Really old wrench steel, Any Good?


September 30, 2010, 01:55 PM
I was walking the local giant pawn shop and they now have boxes and boxes and boxes of old tools... some 80's-90's crap stuff, and some really really old stuff... I probably found 4 old large wrenches that were long enough and thick enough to logistically become knives, but is that old tool steel worth it?

I know someone here has to be somewhat familiar with the old steels that were used. And it was the ball peen tomahawk that got me to go look around today. :)

This was marked $4. Didnt buy it, but I'm pretty sure it will still be there another day...

If you enjoyed reading about "Really old wrench steel, Any Good?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
September 30, 2010, 02:04 PM
I came across this guy's videos. I found them to be very entertaining even though I don't do anything like this.

Greenpete's knife. There might be some answers in there. Good video to watch nonetheless.

and don't forget the "cup of tea".

September 30, 2010, 02:17 PM
No YT access from work... I will look at that one tonite when I get home.

I am really hoping to get a "Knowledgable YES or NO" from someone so I can justify pulling out the wallet for one/some of those wrenches. There were also many small chisels that I could use for tooling and making my own punches. (Yes, I know I can buy punches, but I like making stuff... mmmk? ;) )

September 30, 2010, 02:26 PM
Stuff from the 80's and 90's is OLD? I thought you meant from the 50's when you said OLD heh heh.

September 30, 2010, 02:26 PM
Read up on spark testing. You may be able to get a good idea of what steel you are dealing with.

September 30, 2010, 02:32 PM
Stuff from the 80's and 90's is OLD? I thought you meant from the 50's when you said OLD heh heh.

No, that stuff's not old... that stuff is just crap. When I say old, I picture the wrench I posted to be from the 60's or so...

I'll check out this spark testing thing, but I guess I should just buy them, and toss what doesn't turn out to be good steel...

EDIT: just read on wikipedia what spark testing is, and as I thought, time to just go buy some and see what happens...

Black Toe Knives
September 30, 2010, 02:57 PM
Brad, I have seen knives made from Snap on wrenches.

September 30, 2010, 03:25 PM
^ Right, but is the steel really "worth it"... I guess for $4, it couldn't really be a bad-deal, but I suppose it will need to be forged/treated. Right?

Black Toe Knives
September 30, 2010, 04:07 PM
I am the wrong guy to ask. I don't really work with unknown metals. I have done a couple of knives made from files. I do understand the whole recycling thing.
It just not my cup of tea.
I have the utmost respect for my bladesmithing brothers. But hammer out a blade is not for me. Well... not this week anyway. That could change next week.

September 30, 2010, 04:35 PM
I have used files but not wrenches. Hopefully the real heaveyweights will weigh in soon.

September 30, 2010, 04:45 PM
I've made nice knifes from saw blades. That's what you need, go to a machine shop or some where that they cut a lot of bar stock. They probably will give an old blade if they are not saving them for someone else. I have gave away a knife to get several old blades.

Black Toe Knives
October 1, 2010, 05:35 AM
Guys, One thing I have learned steel is cheap it is easy to get. I can pick up the phone call Admiral steel have enough steel for a year for under 100 dollars. By the time I anneal a piece of steel and cut it. I have more energy and time than I could buy a Good piece of D2 and have it treated by Peter's Heat Treat. The effort is not worth it to me.

5160, 1085 and 1095 can be heat treated in your Charcoal BBQ Grill with hair dryer. It just a few dollars a foot. You can get it at any Knife supply house. So why work with unknown metals?

October 1, 2010, 06:59 AM
I just picked up a heat treat oven and might have a second one coming. My original purpose for it was for color case hardening but it occurred to me that I could use it for annealing, hardening and tempering knives. I had always done this in a fire, but this is much easier. You can use files, Chevy leaf springs, etc. Yeah you can buy tool steel, but it is a little more fun doing some research and making a good, functional knife out of material you got for free.

I'm hoping it works just as well on knives. I generally work with W1, o1 or D2 steel. I may put a small "blade sized" hole in the door for use with knives.

As an aside, Here is my very first shot trying color case hardening on a piece of scrap.

Black Toe Knives
October 1, 2010, 12:35 PM
I struggled with the idea of doing my own HT. I have come to the conclusion for me, with great companies like Peter's heat treat and Paul Boz. It ain't going to happen.

Heat treat is the strength or the weakness of your knife. I much rather have a master like Peter's heat treat do my blades.

October 2, 2010, 02:17 AM
Well said Jim , too much time and effort goes into making a knife to use unknown or mystery steel.

If someone doesn't know what the steel is , any guess on how to HT it will most likely not give one great results.

As Jim mentioned , decent known steel like 1095 , 5160 , 1084 or 1080+ is cheap. Why invest hours and hours of labor to end up with something that takes & holds a mediocre edge ?

October 2, 2010, 01:11 PM
I can see both sides of this issue, and I will tell you straight up that I ride the fence.

I can totally understand the interest and satisfaction from taking one thing and turning it into another thing. I mean, that is the soul of the inventor and tinkerer. My buddy made me a knife out of a file, and I appreciate it deeply because he made it using some ingenuity and brawn, plus it's a file. That's all very cool to me.

On the other hand, Jim makes an excellent point. Good steel isn't expensive, and to be honest if I were buying a knife from someone, I want to know what it is. It boils down to the heat treat for me. If someone knows what they are working with, then the heat treat process is relatively easy. It makes for a better knife, a point that no one can argue.

In the end, I don't have a a definitive opinion. I love my handmade knife, and I love my knives of known steel. I love knives!

7.62 Nato
October 2, 2010, 01:36 PM
Interesting proposition. Depending how much you want to get into working the metal. It could be interesting to make your own damascus steel.

If you enjoyed reading about "Really old wrench steel, Any Good?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!