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Leif Boyd

Damascus

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I'm new at forging. I've forged a couple camp style blades. I'm starting on a Viking Seax and my question is....is it possible to forge a Damascus blade without a power hammer? Is it doable with a hammer and alot of will power?

 

Edited by Leif Boyd

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Yep you can do it, it is just harder to do.  I would say it take a lot more will than power.  

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Indeed it is!  Twist patterns are the easiest without power tooling, followed by ladders.  Since Viking patterns are all variations on twisting it's geared to hand work more than some of the modern patterns.

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26 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Indeed it is!  Twist patterns are the easiest without power tooling, followed by ladders.  Since Viking patterns are all variations on twisting it's geared to hand work more than some of the modern patterns.

Thanks for the reply. I wasn't thinking about a twist pattern, my steel is about 2 inches wide now. Should I cut that in half then attempt a twist pattern? What would you recommend on this?

 

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For Viking style twists you need the starting billets to be square.  I usually start with five to nine layers to get a bar an inch square by six inches or so long.  That gets drawn out to 3/8" square by around 18" long.  Cut that into the lengths you want and twist.  The thing with these twists is once you have them twisted you don't want to draw them out longer, it loosens the pattern a lot.

Not knowing what you have now beyond it being 2" wide I don't know what else to tell you.

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I tend do forge my bars round before twisting, makes it a bit more difficult to twist, but I have a hard time forging the twisted square corners back down without leaving cold shuts or inclusions. 

Also, if youre doing it alone, don't even try to twist something much bigger than like 3/4"... Almost popped an eyeball out from straining lol

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1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

For Viking style twists you need the starting billets to be square.  I usually start with five to nine layers to get a bar an inch square by six inches or so long.  That gets drawn out to 3/8" square by around 18" long.  Cut that into the lengths you want and twist.  The thing with these twists is once you have them twisted you don't want to draw them out longer, it loosens the pattern a lot.

Not knowing what you have now beyond it being 2" wide I don't know what else to tell you.

Thanks for the advice. I'm 43 and recently disabled. I've work either construction or in a coal mines all my life. I have way to much time on my hands and always wanted to learn blacksmithing.

 

Edited by Leif Boyd

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51 minutes ago, ethanknott said:

I tend do forge my bars round before twisting, makes it a bit more difficult to twist, but I have a hard time forging the twisted square corners back down without leaving cold shuts or inclusions. 

Also, if youre doing it alone, don't even try to twist something much bigger than like 3/4"... Almost popped an eyeball out from straining lol

Thanks man, I'll keep that in mind

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Yeah, rounded corners are better.  It just gets hard to count your twists in the heat of the moment.  If you use 3/8" bars, and grind them back square after twisting, you end up with closer to 1/4" bars which is what you want for a multibar composite blade.  Check out some of the threads down in the pinned show and tell section, and if you have a high tolerance for silliness read the pinned threads not having to do with beer or music in the Fiery Beards subforum.  There is a lot of talk about composite twist cored blades in there.

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Somewhat on this topic, how much material does one need for various patterns like raindrop and ladder damascus? Is there a chart of how much material you need to be able to remove enough? Or is it just experience and eyeballing?

 

Also, Leif, if you're going to be damascusing by hand, might I suggest a good cross peen hammer and good rounding hammer. And make sure they're a good comfortable weight, don't try to swing a 20 lb sledge. The horn is also great for drawing out. It takes a while and is very tiring, especially at first, but don't get discouraged. You'll get faster very quickly

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Since raindrop and ladder, at least when done by hand, require removing material, you need a fairly high layer count to make them look good and you need a thick enough billet that when you cut/drill the pattern in you have enough steel between said cuts/holes to hold it together while you forge it out flat.  Using a press you can cheat and drill/ladder the dies to make a reverse impression on the billet, i.e. raised bars or bumps, that you then grind off flat.  The pattern goes all the way through.

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What I mean is, is there like a formula or chart or something? Like, how much metal do i need to start with to end up with a general size bar of a certain pattern? Like i need "blank" to end up with a 8"x1"x3/16" ladder pattern blank, etc. At the moment, I just make stacks of workable size and hope i end up with enough to make something cool with... I know the basic measurements, just figure the are of your finished product and stack enough to have a bit more than that for scale loss and such. But no idea when it involves removing material, and I'd hate to spend a ton of time working on a chunk of ladder pattern or something, and then finishing it to find I don't have enough for a good knife.

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Also also, on keeping track of twists in your bar, I like to keep a crappy chisel near my twisting vice, and just mark the edge where you're gripping (a section that won't get marred too terribly during the twisting process, and will most likely be removed later). When you're done twisting, just pop a little mark for each twist. Also, an obvious mark on either end pointing to the same side, for making sure you get full twists. 

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