Index Home About Blog
From: Robert Bastow <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Need source for octagon ts
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 19:07:34 GMT

Coil and flat spring material (OCS..Old Chevy Spring) is 5160 steel..excellent
for forged knife blades, prybars, screwdrivers etc. My favorite material for the

It is DEFINITELY an oil quenching material.  Water quench of a full section will
usually cause cracking.

However it is a bit low in carbon content for a really hard one of the
techniques used by knife makers is to "Edge Quench"  If you are brave, this can
be done in 1/4" of water in a shallow pan. I sometimes float a 1/4" of olive oil
on top of the water (no better than any other oil..just smells better ;^)  This
moderates the quench a bit and I prefer (read.."chicken out") to do it this way
on thin blade sections

 The thickness of hot metal, backing the blade, moderates the quench enough to
(usually!!!), avoid cracking.

The result is a tough blade backing up a hard edge..with a "Temper Line" similar
in appearance..but of a slightly different nature, to the "Hamon" on a Japanese

(A Hamon is a *hardening* line, produced by coating the blade in varying
thicknesses of special clay, heating the whole blade, differentially..hotter on
the edge than the back..and plunge quenching in tepid water)


Steve Smith wrote:
> I've had zero luck treating coil springs as water hardening. They always
> crack. I use oil.
> Steve Smith
> Ted Edwards wrote:
> > James Peter wrote:
> >
> > > I need a source for about 50 feet of 1/2 inch octagon, water hardening (w1)
> > > tool steel. I teach a forging class and our starting project is a 6 inch
> > > chisel made from this material. For year I've bought it from Recto-Alloy,
> >
> > May I make a suggestion?  When I took part of a farrier course that
> > included much blacksmithing, here's how we made cold chisels and other
> > tools.
> >
> > Get some discarded vehicle coil springs made with appropriate diameter
> > "wire".  These are usually free for the asking in anything from quite
> > small to seriously big.  Each student cuts off one turn with a cutting
> > torch, straightens it over the horn, forges a chisel and hardens and
> > tempers it.  Treat it as water hardening.  Material cost - zero,
> > experience - priceless and you don't even need Master Card! :-)
> >
> > I have made two large cold chisels this way along with many drifts,
> > punches, ... .  One of the large cold chisels was for my son-in-law, a
> > professional mechanic, after he broke three Snap-On chisels.  This was
> > several years ago.  Last time I spoke to him (recently) he has yet to
> > sharpen it let alone break it.  I have used mine for chipping concrete,
> > breaking stone and even (fancy that) cutting metal.  It is still in
> > excellent shape although it did need sharpening after chipping all the
> > blobs off the walls of a large concrete basement.
> >
> > Ted

From: Robert Bastow <"teenut"@>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Oil hardening rod as (automotive) suspension component?
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 20:11:40 GMT

Best of all will be 5160..specifically a spring steel..also beloved by custom
blade makers as "OCS" (Old Chevy Spring)

Obtainable in bar and rod form from any good Specialty Steel Supplier. Your
Friendly Local Truck Spring Company probably stock round bar of varying
diameters, from which they form coil springs and torsion bars to order.

Have you enquired about having a custom torsion spring made by one of these
people locally?


Randy O'Brian wrote:

> From what I have read, O1 is not too good as a spring.  W1 would probably be
> better since it is similar to 1075 which is often used in spring manuf.  The
> best of the common tool steels would probably be S7.  It is very shock
> resistant and is available in drill rod form.
> Randy
> "Ted Edwards" <> wrote in message
> > Jan Ben wrote:
> >
> > > so do you think the oil hardening alloy would do OK as far as fatigue?
> > > annealed or treated?
> >
> > Let's see what others have to say.  I'm sorry, I don't know the fatigue
> > properties of O-1.
> >
> > Ted

Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 03:18:25 +0100
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
From: Tom Holt <>
Subject: Re: Modern Metals, Old Weapons...

The message <BBB05.4887$>
  from  "J.S.B. Smith" <> contains these words:

> Ponder with me, if you will, and let your thoughts travel towards a
> parallel, modern, technologically advanced world, wherein personal guns were
> banned with such ferocity,

Ah. You mean Britain.

> 1) Are there materials today which are so strong that the resiliency factor
> is irrelevant: a person simply isn't strong enough to cause it to shatter?

Yes. Steel.

Modern spring steel (5160 is the standard) is the perfect material
for swordmaking, combining toughness with edge-holding. It's as good
as anything used in antiquity, if not considerably better.

There are various alloys of aluminum, titanium, beryllium copper &c
that are as tough and ductile, and much lighter. Lightness is not
necessarily a desirable quality in a sword (at any rate, not a
cutting sword); weight gives momentum and impetus. Chopping with a
sharpened feather would be difficult, unless you can design a
workable lightsaber (and if you can, please send me the schematics
and an intellectual property waiver)

Thrusting weapons such as rapiers, or the 18th century smallsword
(reckoned by many to be the most efficient non-projectile killing
tool ever devised) are a different matter; light weight is generally
desirable, and thrusting weapons could with advantage be made of
carbon fibre tipped with tool steel. Thrusting weapons, however, are
efficient only at killing, as opposed to neutralising an opponent. An
enemy can be fatally injured with a smallsword thrust, and still kill
you. In combat it is desirable (a) to stop an enemy as quickly as
possible (b) in many cases, to stop him without killing him. Cut his
arm off at the elbow and you achieve both objectives. Run him
through, and you may just make him mad at you; the fact that he dies
two minutes after you do will probably not be much comfort to your
grieving relatives.

> 2) What is the historic relationship between the edge of a sword and it's
> weight? I understand that lighter swords, not designed to deal with an
> armored foe, generally have a keen and sharp edge, where heavier swords,
> designed as much to bludgeon as to wound, have an edge like a chisel (which
> would last longer).

Essentially correct. The geometry of a cutting edge is a compromise
between strength and sharpness; a razor blade is very sharp, but not
sturdy enough to withstand impact; a cold chisel is made for
impact-cutting metal, but isn't much use for shaving. Hard steel
holds the best edge, but shatters easily; tempered steel loses its
edge quicker, but doesn't shatter so readily. Generally speaking, the
hollow-ground profile of the modern knife gives a keen edge, but is
too weak and brittle for heavy chopping. Swords tend to be flat or
cannel (teardrop-shape) ground, to give strength to the edge

> 3) How about composites: multiple metals forged/fused together into a whole
> greater than it's parts? Is there a superior material that can be forged
> into the blade to be an edge, and a different material that can be used for
> the bulk of the weight?

For centuries swordsmiths welded together steel and soft iron to make
blades. The result (often loosely called 'damascus') is visually
stunning and fairly efficient - at its best, almost as good as modern
spring steel. They did this because they couldn't simply walk into a
store and buy guaranteed quality premium grade alloy steel. The
laminated steel used by Japanese swordsmiths is no better than truck
spring; the Japanese went to the trouble of fusing and multiple
folding because they didn't have anything as high-tech as a truck
spring to work with.

Another approach was to weld carbon steel cutting edges to a more
flexible soft iron core, a technique used within living memory for
making axeheads. Again, the availability of modern alloy steel
renders this unnecessary.

> 4) The relationship between mass and purpose? At what point does a sword
> become no more (or even less) effective against an armored for than a mace?

When it ceases to cut. Medieval armor was usually no more than 2mm
thick, and could be cut with a sword or an axe. Armorers defeated the
swordsman more by deflecting the blade, contouring their work so the
blade would glance off, than by sheer bulk (which would have made it
impossible for the wearer to move)

> 5) Big or small? Heavy or Light? I was thinking that very small, but very
> heavy would be the best of all worlds:

Disagree. Handspeed is probably the most important quality in a
sword, followed by resilience, balance and cutting power (a product
of mass and blade profile geometry). A heavy sword is slow to move.
As in all aspects of sword design, there is a compromise to be made.
Too light; won't cut. Too heavy; too slow, and you're dead. Small is
not good, either; might as well have a knife. One of the duties of a
sword is to keep you as far away from the enemy as possible. Another
is to parry the enemy's blows. Therefore a sword needs to be as long
and as wide as you can make it without prejuducing the other critical
factors cited above. Once again, compromise is everything.

> In my mind, strength-to-weight ratios,
> modern plastics generally have it all over metals, or am I wrong?

Carbon fibers &c may withstand shock as well or better, but are often
far easier to cut; a vest that'll stop a .308 bullet may well not stop a knife.

> Could swords take the place of guns?

No. You have to stand too close. Also, a swordsman needs strength,
agility, skill and a substantial degree of courage verging on
recklessness and insanity, in order to close with and kill an enemy.
The great virtue of firearms as weapons beneficial to humanity is
that they 'equalize'; a 70 year old woman can defend herself against
a 20 year old man; a little guy in a wheelchair can defend himself
against a gang of six-foot thugs. Swords are merely extensions of the
arm. In a society without private firearms, the strong will prey on
the weak (as is happening in Britain today)

After a lifetime of rigorous training, the finest Japanese Iaido
practitioners can defend themselves against as many as four armed
opponents simultaneously. So can a five-foot-nothing woman with a .22
revolver, provided she can read the instruction manual and figure out
which bit is the trigger.

Index Home About Blog