Nov 20, 2001
is water hardening going to get the same effect as tempering, or are they completely different things? and also, does one need to temper carbon steel, or is bar stock generally tempered already, and worked in the hard state? Thanks, joe+
Hi, guess you are kinda new to this area of the forums?
Hardening makes the steel harder, and more brittle, tempering reduces the hardness but improves the toughness. First you harden, then you temper.

That goes for all common cutlery steel, stainless and non-stainless. As far as I know, "bar stock" could be in any condition, hard, soft (annealed), or somewhere in the middle. Annealed is easier to work, and any ground flat stock should be in that condition.

This is a great place to pick up that sort of info, just search around and you will find a whole book's worth on heat treating just about any sort of knife steel.
Dijos , from what little I know of the topic,,,I read a book (KNIFE TALK)by Ed Fowler,,and his words really helped me understand the terms people were useing here on the Blade Fourms.

I also saw that Ed Fowler sends to a guy named Rex Walter to get his 52100 carbon steel,, so I sent to Rex too, and got some 52100.

It worked like a dream, Rex sends the steel all ready to go, (annealed) .

But foolishly I sent away to a different guy for my next order of 52100,,,and that steel didnt come ready to work at all,,,and along the way to making a knife with that other steel, the blade snapped in half!...(a lesson was learned here)

From now on, I will only get steel from REX,,,and I will let rex do all the heavy lifting and forgeing,,,and send me steel all set to go!
I usually anneal everthing I do even before I set hammer to it. I have a cut-in-half steel barrel loaded with nice clean poplar ashes to slow down the cooling. I anneal my piece/s then shove it into the ashes. Usually this takes 3-4 days before its cool enough to touch.