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Old 03-19-2010, 09:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Home brew heat treating

How do you heat treat mild steel? I'm not tring to make grade 8 but have a 1/8" thick tab that I bent. For reasons I need it to be more bend resistant rather than building a thicker one. Can I get it hot with the torch and drench it with water to do it? Let it cool on it's own or slow the cooling somehow? How do I home brew this to make the tab into a harder steel?

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Old 03-19-2010, 09:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You don't heat treat mild steel. It won't get hard enough to matter. If it was cold rolled heating it and quenching it might even make it weaker.
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Old 03-19-2010, 09:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You don't heat treat mild steel. It won't get hard enough to matter. If it was cold rolled heating it and quenching it might even make it weaker.
Ok...I'm glad you said that because I was going to heat it to straighten it. I'll just remove the assembly and beat it back if I can.
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Why cant you use a thicker more stronger bracket?
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Old 03-20-2010, 06:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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You can heat treat 1018 or A36 , case or surface only though.

What you gain in wear resistance you give up in bend resistance.. like Triaged said , it will be more susceptible to bending than before.

Got two choices ..improve your design or thicker material.
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You don't heat treat mild steel. It won't get hard enough to matter. If it was cold rolled heating it and quenching it might even make it weaker.

Cold rolling is just a process to shape metal...it is not a deciding factor whether a material can be heat treated or not. Cold rolling does make a metal harder by "strain hardening" and that is why it is sometimes preferred over hot rolled steel. All cold rolled steel started it's life as hot rolled steel before being shaped into it's final form. The chemical composition of both hot rolled and cold rolled can be the same so they can be heat treated the same. If you wanted to heat treat your part, you can heat it and quench it in used engine oil. This will harden the material but will also make it more brittle. You have two choices with your current bracket...either deal with a bracket that bends (not hardened) or deal with a bracket that will crack(hardened). Hardening should be used for wear resistance...not to keep a part from deflecting (unless you want it to crack).
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hardening should be used for wear resistance...not to keep a part from deflecting (unless you want it to crack).
Then maybe I should ask: What is spring steel and how do you make it? Or how can I home brew some spring into some steel?
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Then maybe I should ask: What is spring steel and how do you make it? Or how can I home brew some spring into some steel?
Spring steel is a different kind of steel. It has different quantities of alloying materials. If you want to homebrew some spring into your mild steel, first melt the steel, add some silicone, let it cool, and them roll it into a flat bar.

The reason mild steel (hot rolled or cold rolled) don't provide better bend resistance when heat treated is due to the steel composition. The quantities of the alloying materials (carbon, manganese, copper, etc.). These are properties you cannot change unless you can melt and reform liquid steel.

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Old 03-20-2010, 12:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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...The chemical composition of both hot rolled and cold rolled can be the same so they can be heat treated the same.
The cold rolled starts out stronger than the hot rolled. The amount that either of them can be heat treated is "not much".

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If you wanted to heat treat your part, you can heat it and quench it in used engine oil. This will harden the material but will also make it more brittle.
If you were going to quench mild steel in anything it would be water not oil. The oil would not cool it fast enough. Oil quenching would be the exact way to make the material weaker than the cold rolled started Even water doesn't quench mild steel fast enough.
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Why no pic of what you are trying to fix? There are a lot of smart people on here that may see something you don't. Some time a new set of eyes is the ticket. I know there is countless times I've got my mind stuck on one way and didn't see the simple way. Maybe I'm the only one that happens to, could explain why I have a header that I modified to drop right where the starter goes on a 4.3 lol . That was a 4 hours of my life I will never get back or forget. It now hangs on my wall to make me think the plan though before I start.
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Old 03-20-2010, 01:56 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Why no pic of what you are trying to fix?
I'm tryng to fix a cluster. A pict would bring ridicule ,embarassment and emotional pain.
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Old 03-20-2010, 01:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm tryng to fix a cluster. A pict would bring ridicule ,embarassment and emotional pain.
I thought emotional pain was what Pirate was all about.

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Old 03-20-2010, 02:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Heat to critical temp (1200 degrees) then quench in a high carbon liquid like oil. Like mentioned it will only case harden the metal. A more heat treatable metal would help.
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Old 03-20-2010, 04:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Heat it with an oxy acetylene torch and turn the oxy too low so its real smoky. Then quench in used motor oil. You probably won't see much improvement in strength though since its so low carbon to start with and I'm not sure how much of a case you can get with such primative methods. Like Triaged said though, oil quench is probably too slow so you might want to do it once to try and gain some carbon, then heat and quench again in water to get the martensite.

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Old 03-20-2010, 07:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm tryng to fix a cluster. A pict would bring ridicule ,embarassment and emotional pain.
I wanna see!!!
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:31 AM   #16 (permalink)
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The amount of carbon in the 10xx series carbon steels equates to how much they can be hardened by heat treatment. Low carbon (mild) steel is by definition lower than 0.30% carbon so it's not really heat-treatable. The second two numbers are what you want to look at.
1018 (nuts and bolts) is about 0.18% carbon
1095 (leaf springs, knives) is about 0.95% carbon.
above 2.0% carbon is considered cast iron and very brittle.

The higher the carbon content, the harder the steel. Harder isn't always better - very difficult to weld high carbon steel and it is also more brittle than MS. My advice is to just make the bracket from a thicker piece of mild steel.

Cold rolling is n example of work hardening. Work hardening also makes steel harder. Bend a coat hanger back and forth until it breaks - you just demonstrated the work hardenability of mild steel. If the bracket can bend back and forth from vibration, eventually a crack will form at the most work hardened area.

That's a really simplified explanation, but I hope it makes the topic more understandable.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:55 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Just A thought, could the bracket be made from a piece of old leaf spring? then you could heat treat it.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:14 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Drilling and cutting leaf spring material takes some work. It's hard on bits and blades but it can be done. I have no idea what the heat from welding would do to it.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:22 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Not for nothing, but heat treated or not you are not going to see any real gain on a 1/8" bracket.

Besides you are not going to gain anything from heat treating mild steel. And if you go with a tool steel you most likely will not be able to properly weld it.

Depending on the application you need a thicker bracket and or a redesign.

lets see some pics.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:27 AM   #20 (permalink)
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If you really want to read this http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/quenchants.htm

Scroll down to Super Quench.

But I really don't think harder is going to help you, like everyone else said it will be more brittle.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:57 PM   #21 (permalink)
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The nonsense is strong in this thread.

You cannot truly harden low or mild steel, I believe even most med. carbon steels are below .83% carbon which is generally the point at which you get the best results by heating and quenching. Your only option would be to get it red hot and either quench it in oil or bury it in charcoal but at best this is only going to case harden the part.

However, I dont even understand why you would want to harden it in the first place. Unless the part is going to be subject to high wear, hardening it will most likey make it more prone to breaking and also make it harder to weld. You can forget about welding spring steel, and most other tool steels for that matter.
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