A2 or L6? What would you choose?

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Okay, Justin Gingrich and I designed a tomahawk (if you haven't seen the design, please check it out in the ax/tomahawk/hatchet forum), and now I'm trying to decide on a steel. I wanted 3V, but a sheet of it the size of the hawk would be the same price as a finished hawk in A2 or L6. So, what would you choose for a balance of impact resistance and edge holding for this design?
 

Danbo

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Given the two choices you listed, L6 would be a no-brainer. L6 all the way! And, not just any L6 either. Get the real stuff from Crucible. Champalloy.
 
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Crucible doesn't make any of their L6. It is bought on the open market. So, buy it anywhere, it's all the same.
 
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L6 is a lot tougher than A2. If you want to go all the way you might consider a shock steel like S-7. Other than that you might do well with 5160.
 
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Justin looked into S7, but it was almost as much as 3V. I would love to have him do it in one of these steels, but I simply can't afford it right now. I could wait until I have the money available, but I want it now! Also, I don't know if I'd really want to USE something that expensive (500 bucks is a lot of dough for this guy). The most inexpensive would be 1095. I've heard it would be good for this at a RC of 54-56.
 
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I almost got my forums confused... I thought we were talking about Surefire lights there for a second.

:footinmou
 

Danbo

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Satrang said:
Crucible doesn't make any of their L6. It is bought on the open market. So, buy it anywhere, it's all the same.

Wrongo, Boogieman. All L6 is NOT the same. Just ask Kevin Cashen or Nick Wheeler(a couple of bladesmiths whose opinions are greatly sought after). There are two very different versions of L6 floating around. One is sold by Admiral and is nothing more than 1070 with a little nickel added. This stuff, while making a good blade, is not the same as what Crucible sells as Champalloy. Champalloy contains some other stuff(sorry, I can't remember exactly what) that makes a big difference.

Example: The Admiral version of L6 can be brought to forging temperature, forged and allowed to cool in a bucket of wood ashes, and once cool can be readily drilled easily. With the Champalloy L6, if you heat it up to forging temp and try to anneal in that manner, you are NOT going to be drilling that stuff! No, this stuff has to be annealed slowly, a little temperature drop at a time.
 
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Danbo, you missed my point. Crucible does not make any of their L6. They buy their material from the same sources as Admiral. Yes, Champalloy did have a slightly modified chemistry bu is not produced by them. When distributors started buying L6 in the open market they found it was cheaper to order from mills 4370 and then call it L6 because 4370 is considered a carbon steel not a tool steel and its chemical make-up fit inside L6. We all suffer from this since the bulk of what's commercially available is not tool steel quality L6 like it was many years ago. Shame.
 

brownshoe

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Is this why some makers are looking to move away from L6 in their damascus?
 

Danbo

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brownshoe said:
Is this why some makers are looking to move away from L6 in their damascus?

Makers who are looking to move away from Champalloy L6 in their damascus mix, are probably doing it because of the extra work involved.
 
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1095 would be OK, but a lower carbon 10XX series would probably be better. 1065 would probably work great. I am not sure what kind of steel it is, but many tomahawks are made from the heads of ball peen hammers. This seems to work great.
 

brownshoe

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I've read two articles in the last few months where knifemakers are moving away from L6 due to the availability of good stock. Extra work was not given as the reason.
 
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I am not involved with the supplier side of the steel business so I can't say exactly were any of it is born, but I have been on the consuming end for some time now and I am aware of 3 disinct chemistries being offered. Champalloy, with which I am most familar, offered by Crucible Service Centers, R.D.S offered by Carpenter Specialty Steels. and the L6 offered by Admiral, the behavior of which tells me that its chemistry probably does fall within the parameters of 4370.

None of these are better or worse, they just behave different. The idea that the Admiral stuff is in some way inferior is a very unfair judgement. The stuff from Carpenter is probably the stuff that has the most consistancy and predictibility. Champalloy is the richest of the mixes and with the addition of Moly can be the most trying to one who does not have the equipment or the experince to work it. The most common reason I have heard for makers abandoning L6 comes from this.

They may come from differing sources, or they may come for the same mill but when one can austenitize a 1/4" thick section, let it air cool to get a 34-36 HRC, and then heat a 1/2" section of Champalloy, let it air cool for an HRC of 61, I think it is safe to say that chemically they are not all the same. Confusion comes in because Admiral lists Champalloy chemistry for their L6, which I am pretty sure does not have the same deep hardening make up which that chemistry suggests.

For some time I also heard many smiths state that 15n20 was just L6 under another name. We need to remember that just because it has around, .7% carbon and has some nickel, that doesn't necesarrily make it the tool steel we think it is, there is a whole section of the periodic table that can be thrown in as well.
 
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