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Dan Bourlotos

Wedding Extravaganza

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This September I am getting married, and as such, I wanted to make something special for the occasion. I had always planned on making the rings out of damascus, but after really trying to hammer out the details, decided that it just wasn't epic enough. So I came up with the idea of making a cutlass for sabering champagne bottles out of the same billet I made the rings from. That way, my wife and I would have a fun memento we could grab from above the fire place and have some fun with well after our wedding. Then the topic of gifts for our bridal party came up. My fiance and I have a very close-knit group of friends we would follow to Hell and back, and it seemed like gifts from the heart were in order. As such, I thought that making something from the same billet we made the rings and cutlass from would be fantastic. That way, they could also have a piece of the occasion as well. Maudlin, but fitting, I think. So, my better half and I decided on letter openers for the groom's party and pendants for the bride's. 

As such, this is going to take a lot of damascus to make 5 pendants, 6 letter openers, two rings and a short sword. I am also not blessed enough to have a press or power hammer, but thankfully have friends who do. I have spent the last several months making the individual billets that will be part of the final construction and this is what I have so far. 

Part 1: The Billet

This is easily the most complicated thing I have taken on. Not only is it just a lot of damascus, the pattern itself is going to be pretty complicated too. It is a variation on an asymmetrical twist. 

A - 50 layer laminate

B - 100 layer crushed W

C - 10 layer twisted bar

D - bar of 1084
 

20180516_203920.jpg

 

All of which is going to be welded and drawn out to 3/4" square and then twisted before being drawn into the final bar. In my mind, I should have a pretty wild twist alternating with the 1084, creating a cool "tiger stripe" pattern. The plan so far is to then take off what I need for the sword, then the rings and the letter openers and pendants last. I have done the math, and I should have around 10 cubic inches of steel, which should be more than enough. I will be welding everything up tomorrow for the final bar using a friends press. We will see how it goes. As a contingency, I have taken cut-off from each of these bars so that I will at least have ring material. Cant be too careful ;)

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Congratulations. I never knew what true happiness was until I got married... and then of course it was too late ;)

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Congrats on the wedding! Can't wait to see the final pattern of this billet. 

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Update:

I have only been forge welding for about 4 years. It is not my strong suit, but each time I do it, I feel more confidant than the last. For the most part things went pretty smooth. (Having a 30T press makes this almost a cake walk) I welded the billet, drew it out to 1" square, twisted it and then began to draw it out into the 1/2" bar that was part of the plan when I noticed that a specific layer appeared to not have forge welded, or broke loose while twisting. I went home a bit dejected, thinking I had to start over, but came back at it a few days ago. 

The first pattern welding I ever did was consolidating motorcycle chain together into a knife billet. The trick that I learned while doing it was that taking it VERY slow is key to getting all that empty space out. Its the same principle I see guys who work with raw bloom use, and exactly what past smiths did. So, I used the same principle here to work all the frayed edges back together. Below is a picture of the billet before reworking, and after (I had to cut it in half to make it manageable to deal with). 20180605_183025.jpg20180605_183021.jpg

Then, I took both bars to the grinder to take out any tiny cold-shuts and then drew each one down to 5/16 x 1". Now I just need to figure out which billet will be the cutlass, and which one will be the rings/letter openers/pendants. To be Continued

20180605_211037.jpg

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Tonight, I ground off the scale and did the test etch. Needless to say, I like what I see on both billets. The billet on top has several severe welding defects, so that will be the ring/gifts billet, being that I am making a bunch of small things from it, and can cut out the various bad sections. 20180606_184925.jpg20180606_184938.jpg

As for the other billet? Well... it is mostly shaped towards the cutlass. It is going to end up a tad shorter than I wanted, was looking to get around 20", but the blade length is sitting at 17.5" right now. The preform is mostly done, and some weld defects need to be cleaned off before I can forge in the bevels. 

20180606_211523.jpg

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Been a busy few months. Regardless, here are the pictures of the finished rings and the champagne sabre. The wedding photographer took some really good pictures of the rings/sabre, but we haven't gotten all of them back yet. 

20180914_213647.jpg20180914_213640.jpg20180913_165530.jpg20180913_165155.jpg064NLCww.jpeg20180913_165239.jpg

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Nice work.

Congratulations!  I wish you 2D10 years of happiness.  (Unless the first number comes up in the bottom half of the die, in which case you can roll again)

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