secure the handle, kind of like the pommel on a sword.

    As for the axle, I did consider bronze but wasn't sure if the bushings I could get from the hardware store were something that would be food safe. I couldn't find an exact answer on that one yet but that is later on towards the end of the project so no rush there.
  20. eyeeatingfish


    Dec 9, 2003
    I'd buy that!

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