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Hello all, I have done a few small pattern welded blades over the last few years, and am planning a larger project. It will be a 1 to 2 foot long seax . Two 15n20 and 1084 twisted bars for the core I've decided on already, the question is what to use for the edge/spine? 

I was thinking I would use some drawn out/squared up leafspring; which I believe is 5160.  I watched it performed on YouTube successfully and read that it can be done. Is it a good idea? I have heard that 5160 does not like to weld to itself, but in this construction the two peices only come in contact with the twisted bars. Any thoughts or criticisms would be greatly appreciated. This is all going to be done by hand with the aid of a striker if that matters. Thank you all!

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Noting that I have never done this, I would like to suggest a straight 1084/15N20 "high" layer (say... 75) edge and a wrought iron spine.  Alternatively, go with 1084 edge and 15N20 spine (or vice-versa).  Ease of doing wither of these options will greatly depend on what material thicknesses you have readily available.  The plus side to sticking (pun intended) with 1084 and 15N20 is that they will certainly weld (stick) to your twists.  

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That is a good idea Jerrod, just a lot more folding. I'll have some strikers so it is doable. I may leave out the spine altogether. Just the 2 twists and the higher layer edge. I have a 48"long 1/4" thick by 1-1/4" wide peice of 1084 and the same size 15n20 but it's 1/8 thick. That should be enough to weld up 3 billets. I was hoping for around 11 layers to start. How many layers look the best in the twist bars?

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I prefer lower layers, other prefer higher.  It is always up to you on what you want to see.  The bigger factor, from my understanding, is going to be number of twists per inch on your billets.  And remember to keep them the same for both bars!  

Here is an ultra-low layer by Luke Shearer.  Here is a 40 layer by Greg Verizhnikov.  Please note that these are fairly old posts, but great examples.  Personally, I prefer something in between, say 25 or 30 layers, but that is just me.

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I'll try to shoot for 22 to 44. Depends on how many folds we do. I've done cut and stack but i dislike the wasted material and having to clean and mig the peices. I want to try the Japanese folding method at least the first time, if it works I'll keep doing it.

The edge billet doesn't need to be manuplited right? If it's a higher layer count won't the edge beveling and grinding bring out a random pattern? I've only done a twist and straight lines before so I don't know. Thanks for the answers! I will update this thread with pics after this weekend

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Good call on the 1084 edge.  5160 could work, but it's a risk.  As far as how many layer in a twist, I like low layers.  Mine are usually five or nine layers.  If twisted tightly enough they look like far more.  And remember, when it comes time to assemble the billet make sure all the parts are about the finished dimensions!  Nothing ruins a twist pattern like drawing it out.  This does mean you'll be butt-welding bars that are 1/4" to 3/8" thick, so plan accordingly.

Your design needs a little tweak, though: bring the break back towards the grip a bit and let the edge curve up a bit.  Seaxes never had a straight edge, and the brokenback types longer than four or five inches of blade usually had a long clip.  Find any post by Jeroen Zuiderwick and click the link at the bottom called "information about saxes" for more.  Note you won't see those on a mobile device, the sig lines only show up on a desktop, laptop, or tablet.

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37 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

If twisted tightly enough they look like far more.  And remember, when it comes time to assemble the billet make sure all the parts are about the finished dimensions!  Nothing ruins a twist pattern like drawing it out.  This does mean you'll be butt-welding bars that are 1/4" to 3/8" thick, so plan accordingly.

This.  This is the important stuff to understand in order to get it coming out like you intend.  More layers, fewer twists; fewer layers more twists.  How much to grind away vs how much to forge.  So much to keep in mind.  Remember that starting with more layers and tighter twists gives more room to draw out the billet, but if it isn't evenly drawn out it will show.  

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So drawing it out will distort the twists ok. I can assemble it narrower than final dimensions though right? Cause if the 3 bars are that thick I can flatten it somewhat and bevel the edge. Which widens the blade.   Hammer beveling the random pattern edge bar should be a good thing cause it will distort the pattern if I am not mistaken. I will adjust the shape Alan , I saw some other people's work over the last day and you are right.Thank you both for the replies, it really helps!

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Most of the migration and viking era blades had very low layer twists, around 5 to 7 layers.  I typically do 9 or 11 layers, but occasionally fold and double that depending on the look I'm after.  The way I work, I expect the finished billet to grow in length by the time I'm satisfied with the welds, so I twist the bars accordingly... I like very tight twists, so my method is to twist as tight as I think it needs to be then twist some more...

For the best looking twists, you'll need to grind away at least a third to a half of their thickness to get down to the 'stars', so again plan accordingly.  You can do a lot of this heavy stock removal before welding the bars together and avoid quite a bit of grinding later...

Taking all that into account,  I forge the individual bars 3/8 to 1/2 inches square, and weld it all together expecting to end up with a billet about 125% the thickness of the finished blade.  If you don't do the thinning of the twists before welding everything together you'll need the billet to be almost twice the thickness of the finished blade, which means a lot of grinding...

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
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Thank you GEzell, that is solid advice. I'll grind the twisted bars down before welding the final billet, suppose I'll do that with the random pattern edge as well. And ill probably just twist them at the original 9 layers they are.

I just made the stacks this morning, and like a true WIP  I'll post as I go. The welding and drawing is tomorrow!

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Well today was successful. All 3 billets were welded well and I even got one of them drawn out to 21 inches long by 7/16 thick. Longer than I thought! Later this week I will get one other billet drawn out as well then twist them both. The last billet I'll fold a few times then draw it out as well. Now i am trying to finalize the final profile shape. I've spent some time on this forum and Google looking at lots of seaxes, there are so many varieties. A couple of WIP pics of the days work. Just myself and two strikers,  I envy the power hammers some if you have!

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Progress so far. One 9 layer squared bar, another of the same but not fully drawn out yet, and a 72 layer bar also not fully drawn out yet. Lots of hammering!  By my calculations the final blade will be around 12" long.  Shorter than originally planned. O well. 

The 72 layer was my first try at folding the billet instead of cutting and stacking. It went perfectly smooth as far as I can tell at this point. Next week I'll twist two of the bars and prep them for welding and get the 72 layer bar to shape. I can't wait to see how this turns out!

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Newest drawing. Still researching blade profiles online. I will have all of next week to finish it up. Best way to spend a week off ever!

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Yesterday and today I finished drawing the 3 billets out, and got the two 9 layer ones twisted, squared and ground. I learned the hard way not to over twist as I sheared 2 inches of the end of one of em. 

So here is where it stands now, 10 inches long and 3/8 thick, and 1 1/4 wide. I left the center bar a little long so I can weld on a handle. Tomorrow I weld it up in the coal forge and see what happens! I did a test etch on the edge bar and one twist bar just for fun, ill re clean the surfaces before stacking and welding.

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So today was very successful! All 3 bars welded up solid, and i got the blade forged. Right now it's 1"wide at the base tapering up to 1 3/16" at the break. 12"long And 1/4"thick all along the spine and about 3/16"along the edge. It's so cool how you can see the patterns in the forge scale as you pull it from the fire.

Tomorrow I'll forge it nice and even with a light hammer then grind.  I plan on forging a mild steel tang and welding it to the 2 " nub of a tang that I drew from the billet.  I know the handles are long on these blades , so I'll make it longer than necessary at first, I can always cut come off.  

Any advise on the HT? I've quenched small billets of these 2 steels well in the past, but never this thick. How thin should I grind before The HT?

As always thank you all for the advice and help!

Sorry that the pics are out of order; mobile...

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That looks good!  The welds look solid, and I like your design also.  I think you're using 1084 and 15n20, right?  Those two steels have almost exactly the same heat-treat requirements, so just treat it like you would 1084.  

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


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It is finally finished, I think it came out pretty nice. Wood is Laurel with some copper. I have certainly caught the pattern welding bug! I'll get a press someday and make some larger blades but this felt like the size limit for hand forging for me.  So much drawing out that you wouldn't have to do with a monosteel blade. Blade is 12" long, 1/4" thick. Thank you all for the advice and encouragement, This was one hell of a learning process !

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I'm loving that tight twist...:)

Good job man.

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


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Thanks,  I was a really fun project.  The next one will be smaller and I should be able to start it this weekend.

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