How To Identify Different Steel Types in The Blacksmith Shop?
Your website and newsletters are very interesting to me a person learning the art of blacksmithing.
On the issue of topics you could cover in your newsletters what about workshop techniques for identifying steel types!
Thanks for the idea of identifying steel types.
This is known as the spark test. Many of the blacksmith books cover it in detail but it would be a good idea to cover it in news letter. I will add it to the list. I am a little concerned that my video camera would not pick up the true nature of the sparks. I will have to try it and see what quality of image I get.
Essentially as there is an increase in carbon content the complexity of the explosion of the sparks increases. When different alloys are added the amount, color and length of the sparks change. Use a set of known examples to test an unknown to. This will get you pretty close in determining an unknown steel.
A good reference book that I use often is The New Edge of The Anvil by Jack Andrews (See picture)
It has a good section on using the spark test to identify different steels as well as a number of basic techniques and good background reference information. Check it out if you get the chance.