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Jan Ysselstein

In Search of Hamon, Experiments at the Forge #1

89 posts in this topic

That extreme heat has ruined my little welding forge . The forge contained a lot of iron rich slag/flux ...fragments just came loose. I have just purchased a paper tube used to pour concrete..I will use it as a form to make my next crucible furnace...A designated furnace and a designated welding forge are in the works. As soon as the welding furnace is complete I will start flattening the various pieces of crucible melted, carburized bloomery iron.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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I thought I might give that ruined forge a coat of mud to see if it will hold together long enough to forge the ( failed ) crucible steel into plates.... and the 3 ingot fragments into bars ( ingot 2,3 and the new 4). The forge will be fired up in a day or two.

 

Here are some pictures showing the ruined forge after all the loose protruding stuff has ben chipped off and what remained was covered with mud.

DSCN4735.jpg over heated forge being chipped of loose material

DSCN4736.jpg during chipping some kaowool became exposed but looked OK.

DSCN4739.jpg a fresh coat of mud waiting to dry

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The forge was tested today at forging and at welding temps. Practiced a rice straw flux weld. The cold spot is gone and the flame now swirls around the wall ( there is a hot spot now). The next window of time I have, I will flatten the material shown in the picture below, all this material should be the chemical equivalent of tamahagane,. The solid ingot ( the new #4 ) will be forged later.

 

Here are some pics

DSCN4749.jpg Now the furnace cold spot has been replaced by a hot spot

DSCN4754.jpg This material "crucible mishaps", will be flattened and welded into a bar to make a knife not a sword.

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The crucible steel fragments ( "tamahagane") have been flattened, quenched and broken . We have 10 lbs of very high carbon bits about to be welded.

 

Some common clay has been prepared for fluxing, as well as some rice straw ash powder. To get into the flow of welding, I will finish welding some Nicholson file bits started years ago ( if I can find a pic I will post it ) . Before using the crucible steel plates, we will get a chance to practice welding and to determine what will be a realistic amount to weld into a bar at one time.

 

The carbon content of the flattened steel plates is quite high, my concern about carbon loss will go into play after the first 3 welds. Getting the welding right is a big deal as I do not want those white decarb stripes. I guess I will learn how to blast the scale off with water ( I better level my anvil). Should the carbon content be too high we can take the welded bar down into bits and start over ( losing carbon along the way).

We will stay with the welding process until we get it...future runs will be done by pouring the steel onto a cold steel surface and breaking it into bits when it cools.

IMG_1112.JPG flattened bits of high carbon crucible steel, ready for welding into a bar.

DSCN4768.jpg Nicholson File bits at the start of the welding process ( silica fluxed )

DSCN4771.jpg Side view ..

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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I love what you are doing Jan; I do have some concern about using Japanese terminology without following their process which describes these terms however.

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Steve,

Thank you. Do not be concerned, the proof is ( should be ) in the results...high risk and a bit irreverent , but a lot of exiting fun.

Jan

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Welding the old file bits was not as much "exiting and fun" as I had expected..I would have done better as a glass blower. I finally did get a couple of pieces together and just for the hell of it, quenched it without any normalizing. I am posting two pictures of the same steel under very different circumstances . The steel is file steel 1095 , it shows a very nice hamon (quenched as a file) ..after folding who knows..but the grain size difference is dramatic.

file2mm.jpg Nicholson File Stock Removal ( normalized? ) 2mm screen

small 2mm.jpg Forged and folded Nicholson File Bits ( not normalized ) 2mm screen

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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You seem to be having more success with your ingots now Jan, well done. Your experiments look interesting, I am curious to see your results. Keep up the good work.

 

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Tim,

That ingot got left in the back of a very hot furnace and will be remelted..I had a furnace full of cut failed ingots and I did not see it. I am going to get passed this welding trial before getting back to ingots. I may have enough samples to finish this thread or ate least enough to get a direction. The ingots should be easier when I build a furnace capable of getting hotter. I do not spend much time in my shop these days , life keeps taking cuts in the line.

 

I think I am stuck in the first few chapters C.S. Smith's " A History of Metallography..... "

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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Just to review what I am trying to do here.

 

I am adding carbon to a very clean, low carbon, bloomery iron....the method currently being tested is the addition of carbon in a crucible ( by the addition of bloomery cast iron or carbon as charcoal ).

 

There are two possible outcomes 1) a defective ( or not) ingot which is made into wafers and welded into a bar, then a knife

2) a good ingot forged into a bar and then into a knife

 

Right now I am sticking with number 1 , that requires some welding skills I am trying to acquire ..the welding should result in a steel easy to look at...here is the information I am using as a study guide

 

 

I find this one of the most interesting videos around. As I do not use charcoal for welding ( not practical for me) I am attempting to come up with an equivalent method in a gas forge(s) .

 

​I recently found a bar which may have been bloomery iron or a crucible iron fragment..initially the many defects seen under the microscope told me it was crucible material. After grinding a little more the etch revealed fragments of old dendrites .

The hope is the remnants of the dendritic fragments will have an influence on the hamon ( and the beauty of the polished steel).

Here is a picture of the found flattened rough bar and the visible dendrite remnants
frame2.jpg

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The flattened bar ( microstructure shown in the post just above) was heated ,quenched and broken into bits. The bits were stacked on a medium carbon plate and all was welded. The welds seem to be holding...after a fold I would add more bits......one or two more folds and the mass (749 grams ) will start taking the shape of a bar....then we will start watching the decarburization and try to prevent it. Here are some pictures of the first attempt at welding very high carbon crucible steel . We have enough broken bits prepared to do a few more.

Some of the steel in this stack must have been very high carbon as ;those very large bright sparks were all over.

 

By the way this welding stint took several cues from the referenced video

 

DSCN4787.jpg early stage of making a blade from crucible melted bloom plus carbon

DSCN4788.jpg

DSCN4789.jpg

DSCN4791.jpg

DSCN4792.jpg

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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The above consolidated bar bits were mostly from the same bar and way too much of a homogeneous mix. The next step is to forge two or three more consolidated masses using bits taken from a tray of mixed ingots. Once each bar is clean looking, or once it looks like a bar, ( maybe two or three more folds ) it will be folded a few more times to a total of 8 folds.

Welding seems to be under control....now we need to start thinking about,

 

Pre Quench heat treating and surface preparation

Pre Quench coating of the blade

Quenching/Tempering

Polishing ( I do not own any water stones that I am aware of ) we will just have to dive in and see what the territory looks like.

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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The rain has come to California, :), this means charcoal fires are OK and some smelting can be done. The clay coating popping off of the blade may be solved, it took a while longer than I thought it would. We will test it this week using a metal wheel barrow as a portable quench tank . I will have to re-quench some of the junk yard steels as well, due to a microsructure found at the very edge of one of the quenched pieces (don't ask ).

 

I have a few blooms of very high carbon iron I am saving to process at the end of this thread, (a re-show of some bloom pics below) . When I tried to duplicate the run producing this high carbon iron...the result was not high in carbon. This season I will target the high carbon to "fix" that process..I will try to control the process by controlling the slag composition, location and temperature.

 

The addition of carbon will be attempted in the solid state as well is as was done in the crucible shown above ( the crucible +carbon is actually a mix of adding carbon in the solid and liquid states, the crucible + cast iron is adding carbon in the liquid state ). When adding carbon in the solid state ...a big problem becomes blisters forming near the end of your process..these can be somewhat unsightly and unpredictable. To reduce this phenomenon I will have to lower the size and number of slag particles before ( and during ) the addition carbon. So here are a couple of pics to satisfy those who prefer pictures over text.

 

frame1 copy.jpg unwanted microstructure of a very thick quenched blade shape

frame2.jpg wagon tire wrought iron ( I could not add carbon to this without melting it completely) 1 cm field

frame3.jpg same not totally relevant but interesting

frame1.jpg same ( the other half of this fragment was used to do a wootz run)

post-1617-0-56071800-1459138204.jpg high carbon bloom

post-1617-0-53588700-1459138244.jpg same

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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The first quenched cast steel blade showed no hamon...it did show a strong dendritic pattern and it did not crack during a severe water quench. I have another one just like it and will check it to see if it is also dendritic, if it is, I will try to erase the pattern quickly by heating to a welding heat for a few minutes. Though I was a little disappointed in the lack of hamon, the overall experience was a major learning leap into the unknown ( unknown to me only ).

I would say this blade had a colorful normalizing experience...thermal cycling and normalizing are very close to each other. The temporary tempering was done right after the quench..quickly back over the fire , wipe with oil and reheat to the smoke point of the oil ( a couple of times ).

 

Imagine normalizing a commercial steel a few times and seeing dendrites..next thing you know you are in the company of an angelic sword, who wootz have known.

 

The quench was interesting as one of the clays did not behave as anticipated...anyway, the clay blew off during the quench but in a very patterned way , a sequence of small bits, which seemed to follow the temperature gradient.

In past trials I have had clay blow off in large pieces leaving unwanted blotches above the planned temper line. As I did not get a hamon ( plenty of hardness) I cannot judge the effect of that clay mix.

This week end I hope to cut the above bloom in half and make another high carbon bloom hoping to enter the post bloomery era. Here are some pics.

 

DSCN4809.jpg degreased blade ready for clay, that brick fragment is my pestle, some hard grit got into the clay and I tried to grind it into dust.

DSCN4810.jpg clayed blade, grit is still there

DSCN4814.jpg the result of adding a little detergent to the clay ( I could not get this foam to go away) black clay is also placed on blade

frame8.jpg the dendritic pattern not expected with this piece of steel ( 7mm screen)

frame7.jpg same ( 2mm screen)

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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In Search of hamon and constantly reminded of it.....Suguha

IMG_2705.jpg

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Current status,

The "tamahagane" bloom in post 38 above has been cut, with great difficulty ( unquenched and hard to break under the press ). I am very content with the appearance and the spark pattern of the iron.

I am still having problems with the adherence of clay during the quench ( the welding clay sticks better than the quenching clay ) ...this will resolve itself over time.

The smelting/charcoal making season is almost here ( Dec.1 ) I want to work with some of this high carbon material prior to that time... . It is assumed I can make high carbon bloom like the one shown ( not sure)

The directly forged crucible steel ( post 39) will have to be repeated at a lower carbon level ( below 1% Carbon),...reheating to a higher temperature did remove much of that dendritic look but the steel looked blotchy.

I am having some difficulty getting my head around the role of the clay in the welding process..I recently read a description of it's role on Wikipedia and I think I do not agree with the writer's description. It would be better for me to understand why I am using clay rather than just using it.

I have found a simple blade shape and dimensions in a book ( scanned images, photographed by me ) and will attempt to copy it ( the shape that is ) by making a pattern from thin wood ( picture below ). The short blade makes sense, due to my small charcoal forge used for quenching. I will attempt that blade shape in welded high carbon as shown above, welded low carbon having carbon added in the solid state and welded bits from flattened ingots as shown in post 36 above.

 

Forgive me for the picture xs ...but I find it so beautiful

 

DSCN4956.jpg cut high carbon bloom

DSCN4961.jpg same

DSCN4965.jpg same

IMG_2806.jpg a book full of beautiful scanned images

IMG_2807.jpg blade image of a blade by Minamoto Sadakazu 1869 19.1 cm long blade ( about 8 inches )

Version 2.jpg same blade, I will make a pattern from these images

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This is great stuff. You are one determined guy.

Edited by Joshua States

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Thanks Josh,

 

It is a slow process , I got distracted by a cast iron conference in your state...awesome. Cast iron is what I seem to make most of these days...there were presentations on making very small castings.., small is all I want to melt. I have to assume it ( the Japanese style blades) will all work out in the end. I try to use authentic Japanese work as my standard and chip away ( at the steel and the process).

Jan

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Thank you Michal, there is a lot of smelting going on in Poland...I would connect with someone with lots of experience to save time and money.

 

So I have finally gotten back into the shop and have given the welding of high carbon bloom and high carbon cast bloom bits, some time. It has taken me a full day just to get back into sync at the welding forge.., I am now getting the hang of it again. Just to review the process..I am welding in a gas forge using rice straw ash as a welding flux and as a coating during long high temperature heats. I have cut one end off of a small sledge hammer to set the welds with and it is working well ( very Japanese and very low cost).

The idea of doing 6 welds per hour is looking unrealistic..the soak time prior to setting the welds is at least 5 minutes. I may be able to reduce the time spent waiting by processing several billets at a time.

Jan

 

Here are some pictures of some of the stacks in progress.

DSCN5001.jpg The handles of the spatulas used for welding are hazelnut a ubiquitous bush easy to dry.

DSCN5008.jpg My homemade "Japanese" hammer. Lowering the center of gravity makes this a very good hammer. AN 8 lbs sledge cut by about 35% of weight.

DSCN5024.jpg Rice straw ash ( not really ash yet , more of a charr ) I also make this into a powder for flux.

DSCN5030.jpg One of the billets, I wanted to check for welding flaws...I think the welding is going pretty well.

DSCN5037.jpg Another billet, here I am showing the cut and the beginning of a fold. This piece will be brought to welding heat ,cleaned, closed and welded...and so on. This sample is the one shown in post #36 on page 2 of this thread.

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Jan, those billets are lookin' good bro!

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Joshua ,

Thank you.it should be an interesting experiment. A fellow smith will try to duplicate my results with the crucible steel bits ( Nanban tetsu ). Welding steel and letting the flux do most of the cleaning has gotten me into a bit of trouble. I made a Sanmai knife the other day using the Honsanmai method as shown in the video earlier in this thread. The knife was made of 3 pieces of soft steel and 1 piece of Japanese white paper steel as the edge... . The soft steel was rusty and I did not grind it , causing some slight weld failures. Next time I will go the 3 pieces of steel, 2 soft on the outside and 1 hard steel in the middle . I will be using some of this wrought iron pressure welded( guessing here ) pipe and some DOM tubing on future Sanmai blades. The DOM sparks pretty low and should be 1008 or lower in carbon. When grinding that sandwich of steel ( quenched ) , you can tell how exposed the hard layer of steel is by just looking at the wet surface..If you really want to know you can dip it in a very dilute acid and the hardened steel will etch dark ( because tempered martensite etches black) ... allowing you to grind harder in areas to expose the edge evenly.

 

I found the last fast cooled ingot to be smashed to bits and have it down to about 3/4 " in thickness ( must be some kind of cast iron) my welding a stick to it did not work, the mig weld will not hold.

 

If anyone reading this has a link to a video of a Japanese knife maker cutting into a bar of steel with a hack , then placing edge steel into the cut and welding that assembly ...please post it, I have not seen one for a while. I would like to try it.

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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5.jpg Last fast cooled ingot at about 50% reduction (3/4" thick) will go to about 1/4" in thickness, then heat, quench and break into bits.

frame5.jpg The cold break of what is suspected to be wrought iron pipe 3" ID, no crystalline structure is evident, will etch and check . There is some similarity here with the hot break of the crucible steel bits in the post above (#45).

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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Today I got a chance to fill my propane tanks and clean up some of the samples I am working on. The last quickly cooled crucible steel ingot ( microstructure shown above ) looks pretty good after I ground away all the cracks in irregularities. Forging this bar creates a lot of scale which gets pushed into the metal..I think I will flux/brush it between forgings. Due to the frequency of failed wootz ingots , it would be crazy not to try to forge an ingot into a bar to see how it behaves as a bar, so I will try to learn as much as I can here and will still have a chance to make it into bits.

Forging and welding a billet ( the welding is all done by hand ) gets very iffy if the billet gets too large..I had to cut the one shown below as I sensed the welds were not taking. Here are some pics of the ingot and the high carbon bloom material just after cutting it.

DSCN5063.jpg fast cooled ingot of crucible steel made with all bloomery iron and bloomery cast iron

DSCN5064.jpg a freshly cut billet of high carbon bloomery iron, cut to make the welding process more reliable , this is after the first fold.

Jan

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The last Crucible Ingot is very good and will be kept as crucible steel ( this ingot does not have my normal alloying hocus pocus ) , it was difficult to take a photo, most of the carbon was in very small spheroids which had not begun to migrate much. I had to make a longitudinal cut as the piece got so wide my power hammer was going nowhere..so now I have two strips of very clean steel with a questionable pattern.

 

The 'high carbon bloomery iron shown above did finally weld up, aside from the holding rod not staying in place for more than a weld or two things are going well ( I think).

 

The crucible steel bits seem to be easier to process, I have 3 bars of bits going and only one of bloom. I am very slowly getting into a rhythm at the forge. Still cutting up billets to have a look inside to check how things are going.

 

The welding forge is going to have to be redone as it is taking a real beating. Here are some very poor pictures from today.

 

DSCN5072.jpg reluctant bloomery iron..I am not sure I was working with too many welds at a time or a titanium slag or? ( or I tried to square it up too soon) Or?

DSCN5076.jpg If you look carefully you can see a distorted dendrite pattern, this is the crucible ingot forged out.

DSCN5082.jpg Fluxing the bloomery iron billet

DSCN5083.jpg Poor picture,but you can make out the tearing in the folded hinge, an important visual cue regarding the state of the billet. ( This is bloomery iron )

DSCN5092.jpg I am experimenting with some san mai methods ( whatever allows me to use my scrap is what works )

 

Jan

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