Heat Damage

This is an excellent illustration of heat damage to a thin edge circular knife.

This knife was used to cut wire reinforced hose–actually it cut the hose and burned through the wire. The edge probably reached a temperature of over 800º F.

When low alloy steels (in this case AISI 0-7) reach temperatures over 300º F, they soften and tend to shrink.

In this case the overheating extended about 1/2" in from the edge, so the only way the overheated portion could shrink or shorten was to crack radially.

The overheating also caused a weakened line of demarcation between the body, as originally hardened, and the softened edge. This permitted the edge to fall off right at the line of overheating. Such damage can often be avoided by using tool steels with red hardness.

High Speed steels are said to have red hardness because even after tempering at 1100º F they will be 63 Rockwell C hardeness.

AISI A-2 also has more than a good share because by tempering at 1000º F (very dark red) it will be 56 RC.

This means you can overheat knives made of M-2 or A-2 tool steel to 1000º F and still retain a fairly high hardness, with considerable protection from heat checking caused either by cutting or abusive grinding.

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