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Thread: Removing the temper from the bit

  1. #1

    Removing the temper from the bit


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    Came across this video and they appear to do finish bringing with a high speed wheel. Lots of sparks. What do you guys think?

  2. #2
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    I think it looks like typical 1950s small industry & hazardous place to work. Alot of cheesy dubbed sound effects too.

    There is alot of on-line blade myth repeated by folks without real world metalwork knowlege.
    Nothing wrong with grinding tempered steel. Just dont be an idiot about it & let the workpiece exceed temperature.
    Last edited by Lieblad; 03-17-2017 at 09:08 AM.

  3. #3
    I consider that the "how to properly put in a wedge" video. They new what they were doing. It seems he is staying clear of the edge, that would be important.

  4. #4
    Yeah I think around 9:00 minutes we're seeing the final grind (after heat treat) and he's moving the axe around a lot, mostly grinding behind the edge. Those guys made good axes.

  5. #5
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    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the final product turned out decently well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jblyttle View Post
    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the final product turned out decently well.
    Oh no JB, maine axes are trash. I'll gladly take all of them so you guys don't need to deal with them.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jblyttle View Post
    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the final product turned out decently well.
    This is why I'm asking i guess. Internet lore would have you believe grinding on a head like that will turn it into pot metal.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jblyttle View Post
    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the final product turned out decently well.
    That one got me, laughing out loud at the computer again.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Whiskey_Jim View Post
    This is why I'm asking i guess. Internet lore would have you believe grinding on a head like that will turn it into pot metal.
    I'm thinking the general rule of thumb is on the bit, sharpening, or in the hands of a novice that is a nightmare. In the hands of a Mainer on a small river in a tiny Town cram packed with axe factories back when everything was black and white, you are good to go.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiskey_Jim View Post
    This is why I'm asking i guess. Internet lore would have you believe grinding on a head like that will turn it into pot metal.
    It's entirely true that if you don't know what you're doing you can turn a world class axe into a piece of garbage in a matter of seconds using a dry grinding wheel. However...these guys DO know what they're doing.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FortyTwoBlades View Post
    It's entirely true that if you don't know what you're doing you can turn a world class axe into a piece of garbage in a matter of seconds using a dry grinding wheel. However...these guys DO know what they're doing.
    The axes turned out fine. The worker's lungs....not so much. I marvel at this video every time I see it. All day every day next to an oil fired forge and grinding with no ventilator. With a cigarette on the lip. These guys may have been in their 50's, but their lungs must have been 100.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jblyttle View Post
    The axes turned out fine. The worker's lungs....not so much. I marvel at this video every time I see it. All day every day next to an oil fired forge and grinding with no ventilator. With a cigarette on the lip. These guys may have been in their 50's, but their lungs must have been 100.
    Grinders (the fellows doing grinding, obviously, rather than the machines) were known for having dramatically shortened lifespans, even way, way back.


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  13. #13
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    It comes down to what color temper you draw on what type of steel. If you draw blue temper you've probably ruined it.

    A couple years ago I was heat treating a ship axe. After quenching in oil from red heat I put it in a 450° oven for an hour. The polished edge turned a brownish color and the steel was still almost glass hard - unfilable. After another hour at 475° the edge turned blue and my heart sunk, thinking I'd ruined it. But it was still too hard to file much to my surprise. Another hour at 500° and it turned purple and was still too hard to file. The 4th hour was at 525° after which it turned a new shade of blue. Again I was worried I'd ruined it but the file told me it was just right.

    I've never seen that early out of sequence blue before or since. I always wondered what type of steel was in the bit of that axe. Maybe some old crucible steel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Square_peg View Post
    It comes down to what color temper you draw on what type of steel. If you draw blue temper you've probably ruined it.

    A couple years ago I was heat treating a ship axe. After quenching in oil from red heat I put it in a 450° oven for an hour. The polished edge turned a brownish color and the steel was still almost glass hard - unfilable. After another hour at 475° the edge turned blue and my heart sunk, thinking I'd ruined it. But it was still too hard to file much to my surprise. Another hour at 500° and it turned purple and was still too hard to file. The 4th hour was at 525° after which it turned a new shade of blue. Again I was worried I'd ruined it but the file told me it was just right.

    I've never seen that early out of sequence blue before or since. I always wondered what type of steel was in the bit of that axe. Maybe some old crucible steel.
    There's a video on an old Sheffield knife maker in which he makes a pocket knife and tempers the blade to blue by drawing the thin blade over a piece of hot steel until he sees the color change.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodcraft View Post
    I consider that the "how to properly put in a wedge" video. They new what they were doing. It seems he is staying clear of the edge, that would be important.
    Drove it like he meant it and it wouldn't go no more.

    That film didn't show the final edge grinding. I suspect it was not done on the same wheel.

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    It's difficult to see what's going on at a meaningful detail, but the narrator -- at 9 minutes in -- says Woods puts on the "final edge on the bit" and polishes up to 3 inches past the edge (that's that shower of sparks), so it doesn't look as though he's worried about affecting the temper. The temper was put on at 7:46.

    I've never had any problem with grinding a thin knife edge with a belt sander, so an axe should be able to take a good sharpening from a stone grinder.


    I can't figure out what he's doing when hammering in that wedge. When I stop the film at 9:40 and blow it up, it looks as though there are four separate chunks of wood, with two small wedges on the sides of the haft, one broken. Then he cuts the haft clean of the top of the head. If I tried to hammer in a normal wedge with his technique, I'd break the wedge, but it doesn't look like a normal wedge job.

    He doesn't seem to put anything on the wedge, either.

    It's a cool film, but it doesn't give enough information to know what's really going on.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Twindog View Post


    I can't figure out what he's doing when hammering in that wedge. When I stop the film at 9:40 and blow it up, it looks as though there are four separate chunks of wood, with two small wedges on the sides of the haft, one broken. Then he cuts the haft clean of the top of the head. If I tried to hammer in a normal wedge with his technique, I'd break the wedge, but it doesn't look like a normal wedge job.

    He doesn't seem to put anything on the wedge, either.
    The wedge is dry. He splits it in a couple spots. I imagine the wedges were cut from shakes. That is why they are long. Think cedar shingle. Just poplar or whatever they used. He drives it home and lops it off. And at the end of the day that is really all that you need to do to hang an axe. You do not need a metal secondary wedge. You do not need anything on the wedge. The wedge can crack and be split. You do not need to leave it proud. Just drive a properly shaped wedge in hard and cut it off.. I use blo and leave it proud. I even try to recess the wedge to lock it in. All that said, the guy in the video hung a lot more axes than me. And I would imagine they held up fine. I just have more time to fiddle around than he did.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodcraft View Post
    I consider that the "how to properly put in a wedge" video. They new what they were doing.
    Quote Originally Posted by garry3 View Post
    Drove it like he meant it and it wouldn't go no more.
    Don't assume that you can wedge any axe in that fashion. I split the eye of my True Temper broad hatchet while driving a wedge like that.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Square_peg View Post
    Don't assume that you can wedge any axe in that fashion. I split the eye of my True Temper broad hatchet while driving a wedge like that.
    I was speaking with American felling and boys axes in mind. So good point.

  20. #20
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    Of course we do have to think that these small town gents were not used to visitors, being under the glare of staged lights and on camera. If you read the credits the tripod-mounted camera (35 mm!) and lighting gear was professional stuff. It wouldn't have been a 'business as usual' day for these lads. The incentive for the subjects to 'spruce it up a little' in depicting an otherwise dull and monotonous routine must have been there. Lighting a pipe off a hot piece of steel, overly vigorous wedging and creating generous volumes of sparks are small ways of accomplishing that.

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