Monday, January 13, 2014

Free time at the forge

Along with twenty years of forge project backlog I also have a matching stash of high carbon steel scrap. After my initial success forging 3/8 mild steel I was keen to see what I could do with some my scrap.  One old tire lever has been ear marked for a solid roughing gouge and skew chisel.  Well, talk about experiential learning.  I can tell you that high carbon steel does not forge like mild steel.  Two hours of solid pounding barely shaped some serviceable chisels and the bulk of the work was in forging the tang.  With the bulk of my energy exhausted I turned to some lighter work forging a small chip carving knife from an old file and a spoon gouge from a one inch spade bit.

Heat treatment was a bit difficult because I was struggling to see the colour change.  Back home I cleaned and shaped with my flap disk and ground and polished cutting edges.  On the lathe these new chisels are and order of magnitude better than my bargain basement tools.  They take and hold a great edge and their mass dampens any vibration.  The skew chisel particularly produces a good clean finish which was remarkable considering the trouble I had with my old chisel.

I had ground chip knives from old files before but they have never been any good.  The hard material would simply fail when it became too thin either during the sharpening or during the first cut.  The tempering on my new knife worked a treat softening the material so that it will hold an edge.  Both the knife and the spoon gouge cut well and forging is the only practical way I was ever going to get the right shape.