The art of heat treating

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You can take Blade made by an artist and one made by scientist and I could not see any substantial difference !!!!!!

...maybe because there isn't any.

If the ultimate goal is the same, it boils down to the same thing.
 
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Bush Monkey

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Heat treating "science" is rife with false knowledge that is pedaled as truth in the form of hype. False knowledge is dangerous, and in the manner described previously, it's dishonest.
 
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One

Banned
I think a lot of confusion comes because heat treating can have all the superficial trappings of a science. This doesn't make it a true science. It is misleading to hype it as a science, which is easy to do,... unless we look at the ultimate goal of heat treating.

However, it is a valid paradigm to make the process of an art more scientific (as long as we don't lose site of it's true nature). We see this in many of the arts today. Culinary art is a good example,... no matter how scientific it appears or how much science goes into it,... in the end or final analysis,... good taste, texture, aroma, visual appeal etc., is the ultimate goal and this is subjective. However, (and I think most would agree), everything else being equal, I like food cooked over a real wood/charcoal fire better than food with "liquid smoke" added on/in.
 
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Bush Monkey

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"I think a lot of confusion comes because heat treating can have all the superficial trappings of a science." Your well thought comment makes a valid point, Tai.

Sadly, the practitioners of heat treating hype (HTH) are often the most vociferous among us.
 
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One

Banned
Heat treating is one of the most important aspects of quality in a knife. However, it plays more of a secondary supporting role to geometry, balance, "feel", ergonomics, aesthetics etc... the things which make any hand tool a pleasure to use.

Everything else being equal though,... the tool with better heat treating will perform "better", according to and in line with personal tastes, opinions and preferences of performance.

To hype heat treating as the single most important aspect isolated from the rest, is also misleading.
 
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scott.livesey

Dealer - Purveyor
Heat treating is one of the most important aspects of quality in a knife. However, it plays more of a secondary supporting role to geometry, balance, "feel", ergonomics, aesthetics etc... the things which make any hand tool a pleasure to use.

Everything else being equal though,... the tool with better heat treating will perform "better", according to and in line with personal tastes, opinions and preferences of performance.

To hype heat treating as the single most important aspect isolated from the rest, is also misleading.

Finally, something that pierced thru my ADD/ADHD riddled brain. It is the package/final product/system we are talking about, with HT being one of the parts. HT is very important, but everything else must be at the top of it's game also. If I HT an O1 blade with 40degree total angle to RC62-63 and stick a plastic one size fits none handle on it, I will have a medicore knife no better than the stuff you by at W*l-m*rt; my final product is flawed and all the time spent squeezing max hardness and toughness from the steel wasted.
JMHO
Scott
 

One

Banned
finally, something that pierced thru my add/adhd riddled brain. It is the package/final product/system we are talking about, with ht being one of the parts. Ht is very important, but everything else must be at the top of it's game also. If i ht an o1 blade with 40degree total angle to rc62-63 and stick a plastic one size fits none handle on it, i will have a medicore knife no better than the stuff you by at w*l-m*rt; my final product is flawed and all the time spent squeezing max hardness and toughness from the steel wasted.
Jmho
scott

Bingo! :)
 

bubba-san

Well-Known Member
Thats exactly the point I was trying to make ......



Posted by bubba-san

You can take Blade made by an artist and one made by scientist and I could not see any substantial difference !!!!!!
...maybe because there isn't any.

If the ultimate goal is the same, it boils down to the same thing.
 
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bubba-san

Well-Known Member
Heat treating "science" is rife with false knowledge that is pedaled as truth in the form of hype. False knowledge is dangerous, and in the manner described previously, it's dishonest.

Bush Monkey,
I never caught that one ?? what specific info was dishonest : inquiring minds must have answers ...... Knowlwedge is good, bad information is not ... Thanks Bubba-san
 

NJStricker

Well-Known Member
I am a scientist by education and profession.

By the way you all have been discussing heat treatment, it is neither science nor art. It is a practice based in metallurgical science, much in the same way that the field of medicine is a practice of the biological sciences. Medicine, applied traditionally, is not a science.

When the chemical composition of a steel is known and heat is applied in a controlled setting, the metallurgical sciences have, through hypothetical-deductive processes, identified how that steel will react to certain amounts of applied energy, rapid changes in energy reduction (quenching), etc. When the variables are known in the system, the system behaves predictably. Science is the process that develops theory, which is the paradigm by which we make predictions about how steel will react, when the set of conditions of the system is known. If a theory is upheld long enough that we are pretty comfortable with it we may begin to refer to it as a law, or more generally, knowledge. Occasionally, new tests of a theory will call it into question, prove it wrong, and all the evidence developed up to that point must then be redirected toward a new, competing theory--a paradigm shift. (Hopefully we have all made the paradigm shift away from edge packing).

As heat treat practitioners, we have varying degrees of understanding of the theories that have been developed--through science--about how steel should react throughout the heat treat process. (What do you call a person that graduates at the bottom of his class from medical school? You call him doctor!) We can apply those theories in an uncontrolled setting and achieve some sort of outcome--but it is not science. When you start dabbling with steels of unknown (or at best, uncertain) chemical properties, apply heat in an uncontrolled setting, quench in a medium of uncertain capacity to draw heat from the steel, and then apply a modicum of heat to draw temper--then the theory that has already been developed is your best friend. You'll probably get within your mark 75% of the time, maybe better. And with practice, once a HT practitioner becomes accustomed to a particular accumulation of tools he or she might be able to improve on that percentage (though you will never REALLY know, will you? if you don't have the ability to control the circumstances by which you reach an outcome, you probably cannot critically evaluate the outcome itself.) Regardless, this is not science it is systematic guessing.

Loosely applying metallurgical theory, a practitioner might be able to identify a decent heat treat protocol for an unknown steel which, when applied along with a particular blade geometry, will perform to the makers' satisfaction, much the same way in that a surgeon might treat an aneurysm along a bifurcated descending aorta (not a normal anatomical condition, but bifurcated descending aortas are known to occur). But has anything new been learned about metallurgical science? Well--no. At best you've only supported the current paradigm and confirmed that the unknown steel does have a sufficient amount of carbon and likely a cocktail of a few other elements that may or may not work in your favor. At worst. . . at worst hopefully the practitioner recognizes that the mystery metal will not harden but might be suitable as stock for guards/bolsters.

Is the practice of heat treatment an art? Not necessarily. A HT practitioner might become very skilled at the HT process, and may even produce a quite serviceable knife, but one without any aesthetically pleasing qualities. Such a practitioner might be considered more a craftsman, than an artist.
 
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Bush Monkey

Guest
The only thing to "catch" here is the same pitch that has been thrown by several others in this thread. The pitch relates to heat treating art, science and hype.

Trying to pass off art as science, theory as truth and pedaling hype are all a forms of dishonesty.

Jeff

ps Knowledge is not always good. Knowledge without virtue can be bad. Saying "Knowledge is good" is "bad information".

Bush Monkey,
I never caught that one ?? what specific info was dishonest : inquiring minds must have answers ...... Knowlwedge is good, bad information is not ... Thanks Bubba-san
 
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One

Banned
Good points NJStricker.

... The only thing is, a "craft" is usually categorized with the arts and thought of as an art in academia these days. The distinction can be made between the functional and non-functional, but even a sculpture must function as a sculpture and a painting as a painting.

Heat treating could be thought of as an industrial art or a craft,... but safe to say, it isn't magic or a science.

Aesthetics apply to both the non-functional and functional and can apply to a process or system as well. Aesthetics can also be used to help understand what is perceived as beautiful, ugly or neither.
 
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One

Banned
Jeff, maybe some of what we are calling "hype" is just enthusiasm. I think enthusiasm is good, but could get out of control and appear as hype.

I think we're just trying to establish some valid ways of looking at heat treating and different paradigms.
 
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One

Banned
So far, I think we've established that quality heat treating requires art and science, that heat treating is no more of a science than medicine and heat treating is not a "black art". Whether or not heat treating is a true art form, may just depends on the paradigm,... but it can be.

Photography also went through a lot of the same things, but eventually wound up being thought of as an art form.
 
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bubba-san

Well-Known Member
Well written NJ. I always did profess that metallury was not an exact science . But I have to say that HT Japanese swords and applying clay to
to differentially treat the sword is definately ART , it may be one of the few exceptions . I mean after all some japanese work is surely art .
As an example are the many types of beautiful Hamon they have to have artisic influence . although originally the Hamon was an accident.

As time went on the Hamon became more and more beautiful ,with many different looks styles . There is the artistic influence .

http://www.ricecracker.com/info/hamon.htm
 

bubba-san

Well-Known Member
The only thing to "catch" here is the same pitch that has been thrown by several others in this thread. The pitch relates to heat treating art, science and hype.

Trying to pass off art as science, theory as truth and pedaling hype are all a forms of dishonesty.

Jeff

ps Knowledge is not always good. Knowledge without virtue can be bad. Saying "Knowledge is good" is "bad information".



Some things said were not very accurate I agree , but posting innacurate information may not be dishonesty but , simply they were not educated enough in thier trade or business or just plain dumb to articulate what they were trying to say Regards ............. Bubba-san
 
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