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We're planning a forging session 4th of January, initially the idea was to make some more timing chain "damascus".

I'd like to make a better attempt cutting that billet and san mai reconstruction with 52100 in the middle, my first attempt worked but wasn't quite symmetrical.

 

I've since been gifted some saw blades (15N20) so I'm considering a billet using that and old files or 52100 (flattened bearing race)

I know realistically I won't be able to weld much more than 100mm, and depending on the steel I use maybe only 6 layers at the start.

 

So my question is how can I make that low layer billet more interesting?

I guess I should cut and restack, which feels a bit like all-in gambling to me, also considered twisting but I've never done it obviously and would need to build and figure out a way to do it.

 

 

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IMO (and it is only an opinion): Low layers (under 25-50ish) like you are describing only look good as a san-mai blade.    And after close to a dozen san-mai blades under my belt, I'm still not very confident that I can keep the core steel centered without a lot of checking and re-checking, and taking more heats than I'd like to forge the blade.  

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If all I had was the big bandsaw blades and old files, I'd use those instead of 52100 (because why make life harder than necessary?) and make a multibar twist.  Twists can do all kinds of neat patterns, from Turkish Twists to the stuff Niels shows.  And you don't absolutely have to have a jig.  An acetylene torch is a big help, though.  

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Don't be too intimidated by a cut and restack Gerhard.  Take a little bit of time to grind/file the surfaces clean, smooth, and flat and you'll be good to go.  I'm definitely not a damascus wizard by any means, and probably overkill it when I prep the surfaces, but I haven't had too many weld failures if I take my time.   Good call on the 100mm limit too.  I went through and cut a bunch of pieces up to 6" long (150mm), then started to wonder why I had weld failures in the last 1" of the billet a couple of times in a row. <_<  Next time I make damascus I'll be cutting those 6" long blanks down into 3" ones.

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The person that gave me the saw blades is one of those gifted people that can basically do anything with their hands, his 6th and 7th blades, the first ones I saw, were cable and low layer 52100/saw blade damascus.

The low layer damascus compliments his style of knife beautifully, but I can't say the same about my own style.

 

Billy - the struggle is real :lol:

 

Alan - no torch, twisting appeals, I do have a small vice mounted that I could use next to the forge, but I'm not sure it's up to the job.

 

Alex - glad I'm not alone :D

 

I'll see if I can make a plan with something to grab the other side of the billet for the twist, alternatively if I can cut and restack maybe a simple ladder pattern?

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Gerhard,

Twists are the easiest and fastest way to pattern any PW billet. A small vice (securely mounted to something heavy) and a twisting wrench are all you need. Twist a 3/4" square bar and forge it into a blade. It will look awesome. The trick is to twist really hot and stop when the steel enters the dull orange/red zone. Only heat a small section at a time, if possible, and twist that area. Heat the next section and repeat. Don't be afraid to use the quench bucket to cool off areas you don't want twisting.

 

+1 on Alan's old files and saw blade suggestion, and Alex's suggestion for stacking. Make three of those 6 layer billets and grind one of them clean on both faces, the other two get one face cleaned. Stack it and weld. You get 18 layers. Cut that in three pieces and repeat. You will now be over 50 layers and a twist will look really good.

 

Don't be scared. You got this.

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Thank you Joshua.

I'm with you on the files, I have more than I can ever use, and considering my varying results I've decided I'll never again make a purely stock removal file knife again, even if the forging is minimal it will get some heat.

The 52100 will be a lot of extra prep work and it's scary hot here.

The small vice I mentioned is very securely mounted to a huge truck rim.

I guess a cheap monkey wrench will do?

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15 hours ago, Gerhard Gerber said:

I guess a cheap monkey wrench will do?

It helps if you can forge another handle to the head for two-handed turning. Check the first video in This thread at about 5:20 minutes in, for an example.

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2 hours ago, Alex Middleton said:

The link jumps to the end of the thread.  It took me a second to realize that you were referencing the first video in the thread, not the one down near the end.  

 

It's fixed now. Thanks Alex.

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ive had limited success (2 attempts, 2 successes) with low layer ladder patterns. just to give you some other ideas :D

 

first is 2x 5 layer billets, 1070 and old band saw blades that i then forge welded together with a layer of band saw blade between to give a total of 11 layers, then laddered and forged out to a knife. i did have a few delams, but this was my first ever attempt at Damascus in my gas forge and it was always going to be my personal knife, so i pushed on.

20191022_114533.jpg

 

the next one is 9 layers in one billet, 1070 and 75ni8 then laddered, then forged to knife. 

20191219_155553.jpg

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4 hours ago, Gerhard Gerber said:

Hi Ross

 

That ladder pattern looks really good

Thanks man. Was pretty simple too. I still haven't got my power hammer running so that knife was 100% hand hammered 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got the cheap monkey wrench, still need to weld on a handle to the jaw.

 

Worked through my steel supply, found 2 suitable files, I can get 3 x 10cm sections out of each so that will only be 5 layers each.

Not planning further than that, first need to see what works and what doesn't.

 

Also have two timing chains waiting to be cut and stacked, that will be mission #2

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Timing chains are fun.  They take a LOT of flux and you don't get much in return, but they're fun to forge down.  Surprisingly soft under the hammer until all the voids close up.

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I've made one 90% successful timing chain billet, hopefully perfection this time.

I'm being joined by a friend that was there on the previous occasion and supplied the timing chains, he's a machinist and wanted to come show me how a blue collar guy swings a hammer! :lol:

He's a bit fatter than me and likely just as unfit, he got so tired that despite my warning he left his billet in too long and pulled out a sparkler on the end of his rebar :lol:

Hoping not to repeat :ph34r:

 

Going through my steel hoard I saw the outhouse full of needle files I'm sitting with.  The only idea I could come up with was to bundle them up as best I can, weld up the ends, heat and twist.....?

For this I plan to use all the needle files that are basically thin and round/square/triangle. All together they might not make a large enough billet, but maybe I can incorporate that with something else.

In even larger numbers I have small files that are halfround on both sides. They vary in size but are more substantial than the needle files......any ideas what I can do with these? 

 

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On 1/2/2020 at 11:13 PM, Gerhard Gerber said:

For this I plan to use all the needle files that are basically thin and round/square/triangle. All together they might not make a large enough billet, but maybe I can incorporate that with something else.

In even larger numbers I have small files that are halfround on both sides. They vary in size but are more substantial than the needle files......any ideas what I can do with these? 

The only thing I can think of to use old small needle files would be a can of powdered steel or steel filings. The bundling, welding the ends and twisting might work, but I'd be pretty worried about creating a bundle of loosely wrapped slag inclusions.

Maybe if you heated them up and flattened them down, you could stack them effectively.

Then, once they were welded into a small bar, combine that bar with another larger file or two into a billet?

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On 1/3/2020 at 1:13 AM, Gerhard Gerber said:

Going through my steel hoard I saw the outhouse full of needle files I'm sitting with.  The only idea I could come up with was to bundle them up as best I can, weld up the ends, heat and twist.....?

For this I plan to use all the needle files that are basically thin and round/square/triangle. All together they might not make a large enough billet, but maybe I can incorporate that with something else.

In even larger numbers I have small files that are halfround on both sides. They vary in size but are more substantial than the needle files......any ideas what I can do with these? 

 

I was thinking about trying something like this with garage door spring. Got my hands on four complete springs and have straighted them all out. Cut one of them into 8 inch pieces and bundled them into groups of 16. Was going to tack weld the ends then heat and twist like you would with a piece of cable, all the while fluxing the heck out of it. Once it was twisted tight, getting it up to welding heat and “twist” weld it together.

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FAIL! :wacko:

I prepared the following billets:

Timing chain

Big Nicholson flat file that I annealed, ground smooth as a baby's bottom and cut into 3 x 10cm pieces. For the shiny part, and I think this was my mistake, I used what I can only describe as an oversized hacksaw blade because it was wider and thicker than the bandsaw blade I have. 3 pieces of file, 2 pieces of hacksaw blade.

Middle size flat file of unknown brand (have used its brother successfully) with bandsaw blade, 4 x 11cm pieces of file with 3 pieces of bandsaw.

All pieces were ground clean, cleaned with acetone and tack welded together.

 

My friend had 2 timing chain billets.

 

The Nicholson billet went in first, heated slightly and fluxed. It seemed to be going well, bit IIRC about the heat the front half of the billet just crumbled below the hammer. I don't understand why because it was definitely at forging temp but not nearly a sparkler. The rear half seemed okay so I tried to save what I could, it looked okay but the first hit on the side it delaminated.:(

 

After this my friend messed up his first timing chain billet, he was unable to hit hard enough I suspect, took too many heats to consolidate and then it just breaks....

 

My timing chain was next, I actually had moderate success, after the forging I could see a crack in the middle of the billet which is fine since I was planning on halving and using them for the outside of a San Main billet.  After cleanup I think the crack might grind out, plan stays the same.

 

Then my friend messed up his second billet :ph34r:

 

My third billet went in, heated and fluxed, it seemed to weld but there were cracks in the one file. Figured I could make a plan with that so carried on trying to consolidate the billet.

First strike on the side it delaminated :(

I lost it a bit and gave that part 4 or 5 massive blows while screaming some 18 SNVL that the whole block heard :ph34r::lol:

 

The rear part of the billet seems to have welded but I can see cracks in the middle pieces of file, I'll need to grind it clean and see it there's anything to salvage.

 

I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what went wrong, I suspect the beefy hacksaw blade might have been some alloy that doesn't want to weld, but I have no idea why the steel crumbled, I'm very sure I never got it that hot.

The bandsaw blade in the second billet is known to work, the friend that gifted it to uses it all the time. I suspect this failure was my fault.

 

This was my second time using real coal instead of charcoal, and I'm not sure that was a good idea......

 

It does get me that the timing chain billet which is arguably the most difficult was a success.....

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Bummer. I was rooting for you.

I cannot say for sure why the file crumbled. That's a puzzler.

The delamination of the giant saw blade could be that the blade had a coating on it that buggered the weld. A lot of those large bandsaw type blades are coated with a  substance that provides friction resistance for ease of cutting. It is death to forge welding. When ever I use old bandsaw blades, I always burn them first and wire wheel them clean.

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bummer........ Ive welded up lots of saw blades, of all different flavours, and never had a big problem with them. The HSS is usually only the teeth. I have found the backing material can be a bit 'Chromy' which makes it slippery to weld though. (Weld looks stuck, but then slips forged on edge) - The M42 bandsaw blades I use can be up to 3% chrome, away from the teeth. Nice and bright in etch.

 

I still use M42 backing in my wrought iron 'damascus' all the time.

 

Crumbly is usually over heating. Ive had O1 'cottage cheese' before now. No going back once its gone!

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