Alex's Heat Treating Recipe for 1084 Steel



A quick general guide for heat treating 1084.


Thermal cycles / normalizing 1084

Cycle 1 - Ramp to 1600F (as quickly as possible for all cycles) remove from heat, and cool in still air.

Cycle 2 - Ramp to 1550F remove and cool in still air.

Cycle 3 - Ramp to 1450F remove and cool in still air.

Cycle 4 - Ramp to 1200F remove and cool in still air.


Thermal cycling is a SUPER important part of the heat treating process. Not only will it refine the grain, but it will relieve stress in the steel. Any time you alter the steel, whether its drilling holes, or simply profiling, you put stress in the steel. Relieving this stress helps prevent warps and cracking during the quench. Grain refinement is also super important. The finer the grain, the sharper the knife. And it will sharpen much more easily, as well as stay sharp longer.


I really think that the thermal cycling is what separates a good heat treat from a GREAT heat treat.


I prefer to foil wrap my blades in stainless steel foil during this process, to help prevent de-carb. If you are not using a temperature controlled kiln, this is not possible. If you are using a forge, you could use anti scale compound, but I find anti scale makes it harder to see when the blade is uniformly heated inside the forge. Anti scale is NOT necessary, and not recommended, if using a forge. It just makes for slightly less work later on when using a kiln.


Austenitizing / Quenching cycle

Ramp as quickly as possible to 1475F, remove from heat immediately, and quench in parks AAA or parks 50.

Canola oil will also work when heated to about 120F. Do not use motor oil, transmission fluid, grease, water, hair spray, caulk, or anything else.


1084 will harden in water, but will/can, have cracking problems. Even if you can't see a crack, doesn't mean it isn't there. Micro cracking is a real thing, and will only show itself when you are finished the knife, and battoning through a small stick. At which point the knife will break, and you will say battoning is stupid.


Even parks 50 is a little fast, and aggressive for 1084, but I have used it without problems. I prefer parks AAA or canola.


Tempering

Most of my experience with 1084 is for making small (9-16") knives.

I temper my blades at 425F

The higher the temper temperature the softer, but tougher the blade will become. For smaller knives 400-450 is a good range. Hit somewhere in that range and you'll have a good, usable, tough knife.

This is a very basic guide. And should help get you started. If you have any questions comment below!

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