Non-5160 Steel For Journeyman Test. Journeyman Smith Performance Test
Posted 05 August 2012 - 10:44 PM
Posted 06 August 2012 - 06:24 AM
I am aware of several individuals who have insisted on doing things "their own way" when it came to the JS test.....and most of them have regretted it. Even though you hear folks like me say "This is the easiest route"...don't take it to mean there are not challenges involved. My advice would be to start building and testing blades from the steel(s) you want to use, and see how it goes. Who knows, you might just be able to overcome problems/issues that others couldn't....and you will learn a lot along the way. If it doesn't work out the way you think it should.....you can always go back to 5160.
What kind/type of knife are you thinking of besides a "bowie/camp/survival styles? I can't imagine anything else (shorter/narrower blades) being able to pass the tests.
If it's recognition or notoriety you're seeking by using another steel or another knife type, it's an empty purse. Nobody is going to care when you're in the middle of/or have completed your JS test. The best thing you can do is read, and re-read the JS testing rules, and follow them to the letter.....don't try to "game" them, or put any other other interpretation on them.....they are sorta like the Bible.....the say what they mean, and mean what they say.
Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:28 AM
You can see the video here (for the style of the knife):
Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:13 AM
Obviously many Mastersmiths have passed the test with at least one other steel besides 5160, (personally didn’t include it in my damascus at all). And I regularly witness other steels pass, especially since I encourage students in all of my intro classes to try both 1084 and 5160, one for differential hardening effects and one for differential tempering effects. I have often heard the case made for 5160 because it has been used more often than any other steel in passing the test, but 5160 has more often been recommended than any other steel, thus more people are using it simply for this reason. I have also taught classes where the only steel available to use was 5160. Thus using the ammount of times that this steel is chosen as evidence of its suitability for the test risks falling victim to more than one logical fallacy by confusing cause and effect while appealing to common practice or the spotlight fallacy. Yes, perhaps more knives made from 5160 than any other steel have passed the test, but this is only evidence that more people have chosen that steel, regardless of whether it was the best choice. For example,100% of Mastersmiths use damascus steel for the test, but since we have a larger number of Journeymen using monosteel we can easily deduce that, at least where damascus is concerned, the Mastersmith test is a seriously biased sample in making conclusions about damascus.
I take a keen interest in this because it is a good example of one of the common ways we select our steels in bladesmithing, and just one of the reasons that I was excited to be able to give my talk on a more systematic approach to steel selection last spring at the Piney Woods Hammer-in. The ABS test can be used as an excellent exercise in a more systematic approach. First determine the application or what the blade needs to do. In this case let’s narrow it down to going to 90 degrees in a vise. Now there are two ways to accomplish this, you can bend the blade, or you can flex the blade. “Bending” implies that the blade will plastically and permanently deform, “flexing” implies that it will elastically deform and return to its original shape. Most folks tend to go for the bend via differential heat treating, and the safest way to bend a blade without brittle modes of failure is make as much of it as possible ductile, thus the property you are looking for is ductility from your chosen heat treatment. A deep hardening steel will fight you in this effort while a shallow hardening steel will work with you quite well. Just ask the guys doing differential hardening on Japanese swords how much they like added alloying like chrome or manganese. 5160 can have as much as .9% chrome, it will not want to help you out much in making a dead soft spine that will bend, but any of the 10XX series will. Thus for this approach to the test 5160 is not necessarily the best choice. In my opinion successful bends with 5160 are more due to it lower levels of carbon compensating for the effects of the chromium.
In blades that are intended to “flex”, or exhibit more elastic behavior, the geometry and thickness of the blade become major factors, the deeper hardening properties are less of a problem and one can simply let the spine of a 5160 blade do what it will and take care of it with differential tempering instead. But in the end we must also bring everything into play and remember that there are cutting and chopping tests of the edge as well in order to get a stamp, and any number of steels will excel in this area.
My point here is not at all to disparage 5160, which is a very good bladesmithing steel, but instead to provoke more careful examination of how we determine what steel chemistry will really give us what we want. Not as much in this case, but in many instances smiths unnecessarily handicap themselves with steel choice that does not naturally fit the application and then expend a lot of effort pounding a square peg into a round hole via heat treatment. It is kind of like my wife choosing me all those years ago thinking that she could “change me” to fit what she wanted, you can ask her how well that approach worked for her .
On the blade style, I agree with Mr. Caffrey as to- what other blades will fit the template? I myself think sometimes when making a bowie that the world seems to have more than enough bowies being made. But the ABS sets out the specifications on the test knife and the camp or bowie just sort of naturally fit the bill. Sure a kukri would be sweet on the 2X4 but easily measuring it and bending it make it a poor overall choice in my opinion. I feel somewhat for Journeyman, and certainly for Master, that an applicant’s design choices play into their aptitude as a smith, and choosing a design completely counter to the task could cast some doubts on their overall understanding of blade function.
Posted 07 August 2012 - 12:14 AM
I guess the big risk with the flex, rather than the bend approach, is that if you don't nail your heat treat perfectly there is MUCH more risk of cracking failure—and more dangerous—trying to get to 90º. I presume that is why many smiths prefer to take the soft spine bend approach rather then the flex approach?
Earth Crafts & Applied Arts
www.eartharts.us (update pending)
Posted 07 August 2012 - 03:55 PM
Metal selection I am greatly torn on this topic. All of my research and private discussions with a fair amount of people makes me lean to something other than 5160 at this point. That may change. I am not trying to be an ass or anything, or even game anyone (not sure why that was even brought up actually), or even doing this for recognition/notoriety.
Here is the big case for not using 5160 that was pointed out to me recently. I have 3 years to prep for the test. I plan to predominately use another steel for my work, lets call that steel X. Now over the next 3 years I have 3 options:
A ) I can focus exclusively on 5160 and really master that, in which case the presentation knives would have to be made from 5160. Then be at a major disadvantage because this would not be the steel I would be using for my work.
B ) I can spend some of that time focusing on 5160 and somewhat know many aspects of that steel and spend the rest of the time working on steel X and know many aspects of that steel; tho mastering neither steel in which case failure rate or reject odds would be highest of all options.
C ) focus exclusively on steel X steel and really master that, in which case the presentation knives would have to be made from steel X. So the key to this one would be: make sure this steel is more than capable of passing the test with flying colors; presentation knives would be made from this and would carry over to my future work.
So option C is a triple win no matter how you look at it. The only key factor would be which steel.
Posted 07 August 2012 - 04:55 PM
It is good that you are thinking about becoming very comfortable with one steel. This is a good decision.
Many pass the JS performance test with 5160 -- myself included, and many pass the MS test with 1084 and 15N20. So if a 1084 and 15N20 mix will pass the MS test, then 1084 may be a steel to consider.
One thing that I think you will find is that it is more about you and what you do to the steel that will allow it to pass more than the steel itself. In my opinion, this is really what the journey is about. I justify this statement with the fact that I know of no makers (I am sure there are some)that made their performance knife and took it straight to the test. Most makers I know made several knives and tested them (and some failed) to make sure they knew what they were doing and could repeat the results with reasonable confidence.
It wasn't the steel that they -- and I -- were testing, it is what we had done to the steel that we were testing.
Posted 10 August 2012 - 07:07 PM
I have not yet taken the performance test, but I did attend the Intro class at Haywood in March 2012, and we had to make a knife that would pass the performance test as part of the class. We used 1084. We did exactly as Bill Wiggins and Greg Nealy instructed (excellent instruction---Thanks Guys!), and some blades did perform all tests and passed the flex/bend test as well. However, a few of the blades broke during the flex test. They were able to determine what went wrong and make another knife that did pass all the tests (same steel). It was NOT the type of steel that caused the failure, but the production process. I learned that what matters is knowing the properties of the steel you're using, and knowing how to control them. So, I say get lots of rope, 2X4's, plenty of steel "X", and have at it . By the way, try to get the steel all from the same pour, if possible, because properties of the steel can be slightly different from one pour to the next (just to hedge your bet).
Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:53 AM
Chemistry WILL change in the SAME batch just as easy as it changes from batch to batch. This is due to the atomic structure and how it is made. The real key question to this is when the steel order was placed what was the tolerance range that was given? Even tho each class of steel has it's own specs when you order you can ask for even smaller ranges of any given component. Sometimes they can nail it and sometimes they cant. Even then the % will change according to where in the batch you take the sample from.
Posted 20 August 2012 - 05:56 PM
I passed with 1084. I have used a lot of it and had a good understanding of how to heat treat it. Even with that knowledge the first five test knives failed the bend.
Number six passed so I made two more exactly the same. I put number seven through the test then took number eight to Brion Tomberlins shop and passed without much stress.
While some may think the test is impractical (non ABS folks) I can tell you that it opened my eyes and changed the way I approach heat treating forever.
I encourage you to try any steel see fit, keep making and testing until you get it. The sense of accomplishment is worth the trip.
Good luck, Greg