New forge steel, ApexUltra

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Jul 8, 2021
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Gotcha. The reason I ask is that people who make sword blades often need to use a forge, because getting a furnace long enough can be expensive and difficult. I also find that heat treating a sword-sized blade in a forge is a lot easier than a knife, because the much greater thermal mass drastically helps stabilize temperature fluctuations in the billet, helping to avoid overheating.

Sword blade makers also more often need to forge the billet itself, just to form the curves and dimensions needed. I suspect people will be making sword blades out of this new steel.

Honestly from a customers standpoint; I'd rather see them sub contract the heat treat to a service provider with consistent, controllable equipment, even if that means reasonable increased cost and wait time. Downside is increased cost and time, the upside is accuracy, consistency and the sub contracter will be liable (to the maker) for mistakes and losses in time, materials, labor etc. if they wreck a piece/batch etc.
 
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Mecha

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Honestly from a customers standpoint; I'd rather see them sub contract the heat treat to a service provider with consistent, controllable equipment, even if that means reasonable increased cost and wait time. Downside is increased cost and time, the upside is accuracy, consistency and the sub contracter will be liable (to the maker) for mistakes and losses in time, materials, labor etc. if they wreck a piece/batch etc.

I know what you mean, but in reality all you’ll likely get in that case are short, thick “sword” blades.

A AlongTheRazorsEdge I'm not on my phone so I wanted to add a little more to the short answer above. Subcontracting a perfect heat treatment from a provider would be ideal, but length limits make it difficult to find an outfit that will do one-off blades in large sword sizes, deal with the high possibility of warp or other problems, etc. Since a lot of people who make full-sized swords happen to use a forge to do it and get good at controlling heat, this steel seems like a great choice for such a blade and process.
 
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Blankblank

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Thank you, Hoss! IIRC, CPM steel is a significantly finer grain; So, would seem more dense and need a consistent hardness throughout....am I tracking? Are there general characteristics of working with CPM metals that significantly change from the cheap whatever I can get to start? FWIW, grinder ought to be up in days, now that all parts are here or in delivery. I very much appreciate the insight of the community and am so excited to be learning such an awesome craft!!!
The way I would look at this is, a steel benefits from the cpm process when either there is such a large amount of alloying elements that they aren't able to all be dissolved when being process, before the steel literally melts, or that the specific alloying elements remain stable to such high temp. Both leading to coarse carbides that aren't able to be dissolved.

So pm steels solve that problem, which generally will lead to better toughness in a given alloy like cpm d2 vs d2.

Cpm steel doesn't need a consistent hardness throughout, and the reason you don't see cpm steels that are differentially hardened (with a visible hamon), is because generally any pm steel has such a large amount of alloying element that raise the hardenability to a level that can make getting the different microstructure to be visible going from spine to edge a very difficult process.
 
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1. You won't get hamon from any air-hardening steel.
2. CPM steel doesn't nessesary has finer grain/carbide than conventional steel. Fine grain steel like AEB-L, 52100 or even Apex Ultra has much finer micro structure than most CPM steel including Magnacut.
 

Larrin

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ApexUltra was made with ESR to reduce impurities which is a totally different type of expensive production process. ApexUltra was designed to keep the carbide size small through the alloy content and then ESR reduces impurities and refines the structure. ESR is electroslag remelting if you want to look it up. So it is “cleaner” than PM steel.
 
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The way I would look at this is, a steel benefits from the cpm process when either there is such a large amount of alloying elements that they aren't able to all be dissolved when being process, before the steel literally melts, or that the specific alloying elements remain stable to such high temp. Both leading to coarse carbides that aren't able to be dissolved.

So pm steels solve that problem, which generally will lead to better toughness in a given alloy like cpm d2 vs d2.

Cpm steel doesn't need a consistent hardness throughout, and the reason you don't see cpm steels that are differentially hardened (with a visible hamon), is because generally any pm steel has such a large amount of alloying element that raise the hardenability to a level that can make getting the different microstructure to be visible going from spine to edge a very difficult process.
So, Ima need a jig to polish one in, huh? ;)
 

Keith Nix

Head Grinder at Keith Nix Knives, Machinist
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"Cpm steel doesn't need a consistent hardness throughout"

What???
I can't think of a single CPM steel that won't through harden in still air. Can you explain this thinking, please?
 
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Bought 3 bars of this stuff from Pops. Definitely the most expensive forge steel I have ever seen...
 
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Vacuum induction melted, electro slag remelt processed material, rolled by Bohler, made in Europe, shipped to the US , yeah, it will be a little pricey. But well worth it.

Hoss

Believe me even if it was 50% more expensive than this I will still bought it anyway.

This steel set many new performance records according to the paper.
-Highest toughness at very high hardness.
-Highest wear resiatnce low alloy steel ever.
-Widest range of hardening temp.

I excite about it even more than Magnacut tbh.
 

Blankblank

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"Cpm steel doesn't need a consistent hardness throughout"

What???
I can't think of a single CPM steel that won't through harden in still air. Can you explain this thinking, please?
That's not even close to what I was trying to say. You can go down another sentence, and I mention the hardenability of these steels is so high that it would make differentially hardening difficult.
 
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That's not even close to what I was trying to say. You can go down another sentence, and I mention the hardenability of these steels is so high that it would make differentially hardening difficult.
You went over his head. What's new

Believe me even if it was 50% more expensive than this I will still bought it anyway.

This steel set many new performance records according to the paper.
-Highest toughness at very high hardness.
-Highest wear resiatnce low alloy steel ever.
-Widest range of hardening temp.

I excite about it even more than Magnacut tbh.
Key word* paper.

 

Blankblank

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Anyway. This steel looks great. When I get the chance I'm definitely going to try some out. Definitely a great choice for people that are trying to make blades out of alloys like super blue (and live outside japan lol), 26c3, etc.
 

Joshua Fisher

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Finished grinding my first kitchen knife from ApexUltra, made the Wa handle with golden acacia from Greenberg Woods Greenberg Woods just have to glue it up and sharpen and I’ll be able to start testing. Overall first impressions from working with this steel is it definitely resists forging and grinding a little more than other carbon steels but it wasn’t bad to work with just took a bit more time and care. I really like how the forge texture turned out, I feel like it is a bit smoother than other steels.
 

Blankblank

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View attachment 1887870 View attachment 1887871 View attachment 1887872
Finished grinding my first kitchen knife from ApexUltra, made the Wa handle with golden acacia from Greenberg Woods Greenberg Woods just have to glue it up and sharpen and I’ll be able to start testing. Overall first impressions from working with this steel is it definitely resists forging and grinding a little more than other carbon steels but it wasn’t bad to work with just took a bit more time and care. I really like how the forge texture turned out, I feel like it is a bit smoother than other steels.
Very nice!!!

That looks great, how thin did you take it? I'd also love to know about a million other details that you decided to go with. I cant wait to hear the results you get testing it out.
 

Greenberg Woods

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Finished grinding my first kitchen knife from ApexUltra, made the Wa handle with golden acacia from Greenberg Woods Greenberg Woods just have to glue it up and sharpen and I’ll be able to start testing. Overall first impressions from working with this steel is it definitely resists forging and grinding a little more than other carbon steels but it wasn’t bad to work with just took a bit more time and care. I really like how the forge texture turned out, I feel like it is a bit smoother than other steels.

Looks great! I know its about the steel, and i hope you post some experiences down the road, how did you like the acacia?
 

Joshua Fisher

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Very nice!!!

That looks great, how thin did you take it? I'd also love to know about a million other details that you decided to go with. I cant wait to hear the results you get testing it out.
I’ll take some measurements in the morning to be precise but I’d say about 3/32” at it’s thickest on the spine and about 10-12 thousandths at the edge, ground the bevels with a 36” radius platen and heat treated the knife at 1525F for 10 minutes quenching in parks 50 and tempered at 350 which should put it right about 66rc, my 64rc chisel wouldn’t even touch it. I’ll post results after testing, I’ll be using this knife for edge retention testing this week.
 
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