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which steels pair well for damascus?


ethanknott

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I'd like to get started trying to make damascus, but with all the different types of steel out there it's kinda hard to tell which go with which. Couldn't find anything very specific on the firums but if there's something i missed, shoot me a link. Thanks guys.

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I think that you will find that most will prefer 1080/1084 & 15N20. 15N20 is basically 1075 plus 1.5% nickel. (You want some nickel in one of the two steels for contrast.) These two steels weld easily and are very compatible. Compatibility is extremely important as both need to have similar expansion/contraction rates so as not to create any stress in the Damascus. [These two are not the only choices but are the ones used most often.]

Edited by Gary Mulkey

Gary

 

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With the 1084/15n20 mix, these two steels seem to want to weld together, so it is a great mix to start with. It also makes for a good blade, and good contrast. Once you have worked with this mix for awhile and build up your confidence (the single most important thing for getting good welds, IMO), then you can try other mixes that may not play together quite as well.

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1084 and 15N20 are certainly the crowd favorites, but I'd like to hijack this slightly to see if my own hypothesis is valid:

 

I tend to use 1095 and 15N20. My first attempt was with this mix because I already had 1095 on hand. I've stuck with it mostly because I seem to be getting good heat treat results now, and don't really want to add variables at this time.

 

However, I have often thought that after the carbon migrates between the two steels, and compensating some for the decarb that is going to happen with all the time spent at welding temps, I am probably landing somewhere near 0.08% carbon. Since this is right near the eutectic point it seemed like a good way to go.

 

To those of you who know more, does my shade tree metallurgy hold water, or am I all wet?

-Brian

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I tend to use 1095 and 15N20. My first attempt was with this mix because I already had 1095 on hand. I've stuck with it mostly because I seem to be getting good heat treat results now, and don't really want to add variables at this time.

 

However, I have often thought that after the carbon migrates between the two steels, and compensating some for the decarb that is going to happen with all the time spent at welding temps, I am probably landing somewhere near 0.08% carbon. Since this is right near the eutectic point it seemed like a good way to go.

 

To those of you who know more, does my shade tree metallurgy hold water, or am I all wet?

 

Brian,

 

If you have the 1095 already on hand then don't change. If you use equal amounts of the 1095 & 15N20 then you should be fine. They will weld easily so all you need do is to balance the carbon after migration.

 

I first got into worrying about carbon content of the finished billet when using meteorite in Damascus as it has no carbon. If the two steels weld easily (and aren't highly alloyed) then it is simple arithmetic to figure out what your carbon content will be after migration.

Edited by Gary Mulkey

Gary

 

ABS,CKCA,ABKA,KGA

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Add to that the biggest difference in 1095 and 1084 isn't carbon, it's manganese and, in the case of Aldo's 1084, a pinch of vanadium. All that means in the end is that the 1084 will be deeper hardening and less prone to grain growth, plus it will etch just a bit darker. As long as you do your part to minimize decarb and refine the grain it should be hard to tell a difference in performance between the two. As long as you don't try for a hamon on the 1084, that is...

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I find 1084 and either 15N20 or L6 have worked best for me. I like L6 because you can get thicker stock.

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  • 1 month later...

So i ordered some 1084, 15n20, and 1095, just wondering if you guys have any tips or anything that seems to make tye welding process easier for you

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Always make sure to clean the stock before stacking it, as in grinding off any mill scale. You can get anhydrous borax for flux from any ceramics supplier, and adding some boric acid aka ant killer seems to help things along. Save the 20 Mule Team for your laundry, anhydrous works out cheaper in bulk.

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Is the 20 mule team still effective on its own? I already have a big box i'd bought a while back and i'd hate to waste it. Also I'm a bit low on funds and ability to order supplies till I sell a few knives lol

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Use what you have right?  Alot of common house hold items are effective forging fluxes.  You could even grab a bunch of shells to crush the next time you're at the beach.  Historically that was a common flux.  That being said, I've been told anhydrous borax is just better.

If you are using wire to bound your billet initially it's very important to take your time, use a vice/clamps, keep everything tight, and again keep everything tight.  I've used a torch to heat the wire as I wrap to get super crisp bends around the corners.  Just keep in mind any slack you leave in the wire relaxes in the forge.  You might go in stable and then start cursing when you try to turn your billet.  If you don't mind a high chance of stuff sliding around when it's coming up to heat you could rush the wire wrapping....I've certainly never done that;)  If you have a welder, you're initial forge weld just got a whole lot quicker and easier.  Especially with the ease in which you can add a handle onto your billet.

 

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The problem with 20 mule team is that it foams up and falls off all over the place when applied to hot steel.  Then the foam melts and it's ready.  Anhydrous goes straight from solid to liquid with no fuss or mess, so you end up using a lot less of it, plus you don't have borax powder all over the shop after using it.  The other stuff does work, it's just messy.

 

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Ok cool yeah i had noticed that my borax was expanding like crazy... Good thing its a small box lol, yeah ill use it up and try me some of that anhydrous... Thanks guys this stuff helps a lot

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i sprinkle mule team over a bucket so i can reclaim it as i go a touch of boric acid in the mix as it melts a touch lower temp doesn't hurt

Edited by dragoncutlery

Brandon Sawisch bladesmith

 

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How long does an order from aldo normally take? I ordered some stuff that was in stock over a week ago and the site still says my order is processing, just curious if this is normal or not

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Usually takes a week or two if it's in stock.  You will get better results just calling him on the phone.  It's not a big company, it's just Aldo and his van, and he is not of the internet generation.  He will also now slap me upside the head next time he sees me, and he's bigger than I am too!:o

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I just ordered some W2 a little over a week ago, gave me an email says it's coming in on the 3rd. Check your inbox there should be an estimated delivery date. 

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

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Caleb, the W-2 and 15T of 1084 will be delivered to the Connecticut warehouse a few days after the 14th of March. We need to pull it and get it all cut. It's looking like the last week in March is a safe bet.

Al!, as for thicker 15N20 the mill can roll it as thick as 3/8". I've always though that it would be an excellent sword and large knife steel. We have it to 1/8 and I was considering 1/4".

What do you all think? 

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On ‎2‎/‎24‎/‎2017 at 11:42 PM, ethanknott said:

So i ordered some 1084, 15n20, and 1095, just wondering if you guys have any tips or anything that seems to make tye welding process easier for you

Ethan,

With the steels that you  have there the main ingredient to a good weld is the right temperature.  The more that you do forge welding, the easier that will get for you.  You didn't say if you're using gas or coal.  If you have a gas forge adjust it so that you have a six inch  flame coming out  the door.  This will  provide the correct reducing environment (no  oxygen).  With the right environment, flux isn't necessary.  I haven't used it in years.  If you're using coal then you will have to rely on flux.  When using flux it is a  must that the layers of the initial billet are ground so  that there are no low spots in the middle  of  them to trap  any flux.  Always grind your bars so  that the scratches are going sideways and not  lengthwise for the same reason.  If you are hammering  by hand, weld from  the middle out to the edge.  This will help work any flux out.

If you are completely new to forge welding, the best thing that you can do is to spend some shop time with someone who is experienced.  Just keep in mind that most have their work to get done and try not to distract them from it. 

Edited by Gary Mulkey

Gary

 

ABS,CKCA,ABKA,KGA

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I've had a few successful forge welds, so hipefully I'll get some good results soon. And I'm using coal at the moment, might buy more, might go gas, not sure yet, depends on cost.

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On 3/1/2017 at 7:39 AM, Aldo said:

Al!, as for thicker 15N20 the mill can roll it as thick as 3/8". I've always though that it would be an excellent sword and large knife steel. We have it to 1/8 and I was considering 1/4".

What do you all think? 

I would definitely buy some in 1/4, or even 3/16. Talked with Kevin Cashen about this very thing in September. 

I made a few small kitchen knives by stock removal with 15n20, and I love them. 

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