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A Feather Pattern Damascus WIP

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Howdy all!


I've been on break from college for the holidays, and I've been wanting to get into doing some pattern welded work. The feather pattern has always caught my eye. I've never done it before, let alone much of any damascus, so this will most definitely be a first for me. Unfortunately, it's in my nature to make giant leaps instead of baby steps most of the time, so that's why I chose this over the much simpler patterns. :P Hopefully everything works out in the end... cross your fingers!



Ok, so I measured out seven 4"x 1 1/4" / 1/8" pieces of 1095 and six pieces of 15n20 of the same measurements (but thinner at .049") for a total of 13 layers.



I'll then clean all the surfaces with my angle grinder and wash in 70% Isopropyl alcohol.


After that I start getting everything lined up and ready to weld. Alternating layers of 1095 and 15n20.



Borrowed my neighbors welder to get things tacked together. Pretty soon I plan to get my own.




I'll stick it in my forge and let things heat up, and when the steel starts to turn a dull red I'll put plenty of 20 mule team borax on the seams. (I usually prefer to dry weld, but because I will be forging on my welds I want to be certain everything sticks together cleanly)



Everything is nice and hot! I start to rotate my billet every 30 seconds or so to make sure I get a good even heat.




Once it's up to heat with the lemon yellow color and wet surface, I'll let the billet sit for another minute or two. Then I'll take it out and give it some nice gentle hits with my 2 lb hammer to set the weld.




After taking the billet to a few more welding heats and tapping it all together, we get a nice solid chunk of pattern welded steel!



From here on, I'll start carefully forging on my welds. Time to test my welds!!



I had some minor delam on the tip of the billet that I tried to weld back together, but it just didn't want to stick together. So I just cut the small sections off. No biggie.




So one important thing I had forgotten was that you are supposed to forge the corners in to make the W's..... oops. I want a slight bowing effect towards the center from both sides. Straight lines won't work.




I took the billet back to the forge and forged all the corners in and walla! The layers are where they pretty much should be.... My forging skills aren't great, so there is a little wobblyness to my soon to be W's. <_<



I stopped after forging this bar twice the length and to 3/8" of an inch thick. I'm trying to figure out if I want to cut it into 4 pieces, reweld, and split down the middle for a low layer feather, or keep rewelding for a decent layer count before I split it. So that's what I'm thinking about tonight. If anyone has any ideas if a low layer looks ok, let me know! Keep in mind I'm doing this all by hand, so my hammer arm will thank me if I stop here! Ha!


I'll keep this updated as I progress and make up my mind. I plan to make this into a knife to go with this WIP, so stay tuned!

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Awesome work, thanks for taking the time to show steps!!!



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Thanks all. It seems I had a busy day today and haven't been able to work. Tomorrow I'll get back to forging this bad boy out. I decided I'll keep going on the layers to make things more interesting before I split down the middle for the feather. I'll see yall then.

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Howdy guys! So I got a small amount of work done again before I ran out of propane. :angry: Gonna get a refill tomorrow. Sorry about the quality of the photo's.... I've been running around town the past few days trying to find a new phone and the new phone's camera isn't the best. I'd rather not take my dslr into the shop.


I cleaned up the surface of the billet with the angle grinder and marked out 3 equal pieces to cut.





I then welded everything up and cleaned up my welds and corners. (don't look at my welding job!!)



I just had enough propane to get a few welding heats on it and get everything welded up nicely. (We hope!)




After grinding the tip to 220 grit I dipped into some ferric to see what I got. Ehhhhhhhh is all I can say. I got an accidental W in the middle corners that's real nice, but everything else is kinda crooked. I'll see if I can work on it while forging out this billet tomorrow and I'm hoping once everything is squashed in a bit more, it'll be more presentable. Also, after etching, my welds seemed to show up, so im a bit nervous. Before etching, I it looked like a solid weld. Who knows. I'll bring it back up to welding heat and fix it if I need to tomorrow.



Thanks for looking yall! Stay tuned.

Edited by Austin_Lyles
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Alrighty! Got a lot done today. I was able to "fix" my welds that looked like delam.


So I brought this bad boy up to temp and started drawing it out on my makeshift drawing die I've welded onto my makeshit anvil. :P




I drew this sucker out to around 7 inches or so and 3/8ths thick and cleaned off the spots to prep for forge welding. I marked out 1 1/4" blocks so that i had a total of 5 to stack.




After tacking up all the sides I check to make sure my pattern is facing the right way with a quick dip in ferric.



I'll save you the forge welding pictures because yall have already seen the process. I bring it up to two or three welding heats to make sure everything is good and stuck together.


After getting my 5 layers forged together, I prepare to hot cut my billet (more like a long cube at this point). There are a few things here that need to be JUST RIGHT or you will mess up all you've worked so hard on. First, you will need to make sure your wedge that you're cutting with is dull enough that it stretches the layers instead of cutting. Second and most important, Make sure you are splitting the billet on the correct side. This next picture shows I'm using a modified double bladed axe with one side cut off so I have a spot to whack on. The edge is dulled.



With the assistance of my dad, I was able to get it cut.... but perhaps it cut too cleanly... Even after I dulled the wedge.



I take the two pieces and clean as best I can with the angle grinder making sure I hardly take any materiel off. You don't want to loose your pattern. As you can see, I had a little delam happen on one side. I'm pretty sure I can fix it once I weld these two pieces back together.



After forge welding everything back together I'll clean off the surface and let cool.



I cleaned the surface and brought it up to a 600grit finish. I do have a small inclusion on the surface that I will grind out when I start forging this back into a billet. A quick dip in some ferric shows that I got a pretty cool pattern. I'm pretty happy so far. I think once I forge this back into a billet or knife, it will stretch the feather and look much better. I also wanted to point out that my hot cut was tooooo sharp. It didn't pull/stretch the pattern enough. Only something you learn with experience I guess. Next time!



As always, Thanks for looking guys! If anyone has any questions let me know.

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It's starting to look like a knife! Hey guys. Got a lot more done today.


I forged out the little cube into my billet/soon to be knife. Just a little more ways to go. It's amazing how much materiel you loose in the fire.




I'll then clean off the billet near the tip and see where my pattern is so I know where I need to forge the tip. At this point, I realize my pattern wasn't going to be as tight as I had originally thought. I had to move so much material because I didn't forge it right. Anyways, It looks more like tree branches then a traditional feather.




While forging, I cut up some gnarly oak burl that I may or may not use for the handle.





I got everything forged out and ready to go. I'm awful at forging out blades to their shape, so I go the safe route and cut a blank out of my billet. Basically stock removal. ( Hopefully I don't make any of you pure forging guys mad ^_^)




Got everything cut out and now I'm ready to clean off the scale with my grinder.




Majority of the scale is off and a quick dip in ferric shows what I'm working with. Again, not too happy how the pattern turned out, but it's not too bad.




Started cleaning up all my lines and edges. I do the small sections with the dremel. I also drew out where all my pins and ricasso will go. You can kind start to get a feel for the knife.




I'm so tired and I can't rememeber what this process is called, but I'll tap little divots where my holes need to go so my drill bit doesn't wander.







After getting my holes drilled I decided I'm going to go with some much more fancy bolsters made out of damascus. I changed up where the bolsters will be from the original pattern as well. I'll use the quarter to help with marking out the corners. On a side note, I would prefer engraving, but I don't have any tools, and I don't have the money to have someone else do it.






I had a scrap piece of some Alabama damascus laying around and thought it would make some nice bolsters. So I marked them out using the templates I made and started cutting.




Turns out, after cutting them, I realized that they were WAY too thin for the handle. Ooops. I'm sorta winging it now. Tomorrow I plan to forge weld the damascus together and make a thicker piece to use for the bolsters.


Thanks and see yall then.

Edited by Austin_Lyles
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Austin, I for one am loving this story. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and great job!!!!


Gary T

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Didn't get much done today. Cold front came through so the un-insulated barn was too cold for me to work late. Anyways here's what I've done so far!


I went ahead and stacked two pieces of damascus on top each other so that my bolsters would be thick enough. I brought emm to welding heat and forged emm together. Gotta re-line my forge soon. It's lookin a bit rough.




This is the bookmatched pair of scales I cut from the oak yesterday. The second picture is with a rough finish of tung oil and wax. Just to see if I like it enough to use it.





After getting my bolsters all sorted out and rough cut to shape, I'll fit emm to my blade with pins and grind emm flush. Probably isn't the best way to do it, but it's what I'm doing at the moment.





Once all my edges are flush with the blade I'll start working on the edges that will be sitting flush with the wood. I'll use the top wheel of my 4x36 grinder to get the shape I want.




And this is where I stopped. My fingers were getting too cold.


I have a friend coming over tomorrow to make himself a knife, so I'll try to get to the other set of bolsters tomorrow while working with him.


Thanks for looking guys and have a great night.

Edited by Austin_Lyles
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fitting those scales will be a bit of a challenge, but it should look very good when done. I think this is a great learning experience, and almost certainly a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.


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That is going to be nice when done. Just go slow fitting those scales!


I've seen a billet cut for the feather pattern before. The Mastersmiths doing it used a very blunt, wood splitting wedge, welded to the top die in a press. It looked like they had intentionally ground the end of the wedge at a more obtuse angle, about 45 degrees. Going off memory, the width of the wedge, where the bevels ended was about 1/2 inch.



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Hey friends. Texas has been a bit chilly this past week and I haven't been too motivated to go outside to freeze. Spent the weekend bottling some brew with friends. I did get a little done today though.


Thanks for the advice Bruce. That'll be good to know the next time I do this.



In order to cut weight off, I cut some sections out of the handle. I don't really feel like tapering this tang... although it's still a possibility because of how heavy the bolsters will be. Anyways, it doesn't look pretty but it doesn't matter as it will be underneath the scales and no one will see once it's together. =P





With a little work, I got the bolsters all fit and ready to roll.




When I shaped the bolsters, I went just a hair too far... and now a small surface pit I had originally planned to be covered up, is now slightly visible in between the ricasso and bolster... I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I could forge a new bolster, but it's so small that it's probably hideable. Another one of those things I'm going to sleep on tonight.




I plan on getting to sanding and heat treating tomorrow. After that will be fitting the bolsters and scales.

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either don't worry about the pit, or texture and blue the ricasso area to disguise it. Those are the two things I can suggest. Otherwise, it is looking very nice. There is always something that you would have done differently (at least there is for me and most of the people I know).


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Got sanding and heat treating done today. Might start shaping and fitting everything together tonight.





After sanding everything, the pit I was worried about actually went away... It must have only been barely under the surface. Woot!





Welcome to my humble shop yall. I try to get everything all nice and clean before I heat treat.




Although it looks rather hot, my forge is only set at 3 psi. I'll close the door and let it heat up... eventually normalizing three times and quenching in warm peanut oil. In hindsight, I shoulda went with 1084 instead of 1095. I find I can get max hardness out of 1084 better then I can with 1095. I really need to get myself some parks 50... but Dallas is so far away.



Anyways, Heat treat went OK. I think it coulda hardened a bit more, but it still won't let a file cut into the edge. The knife is tempering in the oven right now and I'll start resanding the whole thing when thats done.


Thanks for looking yall.

Edited by Austin_Lyles
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Howdy yall. Worked on the handles today. I'm basically trying to get the handle finished to 99% done before I start etching the bolsters and knife.


I chose to use some claro walnut for the scales instead of the oak. I think i would have ran into problems and voids in the oak.




After rough cutting to shape with the bandsaw I'll start carefully filing to fit.





I started to think outside the box and realized I could possibly get everything to fit together by hot fitting with my torch. It actually worked like a charm.





Both sides are done and fit decently ok.




I had a small problem when I first started hot fitting and burned too much. It's such a small gap, it probably wouldn't have been noticed. I cut some tiny slivers of walnut and wood glued/ clamped it all into place. It SHOULD work and you won't notice the small gap.


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I didn't like how the walnut fit and looked so I redid it with the oak. Didn't run into any problems and I'm starting to get everything rolling again. The back bolsters are gluing in place right now.


Here's what the oak looks like.





Here's the reverse side. Bolsters and scales are polished to a 600 grit. The sharpie marks are for when I start epoxying everything back together so I know where they go.


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