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There really isn't a one size fits all approach to quenching wootz steel. Though with a simple recipe of 1.5%c, low Mn and low P, I find that treating it similar to the 10xx steels works pretty well. I say similar but it is slightly different. The prescription is 780C with a holding time of 20 minutes, into parks 50 quench oil. I have tried water quenching twice with one being successful and the other cracking. An extra little bit that I do all wootz blades is a wash coat with satinite that has been mixed with graphite. This helps to prevent any decarburization or scale forming. Not exactly necessary but I think that it helps.

If you use oil and quench the entire blade, remove for a second and then submerge again, you will likely get a ghostly auto-hamon on the blade. It is very interesting but usually not defined enough to look too great. Below is an auto-hamon on a nakiri that was achieved using the aforementioned technique. In the pictures you can also see that the etch is much darker where the hamon formed. This blade had a bit higher amount of Mn which helps in hardening. Unfortunately that Mn also chokes out the wootz pattern slightly.

Wootz Nakiri

Wootz Nakiri

Wootz Nakiri

Uploaded files:
  • nakiri-sanding.png
  • nakiri-sanding1.png
  • nakiri-final.png

A little update on this.... While Parks 50 or oil quenching will work for wootz recipes with higher Mn content, > .1% Mn, recipes with <.1%Mn will likely need a brine quench to harden adequately. Something that I saw Peter Burt do was an interrupted brine quench and into parks 50. The brine will help to really get under the nose and harden more thoroughly than oil alone.

Because brine is so fast of a quench, your chances of a blade cracking are significantly higher. This is remedied to some degrees be finishing the quench in oil instead of a straight brine quench. An 8-10% brine solution will work very well.

AjfMetalworks has reacted to this post.

I have also seen peter do this, i did not have any success the one and only time i tried it cracked at the top 1/3 of the blade but was extremely hard for a 65hrc file to skate across it. I purchased G and K Quench shortly after i attempted the interrupted quench. But its good to note about the <0.1% Mn as it most likely did at the time.