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Can Angle Iron be heat treated?

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  • Can Angle Iron be heat treated?

    Basically, I've got some angle iron that I want to make into a knife, but don't know if it can be heat treated to take and keep an edge... any thoughts? Thanks in advance,

    B2

  • #2
    Umm...my two cents would be "no"

    Most angle iron is pretty generic stuff - doesn't seem to be alot of regulation about alloys or anything. Its usually low in carbon and pretty much only good for work tables, stands, and other random applications. Thats not to say you cant purchase different alloys in the 90* angle, but the common run of the mill stuff you see at steel suppliers or Home Depot or the like wouldn't be a good choice for a knife that was going to be used alot.

    we'll see what everyone else thinks

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    • #3
      There have been a lot of nasty comments about bed rails and their questionable provenance, some of them might have high enough carbon to be hardenable, but it would be random.
      Steve

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      • #4
        Your best bet is to buy some "spring steel" flat stock in the dimensions you need. My grandfather made many, many knives, machetes using a flattened coil spring from a truck suspension. They kept a great edge and were easy to sharpen. We also made many speargun tips out of the old coils.
        Although the nicest blade we ever made was from an old bastard file. It could get incredibly sharp due to the high carbon content. It took a lot of grinding to get it there though. Remember anything with high carbon content will rust like a bitch if not coated, or kept coated with a thin film of oil. We used to get the carbon blades red hot and temper them in cooled "ProLong" engine oil treatment. That stuff stunk but it penetrated the metal preventing surface rust.
        Oh...and NO on the angle iron. Too little carbon to work with.
        Duke Reno / Yankee Metallic Metalcraft

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        • #5
          Can Angle Iron be heat treated?

          Originally posted by YankeeMetallic
          Although the nicest blade we ever made was from an old bastard file. It could get incredibly sharp due to the high carbon content. It took a lot of grinding to get it there though.
          Another thing that makes a great knife blade is an old power hacksaw blade.
          Jim (KB4IVH)

          Only fools abuse their tools.

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          • #6
            Odds are high, the answer is "no."

            Given the amount of work it's going to be to make the knife, IMO it's well worth it to start with a known steel with known characteristics. If you want to start with "scrap," a couple of good suggestions have already been made: an old leaf spring, or an old file. But angle iron...not likely. It's pretty junky steel.
            ----------
            Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
            Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
            Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
            There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
            Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
            Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie

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            • #7
              Normal everyday angle iron,no.

              But angle iron from old bed rails,yes lots of times.Some of the old bed rails used angle iron that was high carbon to the point regular HSS drill bits bounce off it.

              It would probibly make a knife that would hold an edge,assuming you have the knowledge and skill to heat and shape it ,then heat treat it without burning the carbon out or making it brittle.
              I just need one more tool,just one!

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              • #8
                There's not a thing junky about structural steel. It's a product made to specifications that include ready weldability, low cost of manufacture, and cold workability. These characteristics almost precludes its use as a cutlery steel which is weldable only under special circumstances if at all. Files and springs if properly heat treated after manufacture can make very acceptable cutlery. So can structural steel if a high carbon steel strip is forge welded into its edge. Only the edge needs to be hardened.

                Many an ax and knife has started as low carbon steel but, thanks to skilled black smithing and a welded edge, finished as a very effective tool.

                So don't scorn a material as "cheap" or "junky" if it meets the specifications for which it was intended. Under skilled hands this same steel and the steel from an old file can be combined into edged tools or, if carburized, made a wide range of shafts, gears, and other products.

                All that said, don't shy away from using structural steel to make samples or as a experimental and skill building material.
                Last edited by Forrest Addy; 09-10-2006, 12:38 AM.

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                • #9
                  There is an incredible amount of information available today, both on the internet, and in books, about making knives.
                  If you want to make a knife, the general consensus is that the amount of time you will spend, usually at least a couple of days for a beginner, means it is worth the 10 bucks it would cost you to get a piece of known alloy, appropriate steel.
                  Seems kind of silly to spend 15 or 20 hours of time, only to have a worthless knife at the end, to save 10 bucks.

                  Angle Iron is A36- which has a very general range of stuff that can be in it, in terms of chemical composition, as long as it meets certain tensile strength standards. So its great for holding up carports, but nobody who makes it cares in the slightest whether it will hold an edge or not.

                  Go to this site- and study.
                  Everything you could ever want to know about making knives is here-
                  http://www.knifeforums.com/

                  Then, you ought to get your library to order, or just break down and buy, Dr. Jims books-
                  http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Blade...e=UTF8&s=books

                  and Wayne Goddards book- "the $50 knife shop"- it costs 13 bucks, and he really knows his stuff.
                  http://www.amazon.com/Wayne-Goddard-...e=UTF8&s=books

                  Then, check out Tai Goo- he makes beautiful knives out of free junk, using almost no tools.
                  http://www.taigoo.com/

                  If you do some homework, you can make great knives cheap- but skip the angle iron.

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                  • #10
                    [[So don't scorn a material as "cheap" or "junky" if it meets the specifications for which it was intended. Under skilled hands this same steel and the steel from an old file can be combined into edged tools or, if carburized, made a wide range of shafts, gears, and other products.]] Couldn't have said it any better!

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                    • #11
                      Stupid question i'm sure but... what do you mean by "bed rails"?

                      I'm a big fan of angle iron for many aplications. As Forest Addy said, its great for what it was designed for - and ordinary steel is good for many aplications. I made a knife out of the 1/8" by 1.25" strap at home depot. It was a fun little project just to learn some techniques even if it didn't come out to great. I tried forge welding a hacksaw blade to the edge - it sort of worked...i had a hard time getting charcoal to burn hot enough to do any kind of forge welding though. I ended up making my own charcoal from firewood and then using a shop vac set on blow and some steel pipe as my blower!

                      come to think of it, i'm not too sure what the hacksaw blade was even made out of - it was a nicholson (sp?) bi-metal hacksaw blade. I assumed it would make a good knife edge...?

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for all your help, guys, I really appreciate it!

                        B2

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                        • #13
                          [[what do you mean by "bed rails"? ]] FT, those are the steel angles used for supporting mattresses and box springs. That poop was hard, so keep an eye out for someone throwing away an old bed.

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                          • #14
                            I suppose that the literal answer to such a general question would be "yes". I have a pair of 4" X 4" x 4" angle plates I made while working in an oil tool shop in California in 1971 from a piece of 5" X 5" X 3/4" structural angle iron. I welded them up, machined them to finish dimensions plus about .02" and carburized them. I then finished them on the surface grinder and have used them ever since.
                            But since the question probably meant can structural angle be heat treated by the accepted methods of heating and quenching ----- then I would say no.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks Millman! Those were the only bed rails i could think of but i thought surely you guys were talking about something else...i think my sister just threw away an old matress and box-spring. Not sure what they're doing with the bed. I think i'll give her a call Thanks for the tip!!

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