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Wootz Makers and Production Methods


Tim Mitchell
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Hello All! It has been quite a few years since I have been involved in the Wootz community. Not due to lack of interest, but due to health and not having an area to work. From glancing around the pages, it seems that there has been quite a lot of experimentation from all over the world, with some very nice looking results.

 

I am gearing up to do a lecture and demonstration over here in Australia for the guild on Wootz production, and was thinking I would like to take the pulse, so to speak, of Wootz making around the world.

 

If you all don't mind could we:

 

1. Make a list Wootz makers in the US and internationally (will all wootz makers put their hands up please...LOL) (please link to a website if you have one) This is ONLY those who smelt their own wootz and make knives from them.

 

2. Make a simple survey of the current methods of smelting, ingredients, and forging of wootz (times and temperatures etc)

 

Please try to keep things as simple and as short as possible. Also please try to not post a name or method that has already been listed.

 

I hope this will be of help to the whole wootz making community and is something that it would be good to regularly update.

 

Happy forging,

Tim.

Edited by Tim Mitchell
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Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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Let me start the ball rolling, these are listed in no particular order. I will edit this post with all new names and links as they are posted, so we have them all together.

 

Post Country and State if possible. Also can you mention what year approx. you first started making wootz please?

 

Al Pendray - US - FL

JD Verhoeven - US

Richard Furrer - US - WI http://www.doorcountyforgeworks.com

Tim Mitchell - Australia - NSW http://www.buffaloriverforge.com

Achim Wirtz - Germany

Greg Obach - Ontario - Canada http://www.northshoreforge.com/index.html

Jeff Pringle - US - CA http://vikingswordsmith.com

Larry Harley - US - TN http://www.lonesomepineknives.com/

Heimo Roselli - Finland http: //www.roselli.fi/

Vasily Fursa - Ukraine

Dmitry Malakhov - US - WI www.artandknife.com

Ivan Kirpichev - Russia http://ivan-kirpichev.ru

Evrahim Baran - Belgium http://www.evrahim.be

Mark Green - US - NC

Dr. Zaqro Nonikashvili - Georgia

Klaas Remmen - Belgium (on this forum)

Cyrus Haghjoo - Germany http://www.cyrusblades.com

Niko Hynninen - Finland (on this forum)

Peter T. Swarz-Burt - US - CT http://www.dragonsbreathforge.com

Doc Price - Plymouth - UK

Colin McIver - Herne Bay - UK

Niels Provos - Mountain View - CA- US

Regel Jean-Louis - France (on this forum)

Adam Adamski - Poland http://forum.knives.pl/index.php?board=195.0

Arkady Dabakyan - Prague - Czech Republic https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arkady-Dabakyan-Wootz-Knives/305717482778765 http://www.kovar-a.cz

Fabian Damanet - Belgium (on this forum)

Jokke Lagerspets - Germany (on this forum)

Miquel Segura - Barcelona - Spain (on this forum)

Abdulrahman Jafar & Awni Hapaq - H.K.Jordan - abduja@hotmail.com

Sergey Lounyov - Russia

Edited by Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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Me, www.artandknife.com, USA, WI

 

 

I think it is better to ask people if it is OK before listing them... as well as ask them about their correct info

 

I did not know that Roselli make wootz...

 

About "sharing the methods, ingredients, forging techniques" ... :rolleyes: really?!

Edited by Dmitry.M

www.artandknife.com

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Hi Dmitry, thanks for putting your name down, you make a good point about asking if it is OK first, however if someone has a website or posts online that they make their own wootz, then they can't have any objection about being on the list now can they? All the people currently posted have a web presence concerning their wootz work, either forums, publications or website.

 

What I mean about sharing methods etc. is that when I first started out making wootz ten or so years ago, there were only two methods to decarburise an ingot (acid, baking in an oxidizing atmosphere), two methods to melt (open crucible, closed crucible) with a gas or charcoal furnace; only one standard crucible charge, and two different methods of forging the ingot to get the wootz pattern. Things have changed a bit since then and it would be good to have a public record of how things have changed.

 

It is very simple to list a method of making wootz, which those who are familiar with the process can understand. Let me give an example......

 

Method #1

 

Crucible Charge:

- Clay Graphite crucible

- Charge with Sorel cast iron and atomised iron powder mixed to 1.7% carbon content

- Add flux of crushed glass and 1" square of charcoal with green leaves

- Seal Crucible with solid lid

 

Firing Stage: (melt process)

- Fire crucible at 1450 deg C for 1 hour in Gas furnace

- Turn off furnace

- Cool in furnace overnight to allow proper dendritic growth

 

Forging Stage:

- Cycle half ingot in oxidizing flame 6-8 times above Acm (Acm is 960 °C @1.5%C)

- Forge in carburising or neutral flame between 850 and 950 deg C until 1cm thick forging equally both sides (keep below 950 deg C)

- Grind off decarb and forge out blade

 

Heat Treating Stage:

- Heat blade to 950 deg C and quench in heated transmission fluid

- Temper at 450 deg F until straw colour

- Acid etch in Ferric Chloride to reveal pattern.

 

There you go, that wasn't too hard and it didn't reveal any little secrets either. There are other methods of charging crucibles such as the Georgian method etc. which have come to be talked about in the past years. All I am suggesting is that we do what I have done above for the different types of methods that are out there.

 

There is plenty of room for people to not give their little secrets as this is just general method that we are talking about here. Unless all the wootz makers out there have become snobs... which I know is not the case, we should be able to create a useful sort of record of current methods of wootz production for the wider community, afterall it is about keeping the knowledge alive and helping others to experiment and improve their skills.

 

This sort of record does nothing to harm those like Ric who are running classes in wootz making, as there is a lot in technique and experience that can only be taught one to one or through hard work.

 

I encourage those who use a different method to that listed above to list their method in the same style, omitting any major secrets, but giving the general process.

 

Happy Forging,

Tim.

Edited by Tim Mitchell
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Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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And I believe Ric Furrer is in Wisconsin, not Minnesota. Got the website right though, just spent the last 20 minutes of my life on there

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We need to make an effort to use the word smelt properly as well. Smelting is a reduction of ore, it's a chemical process to make a metal, not to be confused with melting.

I've been tinkering around with crucible steel as of late, not having any luck with forging it out, but having decent luck getting ingots. I use a couple different methods, using only bloomery iron/steel that I've made myself. I do my best to determine the carbon content of the bloomery material by spark testing, then add a measured amount of charcoal and the bloomery material to a graphite crucible, use a glass cover and a propane fired furnace. Cook till liquid, checking with an iron rod as a probe. Let cool in furnace for a bit then pull the crucible and when cool enough to handle with welding gloves, I get to work extracting the ingot from the crubile.

Smelting can also be done in a crucible, I've only had one successful run doing this directly from ore, as it usually takes a while longer and judging how much charcoal to add to reduce the ore you have and have enough left over to add to the reduced iron. The short version of how I do it is to add charcoal and iron ore in a graphite crucible with a glass cover. Bring to temp in a propane furnace, checking with an iron rod, you'll feel the ore reduce and turn to iron, then if there's enough carbon left over it should melt. This method was learned from Jeff Pringle, and he's a master at the process.

 

Zeb

 

 

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Hi, Not really sure I can say wootz, but I have played with making crucible steel for about 4-5 years now on and off.

I have only made 3 good blades for all the cakes I have made. Most end up running through the hearth to become something usable.

I have done the direct reduction some, bloom and cast iron, bloom and charcoal, and a few other ways. I have use gas, charcoal/coal, and charcoal as the fuels.

All have worked.
I may try coke next.

It's fun to play with, but in my mind, not worth the time, and expense, and pain of forging, to make it worth it. For me it's just for fun, when I'm feeling unchallenged, and masochistic. :)

Mark Green

 

I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

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Tim.........The pattern on some of your blade look a lot like mine.

012.JPG

Mark Green

 

I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

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Tim

 

I don't know how extensive a thread this will turn out to be, but I cannot imagine this topic without Ivan Kirpichev being on the list. I am not sure he is still making wootz ..I have learned a lot from him.

Maybe some of the forum readers know what he is up to these days.

 

Jan

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Mark, thanks for sharing the pic, yes the structure does look a fair bit like some of mine. I do mine two different ways to get either your the dendritic pattern or to get the more traditional pattern, and as some note you can get a more dendritic pattern on one part of the ingot and a more watered pattern on another part, wootz is tricky stuff. :) Some of the old blades showed pretty strong dendritic patterns too, and I don't think we should get to the stage on this list of accepting only very watered patterns as wootz. I suggest that you get some more durable crucibles and continue playing around....

 

Zeb, thanks for your thoughts, you do make a good point, however we could debate about what level of charcoal added to a melt turns it into a smelt..LOL... Is it a common thing these days to refer generally to all processes as melts?

 

Thanks for sharing about your smelting method from Jeff Pringle, perhaps we could get Jeff to share a brief summary of his process (smelt and forge) so we can list it as Method #2. When you get the forging down and are able to make some blades we can pop you on the list! :) Keep experimenting....

 

Jan, thanks for mentioning Ivan, I wonder if he has a site hidden somewhere?

 

Keep the posts coming guys!

Edited by Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I thought I would share this paper from Klaas Remmen, Thanks Klaas! It is a really good write up on the Georgian Crucible Steel process. The process is from Zaqro Nonikashvili. Good work Klaas and Zaqro!

 

It is well worth a read. LINK

 

 

Summary of process in paper:

 

GEORGIAN METHOD:

 

Crucible Charge:

- Take one clay crucible, divide low carbon iron or pure iron charge (300g) in four equal parts, place two parts of the iron charge in crucible

- Cover with layer of sand or crushed glass,

- Place 10mm layer of charcoal on glass

- Place one part of iron on charcoal

- Place one part of charcoal, another part of iron

- Finally place one last part of charcoal

 

Firing Stage: (ore reduction)

- Fire for 1.5 hours at 1500 °C in Gas forge

- or in coal forge, raise slowly to temperature, cover with anthracite coal or coke, cook for 1 hour and let cool, remove crucible after 1 hour.

 

Forging Stage:

Zaqro Nonikashvili forging method from other discussions: Thread Link

- Heat ingot to 1150 °C for 30 minutes (Agr is 1050 °C @1.5%c)

- Let cool on anvil to an orange heat

- Strike gently with a few blows on one side at first, return to forge and turn ingot over

- Forge between 800 °C and 1000 °C (Acm is 960 °C @1.5%c) (A1is 727 °C @1.5%c)

- 65 heat cycles to forge a knife blank

Edited by Tim Mitchell
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Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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From the Uk.

Doc Price in plymouth has been doing it a long time (learned from Pendray ) and also Colin Mciver in herne bay

 

most probably others historically I do not know of , there is a victorian on the tip of my tongue...

 

I have made wootz Using the Method I learned from Ric furrer and adjusted versions thereof and I have made knife blades and a sword from it . I cant honestly say its my thing though, too bloody complicated and trixy. I'll leave that to the talented and tenacious people who have it in their blood.

 

and..... Melt and smelt are not the same thing at all . One is a transformation process from ore to metal the other is melting metal.

 

Then we have the "In crucible direct reduction melts" that Jeff Pringle does, which are a ferromantic or possibly ferromystic version of a "smelt-melt".

forging soul in to steel

 

owenbush.co.uk

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Hey Owen, thanks for that, I knew from Al that there was someone in the UK that he was mentoring. I didn't know a name. I will add them to the list.

 

I wasn't debating the difference between melt and smelt.... they are two different things as you say, I was making a snide comment about where the smelt stops and a melt begins.... :D I don't think that a newbie would immediately understand the difference between melt and smelt easily, but now that these comments have been made... thanks guys.... they will have a better idea of the difference.

 

Hey Mark, as you suggest it is rather more involved than that, with little differences including impurities making a big change in steel patterning or quality. The purpose of doing the summary is to help people to see the method at a glance and then look at the finer details if they wish. It is a place to start experimenting and asking questions.

Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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Hi All,

 

Here is a really information packed paper by Manouchehr and Niko published in 2013. It has lots of good information and it gives many areas for wootz makers to ponder in their processes etc. Niko and Manouchehr has done a fine job on this and it is good for Niko to share some of his journey in trying to get the best pattern that he can. Thanks Niko for sharing!

Link to paper is here: Niko Paper


Summary of elements from the paper:

 

NIKO METHOD:

Suspicion that Phosphorous creates a stronger pattern (approx 0.16% P)

Crucible Charge:
- 1155 g rust free bloomery iron - 1079g cast iron (calculated to 1.5%C)
- cover charge with 230g of crushed green glass (or his flux mix)

Firing stage:
- Place crucible in gas furnace
- Preheat for 15 minutes then raise to 1600°C
- Fire for 90 minutes
- Turn off furnace and let sit until crucible is 1000°C (about 2 hours)
- Remove crucible and allow to air cool


Forging stage:
- Bake ingot at 1100°C for 3-5 hours then start forging immediately without cooling stage
- Forge above Acm so cementite can move (too high causes problems with pattern) (Acm is 960 °C @1.5%c)
- Forge ingot flat like a pancake,
- When 15mm in height bore a hole in the centre and use drifts to create a doughnut ring 20mm thick
- Cut through ring and open out into a bar (this Doughnut technique is Niko's original method and a real cool one too!)
- Use Ball Peen hammer for curved face during this stage forging both sides
- After each full pass, file or scrape a very thin layer off the surface of the bar while the steel is still hot
- Forge down to blade thickness
- Keep blade stock removal to a minimum

Edited by Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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Tim,

 

Thanks for posting the paper , very interesting read. You might ask Greg Obach to include his college paper here as well.. That makes quite a list of usable methods people can wootz with. How could anyone go wrong with this much information, wow. Wootz is becoming a verb now that the nanotubes have been found.

 

Jan

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Jan,

 

You are welcome, the information is all out there it is just really good to get it all in one place. I have been chatting with Greg about his paper and we may put it up, the issue is that his process has changed significantly since that time (11 years). Wow, is it that long since we started....! I will be putting up his current process and maybe his paper as a comparison. We will see.... It would be nice to get some others to add some information... time will tell.

Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have documented all my experiments here:

 

There might be something of use for you in there or not ;-)

 

Niels.

Thanks Niels for the youtube link, it looks like you have some good info there. I have added your name to the list. There may be something that we can add to the method section.. will have to go through your videos to find out. :)

 

Tim.

Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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I've been playing around with crucible steels, although like Mark, not necessarily Wootz specifically. Not much on it up at the moment, but here's a link to where I document my experiences in metallurgy-

Link

 

John

Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien

-Shards of the Dark Age- my blog
-Nine Worlds Workshop-
-Last Apocalypse Forge-

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Tim,

As I look at the list of makers and their various details of making, I can't help but wonder what the results of their work looks like. I have searched for images associated with people on the list and find it very difficult to get a good image of wootz made by quite a few folks ( some don't seem to exist at all, some seem to be in hiding ) . The topic without images seems a little abstract.

There are two makers you may want to add to your list and another in Finland ( I will find the link to him) Miquel Segura and Jokke ( both have images of their work).

 

Jan

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Jan,

Thanks for the other makers, I do remember Jokke. I will have to try to locate them on the web. It would be good to get some current examples of patterns of wootz that these makers put out. I agree that it is not easy to find good info on many of these guys. I think that it would be a great benefit to add another post that has images from several of these makers, showing knives and patterns. Will see what we can do. I have a few makers who have asked me to post pictures of their work. Let me know when you find the info for the other chap in Finland.

 

Tim.

Tim Mitchell
Buffalo River Forge
Great Lakes, Australia.

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Tim,

 

A "wootz images" posting thread is a good idea. The other name is Kutvonen. Kutvonen, Miquel and Jokke have posted here.....I am hoping they will respond as all of them make some good looking steel.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Thanks Tim for making this. In the beginners forum I give my proposed method that I am preparing to execute. I think it solves some of the key pieces to wootz making (which I believe are purity of iron, extremely slow cooling, and carbon nano structures). Hopefully anyone could follow it and get some of the best wootz the world has ever seen. Let me know what you think.

Trying to reinvent wootz is like trying to reinvent calculus; it just ain't gonna happen by accident.

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