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I've seen Meteoric iron used in a variety of blades, usually as an additive for swag, in a high layer count damascus.

 

I have seen it more extensively used as guards, where it's machined in thin slices and the Widmanstatten pattern etched for visual impact.

 

 

 

I have read speculation that Tutankhamen's iron dagger was, in fact, forged from meteoric iron and not a smelted product.

 

 

 

I got an email today asking for a piece done entirely in MI, and am curious about whether I'm up to the task or not. What I would most like to know is, does it forge clean, is it hot short, is it crumbly, or what... and yes, I know it depends on which part of which rock you end up getting it from. But if there are "typical" characteristics to the material, I'm all ears.

 

Business-wise, I'm not about to touch this one unless two conditions are met, 1. the customer supply the material, and 2. if it fails miserably I'm not liable for the cost.

 

I have a little pain in my gut about taking something with an outstanding W-pattern and forging it out, too, but in this case I'm willing, for the right money, to let the customer be right.

 

 

 

So now I'm all ears. Flame on.

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I feel like I've seen a video of Dave Stephens forging meteoric iron before... At least I think it was him. If memory serves me right it was very crumbly despite being fluxed and at welding temp. Maybe he (or whoever it was if it wasn't him) will chime in.

 

From what I've read, it's hit or miss in terms of whether a particular meteorite can be forged. One that's nearly pure iron may work fine, and another with seemingly the same composition may not. Don't take my word for it though, I'm just a newbie and I'm definitely not an expert on meteorites haha.

 

Hope it works out.

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It is definitely hit or miss with them, so far as I know. There are several different types of meteorites, and if you do not know which you are working with, I would greatly hesitate to try forging them. This might help:

 

"Iron meteorites", also called "irons", are usually just one big blob of iron-nickel (Fe-Ni) metal, as if it came from a industrial refinery without shaping. The alloy ranges from 5% to 62% nickel from meteorite to meteorite, with an average of 10% nickel. Cobalt averages about 0.5%, and other metals such as the platinum group metals, gallium, and germanium are dissolved in the Fe-Ni metal. (Fe is the chemical symbol for iron.) While most "irons" are pure or nearly pure metal, the technical definition of an "iron" includes metal meteorites with up to 30% mineral inclusions such as sulfides, metal oxides and silicates. The irons represent the cores of former planetoids.

 

"Stony irons" consist of mixtures of Fe-Ni metal of between 30% and 70% along with mixtures of various silicates and other minerals. The Fe-Ni metal can be present as chunks, pebbles and granules. Stony irons resemble the outer cores or mantles of planetoids or else a mix of materials due to a collision.

 

"Achondrites" are silicate rich meteorites apparently formed by crustal igneous (i.e., molten or volcanic) activity in their parent bodies, and consist of a broad range of minerals. Achondrites are the result of gravitational differentiation in relatively large bodies by melting and gravitational separation of mineral phases, and most resemble the Earth's crust. Different types of achondrites average between 0 and 4% free Fe-Ni granules.

 

"Chondrites" probably came from parent bodies that were too small to undergo a large degree of gravitational differentiation, or are collision ejecta from less than catastrophic collisions of slightly differentiated bodies. Chondrites are named after the tiny pellets of rock called "chondrules" embedded in them, a result of a kind of chemical fractionation unique to small bodies. If you were walking around in a field and saw a chondrite, it would be much more recognizable as being of nonterrestrial origin than the above achondrites.

 

Good luck, this sounds like a very interesting and different type of commission.

 

 

John

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Howdy Chris-

 

I've got plenty of meteorite if you want it. It's Campo de Cielo, it doesn't really have a nice widmanstatten pattern to wreck, just great big huge grains. PM me or call me if you want some.

 

I didn't find it that hard to forge. It did want to crumble a bit, but I sliced it and stacked it up into a paddle, like you would really steely bloom, and it seemed as soon as I welded those two layers up it worked fine. That said, I only did that to see how to make it work, I didn't do an entire object with it- I then stacked it up with alternate layers of bloom iron.

 

I think Jeff P has forged Campo a lot, you might want to ask him about it.

 

Anxiety is often a good signpost that says you're about to learn something new!

 

Cheers-

 

Lee

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Ive played with a couple metorites in the forge. Couple from the Diablo site and couple from Nantan. Both seemed to work about the same. VERY crumbly. Managed to make a couple bars from it. Im no expert and my experience forging anything other than known steels is limited at best, but here are my observations. If I forged at anything lower than high red to yellow it would fall apart on me with any significant blow, but if I kept the temps high (like welding) and kept it fluxed I could move it with a small hammer (16 oz) pretty efficiently. Some things I thought might help but never tried .... What if your were to can it up and blister it before going to far with it? seems it might give a tougher outerlayer that would help with the crumbling and if it were to be folded the carbon could work through and toughen it up??... works with wrought.

 

damn now you got me thinking about the ones in my closet again that I was saving for when I had a better idea what I was doing

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Well, the guy wants a Phurba made from it, so it needs to stick together pretty well. I imagine I'll be layering some wrought into it just to make it work, we'll see. Trying to price something like this vexes me as well, I'm seeing costs all over the map for old ones, not sure how to approach this. Any advice, public or by PM or email, is welcome as well.

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Well, I guess I can probably add something to this subject since I specialize in using meteorite in my knives (all kinds: iron, stone, stoney iron, Mars, Lunar, etc)

 

You'll only be forging iron meteorite and as noted the forgability varies between different falls and within a single fall. At this time, Campo is the cheapest most plentiful iron meteorite avaiable. The widmanstatten pattern is fairly large and not really suitable as knife furniture (too coarse a pattern). Any iron meteorite can be forged ... with care. Most are crumbly at first. Forge at welding heat with lots of flux. I frequently will just take a meteorite section and run weld beads all around it, just to get it to hold together for the first heat. Tap, tap, tap ... don't hammer until it get consolidated. Don't forge cold or cool, stay at a welding heat as you forge and fold until it starts to feel and sound like a solid piece of steel. There are silicates and graphite nodules and other crap in meteorites, which will all eventually come out with the flux/forging. I usually lose about 1/4 of the original weight when done. From there on, treat it like a no-carbon, high-nickel steel.

 

Remember that iron meteorites are about as hard as an old coat hanger and will not hold an edge. There are lots of ways to get around that, all methods I've used. I'll frequently make a damascus twist of meteorite layered with HC steel. In high layer counts, you end up with micro-serations as the softer meteorite wears. Or, take the same twists and laminate on either side of a HC steel core (san-mai) so that no meteorite is on the edge. Or, the meteorite can be melted and alloyed appropriately with carbon to make a meteoritic base HC steel. And so on ... The iron meteorite will be a bright line in damascus due to the high nickel content.

 

Most speculation on the Tutankhamen's iron dagger is that it was forged from meteorite. Because of the low/no carbon, it is not a "hard" blade.

 

Should you have any specific questions, let me know.

 

Dan

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Well, the guy wants a Phurba made from it, so it needs to stick together pretty well. I imagine I'll be layering some wrought into it just to make it work, we'll see. Trying to price something like this vexes me as well, I'm seeing costs all over the map for old ones, not sure how to approach this. Any advice, public or by PM or email, is welcome as well.

 

The varied nature of forgeability and the fact that to get anything of any sort of good you need to weld it up is why I smelt it in a crucible and turn it into steel..then forge how you wish or weld it for contrast.

I have made up a few projects for myself and clients this way (a recreation of the Jim Bowie knife among others) and will be turning out some 50 pounds of meteorite steel for Dan Fronefield later this year....good enough for forging blades from.

 

If you wish to guarantee a product you need to take steps to do it well.

 

It would not surprise me at all to find that many who claim to have meteorite in their work do not or in such small amounts they can also claim that the blade was made from quench water and flux.

 

Ric

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Chris, do you know Delbert Ealy? He's worked with a lot of meteor iron in pattern weld and would probably have a lot to say about the topic. I know he did a dagger a while back from a slab of meteoritic iron, but it was stock removal because the customer wanted the windmanstatten pattern visible. Give him a ring or drop him an email, I'm sure he'd be happy to chat with you about it.

 

-d

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Martian and Lunar meteorites are stony meteorites and can not be "forged". I use slices and pieces as accents in my knives. Pretty pricey at $400-$1500 per gram depending on rarity and form (see ebay). I actually have a slice of Mars meteorite in my wedding ring.

 

Mars and Lunar meteorites are the result of there being a large impact on either Mars or the Moon by another meteorite which blasts fragments of those planets into space. Those fragments may travel the solar system for millions (billions) of years before being sucked into the Earth's gravity well.

 

Dan

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Outstanding. Thank you all for your generous advice.

 

I need to get a couple small pieces, I think, to test with, before I move on to the big enchilada.

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I used some Campo shavings mixed with 1095 and got a nice can weld billet.

 

Link to pics

 

Another can weld with some Gibeon meteorite and iron filings mixed in.

 

Link

 

And FWIW meteorite etches much better with full strength FC and not diluted like when we use it on steel. I could not get that pendant pattern to pop so I contacted the guy I got the shavings from and he said is has to be full strength FC.

Edited by B Finnigan
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I have a fair amount of shavings from Lee (back when he made his hammer). I intend to use it in a crucible melt at the hammer-in this year

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Iron meteorites were once the core of small planet sized objects formed as the solar system was formed over 4.6 billion years ago. The Widmanstatten pattern is developed due to the very slow cooling of molten nickel iron at the core of the planetoids (about 1 degF per 100,000 years). Two similar but different forms of nickel-iron crystalize, which forms the patterns you see once etched. The larger the banding in the widmanstatten pattern, the larger the original planetoid and the slower the core was cooling. Eventually, these planetoids smashed into each other and were broken up with the remains falling into the sun, escaping our solar systems gravity or forming the planets we know today. Some small pieces have floated around since then and eventually are swept up into Earths gravity well and fall as meteorites.

 

If you take an iron meteorite and heat it up much beyond about 400 degF, the widmanstatten pattern starts to disappear. So, you can not forge iron meteorite and hope to retain any of the patterning.

 

Dan

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I've been aware of the use of this stuff for years, but all the reading I've been doing in the last couple days, and the information here, is just blowing my mind. I need to start exploring this material more for my own use, beyond this project.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, the customer fell through when I suggested I needed a down payment for material. Despite that, I found a reputable dealer and got a 3.3kg specimen at about 8.4 cents a gram, shipping included. The whole idea intrigued me enough to want to work some up myself anyway, so I'll slice it into 1/4"x1" strips and weld it up to some W2, 50/50 and see what I make with it.

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Just to see what would happen, I took a piece of Campo and rolled it out. Cold, no prep at all. It stuck together quite well and rolled out to about .006" or so. I think it's in Indiana now.....

Brian

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, that went a little differently than I expected.

 

Took my lump to the F&B Hammer-in, sawed off a chunk to save and make trinkets with, sawed off another to melt in a crucible w/Jeff, and welded the remaining lump to a bar, and forged it down to 1/4x1.5" bar. It certainly wanted to crumble at the grain boundaries, and at one point, after a mild compression in the weak axis, I was pouring flux through a hole in the middle of the billet. Eventually I got it welded up, and even though there are a few delamination areas, once I start welding again to the W2, it should take care of those.

 

The best way I can describe it, is that it's like trying to weld wrought iron without any slag in it - you need a screaming white heat, lots of flux, and a firm hammer to get it to hold up, with a few juicy heats in between. Weird stuff, but I'm hopeful it will turn out really nice in my finished product. I'm going to have to go up there for the power hammer again to get it to finished barstock, but it shouldn't take more than a few hours to tighten up my bar, and then draw everything out into several sections (I want a flat laminate, a tight twist, and something a little more playful) for use in blades.

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