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Brownells currently has the best price on Kasenit, $11.55 for a one-pound can.

Kasenit is a case hardening compound that allows the formation of a hardened surface on mild steel (that is, a case-hardened surface). You heat the part up to bright red heat and put it in the powder, heat again then quench, repeating as many times as you want to build up the hardened surface. It’s not quite as reliable or controllable as real case hardening, but it’s served me well in the past for odd jobs.

Kasenit [brownells.com]


11 Responses to Dealmonger: Kasenit

  1. shopmonger says:

    This sounds like what i do with old motor oil. When i have tools that a made or repair for garden use, or for long term storage (one that i only use once in a while) i heat to red hot, w then quench in used strained motor oil. Created a great barrier for to keep tools rust free.

  2. Chris says:

    Shopmonger: doesn’t that run the risk of setting fire to the oil?

    I know oil-quenching is something that’s done at the industrial level; anyone care to explain in their own words (or have a particularly good reference for) what it does?


  3. buckshot says:

    Chris oil quenching is used in heat treating. You heat carbon steel to cherry red then quench it in oil or water. Oil is preferred because its a bit slower and has more even results than water, but holy hell does it stink! What you now have is brittle, hard steel. To temper it you heat it slowly and look at the color changes. Straw color is good for knife edges, blue is for springs or knife spines. Once you get the color you’re looking for you quench again. All of the above is wasted on mild steel, hence the need for a special product.

  4. Cameron Watt says:

    Can’t comment on Kasenit since I’ve never used it. I don’t know about this product, but case hardening processes in industry use nasty stuff. I’ve never felt the need to case harden parts because there are other options that are easily available. Hardsurfacing and differential heat treatments have handled any jobs I’ve done.

    If a can arrived in the mail, I might write a review. Nick Carter, I’m looking in your direction. 🙂

    With an oil quench, you’ll get flames around a partially submerged piece, but need to get the tub up to the oil’s flash point to get a fire that will sustain itself. Any safe installation should include a metal lid that can be dropped to snuff a fire, should that happen. It wouldn’t hurt to cultivate a friendship with your insurance adjuster as well. 😉

    Too much quenching in too little oil is going to get things hot in a hurry. You should consider that hot oil won’t shock the metal as much as cold oil will and as it warms, it might effect the consistency of the hardening in a batch of work. To keep temperatures under control with production work a good volume of oil and an oil cooler are your choices; not an issue for hobbyists.

  5. Cameron Watt says:

    I forgot to put my website in my first posting!

  6. Dave P says:

    Kasenit requires a water quench. I’ve used it extensively–some parts do just fine, but others warp a good deal in the quench.

    Chris–steel undergoes a crystal structure change when heated past 1600 degF. In super simplified terms, a quench “freezes” the steel in this stronger crystal structure. It will be very hard but very brittle. Tempering, or reheating, the steel to a certain temperature will soften the steel, but make it tougher and less resistant to breakage. If you’ve ever overheated a jigsaw blade and made it turn rainbow colors, you’ve just tempered the steel, which is why the teeth suddenly wear down to little nubbins–they are no longer hard enough to perform their job.

  7. shopmonger says:

    I like all the comments. yes when quenching i usually have the oil at room temp and it need to be deep enough to submerge the entire piece with about an inch of oil over. And es if you want it not so brittle, reheat and slow cool down. for most regular garage shop projects just let it cool with out help (no water)


  8. Nick Carter says:

    Cameron, I’d love to send you a can but the problem is that mfg. send me nothing. I have yet to have any tool or supply place say “Hey Nick, why don’t you check out this cool product?” The good thing is it keeps me objective.
    I think the recession has really cut down on freebies.

  9. kenuto says:

    “Brownells currently has the best price on Kasenit, $11.55 for a one-pound can.”

    This is no longer true, they do not carry it.

  10. ted tunnah says:

    kasenit compound is yhe best hardening compound i have ever come across in 30 years as a black smith you need to perform the red hot soak 3 times or aproximatly 1 mm of case hardening then quench out anything less isnt worth bothering about dave p has the best explanation about hardening of high carbon steel straw coulour is best for hammers though and if you want to temper a bit os spting steel rub your hammer handel on it as you warm it you should get dark red spakrs form on steel then quench

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