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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

First (solo) patternwelded sax attempt

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The last days I did my first attempt to forge a patternwelded sax on my own with my own forge. And to make it a bit more challenging, this was my forge for the weekend:

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I was taking part in a Viking weekend. I'm not doing a lot of living history anymore, but this was such a nice event with many familiar people that I had to be there. I had to carry everything by bicycle on the train, so what I could bring over was very limited, but it is also very much like the tool kits that have been found from the period. The anvil is only 2kg, in a small block of wood, and I used a 500 gram hammer. But to my surprise, it was still quite effective.

As materials I used wrought iron nails, old bicycle saddle springs and a left over bit of layered W2 from the patternwelded longsax I did at a course from Owen Bush (http://owenbush.co.uk/events/). I started with a small simple knife blade by welding a bit of spring to wrought. That worked well, so I started forging nails and spring into the layers for the torsion bars. I used 4 layers wrought, 3 layers spring. This was welded, and forged out and one part twisted one way, and another part the other way. One of the torsion bars broke unfortunately, so the material became a bit shorted then planned. And I didn't dare to do as many twists as I wanted, not wanting to have it break further.

The torsion billets were assembled 2 by 2, with wrought strips at the top and bottom, and again welded. At this point I had a bar of about 10cm long, and 8 by 8mm. The final assembly was with a layer of layered W2 steel on top and for the edge material.

I started forging it into shape, and unfortunately I then started to find a weld flaw: between the edge material and the patternwelded billet, the layer started to separate at the front. I tried to reweld it, flushing it with borax, but it didn't take. So I cut down the blade, but as I did that, the separation just move further back. Cut it down again, same thing happened. So I started to file the blade, and saw that the flaw was front to back. Drat! So close. But I had expected a lot more problems, so I was quite happy with how far I got.

The blades as I took them home. The sax got out of shape due to multiple cut backs. Below the small practice knife.

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I reprofiled the sax with the angle grinder, and gave it a quick test etch to see what the pattern is like:

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The pattern is more stretched then I expected, so I have to keep that in mind for the next one. Despite the flaws, it's actually a nice result for my first try. I'm now wondering about the cause of the flaw. It seems to be either between the torsion bars and the strip of wrought, or within the wrought itself. It may just be that I had a nail with a big flaw already in it. All the other welds I did appear to be flawless. I'm not going to harden it, as I fear it will just come apart at the welding flaw. But I'll polish and etch it.

This is the pattern I based it on:

SAX.L32w33.DorsetEngland.9-10th.DorsetCoMus.MEF.jpg

Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Very neat :)

That is a lot of metal to move with a 500g hammer.  You must be very efficient with your technique.

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Pretty cool!  Too bad about the flaw. 

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2 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

Very neat :)

That is a lot of metal to move with a 500g hammer.  You must be very efficient with your technique.

It's a small blade, 15cm incl. tang, so the material is pretty small. But I didn't expect the hammer to be limiting, but the 2kg anvil, which is fitted in just a small block of wood. But it all performed above expectations considering.

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38 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Pretty cool!  Too bad about the flaw. 

Thanks! The more I look at it, the more it seems like that flaw was already present in the wrought layer. So next time I will clean up the nails to more to hopefully spot such flaws in advance.

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Polished and etched. Now certain the flaw was in the wrought already, as it's right in the center of the wrought layer, not at the welds to the torsion bars or to the edge material. So my welds are good :) Now I need to make another. P.s. the edge is still from a leftover bit of the folded W2 from my longsax. I'm quite like that, which is unfortunate, as it means a lot more work folding edge material for future blades ;)

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Nice little pattern blade in the big picture a success

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Really nice. Particulary the pleasure of experience :) And I believe it is possible to forge a pw blades with such small hammer and anvil. If the pw bars are thin (5-6mm) you can weld quite a long blade and wide blade. Probably ancient smiths had much better skills than we have.

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I like it. glad to know you got good welds even with the old fashioned setup.

I usually fold my edge bars a few times, ok, once or twice. Enough to get up to about 30 layers, even when they are just w2 and 1075 (which I my favorite mix for subtle patterning). It looks, "piled." I like that look.

make the next one a little bigger!

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2 hours ago, Kevin (The Professor) said:

I like it. glad to know you got good welds even with the old fashioned setup.

I usually fold my edge bars a few times, ok, once or twice. Enough to get up to about 30 layers, even when they are just w2 and 1075 (which I my favorite mix for subtle patterning). It looks, "piled." I like that look.

make the next one a little bigger!

That's the plan :) Maybe even including wolf teeth. I prefer to fold the edge material with single steel. I prefer to keep only the pattern welded spine made from different compositions so it stands out clearly. But the piled mono steel does still look piled, which brings it closer to the steel back then. Preferably I'd make steel myself, but that's another project for the future.

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yes - I traded Scott Roush a bunch of very thin (.02") 1095, and he made great stuff, including a basket hilt I think. The piled approach looked very good for him.

That is some very promising stuff, for sure.

 

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That is a shame about the weld flaw, however the overall exercise I'm sure was more than gratifying. I do enjoy the pattern than emerged.

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This is wonderful Jeroen! I have made a similar piece before and loved the piled twist look in such a small area. Even more impressive is the set up you used! great work!

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5 hours ago, Emiliano Carrillo said:

This is wonderful Jeroen! I have made a similar piece before and loved the piled twist look in such a small area. Even more impressive is the set up you used! great work!

Thanks! I was quite happy seeing how well it all worked. Keeping billets small definitely makes a difference, particularly when using light weight tools.

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