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Some Advice Please...


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Don't post much here. Have been working on some projects lately, and have successfully made a Damascus Billet using 1095/15n20/52100, all steel from Aldo. My new home made power hammer was much help. I used 1" flat stock and went for 23 layers as my initial weld. After my initial weld, cooled and ground the stock, and cut the piece into 4, then welded some more. Got to 92 layers, then got impatient and attempted to hot cut and fold the billet over for 184 layers. This didn't go so well, so I ended up cooling the bars, grinding and arc welding the remnants, before the Final weld. I was shooting for 300+ layers, but decided not to risk it this time around, and settled for something around 160-180 layers, after accounting for layer loss in grinding. Then forged the billet to squarish and twisted and flattened the billet. I think I can get 3 knives from the end product.? I've cut a piece and started to forge a knife from it. It will be a 4"-5" clip point blade more for general purpose/utility use than for hunting.


I have No fancy equipment for heat treating or precise measurements available to me. So I was going to heat treat pretty much by eye as I always do. Using a magnet for critical temp and 130 degree canola oil as my quenchant. So I am looking for some advice on how best to tackle this blade. Critical Temp, or non magnetic looks more in the orange range to my eyes, so that is what I'll go with (unless someone has a better idea?), since I don't have any accurate measurement instruments. My question is: Will Warmed Canola oil be acceptable for this Steel combination, or should I go with a brine solution ? I do have satanite available if a clay coating would be more beneficial. What about soak time (3/16" blade tops)? Second, what would be an optimal tempering temperature ? I planned on tempering the spine to a good blue the best I can, but overall I was thinking something in the 375 Degree range in the oven for the whole blade. Should I go as high as 400 or 425 ?


Like I said this is more of a general purpose/utility blade than for hunting, but I do want a good long lasting edge, but I don't want it to break in the less "careful" hands than my own in which this blade will finds it's home.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated...


The Steel:



The Setup:



The Product: First Weld of 23 Layers



Final Product after twist: 160+ Layers



Things I learned: 1) Don't Rush. (2) Forging a blade from a twisted billet of this stuff requires a somewhat high heat and patience, as I got some small shears/delaminations in some sections along the twist from forging that needed to be ground out. I seemed to only get 3-4 hammer blows at a time before reheat was necessary, be it hand hammer or power hammer. (3) Add more layers, I think my power hammer can handle another 3 or 4 thin layers in the initial weld, and I think I can use up to 1.5" flat stock, instead of 1". (4) As you can see in the second pic, I only arc-welded across the top and bottom of the billet. I should have welded across the center as well, since once I started heating, the 2 outside layers started to expand outwards leaving a gap. I managed to correct this by squeezing the initial billet in my vise a few times before it got up to fluxing heat. And I used lots of Flux the first time around. I got lucky this time around. *(5) I need to make up some drawing dies for the hammer, but I'm worried that I won't get as straight a laminate pattern. Just gotta try it. Maybe some soft (not so dramatic) drawing dies ? (6) I need more tooling for the Power Hammer.


Any input is welcome...



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Hi Bruno,


With the steels that you used you will have a high carbon content and if successful with the H/T you should have a high enough hardness that I would think that you will be much better off tempering in the 400/425 degree range but it is always best to start low as you can always do another at a higher temp if needed. Try the 375 temper and see how your hardness turns out. If too hard then add 25 degrees and do it again. This can be done as many times as you need until you achieve what you're after.


With the steels that you chose canola oil isn't ideal but should work. (Keep the blade moving sideways to reduce any vapor barrier.)


The steels that you chose aren't easy ones to use and you have made it harder to get exactly right with the methods that you have available. In the future I would recommend using 1084 & 15N20. You will find that they weld much easier and have a much more forgiving H/T. The Cr in the 52100 and the high C levels of it & 1095 make everything a lot more critical as too temperature ranges. They are great steels if done exactly right but are much more demanding. There is also a higher risk of stress between layers with your combination. Pattern welding of different steels can present potential problems inherently and I believe that it's usually best to keep everything as simple as possible to eliminate as many of these as possible. That being said, your billet looks good to the naked eye and I wish you the best.


Let us know how things turn out. Thanks for sharing.






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What Gary said. 52100 will not respond well with a clay coat, and is most likely why you were getting shearing. Steels with that much chromium do not like to stick to themselves.


That said, you ought to get some interesting shades of contrast with that blend of steels. Good luck!

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Well... Attempted the heat treatment, and it seems to have worked. Waited till sundown, heated up my canola oil to about 130, and normalized the blade 3 times. Once the forge was all nice and hot, I held on to the blade with tongs and passed it through the forge repeatedly to get it up to temp (Non-Magnetic), about a Red-Orange Color, then quenched and held. Didn't hear a ping, and the blade did not blow apart which I half expected. Then did the file test, and it appears to have hardened, as the file skated freely. Got it tempering in the oven now at around 400'ish. Still need to temper the spine to a blue, maybe tomorrow.


Appreciate the advice and well wishes Gary, Alan.


Guess I just got lucky this time.


Will get some more pics in a day or two after final grind and possibly with the handle attached.



Edited by Bruno
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Sounds like a good ht result, an alternative to useing a torch on the spine is to weld two square bars to a pair of tongs, heat these up and grab the spine with them and place the edge into a shallow tray of water, good luck with the tempering!

To become old and wise... You first have to survive being young and foolish! ;) Ikisu.blogsot.com. Email; milesikisu@gmail.com mobile: +27784653651

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