Bladesmiths who are looking for an extremely fast quench oil for blade hardening are often referred to a product called “Parks 50”, a quench oil that works well for steels such as 1084, 1095 and some high speed steels. Just one problem – Parks 50 doesn’t exist any longer. Or more accurately, it’s no longer sold under that name.
A company called Maxim now distributes the product under the name #50 quench oil from Heatbath/Park Metallurgical.
The minimum purchase quantity is 5 gallons, and it sells for just under $100 plus shipping. If you’re interested in ordering some I recommend you email Carla at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know your shipping address so she can get you a quote.
What is Quenching?
For those of you reading this who have no idea what I’m talking about, when a Bladesmith makes a knife the steel they are using is actually relatively soft. In order to make it hard they have to heat up the steel to about 1,500 degrees or so, and then rapidly cool. Certain fluids work better for certain types of steel.
Here’s a demo of quenching.
High Speed Quenching Guidelines
In case you’re unsure about what kind of oil you should be using to quench, as a general rule, here’s the recommendations for types of oil to use when quenching different materials:
- Fast quench oils (6-9 seconds): W1, W2, 1095, 1084, 1080, 1075, 15n20
- Medium speed quench oils (9-12 seconds): 01, L6, 52100, 5160, 8670m
The Maxim #50 Quench Oil is a 7-9 second oil, and you can see the complete material data sheet here.
One thing that is very important to note is that this is a hazardous substance, and the data sheet warns against inhaling the fumes, so it’s going to be important to wear a respirator when plunging hot steel into this oil to quench as it will release carbon monoxide and other hydrocarbons.
The heat range for this product is 50-120 degrees. So there is no need to really pre-heat the oil unless it’s stored in a very cool location.
Additional Heat Treatment Information
- Houghton on Quenching – Documents all the basics of quenching to give you a firm grasp on what is actually happening when you quench.
- Quench Tank Sizing – As a general rule, you need 1 gallon of fluid per pound of steel.
- Quenchant Fundamentals – More discussion of the basics of quenching.
- The Hamon – A treatise on the creation of a Hamon within differentially heat treated blades.
If you have any questions or know of additional resources feel free to comment below.