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Hurl Vreeland

Making folded steel in the way of mokume

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Has anyone tried to make folded steel using shim stock and making it in the way you do mokume.  Just curious if this would work and in addition if this does work will it fuse to the stainless as mokume does not.

 

Thanks for your replies in advance

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I know there are a couple of us that roam this forum who have used "shim stock", e.g. thin dimension stock, to make pattern welded billets.  But I don't weld it using pressure plates, like mokume, unless you count the top and bottom dies of my hydraulic press or power hammer.

 

It is entirely possible to use stain resistant steels in shim stock to make pattern welded steel.  It's a slightly different proposition for which I have no experience.  If Devin Thomas or Mike Norris were here they could give the best advice.  

 

I suspect that given enough time at temperature a pressure plate system would work to fuse the steels just like the non ferrous stuff.  I like banging things around and squeezing stuff to wait for that...

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My understanding is that stainless would require an oxygene free environment.

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I would be using high and low simple carbon steels.  I want it for folded steel, not Damascus.  I have access to a hydraulic press and can draw it out.  I guess I was looking at the labor aspect.  Instead of many folds I could use .025 shims in high and low carbon steels and with just a couple folds have 1000 layer steel.  I have heard that the steels will want to warp and have heard of difficulty in acheiving a bond.  With 2 1/2 s.s. plates in the forge heated high enough and long enough will they bond in the manner as mokume does, diffusion bonding I believe it is called.

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Folded steel, laminated, layered, damascus, but not wootz, in the common tongue, pattern welded steel all the same to me.  

 

The plan, as you've outlined, is very doable.  With the high carbon/low carbon alternating you will wind up with a medium carbon steel.  But it will work, no doubt.  Just make sure everything gets up to temperature and weld away.  With the right package you won't have to wait as long as for mokume.  Welding heat and smash and you're done.  

 

If I was going to use plates, I would preliminarily heat the stainless plates so they get a little oxide on them.  If this whole billet gets hot enough, long enough, you may incorporate the SS plates into the weld.  Oxidizing them first should prevent that.  

 

The process is more efficient in welding terms.  You have less welds, the shims are cleaner and intimate contact is readily achieved, etc., and therefore less risk of having a bad weld ruin the whole later.  But the shim stock costs more because the steel mill has to do so much more processing before they sell you the steel.  It's still a balance.  

 

There are others here who could speak to the benefits of a diffusion bond versus a weld, but I don't think it would make enough visible difference for me to see.  

 

Good luck and show us the results of the experiment.

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about 4 yrs. ago i met a fellow bladesmith at the dover knife show. he made his damascus just the way you want to. said he stacked 200 or so layers with thicker s.s. on each side so it wouldn't warp, and the s.s. came right off. claimed one squeeze with the press, and he had damascus. give it a try and let us know. paul

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I didnt do the math on the cost factor.  I'm sure it will more per pound than reg. steel.  I dont have access to a power hammer and the thought of pounding down 4 slabs to get the layer count I want didnt thrill me either.  I have heard of people making dams. this way with stainless so I thought why not with carbon steel.  I will try this soon and post the results.  Thank you all for your replies.

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I did some cost analysis and I now see why this may not be done.  For a bar 1.5x1x6 it would cost roughly $50.00 in shim stock 1074 with 1095.  Not very cost effective, now I see why it is pounded out. On the other hand with 4 welds I would have 1024 layered steel.  Anybody know where cheap shim stock is sold.  I priced it out in Mc Master-Carr.

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try the high carbon strapping. I have been using it for a little while and mad a blade out of nothing but the high carbon to see how it would do. I am not sure exactly what kind of steel it is, but it definitely hardens enough to cut through a whole bunch of oak and other hardwood logs without much damage to the cutting edge. I also cut up a bunch of aluminum cans with no damage. holds a decent edge. just go to mcmaster and search for high carbon strapping it is comparitavely chaep and i have been layering it with the low carbon strapping for the cores of saxon style pattern welding.

Hope this helps!

Jesse

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If you're attached to new steel, read no further  :laugh: but bandsaw blades are great. I have used everything from 30 year old woodcutting blades to new metalcutting ones to sawmill blades with success. They are often high nickel alloys, sometimes L6 or 15n20 from what I hear, although I never have had one analyzed. The main cautions are to grind off the teeth first to prevent cracks from starting (easier with the smaller teeth on metalcutting blades, big sawmill teeth take a long time) and (probably but I've not run into this problem so far) stay away from the fancy bimetal or high silicon blades. The nice thing is that a single blade will all be the same alloy, whatever it is, and the blades are quite long so you can get a dozen or more uniform layers from a single blade. Plus the surface is already shiny and usually pretty clean, much better than on strapping, especially if you can get the bent/dull/broken blade straight off the saw. The labor in cutting and grinding off the teeth is the main downside.

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It's a pretty safe bet that wood cutting bandsaw blades wider than a half inch and greater than .0625 thick are likely, not guaranteed, but likely to be 15N20 if modern manufacture.  L6 would be common in older bandsaw blades or in the bodies of the big circular saw blades.  Nothing is certain without mill papers though.  Getting rid of welded on cutting tips etc is a good idea.  

 

The monosteel metal cutting bandsaw blades can be high carbon (1095 or W1) but those are usually cheap and not very commonly used in production shops where you'd be likely to get a lot of scrap blades.  I obtained a couple hundred pounds of bimetal blades in trade.  After some head scratching and internet analysis and company contacts it turns out that the backing material is 6150 and the very tips of the teeth (only a few thousanths) are an M2 or M42 variant of high speed steel.  They work but you have to grind away the tips of the teeth which shouldn't take very long at all for a couple thousanths.  Of course you have to consider the addition of chrome and other alloying elements in a medium carbon steel.  

 

The strapping material varies in content from 1075 to 1095 in either the blue or black strapping and works very well in layered steels.  Mix that with some 6150 and you'd do pretty well I think for cheap recycled materials.  The 6150 gives a good contrast.  I've never had problems of any kind leaving the teeth on (except the cobalt of the M series) before during or after welding.  It's not a bad mix.  But, you have to be willing to experiment and take the risk.  

 

All strap or old bandsaw blades need to be cleaned of the crud they accumulate before laying them up.  If you don't you're just asking for welding flaws.  

 

Still, there's nothing at all like the satisfaction of knowing what's in the mix when you buy from the mill.  Although I've heard of nightmare stories from smiths who bought from reputable mills and got nothing like what they ordered unless they stood there watching the yard apes load it.

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Hi all,

 

ONe thing that I have noticed with using the strapping is that the paint on it burns away immediatly and almost acts as a kind of flux and the welds are just as good as any that I have ground clean [tapedshut]  I guess all that means is you have less prepwork [ylsuper] . I have heard that the high tensile strapping is 1095 but I am not really sure. It must be at least 1060 or 1075 because it gets good and hard. I have used a bit of bandsaw blades in the mix and the thing that I like about the strapping is that you at least know that its a 10xx, no wondering if you have a bimetal blade or one with a high alloy like m42 which I think you have to get really hot to austenitize properly(1800 plus I think). I was getting scrap blades form an industrial supply place by the house and eventually gave up because it was just so much easier to buy the stapping. It is cheap, and I dont have to grind off the teeth [ylsuper]

 

Hope this helps!

Jesse

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I hope I didnt give the wrong tone in the last post [wtf]  its hard to convey that in typing  :angry:  and im new at this :P

 

Anyway,

 

Good luck

Jesse

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Jesse, you're working out the problems we've all had to.  Confidence is hugely important to what you're doing here.  I strongly recommend continuing to be confident with what you know, until better information comes along.  Over the years I've used a lot of scrap material.  It was cheap and great practice.  I've made good blades and junk from it all.  If it works, use it.  

 

I don't do much of that for knives I put on the table to sell today because of ethical concerns.  Unless I know for certain the type of material, I can't represent it to the customer as something it might not be even if the knife is superior in performance.  Most of the strapping is better than 1075 up to 1095 if in blue or black form.  But, I can't guarantee that.  Some strapping is just mild steel too.  I've had knives that I "thought" were good steel.  They performed well.  But I sold them as "I think this is in the 1070 range...".  I didn't say it was 1070.  Or the customer says they don't care just so long as it cuts.

 

I buy steel from the mill now.  And I work hard maintaining a relationship with a reputable company and always dealing with somebody there I know.  As I said the last time, even the minimum wage guys in the steel yard can sometimes throw a bar of something you didn't order on the truck.  So the paper in your hand from the mill says one thing, but the material behaves very differently from what you expected.  At that point, all you have gained from playing with "second line" materials comes to your aid.  All your shop experience, how it forges or grinds or welds, spark testing comparisons to known materials, how it heat treats, all that will help determine if you're working with what you ordered.  If you can't be sure of what it is, you either don't use it and call your sales rep back to complain, or don't say it's something it's not.  

 

It's up to the smith to make sure of their material or represent it "as is".  In the end, the customer will usually be happy if it cuts well and stands up to their forms of abuse, or they will be satisfied that you say this is what it is.  Some folks don't bother to check after all.  What you know in the shop must match what the customer perceives or you don't develop the credibility to sustain yourself in the commerce of knives.  

 

In the meantime, gathering all the experience is a heck of a fun trip even if stuff doesn't work out all the time.  We don't learn much when everything goes right.  Don't let any of this shake your confidence in what you are learning, just keep sucking it up.  That's the best thing about plain old carbon steel, all of us still don't know everything that it has to teach.

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Jesse, I've had the same experience with the paint on strapping, that is, it burns off quickly and doesn't seem to cause a problem. I had a chance once to get a whole roll of the blue strapping at near-scrap price but it was gone when I came back with my money. Sigh.

 

Thanks Mike for sharing the info on the composition. I was hoping someone might have tracked that down. And thanks again to Don for providing such a great forum for these discussions.

 

I usually check a piece from each sawblade or strap first by heating and a water quench. Then if it snaps it's potential edge material, and if it bends some or even a lot it's good for the non-edge parts or for fittings. It also gives me some idea of whether I need to do oil or water quench on the final piece. Like you said, it's good practice, and since I end up giving away most of what I make to friends or family, knowing the actual composition is not much of an issue in my particular situation.

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