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First Real Hamon


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So to all you guys that have helped, thanks a ton. So I've been working on this little knife for a while. Longer than I care to admit and I'm finally ready to put some furniture on it but I wanted to show off the hamon. There are definitely some issues here but here is how I got this far. It's 1095 interrupted quench. 1 second in room temperature water then to peanut oil. Off the shelf refractory cement watered down to a thin milkshake texture. 800 grit then Ferric etch. Finished it off with Fast Orange hand cleaner then Mothers Metal polish. Actually it went pretty quick going that route. 

IMG_1160.JPG

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Nice work Charlie :)  Hamons are always awesome to look at in person.  Pictures never do justice.

I would imagine that you may have gotten a little hot on this one since there is very little activity.  I would suggest a lower temp for your next one, and take it to at least 1000.  Small details start coming out at that point.  But none the less, good work.

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You think my clay application was too sharp or too thick. I was pretty sure I had it just around critical but it was a little difficlt to get evenly heated without scorching the tip. I need to redo my forge as well. I probably did bake it a bit trying to get it uniform. No cracks this go though. The tip probably was a bit hot. Next time I'll take a pic of the clay application. I ordered some satanite after reading some more of Salem's posts. It's progress though. 

Edited by Charlie Meek
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How thick was the clay?  I have found that it doesnt need to be very thick.  Matter of fact, i usually dont do anything more than about 1/16th of an inch thick.  Have you tried using a baffle in the forge to even the heat out?  I had good experience doing that.  

It certainly is progress though.  Please don't mistake me, I think it looks great.

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Good job Charlie. That's a fine first Hamon.

If you are doing the quenching heat in your forge, it's best to put a tube in the forge and the knife inside the tube. This will even out the heat in the blade better than having a direct flame on it. I made one out of 3" square with a couple of 1/4 inch rods drilled through to help keep the blade standing on the spine and away from the tube walls.

Heat tube.JPG

It fits in the door and pokes out the back door.

Heat tube (2).JPG

 

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Wes I think that's part of the problem and the over temping. It was a lot thicker than an eight! Lol. Probably more like 3/16 or better. I'll take it down a bit on the next go. Again progress though. For a professional paper jockey, it's coming along.

Josh I've seen that before but honestly hadn't tried it. My little forge needs a redo. I just had a tankless hot water heater put in but kept the old tank. I was going to open it up to see if the inner tank was a viable shell. I've got plenty of durablanket and more satanite on the way so I think I'll redo the whole thing this weekend. Otherwise I'll just fab a shell but really don't prefer to. Needs to be a bit bigger anyhow. I'll factor the tube into the build. I've been reading a lot of Kevin Cashens posts and it seems like indirect heat is the way to go. I've got a couple thermal couples I need to wire up so I can get a better read on the temp. You think the reading inside the tube would be more accurate? I'm a bit concerned about hot spots hence the reason I was going to redo the forge anyhow. To Wes's point I saw something about baffles in drum forges but I'm sure that could be incorporated into my new rig to create more of a swirl than a direct jet. 

This was supposed to be a small hobby but after the grinder purchase I'm taking it a lot more seriously. Just had my garage wired for 220 as well for an eventual oven. I'm gonna have to start making something worth selling or my wife is gonna make fun of me for dropping so much cash without producing anything marketable yet.  

Back to the hamon though. Is the ashi the transition zone between the hard and unhardened steel? I'm trying to wrap my head around it. I did see a little bit come into play but I'm assuming since clay was too thick and my temps high there wasn't enough of a gradual interrupt in the cooling cycle to create something smooth. I think it just blocked it off and in the initial dunk and created a hard line of demarcation. Not to try and oversimply it. 

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31 minutes ago, Charlie Meek said:

Wes I think that's part of the problem and the over temping. It was a lot thicker than an eight! Lol. Probably more like 3/16 or better. I'll take it down a bit on the next go. Again progress though. For a professional paper jockey, it's coming along.

Josh I've seen that before but honestly hadn't tried it. My little forge needs a redo. I just had a tankless hot water heater put in but kept the old tank. I was going to open it up to see if the inner tank was a viable shell. I've got plenty of durablanket and more satanite on the way so I think I'll redo the whole thing this weekend. Otherwise I'll just fab a shell but really don't prefer to. Needs to be a bit bigger anyhow. I'll factor the tube into the build. I've been reading a lot of Kevin Cashens posts and it seems like indirect heat is the way to go. I've got a couple thermal couples I need to wire up so I can get a better read on the temp. You think the reading inside the tube would be more accurate? I'm a bit concerned about hot spots hence the reason I was going to redo the forge anyhow. To Wes's point I saw something about baffles in drum forges but I'm sure that could be incorporated into my new rig to create more of a swirl than a direct jet. 

This was supposed to be a small hobby but after the grinder purchase I'm taking it a lot more seriously. Just had my garage wired for 220 as well for an eventual oven. I'm gonna have to start making something worth selling or my wife is gonna make fun of me for dropping so much cash without producing anything marketable yet.  

Back to the hamon though. Is the ashi the transition zone between the hard and unhardened steel? I'm trying to wrap my head around it. I did see a little bit come into play but I'm assuming since clay was too thick and my temps high there wasn't enough of a gradual interrupt in the cooling cycle to create something smooth. I think it just blocked it off and in the initial dunk and created a hard line of demarcation. Not to try and oversimply it. 

Ya, I would certainly recommend thinner clay.  I made the same mistake initially, and just through trial and error (and a little reading online) found that thinner clay worked better.

That pipe that Josh was showing is exactly what I was talking about with a baffle.  I used the same 3" pipe that Josh is using there.  I would stick my thermocouple in and get temp readings directly next to the blade.  It was as accurate as a forge could get (or at least mine).  And it worked really well for me until I got a heat treating kiln.

The white line that is the transition between hard and soft steel is called the habuchi.  Ashi (the Japanese word for 'leg')  are the parts of the hamon that dip towards the edge or spine of the knife.  You will usually see people try to produce them by painting small lines in the clay that drop towards the edge.  

Please take all of this with a grain of salt.  I love hamons, and I am constantly working at producing good ones, but it's, of course, always a work in progress.  There are a few guys on the board that can produce really clean and gorgeous ones.  I am looking specifically at folks Salem, Jesus and Stuart Branson.

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what version of 1095 was it? There is some that is higher in manganese, and you can get less activity. I use W2 or Aldo's 1075 exclusively (ok, maybe a little W1, especially Carpenter's pure stuff). I am going to move into steel I make (orishigane) more. But, if you didn't have the lower manganese stuff, that will effect things.

If you are doing it in a forge, turn the forge down low, so that only the hot spot is hot enough to reach critical if possible, then slide the knife back and forth through it. The only thing is this is usually a carburizing environment, but with clay on the blade, what the hell.

 

Also, leave it in the water for a fast 3 count. You will be excited, so a three count will be 2.5 secs. Then, into the peanut oil. A little more time in gives more activity, too.

 

That is, I know, more than one variable. Sorry. I would try the next one with W2 if it is a knife, or 1075 if it is a sword, or a mixture of the two in random pattern weld (you get a good grain and also a hamon that way, to imitate older steel).

 

Outstanding shape to the blade, and nice hamon. You can also bring out a lot of activity with FFF pumice. Just rub like you are trying to rub a hole through the hamon transition area, dry, with your finger. You could also use 800 grit to 1200 grit SiCarbide. then, go over the whole thing with 1500 grit or so si carbide, using oil and 0000 steel wool as the carrier for the abrasive. It gives a beautiful finish. No swirls or anything. This also works with rotten stone on brass or copper or silver. It is my secret weapon. Rotten stone will take oxides off the back of the blade and do very little to the hardened portion, fyi. Sometimes, that is what you want. It works better than Mothers mag and alum polish, and unlike Mothers, it won't hurt the hamon if it gets on it.

 

I love hamons. Thanks for sharing. Forgive all the suggestions. I get into this. :)

 

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Kevin I really appreciate the input. I'm a serial reader of anything you and Don, before he retired, put out. I hope more people truly appreciate the value and the amount of content you put out that I know helps a lot of folks. 

I think the steel came from Jantz but honestly I don't know the makeup. I'll have to check into it but plan on getting all my future steel from Aldo. Seems like the consensus is that the material he puts out is more inline with the needs of the craft. I'm slowly absorbing more of the metallurgy but admittedly haven't done all the homework requiered. I catch myself have to look up some of the terms you and Alan use but it's getting less and less frequent. Knowing what do with it is something that will just have to equate to time and elbow grease.

More is better when it comes to input on this so I'm extremely appreciative of your, and everyone else's, incredibly helpful input. I'm finding that since my time to experiment is limited it's not the most efficacious for me to reinvent the wheel from the hub out. I figure I can play with the tread pattern once I get that rest nailed down. Ten years ago when I started this little journey the issue was funding but now it's time, odd how you seem to get ahead in one area and then fall behind in the another  

I did get some green 1200 grit silicon carbide after I read, again, some of your content and Don's. I'll try that with the pumice. I'm making my shopping list after reading this.

I'll dial down the heat and modify my application method. I'm going to wait for my satanite to arrive before I go at it again. Wes, Alan and Joshua have been a big help too. I'm very appreciative of the constructive input and the patience in taking the time help me out. I'm going to do a few small blades this weekend and just polish / experiment until I can get some better results or a better understanding of the mistakes. I have my punch list now though, forge rework / rebuilt and polish until I get a really great hamone or have a seizure in the pursuit of it. 

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7 hours ago, Kevin (The Professor) said:

Outstanding shape to the blade, and nice hamon. You can also bring out a lot of activity with FFF pumice. Just rub like you are trying to rub a hole through the hamon transition area, dry, with your finger. You could also use 800 grit to 1200 grit SiCarbide. then, go over the whole thing with 1500 grit or so si carbide, using oil and 0000 steel wool as the carrier for the abrasive. It gives a beautiful finish. No swirls or anything. This also works with rotten stone on brass or copper or silver. It is my secret weapon. Rotten stone will take oxides off the back of the blade and do very little to the hardened portion, fyi. Sometimes, that is what you want. It works better than Mothers mag and alum polish, and unlike Mothers, it won't hurt the hamon if it gets on it.

 

I love hamons. Thanks for sharing. Forgive all the suggestions. I get into this. :)

 

Hmmm, I use Mothers in conjunction with a oil and FFF pumice rub.  When the blade comes out of the etchant, the oxides get rubbed off with the Mothers, and then I mix a little pumice and oil together and scrub the piss out of it.  It then gets cleaned and goes back into the etchant.  I do this multiple times depending on the darkness of the etch I want.  Also, the period of the soak in the etchant is brief; just about a minute long.

I have found that without the pumice rub, Mothers will tend to obscure details in the hamon, but rubbing with the pumice will bring them back out again.  I have been debating about making a thick abrasive slurry out of the pumice and oil and using that in place of the Mothers to knock the oxides off, and then using the dry pumice for bring out the details. I know that Salem uses a felt pad as the carrier for his slurry, so I may try that as well.  Anyhow...

As you can see Charlie, there a billion ways to do this :)  And Kevin is spot on (which is no surprise) about steel composition.  Make sure that there is very little manganese (less than .4% is best.  Aldo's W2 has .215% ) and Chromium in the steel.  

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I did the same as Wes for years, with Mothers and pumice. That is a good way, too. I just got tired of erasing details with  the Mothers.

I also used to use a leather pad. Never tried felt. Steel wool is good that it doesn't show any swirl marks. I am not exactly sure why, but I was really happy when Peter Johnsson explained this to me, for use in another context.

There are a lot of ways to get to the same place.

 

Edited to add: 1. thanks. I learned all of this from either someone on this forum, or someone at Ashokan.

2. vinegar or lemon/lime juice give whiter hamons and more activity than ferric chloride. First time I used vinegar for this, I was amazed. It is a tremendous difference. I don't remember what etchant you used.

Oh, wait - the vinegar or citrus trick came from Walter Sorrells.

 

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I'll give the vinegar a shot again. I tried it before the ferric and thought I was doing something wrong. I was using apple cider and lemon juice mixed and nuked for a few minutes. I can definitely see the difference though on another blade I did a while back. I think I gave up on it too soon.

I'm gonna get this tiger by the tail of it kills me. Ha. 

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hamons grabbed me for about 3 years or so. I thought, "You know, I don't have to do pattern welding on everything. I will make a few simple steel knives and just put hamons on them. That will be easier."

Little did I know.

 

Then I got into pattern welding 1075 and W2 together to make hamon and hada. Orishigane is next.

 

 

 

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I use ferric, but dilute it down a bunch. 10:1 is a good start. Blade in for a minute or so and neutralize. Do multiple times after rubbing out each time. Also try progressive method, etch then rub out with last highest paper, etch and rub with powder (I use blue jean squares), etch then Flitz or finer powder.

the blue jean squares are a good carrier for the powder and cheap :-)

dan

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  • 4 years later...

A little update since this post. W2 chef. 9.5” blade. 

6730649F-E2F2-437F-96E0-04B030A5ED7C.jpeg

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That is spectacular activity.

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Thanks, folks!

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