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AndrewB

First Attempt At Damascus Steel Patterns

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(@Alan Longmire If I posted in the wrong section feel free to move this post)...  So I figured I'd post this here since I'm just trying to get ideas.  In the next week or so I plan on playing with an experiment on making a first Damascus steel pattern.  Of course I ordered the 15n20 from NJ Steel Baron and my usual 1075/1080 mix from Admiral Steel.  I think I might wind up just ordering from NJ Steel Barron from now on since I'm not liking the shipping practices of Admiral steel.  On the other note, since seeing I do not as of yet have a press for making the more advanced Damascus patterns, I'm basically looking for some suggestions on what I can do with a hand hammer and my anvil.  I know I should only really start with four or five layers of steel.  But would a Zebra stripe pattern be the easiest and how is that exactly done?  I'm trying to stay simple since I'm just now trying to learn how to do this.

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Raindrop pattern is a cool pattern and not overly difficult.

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Not exactly sure on the rain drop pattern I was considering just starting with zebra stripes I don’t have a press yet

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You don't actually need a press until you want to do mosaics.  Also, "zebra" isn't a recognized pattern name.  Are you think wide random or ladder?  A low layer billet that all you have done is forge to shape without forging the bevels will give you a set of wide stripes running the length of the blade.  If you twist that billet before forging it will be diagonal stripes.  

Higher layers, say 60 - 120, let you do ladders by cutting a series of parallel grooves across both sides of the bar, then forging to shape, or raindrop/bullseye by drilling or punching  a grid of holes about a third of the way through from both sides, then forging flat.  Both of these patterns look better the higher the layer count.  Ladders really pop at 300 + layers.

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44 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

You don't actually need a press until you want to do mosaics.  Also, "zebra" isn't a recognized pattern name.  Are you think wide random or ladder?  A low layer billet that all you have done is forge to shape without forging the bevels will give you a set of wide stripes running the length of the blade.  If you twist that billet before forging it will be diagonal stripes.  

Higher layers, say 60 - 120, let you do ladders by cutting a series of parallel grooves across both sides of the bar, then forging to shape, or raindrop/bullseye by drilling or punching  a grid of holes about a third of the way through from both sides, then forging flat.  Both of these patterns look better the higher the layer count.  Ladders really pop at 300 + layers.

I was honestly considering doing that, a Ladder pattern.  I'm also okay with sitting there and taking a lot of time to make the first bit of Damascus by hand.  I'm okay it if takes me a while.  I know in order to get 3 or 4 hundred layers I'll probably have to make 2 seperate billets.  I know I can get quite a few layers out of one.  I'll just have to remember how many layers I wind up putting in each billet so I can attempt to do the math at the end lmao.  I'm horrid at math lol.  Looks like I'll be able to start on the Damascus steel tomorrow.  My 15n20 and my 1075/1080 will be here today Yippy.

Edited by AndrewB

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Before you get really into the steel, you may want to get yourself two colors of play-dough, Plasticine, or other art clay.  Roll each color into strips the same thickness and stack them up.  Once you have a nice chunk built up you can try different manipulations to see what sort of pattern what you're doing will produce in steel.  You can even use your hammer and anvil to work it, just not by hitting it hard. 

Important:  A great deal of the pattern in damascus comes from grinding into the billet.  In other words, don't go too crazy forging in the bevels.  You need to lose a lot of material to show all the layers.

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14 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Before you get really into the steel, you may want to get yourself two colors of play-dough, Plasticine, or other art clay.  Roll each color into strips the same thickness and stack them up.  Once you have a nice chunk built up you can try different manipulations to see what sort of pattern what you're doing will produce in steel.  You can even use your hammer and anvil to work it, just not by hitting it hard. 

Important:  A great deal of the pattern in damascus comes from grinding into the billet.  In other words, don't go too crazy forging in the bevels.  You need to lose a lot of material to show all the layers.

That's kind of what I was figuring is most of the detail came out with grinding and what not.  The first part will be just getting the billet forge welded lol.  I am not sure if I should go for a 10 layer billet or keep it small and do 4 or 5 layers lol.  Since seeing the 15n20 is so danged thin:lol:.  I hadn't counted on it being almost as thin as paper but it happens.  I do have both steels in hand so I could probably cut all the pieces and get the billet stacked today but I'm feeling in a lazy mood at the moment.  So you're also saying I should grind out the bevels if I make a blade out of this one?

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When I do it by hand i start with five or seven layers max.  And it depends on the pattern.  Ladders and raindrops tend to go random on the bevels if forged too much.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind.  Thus the play-dough comment, it will tech you how much you can forge/grind without wasting steel and effort.

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Hey Andy,

I'm late to the party, but if you want my advice.   Shoot for the damascus you want, but I would start with just 2 or 3 layers.  And do much research on the subject.  Between this forum and others search function, there is too much information to get into :) .    But if you start with 2 or 3 layers, especially for the first run, you will either be successful, partially successful, or have total failure.   If the first is true, sweet, add more, or make another billet.  Otherwise, at least you didn't lose too much material and fuel.    Also, be aware there will be a finite amount of steel you can personally move based on your own abilities before the forge just starts eating your steel.   Hence the presses and power hammers many use for efficiencies sake.   Do not want to discourage at all, just add a sense of realism to whats gonna happen with your steel.  A simple twist pattern is a good pattern for many to start with.   If it turns out to be a 300 layer ladder pattern, more power to you Sir.    Low layer twist patterns are pretty bold and striking and often overlooked I think.   

Good Luck on the Forging.

Just my .02 

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7 minutes ago, Bruno said:

Hey Andy,

I'm late to the party, but if you want my advice.   Shoot for the damascus you want, but I would start with just 2 or 3 layers.  And do much research on the subject.  Between this forum and others search function, there is too much information to get into :) .    But if you start with 2 or 3 layers, especially for the first run, you will either be successful, partially successful, or have total failure.   If the first is true, sweet, add more, or make another billet.  Otherwise, at least you didn't lose too much material and fuel.    Also, be aware there will be a finite amount of steel you can personally move based on your own abilities before the forge just starts eating your steel.   Hence the presses and power hammers many use for efficiencies sake.   Do not want to discourage at all, just add a sense of realism to whats gonna happen with your steel.  A simple twist pattern is a good pattern for many to start with.   If it turns out to be a 300 layer ladder pattern, more power to you Sir.    Low layer twist patterns are pretty bold and striking and often overlooked I think.   

Good Luck on the Forging.

Just my .02 

Nah lol not too late for suggestions, the first test piece I actually did was 4 pieces of 1075/1080 I moved that fairly okay.  So I’d be comfortable with about 4 or 5 layers not too sure about the twist though I don’t have a vice as of yet.

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Right On Andy,

Vises are nice to have.   You don't need a post vise, I still go without one.   Check out any local swap meets if there are any around you, I see many vises for cheap around here, good solid ones,  not made of cast iron.  Cast steel or better.   But in a pinch,  if your Anvil and base are solid and heavy enough, and since you're only testing :), you could forge your billet square the same size as the hardy hole in your anvil, use that as a holder and then twist with a crescent or pipe wrench on the top part.  Should be able to get a twist or two in there.

There are ways of making a vise too:

https://old.abana.org/downloads/education/VerticalVise.pdf

You can scale that Vertical Vise down a bit too and still be useful.   You can salvage parts from an old or cheap screw jack for the ACME replacement..

 

Edited by Bruno

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7 minutes ago, Bruno said:

Right On Andy,

Vises are nice to have.   You don't need a post vise, I still go without one.   Check out any local swap meets if there are any around you, I see many vises for cheap around here, good solid ones,  not made of cast iron.  Cast steel or better.   But in a pinch,  if your Anvil and base are solid and heavy enough, and since you're only testing :), you could forge your billet square the same size as the hardy hole in your anvil, use that as a holder and then twist with a crescent or pipe wrench on the top part.  Should be able to get a twist or two in there.

There are ways of making a vise too:

https://old.abana.org/downloads/education/VerticalVise.pdf

You can scale that Vertical Vise down a bit too and still be useful.   You can salvage parts from an old or cheap screw jack for the ACME replacement..

 

What about twisting it with vice grips lol

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That will work man, lol.   Heck if I wanted to I'd quickly spot weld the end of a billet down to something heavy, then twist,  not that I would.  Just saying you could :)   Many ways to make cat jackets.

Edited by Bruno

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@AndrewB check this thread out: 

 

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4 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

@AndrewB check this thread out: 

 

I was just looking at that one the other day.  What would I use to make the grooves in the billet just an angle grinder?

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Check out this video (there are two parts, but the blade is made in part one). The pattern used is a variation of the Ladder pattern called wolf's tooth. Only half of the faces are grooved and then flattened.

https://youtu.be/Lj7fi8Wnfc0

 

 

Edited by Joshua States
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Interesting

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On 1/28/2019 at 7:40 AM, Alan Longmire said:

You don't actually need a press until you want to do mosaics.  Also, "zebra" isn't a recognized pattern name.  Are you think wide random or ladder?  A low layer billet that all you have done is forge to shape without forging the bevels will give you a set of wide stripes running the length of the blade.  If you twist that billet before forging it will be diagonal stripes.  

Higher layers, say 60 - 120, let you do ladders by cutting a series of parallel grooves across both sides of the bar, then forging to shape, or raindrop/bullseye by drilling or punching  a grid of holes about a third of the way through from both sides, then forging flat.  Both of these patterns look better the higher the layer count.  Ladders really pop at 300 + layers.

Whenever you say "punching a grid" are you referring to using a punch of some sort and hot punching the pattern in? 

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I mean either that, in which case you then forge it back flat, or drilling holes in the press dies. This raises bumps on the billet. When you grind those off you get raindrop or pool-and-eye pattern.  Drilling is good because you remove material.  Punching just deforms it.

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On 1/30/2019 at 9:54 PM, Joshua States said:

Check out this video (there are two parts, but the blade is made in part one). The pattern used is a variation of the Ladder pattern called wolf's tooth. Only half of the faces are grooved and then flattened.

https://youtu.be/Lj7fi8Wnfc0

 

 

 

Josh,

 

Thanks for posting a link to that video........once again.  I've watched it many times and I love seeing the care each of those seven craftsmen put into their work.

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Have you considered starting with a 3 layer san mai billet to get you feet wet with forge welding then work your way up into more layers???

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