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Beautiful Jan! People will never know how much time there is in one of those blades, it's such a great feeling to use something that you made from dirt and rocks ain't it?

Zeb, are you implying that bladesmiths aren't people? Because we sure know! Then again, we are more like gods among men so... ;)

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Jan,   Researching for my own charcoal burns (now curtailed by the local Fire Department,) a common theme was to carefully place the wood into the pit and to start the burn at the top. I assume you

Here is a pic of the charcoal made today ( just prior to covering it),  about 5 hrs of work ( 300 gallons). I was hoping to do a smelt tonight but I am a bit tired and do not want to screw it up.....s

Well , I finally got around to doing a smelt today , using the above charcoal. The run lasted 1.5 hrs and targeted cast iron as the product..I will pull the bloom tomorrow and if all looks good I will

Posted Images


The blade was dipped in a mix of vinegar and ferric sulfate ( cold ) and quickly rinsed in cold and boiling water. I like the exposure of the layers and the exposure of the area where the clay did not cover the steel.


P1070450.jpg



Jan



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Connecting past experiences with current events. The first picture is a cracked blade made from 1095e file steel..the second picture is of my current wootz bar ( probably melted about 6 mos ago). Somewhere in a post a while back, I mentioned there would be a wootz connection to the cracked bar, as it had two black ( etched) areas caused by different phenomena. The wootz bar is very black in the quenched area of the edge ( some of those details are shown above). Now we will have to match the dark color of the edge with the final etch ( I hope we can do that).

 

P1020429.jpg

P1070454.jpg

 

Jan

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There has always been something about wootz that grabs me! Thanks for the post,Jan!!!

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The local Japanese culture fair is over and I had a very wonderful rewarding time..lots of very nice, curious people. Kids playing with the magnetic sand on the large bar magnet brought a lot of parents to the table and into a coversation. I will definitely do a couple of these next year.

fair.jpg

 

 

We will now finish the wootz blade by making a handle for it , have it photographed and donate it for a local fund raiser.

 

The bar shown in post 122 will be used to do a little study on hamon and polishing techniques. The etch of the hamon area is pretty well known and used by many, however the tanppan polish is hardly every mentioned, neither is the blocking out of area of the blade by ( removable enamel ) ....we will attempt both of these and post the visible results if any.

 

Jan

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  • 5 months later...

Pit Charcoal,

 

In a week or so I hope to be able to have a look at the pit, which is still full of last years last charcoal run. This year I hope to tidy up some open topics in the current post, there is wood waste to be burned, I hope to do a little more smelting, targeting the use of the accumulating charcoal fines. So we will finish off this old pit of charcoal ( assuming it is still dry) and jump to another thread title for the 2015 pit runs.

 

I don't know how many of you have attempted this Georgian 'Bulat' technology by Zaqro Nonikashvili

method of making Wootz...I highly recommend it, and see it as the clearest method on the web to date ( I am very grateful for Zaqro's contribution and to Klaas for bringing it to us) . This year I hope to attempt it again using the 'Konasamudram' process as alluded to here http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=18364&p=172409 . I think I have the melting process down ( I sure hope so ) and plan to begin experimenting with the process of forging.

Right now I am healing a sore shoulder but should be able to go on light duty in a week or so, melting iron is light duty.

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An early Catalan furnace...maybe, although my ore is different than those normally associated with this process, I will run slowly at the start and speed up when I think the bulk of the ore charge is just above the combustion zone.

 

The description starts at about mid page.

 

mdp.39015064545083-303.pdf

 

This furnace described above ( in John Percy's book ) was built about 3 mos. ago (well , actually it is an analogue of that furnace ), the volume of charcoal above the air inlet is about 24 gallons+. The charcoal weighs about 1-1.5 lbs per gallon......so I will place 26 lbs of ore over the filled furnace and proceed slowly.... to see what happens during a slow burn. If I can interpret what the results are ( this is definitely a biassed experiment) , I may begin the next run by adding a second air inlet and filling the bottom of the furnace with fines ( about 9 gallons ). I will post some pics of the furnace and the results, as they happen.

 

Jan

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Today I attempted to use the "new" furnace (described above) like the Catalan Forge = slow for a while and fast at the end. I have no specific times or weights ...a guess is 20- 30 lbs ore , 36 gallons of charcoal fines and 3 hrs of running. The charcoal used is all fines...most of my involvement was poking the charcoal so the furnace heat would not hug the wall of the air inlet as that is whhat happens when air cannot penetrate the fuel.

 

If I get results with the fines it is a big deal for me , as I have been trying for years to put that material to good use. Tomorrow I will have a look..I poked the finished furnace and was unable to touch the bottom...there is something down there.

 

I tried to take some pictures but the camera kept telling me this card cannot be read. Same card I have been using so I will have to look it up.

 

Two crucibles are loaded ( 1 Kg charge each) , for a test ( mainly to see if the glaze is still good).....once I get back into the melting mode I will try a larger crucible. Larger crucibles have a vey large failure rate.

So it will be a while before I get ready to try 'Konasamudram'....bear with me.

 

The new furnace has an inverted cone attached to the top of my old furnace....large additions of ore are added at one time and taken through a slow/fast cycle. Should I have iron I will post a picture or two. The cone is an old shield from an early TV maybe 1960 or so, I have had it for 35+years knowing it would serve a special purpose.

 

Jan

DSCN0351.jpg

DSCN0355.jpg

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The bloomerey furnace results are mixed...6lbs of bits, 7lbs of mostly reduced ore and a 9 lbs bloom with about 2 lbs of slag still attached. I will add another air inlet and hope to get the air flow through the furnace more centered..it just keep wanting to move close to the furnace wall. I will melt the partially reduced ore with some carbon to shoot for iron or steel.

 

The first of two crucibles was melted today..15 min. warm-up and 45 minutes to melt. I used my forge to do the melting and I will have to redo it . A new thread will now be started to go with the crucible steel..I will leave the bloomery stuff here.

 

I will post some pics of bloom results and the ingot soon ( after it cools).

 

Jan

 

Edit

The ingot is 1002 grams and has a decarburized top , no glass was added...the glaze was not totally effective. I will drill a hole into the second sealed crucible and add some glass prior to melting this week-end. Due to the forge being used as a heat source..the flame directly impinged on the crucible..I will try to avoid that on the next melt

 

Jan

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I will add the pics of the above run in a day or so.

 

Looking at the pre-reduced or should I say partially reduced ore, plans are being made to attempt making crucible steel directly from this bloomery by product.
Lets make some wild guesses ( or as some might say, throw something at the wall ).
We know we have a partially reduced ore because when it is placed in a torch flame it burns, ( with sparks ) but not as brightly as some commercial high carbon steel powders.
We do not know to what degree the reduction took place .....but by mixing the lot very thoroughly we can get an average , which we will have to guess at. Various areas in the furnace would have produced a different degree of reduction...
Say we are using 1000 grams of this unknown material , lets look at some possible conditions
1) no reduction took place 720 grams of iron and 280 grams of oxygen would make up the material ( the ore is 72% iron, 28% oxygen )
2) 25% reduction took place 790 grams of iron and 210 grams of oxygen would "
3) 50% reduction took place 860 " " 140 " " "
4) 75% " " 930 " " 70 " " "
5) 100% " " 1000 " " 0 " " "
So we will start at guessing we have 50% reduced material and try to add enough carbon to remove 140 grams of oxygen. This mix will still be as bulky (almost so) as if we were using just fresh ore..hopefully some of the carbon will occupy the spaces between the ore particles. My crucibles will not hold 1000 grams so I will blend the ore and carbon and fill until full then heat. The crucible will be lined with a little carbon to give the walls more time to avoid the FeO coming for the silica in the walls. I will try to melt this week-end.
I will add 120 grams of carbon to 1000 grams of by product..blend it well and try to get as much as possible into a crucible for a smelt melt..we'll call it a smelt.
Jan
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"I will add 120 grams of carbon to 1000 grams of by product..blend it well and try to get as much as possible into a crucible for a smelt melt..we'll call it a smelt."

Jan

I was able to get 1000 grams of pre-reduced ore plus 120 grams of carbon into a crucible (vented). The 50% reduction number seems to be pretty close to reality as I did a weight check of equal volumes comparing fresh ore to pre-reduced ore and I found about a 14% difference.

 

The crucible was heated and sparks were coming from the vent hole so I assumed I had a smelt molten. I will pull it later tonight.

 

This test has major implication for my future iron making.. I was looking at a post bloomery period but this is not what I had planned.

 

So my job now is to find out how much iron was put into that crucible...the carbon is a floating variable ( this byproduct was dirty with charcoal and I did not want to clean it thoroughly only to add more charcoal. The iron recovered will give me a chance to estimate the degree of reduction.

 

Jan

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Only 587 grams of iron was recovered as a small puck ( I will edit this post with a pic ). The surprising element is that the metal is a very hard white cast iron, very difficult to cut. Lots of black slaggy look0ing material which was also full of iron ...but it did not incorporate into the ingot. I may repeat this test after thinking it through.

 

Jan

 

DSCN0434.jpg DSCN0435.jpg

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Postd a couple of pics of the little puk cut in half. In retrospect it is worth repeating this trial one more time running it a bit longer and hotter. The ingredient for this trial was anything from the furnace able to work its ay through a sieve and stick to a magnet, next time I will target what I now call the by-product as the product.

For now I will concentrate on the other more predictable crucible steel and drop this thread.

 

Jan

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  • 4 weeks later...

Cast iron is needed for the ongoing wootz trials from another thread.

 

Today I pulled the charcoal from last years last run...some of it was moist ( not wet ) and much heavier than normal.

 

A pit of pine charcoal was made today with some very "past usable" wood. I changed the process to emphasize time over temperature, taking 4 hours instead of two.

 

Using the above flared bloomery furnace gave me a chance to experiment with the use of moist charcoal ( lots of beautiful steam ). After a while I put a flame to the steam and it, along with the CO, burned and tte visible steam went "away".

I did do a short iron run using moist charcoal and have some pics of the run...but could not find a bloom when poking the furnace...if there is a yield i will post some pics.

 

I am showing a pic of how the cast iron is processed for use as a wootz ingredient, after doing this for a while I found out that is the way it was done in the old days. This process involves breaking the big pieces of cast and smashing the mortar 1/2 full of smaller particles in order to clean them of slag and rust.

 

cast.jpg cast iron bits being processed

pine.jpg pine charcoal in process

pine2.jpg pit with pine charcoal, sealed

 

Jan

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The pine charcoal will be used in a week or two. The moist charcoal had limited success..some cast iron, 4 Lbs. some partially reduced ore, 5 lbs some bits about 2 lbs ...but no bloom at all..not sure why.

 

This furnace will experience some major modification in the next few months.

 

I thought I would show the pics of the smelt anyway, as this was my deepest penetration into "soul smithing". The material you see as an orange ooze is fermented persimmons. I have 4 persimmon trees, many fruits hit the ground squashed or have been badly damaged by birds.I pick these and put them in a bucket...it is the ideal charcoal glue. By the way ..the best tasting drink I have ever had, is fermented persimmons..( not from this bucket ).

 

The glue was used to reduce the gas flow through a particular area of the furnace..normally I would have mixed the material with fine charcoal...but it was beginning to smell and I wanted to dispose of it.

pers.jpg fermenting persimmons ( about 2 months old )

eeuw.jpg applied to the edge of the furnace ( about 4")

lowpers.jpg the furnace running at low air volume

 

Jan

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  • 2 weeks later...

The above picture of the cast iron bits being smashed, is redundant ( I will replace it with a picture of what I intended to show). The cleaning of the smaller bits of cast iron is done with some ore in the mortar ...the resulting mix is the run through a sieve ....the cleaned bits are sorted and the fines go back with the ore.

 

Today I will process some more of the moist charcoal ....I will have a look at the pit to see if the Pine Charcoal is still dry ( we have had a lot of rain ) . Now that the Persimmon juice is gone I will have to finf another charcoal glue. The edge of the above furnace is not the area normally chosen to block...the edge was blocked to keep as much heat as possible in the center of the furnace ( moist charcoal). By adding the cone I have increased my stack height by about 12" ...I was at 14" ...now at about 26 but constantly changing.

 

Today's target is cast iron....not in large solid chunks but in corral or sponge type forms...allowing easy conversion into bits.

Jan

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Today I did another moist charcoal run......if there is a low yield, I will dump the rest of the material and free up the storage containers. Moist charcoal creates a lot of charcoal dust in the furnace due to the expansion of steam coming from the surface of the charcoal. I ran slower than usual and encountered some completely blocked ( by slag ) air ways. The whole thing may not have gotten hot enough.

Here are somme pics...the fines did come in handy in shielding the ore from the air and in shutting down ( just sprayed the surface with water). Most of the pre-reduced ore was mixed with fresh ore. The mud covered 1" pipe air inlet was in good shape and reused.

DSCN0756.jpg shutting down

DSCN0752.jpg just after an ore addition

DSCN0745.jpg steam at the start, soon became invisible but not gone

 

If the yield is good I will post some pics

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The wet charcoal is now biochar and the pine charcoal stayed dry. I am becoming a convert to this material, it is amazing stuff. I played a bit with a short run. The ore which is not placed over the center 8" of the furnace ends up along the vertical wall of the furnace...in this area and at the outside area of the cone it becomes partially reduced iron ore. The crucible melting of this stuff I am abandoning, but the partially reduced ore makes a great blend with fresh ore to shift the bloom from low to higher carbon.

This run was mostly done with ore added to the wall area of the furnace and only a little in the center.

DSCN0770.jpg a really open furnace , large coals running slow, breathing well

DSCN0768.jpg A temporary piece of metal keeping the center ore centered and the wall material outside, that is ore on the outside area, two modes of smelting

DSCN0766.jpg Pine charcoal , burning hot and slowly, low in ash, very light and friable, I am going to store some of this for my forge.

 

Jan

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The pine charcoal bloom is all cast iron...it is a tough decision, should I use it as cast iron ( ingredient ) or a stand alone piece showing the beauty of the bloom. I will keep experimenting with various configurations of this furnace . I think the pit charcoal topic is done. I will bring this to the CBA Spring event in April...to explain the wootz process.

castiron.jpg bottom of an all cast iron bloom ( some slag but easily removed)

 

Jan

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  • 1 month later...

mmm...persimmon! persimmon juice is used as a waterproofing in traditional japanese paper floor mats and for strengthening in paper for separating gold layers as they are pounded into leaf...

 

you have been hard at work since i last checked in on this thread, lots of learning, lots of progress!

 

that certainly looks like a sculpture to me...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dave,

I should have picked them green , and would have, were that garden my domain and not hers.

 

 

I would like to open another pit charcoal post though I think I can close this one again in a post or two ( maybe). There is a strong repeating pattern to my resulting blooms these days...here are the characteristics,

 

blooms tend to be large

blooms are composed of two very different materials cast iron at the bottom and low carbon bloomery iron above, the two sections are only connected by mass of slag.

( I have been wrong on numerous occasions about the carbon content of blooms, one really never knows until the whole thing is cut or smashed )

We can control the amount of each material to a degree, by adjusting the basic furnace/ingredient variables.

 

The current blooms just form at the bottom of the furnace, the cast is able to flow amongst the charcoal ( see attached pics) but the bloom forms higher in the furnace in a puddle of very viscous slag. This is not your mother's slag but almost pure FeO and/or magnetite and a very small percentage of Ilmenite(or Ti iron oxide ). This stuff is so viscous it will normally not even make it to the bottom of the furnace (8" below the air inlet).

All but a very few of my blooms have been made with that slag in contact with the metal and almost all my blooms have ben formed at what is considered by "bloomers" to be a "cold" temperature. At furnace temperatures this slag very rapidly removes carbon from the iron/cast iron a reaction producing lots of gas (CO/CO2) and creating some iron from the slag.

My guess is the early iron makers in Asia (Japan specifically) would have blooms made this way ( they probably did not cool them in the furnace) , until they started to discover advantages (maybe) of creating a less viscous slag and tapping it.

 

There is enough ore and charcoal left for about 2-4 runs, which I will use to attempt to make a good quality carbon bloom without any cast iron. We will try to get all the material coming down the furnace to gather in a well insulated bowl, mix, react and form two layers (bloom and slag). This is not a straight forward matter of averaging the top and bottom of the blooms made recently, as the bowl will create a completely different set of conditions.

 

If the operators of a Tatara furnace can asses the nature of the iron in the Tatara by studying the outflowing slag on the fly ...we need to develop a means of determining what the next run schedule will look like. If all goes well,we will be able to get that information from the resulting bloom of the previous run.....hopefully we will get it right by run #4.

Here are some pics of current bloom/bloom fractions which were formed in a furnace not containing a preformed bowl.

DSCN1411.jpg

Cast iron segment of a bloom having the charcoal removed ( rust is from power washing with water)

 

DSCN1420.jpg

A bloom on its side, showing the two parts connected by slag. Each part is about 4" thick. Keep in mind,most of the slag bowl has been chipped away from the upper bloom.

 

Jan

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