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How does one go about forging Titanium? Can you forge weld it for instance?

 

I wish to undertake a project for my company - and make a knife out of materials we got lying around at work. The thing is, we use mostly only titanium...

 

Does this forge weld at all with steels/iron?

 

Sincerely, Alveprins.

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I don't know a whole lot about it. However, what I do know, from my scrapping days long ago, that once titanium starts to melt, thats it. The whole piece will burn, and be unrecoverable. It will would have to be at a low temp. Acetylene torch will melt it quickly.

Hopefully someone has knowledge more than mine.

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I actually don't think Ti will make very good blades, it's just not hard enough. It burns like magnesium at steel-welding temps, and a lot of metals, solders, etc won't stick to it. I used to work in a factory that made Ti bike frames, and we used mostly TIG welding to join pieces. I hammer-forged a couple pieces of tubing flat at low-ish (red heat) temps, and that went OK.

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I actually don't think Ti will make very good blades, it's just not hard enough. It burns like magnesium at steel-welding temps, and a lot of metals, solders, etc won't stick to it. I used to work in a factory that made Ti bike frames, and we used mostly TIG welding to join pieces. I hammer-forged a couple pieces of tubing flat at low-ish (red heat) temps, and that went OK.

Ok.

 

I suppose I could use it for fittings? Say - guard and bolster? I could rough forge the shape, and do the rest with files?

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I've seen video's of folks forging it into a knife, however it won't hold an edge. It's not good for a knife. As to forge welding, look up Timascus. Probably something not easily done (or possible at all) in a home forge.

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Using it for fittings sounds most appropriate, and I think you can get away with doing some hammer forging if you keep the temps fairly low. The harder Ti alloys can be pretty difficult to file on by hand; at the factory we had nifty high speed air-powered sanders to use, and wore out a lot of zirconium sanding belts. I do have a couple knives with Ti ferrules (just a bit of scrap tubing, ovalized); I really like the light weight and corrosion resistance of the material.

Edited by Orien M
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Using it for fittings sounds most appropriate, and I think you can get away with doing some hammer forging if you keep the temps fairly low. The harder Ti alloys can be pretty difficult to file on by hand; at the factory we had nifty high speed air-powered sanders to use, and wore out a lot of zirconium sanding belts. I do have a couple knives with Ti ferrules (just a bit of scrap tubing, ovalized); I really like the light weight and corrosion resistance of the material.

Hmm, I guess I will ask around for hardness of our alloys. We use our titanium for jet turbine engine parts - so I assume it's on the hard side....

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It really depends on the alloy of titanium, pure titanium is rather uncomplicated to forge and shape, as long as you don't overheat it.

some alloys are impossible to shape except for grinding.

As far as I know titanium doesn't forge weld to steel, the product called timascus is different ti grades canister welded together in inert atmosphere, so really not something to try without experience.

 

also I have to give a word of advice: titanium dust and filings are very flammable and burn crazy hot, so be very careful with the waste of it.

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Hmm, I guess I will ask around for hardness of our alloys. We use our titanium for jet turbine engine parts - so I assume it's on the hard side....

That is not a very good assumption. Also, titanium likes to form a thick oxide layer. It is not ideal for blades (which is why the use of the word in naming multi-bladed razors is laughable), but completely valid for hardware like guards and pommels/butt-caps.

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Some alloys can be "Heat Anodized" to create some pretty interesting colors. I don't know if the heat method is really anodizing in the chemical sense, but it opens up a lot of options for a very easy way to create neat effects on knife furniture pieces.

 

(I should point out that perhaps the oxide layer from heat anodizing is the same as the one created with electro-anodizing. I'm not disputing that, I just don't know if it is)

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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(I should point out that perhaps the oxide layer from heat anodizing is the same as the one created with electro-anodizing. I'm not disputing that, I just don't know if it is)

 

I'm pretty sure they are the same, you just have more control with electro-anodizing.

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That is a bit out of the realm of general bladesmithing though. Kind of like making knives out of ceramics. Cool (at least from a "hey, that's new" sense), functional for a given task, not overly functional for many things, and not for the average maker.

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I have in the past made some decent blades out of TI. As you know Ti cuts pretty slow. Even running 3 machines at different operation points for an aircraft engine mount I had a lot of time to play with the fall off. But It's a real pain in the rear. You can grind the blade fully to shape, and as Jerrod said when annealed in an open atmosphere it forms a very deep oxide layer. This oxide layer is hard as hell, kinda like being case hardened. It will eat a carbide endmill for lunch. I've done it twice and the results were ugly as sin, but it would hold an edge until you broke through the oxide. The biggest problem is you need to leave the entire oxide "coating" on because if you grind off a large section then it will peel. I would never try it again for a traditional style of knife, but if I were to try again, something like the knapped knifes would look pretty cool and the ugly bumpy surface would just be more "character".

 

This was Ti 6Al-4V by the way

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I have in the past made some decent blades out of TI. As you know Ti cuts pretty slow. Even running 3 machines at different operation points for an aircraft engine mount I had a lot of time to play with the fall off. But It's a real pain in the rear. You can grind the blade fully to shape, and as Jerrod said when annealed in an open atmosphere it forms a very deep oxide layer. This oxide layer is hard as hell, kinda like being case hardened. It will eat a carbide endmill for lunch. I've done it twice and the results were ugly as sin, but it would hold an edge until you broke through the oxide. The biggest problem is you need to leave the entire oxide "coating" on because if you grind off a large section then it will peel. I would never try it again for a traditional style of knife, but if I were to try again, something like the knapped knifes would look pretty cool and the ugly bumpy surface would just be more "character".

 

This was Ti 6Al-4V by the way

 

Alright... I might just drop it alltogether then. We make and sharpen tungsten carbide tools - and I see every day how beat up and chipped those tools often come back after a few rounds in the milling machines...

 

If I wanted to make a special blade though, I suppose I could make it out of solid tungsten carbide - but... a knife without a single hammer-strike? Nah man... I'll stick to steel. ;)

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<snip> The biggest problem is you need to leave the entire oxide "coating" on because if you grind off a large section then it will peel.

 

I didn't know this. Can anyone elaborate?

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I know a guy who has one of those. Used it on his lawn mower blades and never had to sharpen 'em again. Or so he says. I thought it sounded a bit gimmicky myself.

 

Thomas Powers over on Anvilfire and IFI has forged a pair of tongs and a pair of chopsticks from CP titanium just because he could. The scale is brilliant white (titanium dioxide, after all...) and it apparently conducts heat better than steel, so other tongs are a must.

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It's kinda like the scale you get on steel. There is the "stuck" scale that is the transition point where it is still being transformed, and then there is the "done" scale that has fully separated from the steel, and just falls of in pieces. The entire surface will oxide over and stay in one piece, but if you grind through to a spot where it has fully converted then it will peel away just like scale.

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i got one and use it on folders to tighten up the lock if needed and to keep the steel from wearing the ti out to fast

 

used it on some ss that i made a knife shaped object from a buddy saw it and wanted to use it as a letter opener so i carbed the edge and off it went

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