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Raise carbon level in steel


#1

Hi We are looking for a technique to raise carbon level in steel.
Someone told us to dip it hot (red hot) in bone powder. We had a
small change but not significative. Does anyone have an other
technique.

Tanks
Guy Audette


#2
    Hi We are looking for a technique to raise carbon level in
steel. Someone told us to dip it hot (red hot) in bone powder. We
had a small change but not significative. Does anyone have an other
technique. 

G’day Guy; the only method of which I am aware to obtain deep
carbonization of iron or steel is to place it in a heat proof box
with a lid (clay or metal) together with some charcoal, powdered or
granules and heat it to not less than 650C for not less than 5 hours.
Powdered bone will work too. The mechanism is that the very small
amount of oxygen that enters the box will combine with the carbon to
produce mostly carbon monoxide (CO) and only a very little carbon
dioxide (CO2). The carbon monoxide gas will combine with the iron
and penetrate deeply over time. This is of course similar to the
method of heating and dipping, but heating in an almost closed box
will allow prolonged reaction with the monoxide gas. – Cheers for
now, John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ


#3

Mild steel can be given a hardened coat by plunging the red hot
piece into a high carbon material. Blacksmiths use the pared off bits
of the horses hooves which they save especially for this purpose. I
was taught how to shoe horses when I was 14 and used to love the
smell! 14 years olds are a bit weird aren’t they?

Tony Konrath


#4

The technique you are looking for is called case-hardening. There
is a product called Casenite designed for doing this. Case hardening
only adds carbon to a certain depth, so if you have a thick piece of
steel, you won’t be able to add carbon to the center. You can also
case-harden by putting your piece in a steel box, surrounded by
carbon rich material(graphite, bone powder, etc). If you heat the
box up to a red heat and hold it there for several hours you’ll get
the same effect. The longer you hold it at red heat, the deeper the
carbon will migrate.

Jason


#5
    Hi We are looking for a technique to raise carbon level in
steel. Someone told us to dip it hot (red hot) in bone powder. We
had a small change but not significative. Does anyone have an other
technique. 

Hello Guy; This is not an easy proposition. You can’t change the
carbon level in steel much below the surface. This technique is
called “case hardening”. Often it’s done using cyanide compounds and
some machine shops can do this for you. Once upon a time, wrought
iron (which is an actual type of iron, not a crafted product) was
hardened by heating for a prolonged time in the presence of
carboniferous materials such as charred bone, charcoal, charred
leather, by stacking rods of iron in a clay tube and packing with
these materials, then setting fire to the bottomost layer and letting
it burn upwards slowly. This produced a product called “blister
steel”. For your purposes, you’re best results will come from the
use of a product called “Kasenite” or “Casenite” (forgot the
spelling). It’s a dry granular product, easy to use, applied to hot
steel then the steel is heated further. Directions are on the can.
Haven’t seen it around in a while, but start with the welding supply
places or the folks who supply machinist’s tools. If you really want
to go “Colonial” and try the old ways, check with your local library,
or call SNAG, and get a copy of the video called “The Gunsmith of
Williamsburg”. In the film, he case hardens parts for the lock of a
flintlock rifle. If you haven’t seen this film, it is awesome to
see what this master craftsman achieves with simple tools and vast
skill and sensitivity. I used to show it to all mys students, in my
blacksmithing classes and also the jewelry classes I taught.
Everyone went away dumbstruck. Good luck. By the way, check out the
ABANA site, all of you who are interested in steel, at
http://www.abana.org

David L. Huffman