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Jag Singh

Wootz Khanda help!

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Hi all!

ive been a lurker for a while now and I have recently received a new wootz khanda that may be of interest! I also need some advice/help if someone would be so kind as to share precious knowledge and experience!

 

the first picture is the grain pattern when I received the khanda on Monday. After a scrub down with a cotton cloth to get some dirt off this marking has developed (yellowish/Orange in other pics) what could it be and how do I fix it?

ive tried wd40 and in the very last picture of taken some 3000 grit paper to see if that would work - it does and exposes some scratches (I presume because I have skipped some grit sizes) but it has also hidden the grain so I'm not going to touch the rest of the blade with the paper!

 

please help! Thanks in advance,

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Is it some kind of wax or other protective coating?  That would be my guess.  

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Thanks for responding Alan - much appreciated. I've had a good go at it a few times (wiping down/ rigourosly "scrubbing" with cotton cloth) and once with wd40 yesterday. It's certainly not on the surface. I'm hoping it's not tempering marks or a poor etch attempt.

 

im considering taking 3000 grit wet sanding to it and re-etching with ferric chloride. I'm just a little worried in that I may be skipping grits and thus exposing lots of scratch marks. What do you think?

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I'd try a strong solvent first.  It really looks like old shellac or something to me, and WD-40 isn't the best remover of such stuff.  Maybe have a go with lacquer thinner or methylated spirits?  Abrasives would be my last resort.  I don't think it's related to tempering or etching, since it didn't appear until you tried to clean it.  

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Alan - so thanks for your help you saved me from potentially ruining the blade.

so I used metal polish to buff, looks like it may have got rid of the very slight top layer - as I had to re etch.

 

heres the finished article

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Nice!  Happy to have kept the abrasives from this piece.  :)  And yes, some polishes like Flitz, Simichrome, etc. have a chemical action that removes oxides, which means they can mute an etch in short order.  Are the bindings steel and niello?  

That is a very interesting object, by the way.  For those not sure what we're dealing with here, this link explains: http://www.sikhmuseum.com/nishan/weapons/khanda.html

 

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I think I used autosol or something of the sort but it actually helped because I reckon the smith didn't etch properly it was really patchy. The bindings (I guess the silver work you are referring to?) Is silver wire inlay in koftgiri style. Here's a full picture:

it was my first etch. Seems a little surface rust also occurred I couldn't believe how quick the wootz was etching! Even tried neutralising with bicarbonate of soda, had to literally bathe/wash it. The ingot of wootz to make this was apparantly from the Mughal era so I really don't want to keep messing with it. I've sealed it with Vaseline and choji oil. Does the above sound about right?

 

 

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That's a lot of koftgari! :ph34r:  What did you use to etch it?  I'm not up on traditional wootz etchants at all.

As for rust prevention, oils are fine.  I use car wax, but there are several new products out there that work better.  Stuff called something like Bullfrog or similar.  Vaseline works, especially for long-term storage, but it's messy.

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Sure is! Took about 3 months to do the koftgiri. I used ferric chloride, 40% (a bit strong!) but it worked in about 30 seconds, I wasn't sure how to know how long to leave it on. Did this twice and the metal felt a little rougher so I stopped. But even after the neutralisation attempt there was some Orange forming on the surface. Managed to wipe it clean loads of wd40 then the oil/Vaseline.

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Fair enough!  Ammonia works a little better than bicarb on ferric chloride, for future reference.  

So this is a new piece, with the blade made from an antique Mughul ingot?  Did you do the mounts, or at least the koftgiri?  If so, respect! I'd have gone blind after about a week of that.

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Yes that's correct the black smith had two ingots from Mughal era but because of my (unreasonable!) demanding dimensions the first two attempts ended with a cracked blade. He had to then source another Mughal period ingot large enough and travelled across country to get it. He did the whole lot, some very skilled labourers. Here's some more pictures for your interest Alan:

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Your silver work is beautiful!

I agree with Alan that the yellow was either shellac or oil that had polymerized.

Complements to the smith as well, I’m guessing wootz isn’t something he forges every day!

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That's quite a piece!  

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40 minutes ago, Steve O said:

Your silver work is beautiful!

I agree with Alan that the yellow was either shellac or oil that had polymerized.

Complements to the smith as well, I’m guessing wootz isn’t something he forges every day!

I wish I could have created work like these guys! The silver work isn't mine unfortunately but thanks for the interest

24 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

That's quite a piece!  

Thanks Alan and once again thanks for your support

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18 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

That's quite a piece!  

Hi again Alan,

 

some surface rust seems to have appeared orange in the picture. Also the etch doesn't really show unless deflected in light - what do you think I have done wrong?

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Rust just means insufficient neutralization of the etch.  I have never worked with Wootz, hopefully someone who has will chime in, but the way I etch pattern-welded steel is to degrease thoroughly, then soak in dilute ferric chloride for ten minutes, remove, wipe off the oxides with a paper towel, and, if I like the contrast, neutralize with ammonia.  If I'm not happy it goes back in.  

There are ways of increasing contrast of an etch for two-alloy blades, but I'm not sure they would work on wootz.  It may be that after the etch you need to gently go over the blade with your 3000 grit paper on a hard backing to brighten up the high spots while leaving the low spots dark.  

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Thanks - I'll give it a shot and report back. I tried to neutralise the reaction by dousing with baking soda in water and then running it under the shower for a few minutes. Didn't work I guess 

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Is the silver work actual koftgari or a chased overlay?

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This may be of assistance: 

 

 

IMG_0607.PNGSure looks like koftgari to me.  Look at the chisel cuts and burnishing marks!  

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Thanks Alan, I've seen a few articles on wootz here. So much variance between techniques! One thing that baffles me is the darkness of the blade compared to others post etch. If I were to leave the acid longer would the light elements of the etch also darken more (and disappear!) or would the contrast increase thus showing the pattern better? Apologies in advanced for all the questions! 

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With ferric chloride it will darken uniformly.  In the thread I linked there some discussion of that, and what looked like a consensus that wiping on is better than soaking.

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On 1/21/2019 at 10:45 PM, Alan Longmire said:

With ferric chloride it will darken uniformly.  In the thread I linked there some discussion of that, and what looked like a consensus that wiping on is better than soaking.

Time to report back. So I tried lesser strength etchant but for longer. Heart jumped because all patterns disappeared! But autosol to the rescue. So in fact it was a success. 

Instead of using tons of calcium carbonate to neutralise this time I stood with a hose and wiped down with paper to see how the grain was coming out. In fact the longer I left the etching the darker the blade became and more of the pattern disappeared perhaps the reaction layer was coating the blade. (As a result of the previous etch attempt and this one the optimum I found was 40% strength FeCl3 wipe on for about 20 seconds.

Now the 3000grit oil sanding didn't work well I think perhaps was taking too much material off. Instead I used Autosol and microfibre cloth with a firm hand. The pictures attached are the results - I would have liked a bit more of a contrast to be fair like the previous etch but intact a lot more of the blade has a pattern on it now albeit not a stark contrast also the blade is much lighter in colour. I will now stop any more work on it for fear of making a mess of it! Let me know your thoughts 

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I think that's probably as good as it's going to get with FeCl.  At least it looks like wootz!

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