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pattern welding with stainless steel question


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As for general bladesmithing, I don't really consider myself to be a beginner, but along the aspect of pattern welding, I am. I have been trying pattern and forge welding for a while now (off and on for about 4 years). About two weeks ago or so, I finally had a successful piece. I am currently working on another blade. While working on my current blade, a friend wants a pattern welded knife using stainless steel. I have never tried it in pattern welding. I know that there are basically two kinds of stainless steels, magnetic and non-magnetic. My friend wants me to incorporate different kinds of steels along with the stainless. I'm not sure where to look so any help will be greatly appreciated.

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There's a reason you don't see much stainless damascus in blades, or period for that matter. The chrome and nickel make it very hard to weld without an inert atmosphere. You can make a san mai of 416 stainless on a 1095 core by grinding clean, TIG welding the entire edge joints all the way around, then putting it in a mostly sealed of thin wall tubing with a spritz of WD-40, if you have a press to set the weld in one shot. I don't know if you can do mutliple layers, I've only seen it done san mai. Or you could order a billet of all-stainless damascus from Damasteel AG, but the price might surprise you.

 

I think Jim Hrisoulas has done it with 440-C and 304, but I don't pesonally know any mere mortals who have.

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I've welded 440c to 1095. No canister. Just flux and reducing propane forge environment. It can be done.

 

But there's a reason I did it ONCE. The welds will take, but trying to draw and fold is almost impossible. As Alan said, JPH has done it, but I couldn't get the billet to draw without shearing due to the different red hardness levels of the two steels.

 

If I was going to do a stainless PW, I would use non-hardening stainless PW (like the kind J. Arthur Loose uses for his Damascus jewelery), and then San Mai it over a carbon core. Never done this, but others have.

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Thank you Dave and Alan. I greatly appreciate the help on this subject. And Dave, I have a coal burning forge. Now, for my next question, what metals do you prefer to use for contrast in the pattern? I recycle materials that are kind-of readily available (spring steel, lawn mower blades, railroad spikes, etc...), so any further help will be appreciated as always, and thanks again.

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If you're using scrap, you won't be getting a high contrast billet. Mcu bandsaw blade (the industrial kind, not the home shop kind) is 15N20, some is L-6. These are nickel steels that etch bright. Spring steel usually etches dark, but because of the chrome (if it's 5160) it is not easy to weld to nickel steels or itself. That's why nobody recommends 5160 for damascus. Nobody can tell you what mower blades are. If you're going to put the effort into hand making damascus in a coal forge use known steels, they're not too expensive and you know you'll get good results. I prefer 1084 and 15N20 because they are a good match in every way. no worries about different heat-treatment needs, different carbon levels, and so on.

 

Save the scrap for monosteel knives.

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