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General design question


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Usually, when I'm designing a piece, if I'm making a damascus blade, I tend to go simple for the handle.  When I'm working in mono steel, I want something with some complexity for the handle, burl or curly or something.

I think a really figured handle and a damascus blade are shouting at one another.

How do the rest of you approach this issue, is it even an issue?

 

Geoff

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I agree. A flashy handle with a flashy blade could seem really busy and confusing. At most, I would do a dual-element handle. Maybe ebony on the backend with a bit of curly maple at the front. It'll show nice complexity without competing with a damascus blade.

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I prefer that the handle doesn't fight with the blade myself.  It's one thing if you can get curly maple to match a ladder pattern, but if it doesn't match it clashes. In my opinion, of course. 

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Complimentary is my guiding principle. Sometimes a figured wood will compliment the pattern in a Damascus blade, other times, not so much. My handles range from very simple construction to complex construction with a fair amount of ornamentation. There are makers out there that make Damascus patterns that are beyond my understanding of the art and other makers whose handle ornamentation make my most complex ones looks like grade schooler's work.

My mentor almost exclusively made Damascus blades in his later years. His handles (usually frame construction) incorporated the same pattern in the frame and spacers. Then he would find a very figured piece of burl or mammoth ivory and put scales on it. It always worked visually.

 

My personal opinion, is that it depends on whether you are a high contrast person or a low contrast person. 

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I am having a similar issue right now, I bought a set of VERY beautiful Ironwood scales and now that I have them and am looking at them all I can think of is " Im not worthy" 

Mono steel seems plain for them, but I dont want to do something that causes the blade and the handle to compete for the viewers eyes. 

Pics momentarily. 

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for those, I have been contemplating a coffin handled bowie ( ala Gary Mulkey style ) with a frame handle on a hidden tang, but my qualm is do I break down and tune my venturi forge for welding ( had it 3 years and have NEVER been able to weld in it ) or do I just forge out a blade in W2 and go with a hamon on it. 

sometimes you have a blade that you want the handle work to do the blade justice, and sometimes you have handle scales that you hope you can make a blade that does them justice. 


I totally get where Geoff is coming from asking this, its something I myself fight myself on constantly. 

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 Not to hijack Geoff's thread, but being quite fond of the Coffin handle frame myself, I fully support this idea.

Now, you have to ask yourself: how much you want to play with pattern welding.

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10 hours ago, Geoff Keyes said:

...if you are happy with the setup you have, perhaps it's time to build a welding forge. 

As someone who welds a lot, and only has a forge that is setup for welding heat, I can vouch for the fact that the cost of building a second forge for normal forging would be offset by fuel savings rather quickly.

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there are lots of very nice knives with burls and PW steel. but for the most part people all seem to want the most contrast in their PW bars, is the wood going to match that?  generally i think your could stick a plain grain or fancy grain handle on any monosteel blade and it would be fine. but often when you pair a 1095 and 15N20 high contrast PW blade to a piece of burl or curl wood ,which is basically a laminate patterned material with much lower contrast, you end up with a harsh blade compared to a much softer handle sometimes. 

 

look at some of the CAS knives, they can have stainless clad high carbon core sanmai with raindrops for their blade with a high contrast etch, darkened antler grips with gnarly texture, and clean shiny silver pins. and while they arent my favorite blades they are visually balanced even though there is a lot going on.

 

i often wonder if the people that use these fancy materials are really ready for them

 

look at this knife, its visually striking, every part of it. they didnt just throw this stuff together http://www.casknives.com/portal/index.php?/category/98

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13 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

As someone who welds a lot, and only has a forge that is setup for welding heat, I can vouch for the fact that the cost of building a second forge for normal forging would be offset by fuel savings rather quickly.

It's really not that difficult to set up one forge that does both. My ribbon burner forge can be set to ride around 1850-1900F and with a small turn of a ball valve, I can get it up to welding heat and have it riding around 2400. Turn the valve back to the initial detent and I'm back at forging heat.

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1 hour ago, Joshua States said:

It's really not that difficult to set up one forge that does both. My ribbon burner forge can be set to ride around 1850-1900F and with a small turn of a ball valve, I can get it up to welding heat and have it riding around 2400. Turn the valve back to the initial detent and I'm back at forging heat.

 

Eventually I plan on probably taking this hobby further and making my own ribbon burner forge - so if I'm understanding you correctly, it's just the propane flow that changes whilst the airflow remains constant, yes? More propane in this case would get you to welding temp?

 

I know that I've read that ribbon burner forges can easily run hotter and are more propane efficient, so that would definitely make sense.

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For me it's a matter of form, rather than the burner.  I use a vertical forge with a 5" hot zone for most of my forging.  I have an 18" long welding forge running on a version of the same burner that I use for damascus.  I hand forge out of the vertical forge (and I run it at 1500 on the low end, up to welding heats), which means just a few inches of steel at a time.  I use the press for damascus, so forging out 3 feet of bar (which is about as much as I can fit in the press and still reach the controls) is possible.

I have forged 32" blades in my vertical forge, 4 or 5 inches at a time.

 

Geoff

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11 hours ago, David Kleinfeldt said:

it's just the propane flow that changes whilst the airflow remains constant, yes? More propane in this case would get you to welding temp?

I always adjust both the airflow and the propane whenever I make a change to one. This is a matter of keeping a neutral or carburizing atmosphere inside the forge. The ratio of fuel to oxygen controls the atmosphere. If I have a fairly neutral atmosphere and up the fuel level, there won't be enough O2 inside the forge to burn that excess fuel and it will go outside the forge to find it. The dragon's breathe will extend well in front of the door and cause problems of it's own. If I then lower the fuel and leave the airflow at the higher level, the excess O2 inside the forge produces more scale out of the work piece. Fuel level to air flow ratio is always a balancing act.

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