Well Its been a while, but I am back in Thunder Bay Ontario and back in the shop. I have finished a half dozen blades or so, and decided to work on something for myself. I also decided to take some pictures to remember the process.
I bit the bullet and ordered some 1095 and 15n20 steel to do a Pattern welded blade. I have done low layer count blades in the past and also worked with steel cable, but this was to start with a 21 layer count, and hopefully end up some where around 200 including a 1095 core. If you have any questions or general tips for me, feel free to drop a comment.
I got started by making some Mokume Gane for my handle work, though im not sure exactly what I will be turning out. I am not to sure what kind of blade I want yet either, but how much steel I have left after welding will be a big decider there. I make my mokume by welding a little cage around the materials consisting of two U shaped pieces of mild steel. Seems to work ok, might work better to weld both of the U pieces to a section of round stock as a base. I tried leaving the paper wrapping on the discs to make it easier for welding and it didn't seem to cause any problems.
So I start my Billet by cutting my stock into little squares, and then stacking them in alternating layers. I plan on wrapping this around a 1095 core, so I am not to worried about which the middle layer is at the moment. After they are cut and deburred, they are cleaned up a little and squared up in the vise. I weld the corners together and get the billet setup to weld a long handle on it. After a quick clean up with the wire wheel I fire up the forge.
I can say that next time I will be starting with a longer narrower billet as apposed to the rectangle shape. But live and learn. I get the billet red hot and start on it with my borax setup. I keep heating and occasionally brush of junk and add more borax. On my first welding pass I use solid but lighter blows starting in the middle and then working the edges. Keeping in mind not to forge below a red
colour heat. I eventually ended up with a pancake, and I cut the corners where it had been welded so they didn't taint the final product. yay for pancakes!
After doing an Annealling process to remove some stress from the piece, I cut my pancake into five pieces and clean up the surfaces on the 6x48 belt sander. Once they were all shiny, I mate them in the vice and welded the corners together as well as reattaching the handle. I will be repeating the first step again, but with more focus on drawing out the billet long an narrow. Once I was happy with what I had, I put it through another annealing process.
Next, I cut what I had into two pieces and cleaned up the surface that I was going to weld. I prepped and cleaned my piece of 1095 that was to be the core. leaving the handle attached to a piece of the original billet was an easy base of operations. I seen a video of a smithy putting borax in between the layers of steel when he slipped in a carbon core, so I figured I would give it a try . This time I clamped the pieces together and used wire to bind them. I think I should have used more wire because I had an issue with the pieces separating and sliding slightly.
So after repeating the beginning process and completing a solid welding pass, I quickly remove the wire and stuff it back in the fire. Don't need that wire ruining my hard work! I keep working the piece until I end up with a bar well thick enough to make a sturdy blade. It is important to try and work the piece evenly with your hammer blows to keep the core in the center. One thing I was aware of but fail at was hammering it to much. I forged it to close to shape and very little of the 1095 steel core is visible at the edge. Its not terrible but next time I will leave a little more for the grinder. After getting as much scale off as possible I put the steel to anneal.
So I begin of my blade forging phase with a fairly clean piece of steel, I try to get of all the scale without grinding away my layers. I will start by forging the tang.
Now, I will hammer the point and this is going to be a precurve, so when I start to hammer the bevel it wont have to do as much fixing. I find it helps to work the bevel on the edge of the anvil and push the material away from you with glancing blows. After a beveling pass on each side is done I fix up the profile of the blade and straighten it for the next pass of the hammer. I will repeat this process one more time before working the side opposite the edge to work in a taper. This also pushes the point back down into a drop point. Once I am happy with the over all shape, I give it a straightening pass and heat it for an annealing phase.
Well here we go. Isnt it beautiful? lol! After removing scale with the angle grinder, I will clean up the profile of the 2" belt grinder. Then I will take it to the 6" belt sander to flatten out the ricasso and tang areas. Then I will set it up in a filing jig and use a half round file to clean up the tang shoulders and choil areas. Next I reposition the blade in the jig and grind the bevel flat with a 36 grit belt on the 2'' grinder.
With blade rough ground I fired up the forge and got my oil heated for heat treating. This blade was annealed, then normalized three times at lower subsequent heats from around 1600f. Then heated to around 1475f and plunged into 140 degree canola oil. I tempered the blade at 400f three times allowing to cool each time. After all that the blade was back into the filing jig and the edge was inked and scribed with a center line. the bevels were ground to 320 grit on the 2'' grinder. Then I cleaned up the ricasso and tang on the 6" belt sander.
Now for the hand finishing. Here are the tools I use, just a 1'' wide bar with mounting tape and a shop roll of emery cloth. I mount a piece of wood in the vice and clamp my work to that. Starting with 400 grit and working opposite to the lines of the grinder, I remove all the 320 grit lines on the bevel and the ricasso. Next is 600 grit, and that is worked perpendicular to the 400 grit marks. 600 grit is as far as I am going with this blade. Don't for get the spine and other parts of the blades profile. Now I will clean the blade and git it into the etching solution. I use Muratic acid because its easily obtainable at Canadian Tire. I set my glass container of acid in a boiling pot of water to help activate the acid. Use caution! This creates fumes! So I believe it is best to etch your blade for many short periods (5-10mins) and then remove it for cleaning and progress check. So here is the fruit of my labour thus far. I am going to be starting the guard and spacers next, so tune in again. Thanks for looking, john