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Simple Damascus


jordansahls
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I am going to try and forge my first Damascus blade, but am unsure of what patter I should try.  I really like the look of the maiden's hair patter and the ladder pattern.  I have never done this before so I don’t really know where to start.  Is there a pattern that is relatively simple?  Or is it all about practice (both I bet).  Also, where can I get the different steels and alloys needed to complete a blade?  I understand that there is a degree of difficulty inherent in Damascus steel, much like in regular blades.  Any help that you all could provide will be greatly appreciated.  

 

Thanks to all,

Jordan Sahlberg

Jordan Sahlberg

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Jordan,

If I could add my 2-cents I would say, Learn to crawl before trying to walk.  Focus on random patterns and welding until I could weld a near flawless billet.  You know, figure it out before drying to dazzle yourself.

 

I was so excited when I welded my first Damascus billet, it was a 5" x 1" x 1/4" random pattern with lots of problems...but it was my first billet and I still have the blade forged from it.

 

 

If you were in driving range from North Alabama, I would invite you down to the shop to play with patterns.

 

Dale

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What I've done in the past with a student and will again shortly, is have him/her start with a really basic stack, like 8 layers of thick and narrow material like W-1 and 1045, and weld and fold three times for 32 layers, then turn it on it's side and forge it out... I find it's a really good way to keep it simple, get all the basics covered of the folding, drawing and welding, and it's very visual as well because the low layer shows up in the forging heats really well. Turning it on it's side shows delams or bad welds immediately and gives a lot of feedback, it's a fairly quick process this way too so it keeps the labour level down and interest level high.

And it makes for a pretty cool, albeit simplistic, pattern as well. Stripes.

Randal

www.rhgraham.simpl.com

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Thanks for all your help, and your generous offer Dale (but I so happen to live as far north west as you can get in Washington state).  You are one hundred percent correct on my attempts to walk before I can crawl.  I will work on just trying to forge weld, I have some tool steel lying around from old files and such, and then I have some 5160, could be interesting.  Graham, I like the idea of doing something simple and interesting, I will try your method.  I guess I am going to be ruining a lot of steel in the months to come.  Thanks for the reading slagstag and once again, Thanks to all for the help.

 

You guys are great,

Jordan Sahlberg

Jordan Sahlberg

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Hi J

try to keep 5160 out of the mix at first...  the cr in it produces oxide too easy and it moves slowly under hammer compared to plain carbs (could have slippage or shear the welds if you work at wrong temp)

 

I like RH's idea...  good stuff

 

Greg

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Thanks, i will do that.  Would it be possible to mix something like the tool steel with that low carbon steel you can get at places like lowes or the home depot?  Or is that stuff way to dirty?

Jordan Sahlberg

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A ladder pattern has always been the easiest for me....getting the welds to stick, that's the tricky part.... I prefer to cut the channels then forge flat, but either way works.  One thing that can be neat, as far as random patterns go, is to leave the blade extra thick and put some really nasty deep hammer marks in it, then grind it down to shape... each hammer mark will leave a 'divot' in the pattern, with really pretty results.

 

Good luck with your billet.

George

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."
Buffon


view some of my work

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  • 2 months later...

dude go for the cable its easy doesnt require a power hammer ( or a buddy with a hammer and six pack ov beer) to make, if you get small enough cable.

 

you can mess with its patterns if you want but the bottom line is its easy.

 

heat it up throw some borax on there good n thick get it up to welding temp twist it as hard as you can then pound it into stock. bam1 there you have simple forge welding.

 

I have been told by the place that I get my cable from that improved plow steel is 1080 or 1070 steel mine is 1080. if you need some I get it from aaa sling near my house. hollar at me if your intrested.

Please disregard what I have just written,

Ian

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I would be interested in getting some of that cable that your talking about. Is it posssible that you could quote me on a price? thanks for your offer!

 

Jordan

Jordan Sahlberg

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  • 2 weeks later...

I too just started. had some difficulty with the cable I was trying so I cut up pieces of a 1.25 bandsaw blade and a couple old handsaw blades and forgewelded them on sunday...this is what I ended up with:

 

billet.jpg

 

gonna just draw it out and hope for a good random pattern adn worry about making patterns later...

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  • 4 weeks later...

heres a quite update on teh billet I posted above. I drew it out and forged it to shape. as ti was my first, I learned alot. like fold more, and don't forge so close to shape...even with the weld flaws, I'm still gonna put some slabs on it and finish it ....being my first and all. :)

 

pwrght.jpg

 

pwlft.jpg

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A couple of years ago, I made a batch of damascus one piece of which when flat ground had two delaminations on one side. I hollow ground it and they were still there. Oh well! I finished the knife and made a sheath for it and it resides in my truck as a roadkill knife.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'd like to give forge welding a shot and have a few scraps of various steels laying around. Flux is the question. What is the most user friendly (for lack of a better term) flux and where can I buy some? I'm trying to find a place to get some cable also; I kind of like the simple swirl/random pattern of the cable damascus.

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I'd like to give forge welding a shot and have a few scraps of various steels laying around.  Flux is the question.  What is the most user friendly (for lack of a better term) flux and where can I buy some?  I'm trying to find a place to get some cable also; I kind of like the simple swirl/random pattern of the cable damascus.

25900[/snapback]

 

I've used commercial fluxes like EZweld but for pattern welding I don't know that you want the iron filings and things that might be in them.

 

I have used borax and have had good results with fagot welds and have mixed borax with ezweld too with good results. Recently on the advice of Jim Hrisoulas in his book "The Pattern Welded Blade I have taken to mixing some sal-ammoniac in with the borax. This also seemed to work just fine at least so far.

 

Sal-ammoniac is sold as tinning block and I found it at an online stained glass supplier. You used to see it in hardware stores but I wasn't able to find any there now.

 

Some also use flourspar mixed in with their borax but I have no idea where to get it. I've found it sold as jewlery but I didn't want to buy a ring and grind it up. LOL

 

I couldn't find cable (wire rope) anyplace local. Everything was small, galvanized or had a fiber core. I baught some cable online from e-rigging.com. I have read of smiths using the smaller more commonly available fiber cored stuff and just taking it apart to get the rope out of it and wraping the strands around a piece of round stock. They simply fold however many times is needed to make up for the small diameter. Rural king has fiber cored stuff but the biggest I could find was like 1/2 inch and it all sounded like too much work so I just ordered.

 

I would recommend practicing your welding some before welding up a billet. a billet is a lot of work only to get part way through turning it into a blade only to find out your weld isn't any good. I burned up a lot of propane, coal and steel before I was happy with my welding. There's lots of information available on how to do it but you really have to get in the fire and spend some time doing it. For me it was pretty frustrating in the beginning but now it seems so simple it's hard to imagine why it ever gave me such fits.

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Matt, you can just use good ol' laundry borax for flux. Since it's not anhydrous, it'll foam up when you put it on the hot metal. Line the bottom of your forge with a sacrificial fire brick or section of kiln shelf: the stuff devours kaowool.

"I'm not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife." Molly Ivins

NT Limpin' Cat Prokopp

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Thanks a million for the info, guys. I will give this a shot. If everything works, I'll post a picture.

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