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Help me understand pattern welding.


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I’ve been watching lots of videos trying to educate myself. I really like the PW blades but don’t understand the process. I hope I can word my question so it makes sense.

I understand the process of making the billet with multiple layers cut and rotated then re-welded or different shapes laid out in a can and filled with the powdered steel forming complex designs. What I haven’t seen is how to make a blade with it. The pattern could only be seen on the “end-grain”. Is the billet cut in slices and laid down side to side and welded again. I have only seen 1 way of doing it, by cutting a zigzag pattern out of the billet and the flattening it out. Can you point out some good videos with different techniques?

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Look for a video on the Ferry flip, and this article has some good info in it. What you are talking about is more of the high end of damascus making. Random pattern results from making a bar of straight laminate, and then forging and grinding a blade out of that. Since your hammer blows are random in weight and distribution, they create pattern. You don't need to "flip" a random pattern.

 

When I'm making random pattern, I use the press to get the billet to about .500 thick and then use the powerhammer to size it the rest of the way, introducing as much pattern along the way as I can.

 

Does that make sense? If not, ask again, and I'll confuse you some more.

 

Geoff

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If you are making straight damascus then you only need to forge a blade out of it, grind and polish and the pattern is there. If doing cannister or crushed W damascus, the billet needs to be either cut and welded end on as you say or forged on the end to make it flat. As you are just starting I would highly recommend starting with simple straight laminate, welding a few layers together and hammering the hell out of it. This gives a random pattern when polished an etched.

 

JH

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Thanks for the response guys. I understand the process of making Damascus, the stacking and folding of different steel resulting in the random pattern. I’m talking about the more complex repeating patterns like these.BLADE.jpg

 

I’m nowhere near this level yet, just trying to understand it.

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That's high-end mosaic, done as you suspected by using powdered steels and shim stock in a can, sliced, then tiled and edge-welded (not accordioned or flipped) with edge bars of various patterns like explosion, crushed w's, and a twist of some sort. I can't do it either, but I have seen it done. A LOT of grinding and waste, but it sure looks impressive.

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Shawn,

Basically PW steel making is done in as many ways as the imagination will allow. It can be a single bar manipulated in various ways to achieve a single pattern, or it can be a combination of many bars in a variety of ways to achieve more complex patterns. Bars can be made by laminating layers, or by combining powdered metals and sheet in a "can" and creating a solid bar.

The blades you have pictured look to me like multiple bar patterns. There is one patterned bar along the blade spine, another along the edge, and a third one in the middle. Each of these bars also look like multiple bar patterns. Blades (from the top down) 1-4 seem to follow this configuration bars #5&6 look like they lack the extra bar along the spine.

Looking at blades 1,2,4, and 5, the center bar looks like a 4-bar pattern (or a mosaic can pattern) that was accordion cut and flattened, then the other bars added along the edges. The blade is then forged to shape from the resulting bar. I may be totally wrong about that, but that is what it looks like to me.

Developing complex PW patterns takes some backwards thinking and a heck of a lot of experimentation and practice.

Edited by Joshua States
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I would like to see it done but have not been able to find any videos. There are plenty on making the billet but not the blade. If the billet is sliced and welded together, how is it welded without distorting the pattern? I’m guessing the tang is forged and not cut in because the pattern looks smashed as it transitions to from blade to tang. How thick would the slices need to be? When forging the 3 patterns together (the spine, the body, and the edge) like the first blade, how do you keep the lines between them so straight?

 

So many questions that why id like to watch it be done.

 

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Have a look for Niels Provos video of the serpent in the sword videos on YouTube it isn't as complex as the examples you used but it should give you an idea of what you want. The best way to understand the process is to do it. I'd recommend you find a smith near you and do a short course. Once you have the basics you can experiment.

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I’m working on getting my shi...stuff together so I can try this stuff but I got 2 jobs taking up my most of my time and a travel trailer restoration project to finish for my wife that I need to finish before I can really jump into this. At the moment I’m learning by reading and watching. I looked (not too hard though) for a class or something in my area but didn’t see any, there’re mostly up north. Anybody knows of something in the 92880 area give me a shout. Thanks for the video reference I’ll look for it.

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Shawn,

Buy these books by Jim Hrisoulas: The Master Bladesmith and The Pattern Welded Blade Artistry in Iron. Those should give you enough information on how to get started in PW steel. As you start making simple patterns, you will begin to understand the mechanics behind what happens during the forging process. As you progress, you can begin to combine different patterns and processing techniques to create more complex patterns. Then it's a matter of letting your imagination run wild, and talking with other makers about different manipulation methods.

First, you have to learn the basics of forge welding billets.

Oh yeah, it wouldn't hurt to buy a power hammer and a hydraulic press either............. :D

 

Plenty of videos here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=making+damascus+steel

Edited by Joshua States
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