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Scales: telling apart mild steel and hardened mild steel scales

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So, I had a little dilemma. Two bags of scales, one plain mild steel, the other hardened. Unlabeled. How to tell which is which?


First I looked at the finish. The scales in bag 1 were grey and had a film of oil, bag 2 were slightly rusty and brownish. I took that as a sign that bag 2 was hardened: the heat treating process would have polymerized the oil left on the scales from the manufacturing process.


Then I tried scraching a scale from one bag with the other. A scale from bag 1 just slid across the surface of the scale from bag 2. The other way around, the scale from bag 2 left a clear scratch on the scale from bag 1. Harder materials can scratch softer materials, but not the other way around.


It seemed pretty clear at this point, but just to be certain I had one more test. Trying to bend them with pliers. The scale from bag 1 bent with some effort. I was not able to bend the scale from bag 2.


3 out of 3: bag 2 clearly held the hardened scales. Very interesting to observe how much difference the hardening treatment makes.

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