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Definitions and history of "Wootz" and such


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16 hours ago, Matthew Schneider said:

 There's several modern refractory clays/plastic moldable ceramics that will take 3000°

The issue with refractory clays is that in a crucible they need to be resistant from acid attack and some elements in the clay can become liquid rather quickly when exposed to iron oxide and fluxes in the melt.  It doesn't take much to cut your crucible in half and to leave you with a puddle of metal at the bottom of your furnace.. Been there and done that, rebuilt my furnace 3 times. If you want to experiment then make small crucibles with thicker walls so that the damage will be tolerated much better and you can come up with something that will work. 

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Absolutely modern steels are mechanically superior to wootz, though not as pretty (if you're into that sort of thing, not everyone is).  One can make an argument that they are good enough for some app

Hi Alan, you raise a good point about welding of wootz. It wasn't uncommon to forge weld crucible steel, we see repairs like you saw and we also see chevron style blades where alternating sections of

I have no problem with modern steel out performing "wootz" in standard mechanical tests. The value for me is in the knowledge and experience gained  during the attempts to duplicate what was done many

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Yeah I was thinking of trying just that perhaps in my forge. We've got clay locally that was used to make pottery but I'm not sure what it is exactly. I've heard about the acid/oxide destroying some clays at temperature. There's several that specifically say are very resistant to that. I've been looking at several but none have said they'll work to make crucibles.

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2 hours ago, Matthew Schneider said:

I'm curious about the welding of Wootz, from my experience if fit too hot ir just crumbles. What's the trick to avoiding that?

 

The answer is don't get it too hot... LOL.   Al said that welding temp for Wootz 1.6%C was at a bright yellow which is just above the hot working temp (above Acm).  So about 1100°C.  That temperature will change for lower carbon wootz.  He used to use cast iron shavings from brake drums between the surfaces to help the weld take more readily.  He made a chevron blade once of alternating pattern welded steel and wootz.

 

Now if you have too much graphite in the blade or if you have too much Sulfur, or Nickel in the blade then it will crumble if you try to weld it. Only clean wootz can be welded well without problems I would think.  I haven't welded wootz but I have thought of playing around with it just for fun... It would be good to know how it behaves.

 

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Sounds like it would be a pretty tricky, did it maintan it's pattern after that? I remember him talking about erasing the pattern with heat and bringing it back with multiple cycles.

I sure would have liked to meet that guy, he was kinda my idol back when I'd first learned about wootz and saw he'd succeeded in making it. I held onto that Blade magazine with an article about it and pictures of what he'd made for a long time.

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In the old blade sections that were welded there is a line of decarburised steel at the joint and the pattern is visible coming away from that.  Naturally the pattern will disappear in the area where the blade was at heat for any length of time but it will come back under thermocycling.  The blade would need to be reground and heat treated anyway. 

 

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