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how can i tell if my damascus has failed?

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i started on a billet of 1084 and 15n20 yesterday and it looks like it might not have welded in the center


i can see and feel a small gap after grinding away maybe 1/8" but it does not run through the whole billet




everything was cleaned when i started and i applied flux (20 mule team borax) before it got red and i added more flux whenever it looked like the old flux was burned, just sprinkles until it starts to foam up seems to cover it good without ruining my kaowool.


i dont think i hit it too hard, i used a 3 pound hammer with a slightly flat-ish face and hammered liked i would hammer a nail into wood.


i heated the billet until the flux was dancing then i gave it some more heat to try to even it out and went right to the anvil with it. my forge is made of kaowool and i use a propane torch to heat everything. i dont think the forge is the problem, but maybe i didnt let it soak long enough?



i hammered the billet HARD diagonally and from the side to square it up and it did not come apart, but it doesnt look like it worked so i dont want to spend a bunch of time on it for it to break later.



how do i know when a billet has failed?

is it time to hit the billet when the flux is dancing or do i have to get it hotter than that?

if it isnt fused then how can i clean it out?


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What are the dimensions of the billet? Is that two square bars welded together we're looking at?


I've never heard of one of those little propane torch forges being used to weld with ,but it certainly sounds like you were able to get it up to the correct temperature. When I forge weld a billet, the first blows are very light and controlled, to set the weld. You don't want to hammer nearly as hard as you would driving a nail until after the weld is set. Also, I find it interesting you say the flux was burning. It should be melting, and bubbling. But burning? That might indicate things were getting too hot,or were heated too many times.


The photo isn't very close up, but from what I can see, it looks like a good weld to me. 15n20 and 1084 weld really easy. What are you planning to use the billet for? I would say just continue working it, and if there is a hidden issue, it will soon come to light. If you're concerned about the center, you could certainly cut it in half, and stack and weld again ...

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its 4 layers, 1/2" x 3/8" x 5" so its not big at all. my anvil is a piece of railroad track nailed to a large block of wood, it weighs more than 100 pounds but its still a little "soft". i dont think i was hitting it too hard, normally i dont hit anything very hard unless im drawing out stock and i might go a little nuts. i know its going to be a lot of hard work but ive been making mokume-gane so i have some experience with spending all day drawing out and grinding a piece of metal.


the flux sometimes starts look like hot scale and it raises off of the piece a bit but doesnt fall off, i dont think it melts again after that. when the billet gets hot enough you can see the flux under it moving around. i burned some steel before and this didnt look like it was burning.


my plan was to fold 3 or 4 times to get 36 or 72 layers and make a couple of thin long knives/miniature swords, probably just stock removal with a random pattern.

i guess ill get back to work on it later, and if it doesnt work ill make a smaller one. i dont look forward to cutting more 15N20 though...



i hope im not sounding arrogant, im probably just a bit more confident, and way more stressed than i should be.

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Forge welding is primarily temperature control. More times than not if the weld doesn't stick it's because the temp wasn't right. I would imagine that you weren't hot enough when impacting with the hammer. It the temp is right it doesn't require a hard blow.



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