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Jordan Hunt

Damascus steel composition from scrap metals?

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Hey guys, so I've been forging for several years now and just got set up for forge-welding, I read these forums everyday so I have seen a few posts about what type of steels to use, the problem is I'm not gonna drop a ton of money on steels, I'm mostly a scrap hunter. I want to do a damascus blade, I know normally you go with known metals that will offer a high contrast, I have some leaf spring, some mild steel, a massive industrial saw mill blade, several bandsaw blades and files and some stainless. My hope is that some combo of these metals will create a decently vivid contrast will forge welded. Anybody have a suggestion out of those materials? Sorry for the lengthy question, apparently there is wisdom in wine but only rambling and over-explanation in bourbon. Thanks in advance. 

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High contrast is easiest achieved from a difference in Ni content.  Sadly, the item you list with the most Ni (stainless) also has a bunch of chrome, which makes it not a beginner forge welding material.  The next best bet is going to be the saw mill/bandsaw blades.  Combine that with say the files and you will probably have your best bet for contrast.  

The absolute cheapest way to do this though: buy known metal.  You'll spend a lot in time and fuel messing with unknown things that may not want to weld.  Or end up welding, but being so similar that there is no contrast.  Buy a few pounds of 1080 and 15N20, learn to weld with it, then try experimenting.  You will definitely save money.  

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I hesitate to say this but.........

I was having dinner with a knifemaker friend, (half of) Swiss couple running a lodge in Namibia.  

He told me about a European maker that makes Damascus using leaf spring and mild steel.  I immediately questioned him about mild steel ending up on the edge, and he told me this guy folded many many times......

The end result could be good I guess, but definitely not what we commonly refer to as Damascus (or at least pattern welded steel) these days.

Here's a suggestion, make a San Mai blade using the leaf spring with mild steel outer layers, you get to practice your forge welding skills with what you have, and the results can be stunning!

Edited by Gerhard

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Bill Moran always used 2 pieces of 1095 and a piece of mild in his damascus.  With carbon migration  you should end up with about .70 carbon.  OTOH, Bill didn't have access to 15n20 or L6.

 

Geoff

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34 minutes ago, Geoff Keyes said:

Bill Moran always used 2 pieces of 1095 and a piece of mild in his damascus.  With carbon migration  you should end up with about .70 carbon.  OTOH, Bill didn't have access to 15n20 or L6.

 

Geoff

Thanks, fascinating to know.......opens up possibilities!  

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4 hours ago, Gerhard said:

I hesitate to say this but.........

I was having dinner with a knifemaker friend, (half of) Swiss couple running a lodge in Namibia.  

He told me about a European maker that makes Damascus using leaf spring and mild steel.  I immediately questioned him about mild steel ending up on the edge, and he told me this guy folded many many times......

The end result could be good I guess, but definitely not what we commonly refer to as Damascus (or at least pattern welded steel) these days.

Here's a suggestion, make a San Mai blade using the leaf spring with mild steel outer layers, you get to practice your forge welding skills with what you have, and the results can be stunning!

i read that book on metallurgy  that was posted here on this forum, the one by Verhoeven, and in it he makes an interesting point:

"The alternating layers in a pattern welded Damascus blade are spaced at distances on the order of
50-100 microns (2-4 mils). Blacksmiths often assume that if one of the original layers is a high
carbon steel and the other a low carbon steel the final blade will consist of high and low carbon
layers. Suppose the forging is being done at 2100 oF, a typical value. Figure 7.4(a) shows that the
value of D is 150 microns squared per second and Equation 7.1 gives the time to diffuse the C
atoms over a spacing of 100 microns as, t = (100 x 100)/(6 x 150) = 11 seconds. This result shows
that diffusion will homogenize the steel during the forging operation so that both layers have the
same carbon composition. For more on this topic see reference [7.1]." 

in lay mans terms, the way i understand it, is that no matter what 2 steels you use, they will both end up with the same carbon content. IOW, mild steel will get hard, and the tool steel will get slightly softer.

am i right in this assumption?

 

Edited by Ross Vosloo

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So Carbon migrates, but other stuff like Nickel doesn't (so you still have the contrast?)

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1 hour ago, Gerhard said:

So Carbon migrates, but other stuff like Nickel doesn't (so you still have the contrast?)

ja, the equations show the migration of carbon. the Ni doesnt move, at least so far as i can understand. im new to all this, but im big into doing my homework

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Nickel does move, but so slowly it would take years at heat to notice.  Carbon diffuses really fast, as noted above.

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But other elements will slow the moving of the carbon too.  Granted, if you cut the rate in half you go from 11 seconds to 22, which should still be fine.  It is also good to note that diffusion is highly dependent on temperature, so if you just stick the layers together at welding temp, but forge cooler, you will get different results than if you were to continue forging at welding temp.  

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Quite true, I was just keeping it simple.  A piece of pure nickel foil will stop carbon migration at any heat up to molten, for example.  

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