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Charlie Meek

Strange Etch Effect...What Gives

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Maybe I'm overthinking it but I got a really cool etch from a piece of 1095 from Aldo. I used 0000 steel wool to clean off the oxides and then used a little Fast Orange hand cleaner followed up by some 4F Pumice. This is after about a half hour into the polish. Notice the cool semi-damascus effect. Why did this happen and how do I repeat it?

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That is sweet! I like it.

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That looks like alloy banding.

Is it happening both above and below the hamon?

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Just above it. Below is all homogenous. Is that a bad thing?

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I did a lot of thermal cycling on this blade in the oven. From 1600, a few other steps then down to 1450 x 3. I was reading a Nick Wheeler thread but may have taken it too low. Well damn at least the cuttingedge is hard and homogenous. I quenched and clayed it twice. Nick mentions that cycling could reduce hardenability. Thats probably why I had to quench it twice to get the edge hard. Oh well lessons learned. Haha. Looks cool though. 

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looks like that belly doesnt have enough meat of martensite in it ... maybe thats polished up bainite and thats how the banding looks? how thick was ur clay?

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About an 1/8 or a little less but then I tapered the thickness toward the edge. First image is right after two tempering cycles. Second was a quick etch after the tempering but before any sanding. Last was the 2nd round of clay and quenching. Satanite was used for the clay.  

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Edited by Charlie Meek

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Classic alloy banding.  A smith who shall remain nameless (we call him "fluffy" for legal reasons) used to, and may still for all I know, deliberately do that to S-7and sell it as a form of high-tech wootz.  But I digress.

The banding is indeed caused by thermal cycling, but it doesn't affect the hardenability much.  Grain size reduction is what reduces hardenability, and is also a result of proper thermal cycling, so you know you nailed the temperature!

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Does if affect the performance of the blade negatively? I really hate to even bump into the same kind of stuff as fluffy. Almost makes me feel like its tainted now. Not that I'm gonna throw it out but of course I want to call it what it is not special steel smelted from the horns of uncorns and spleens of one legged trolls. I think it'll still make an attractive blade unless you guys tell me its junk. 

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i put my clay on a touch thinner i think. The alloy banding there isnt martensite and you know that-- so its only job is to remain strong and tough-- In that i think it will function fine. Personal preference from a recent knife i finished with a similar issue--- i would like that hardened edge to come further up the blade for longevity's sake

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No, it doesn't affect the performance enough to tell.  I do agree the hardened zone is a might narrow, but I don't see anyone sharpening through it. ;)

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I'm going to re-heat treat it. It looks cool but if I was making butter knives then it would be fine but this should be a relatively high performing blade so there are just too may issues here. Maybe the next hamon will be just as good but a little further north. It flawed and I know it so time to fix it. 

I'll lighten up on the clay too. 

Thanks for all the suggestions.

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Any suggestions on temp changes or otherwise? JJ suggested I move the temp to 1500 before quench. I was at 1480 last time or that's what the Evenheat thermocouple said. I soaked for 15 minutes, I should probably take that down to 5 min.

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I'd say 1480f should be fine - bumping the temp up will increase the hardenablity, but you also have more heat to extract, so it's pretty much a wash. Plush your blade should be a bit thinner this time, which should help. The main thing is far less clay. Aldo's 1095 doesn't want to harden to more than 1/8" thickness in anything slower than Parks. Here's my clay layout and resulting hamon on an oil quenched tanto I did recently:

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blade was 1/4" at the ridge, 1.5mm at the edge, heated to probably 1475f. You can see how the clay influences the hamon, but doesn't really control it...

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Don't soak 1095.  Just be sure the part you want hardened gets up to temp, and I second 1480 for a target, then quench.

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in the  last 30 second ramp up to 1500 degrees wouldnt hurt. I do that sometimes to accommodate for heat loss whilst traveling to the quench. All in all prolly doesnt make much of a difference. Sometimes i get wild ideas that i think may make it *better* lol

Edited by Gabriel James
typo

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1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

Don't soak 1095.  Just be sure the part you want hardened gets up to temp, and I second 1480 for a target, then quench.

Is this advice specifically for chasing hamons, or 1095 in general?  I was under the impression that 1095 would benefit from a bit of a soak since it is hyper-eutectic, but some of my long held "impressions" have been proven wrong lately :rolleyes:

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Mostly for hamon, but at the thickness of a blade 1095 doesn't need much time at heat regardless since it is a simple alloy.  Add carbide formers other than iron and all bets are off!

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Man this is awesome. Thanks for all the really excellent input. Considering I forgot to add my makers mark last time, this will give me a chance to correct that as well. 

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I am going to second what Jake said about that clay.  It looks as though he might be using Satanite, and it looks you are too.  In my experience with using Satanite, I found that using less clay and having the ashi farther up from the edge was more beneficial.  I have yet to get the hamon to follow the clay perfectly.  If you want to see someone cranking out gorgeous hamons, check out Will Morrison on Instagram.  He has some of the most precise hamons I have ever seen.

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I just checked his stuff out and it is pretty awesome. I'll dial back the clay in width and depth. If my wife doesn't kill me ill try to redo it again tonight. I just got of an HOA meeting like 20 minutes ago. 

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btw... don't worry about "fluffy". I knew him, he "taught" me bladesmithing. He is all bark than bite. Besides, he tries anything with anyone on this forum just let me know. I will handle it. I know things he don't want me telling ;)

-Gabriel

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Well I re quenched the blade twice last night but it just didn't seem to harden. I was using parks and had the temp at 1490 on my evenheat. After the second time I decided I would quench it in water. I know, I know. The knife made it though the quench but I spent too much time fiddling with it afterwards. 5 minutes later it started cracking right in my hand. I should have put it in the tempering oven immediately, which was already to temp.  Still it just didnt seem to be as hard as I would have liked. Not sure why it wouldn't harden properly becuase it had a super tight grain ( will post pixtures later ). Is it possible I lost some carbon with all the heating and quenching? I realize the grain size and hardening may be mitually exclusive but I'm stumped on the hardening. I mean it hardened enough to crack obviously but the edge just didn't seem to be as hard as expected. 

Edited by Charlie Meek

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did you clean the decarb off of the edge when i assume you file checked it between all the heats?

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yup, probably decarb. An electric kiln usually has an oxidising environment, which burns the carbon out of the surface, and you may need a good few passes with a file before you hit hardened steel...

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