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One of the 'benefits' of having your own drill press/lathe/mill etc is the endless supply of swarf in all shapes and sizes. I had a few pounds of curly steel on the shop floor and wanted to find a use for it. I have used it for reinforcing concrete but as I didn't have any building projects underway I needed to find a new way of disposing of it.


Here's some swarf:




As it's mainly mild steel I needed to add some carbon, hopefully this is carbon in my chimney:




Add a slack handful of carbon to a scoop of swarf:




Fill a sterile heat resistant container with the mixture and then compact with my patent compacting device:




Seal the container:




And apply heat:




Remove from heat and hit with a hammer:




Apply more heat then hit with a powerhammer:




Repeat previous step:




Remove outer container and shape billet with hammer:




Shape further under the powerhammer, grind it flat and hey presto, your swarf is a block of steel again!




But is it mild steel, carbon steel or cast iron?


I quenched the billet in water, placed it in a vice and hit it with a hammer and it snapped cleanly. So a bean tin full mild steel swarf + a slack handfull of black stuff out of the flue + heat + pressure = carbon steel.



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I love the sterile, heat resistant container, and the compacting devise.


Did you fold it before the last image? Looks like its been folded a few times....


I have a pile of little cut-offs from ends of tangs and general screw-ups, might have to give this a try.

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."

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Awesome, would love to see if that etches out into something interesting.

You need to keep us posted if you make a knife out of this billet.


Chris Williams

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Waste not...



ultra cool... did that ever weld up... ... !


i tried doin that with a motor bike chain... just went to hell on me.. the hole didn't weld up so good... but all i had was hand hammers and noodle arms.. :lol:




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great idea!!!! wanna see pics of the etch please...

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart,and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart...

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That is great to see, I have also used it together with cut offs butnot for a cutting edge, it worked great, try it with some stainless swarf in there as well I have seen some amazing results.


Always been looking at all the grinding dust each time I sweep up, there is hell of a lot of magnetic stuff and I have been saving some of it just for that purpose.



Richard van Dijk
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I just ordered a lathe the other day. And as soon as I started thinking about what I was going to do with it, the whole swarfmascus thing popped into my mind, too. Except I like to thing of it as swarfahagane! Make sure you post a shot of how it etches out...


That is pretty freaking genius!... :)

Check out Walter's instructional videos:

Forging Japanese Style Blades

Making Hamons

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Great Idea! Actually, I'd been thinking along those same lines for awhile now but have never taken the initiative, but my plan was to take the grindings from my cooling bucket (a five gallon plastic bucket),placed under the grinder. every few months or so (unless I drop somthing and have to go fishing for it), I'll take a big magnet on a wire and pull up literally pounds and pounds of fine metal grindings, nearly all high carbon from the knives I make, and I generally toss them out, but I'd been thinking lately that it would be cool to recycle this stuff in the same way, maybe even adding some 1095 metal powder to the mix, and see what happens, and now seeing this thread I believe I'll give it a try. If anything it will etch and make good looking guards and buttcaps. Wes

Edited by WES
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that is unbeliaveble. I'm curious to see how does it look when etched.


I tried once with grinding dust, but I think that it was mostly iron oxide (and some corundum maybe). The result was similar to Ferodo, the stuff used for brakes, extremely hard and wear resistant, but very different from steel.

Mourir pour des idées, c'est bien beau mais lesquelles?

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Hi. This is amazing. It definitely looks like an interesting alternative methodology for backyard steel making which is competitive with blister steel. Actually, blister steel is too labor and energy intensive.


How does the spark test look?

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  • 3 weeks later...

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