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Failed - Meteorite and wrought iron clad Tanto


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Hey everyone!

 

I thought I would share my latest failure, because ... well because there's always something to learn from failure. Besides, I'm still somewhat pleased about this blade, and I wanted to share.


This all started when I decided to slice a piece of Campo Del Cielo meteorite, a fairly common iron-nickel meteorite, with your typical widmanstatten and neumann bands, kamacite, taenite, plessite, and the odd troilite inclusion (Group I: 6.68% Ni, 0.43% Co, 0.25% P, 87 ppm Ga, 407 ppm Ge, 3.6 ppm Ir)

 

FQMjBD3.jpg

 

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Cutting that ended up ruining a bandsaw blade by the way, but ultimately I ended up with a couple of flat pieces that I could integrate into a larger billet. Here comes my first mistake in this project.

 

f8IC0Lr.jpg

 

From left/right to center: 15n20 (1/4"), meteorite (~1/4"), wrought iron (~1/2"), 15n20 (1/16th), 1095(1/4" x 2).

 

Let's skip why I would use so many different materials in the first place (let's say i'm experimenting) and move on to forge welding.

 

This billet will be drawn out and cut in two halves. Each half will be twisted (one clockwise and one counter clockwise) and then flattened to eventually serve as a san mai cladding layer.

 

Did you catch the issue? Why on earth would I put the most valuable material, the meteorite, near the *outside* of a twist? Spoilers: by the end of this build, there will not be much meteorite left on this blade, and most of it will be invisible.

 

We're getting ahead of ourselves tho, let's catch up... we're forge welding.

 

HaKr1qg.jpg

 

... and drawing

 

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... and cutting the billet in halves

 

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... and having a peak, because we can't resist. We never can.

 

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I wasn't sure exactly what of the meteorite's visible features would survive the forge welding heats. I knew that the widmanstatten bands wouldn't but I was hoping for ... something. I wasn't disappointed.

 

What looks like little fractures here are actually taenite crystals, which are found at the meteorite's grain boundary. They survived! At that point I'm ecstatic, this is going to look awesome right?! (spoiler: these will basically disappear).

 

But for now, we're twisting.

 

CKm3Svk.jpg

 

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And flattening the twisted bars...

 

Xf3NGXt.jpg

 

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(yes, I had a peek at the pattern again)

 

Ok, I'm about to make my second really dumb mistake. Here I have a 1/4" piece of 1095 to serve as the blade's core, and a couple of pieces of thin 15n20 (1/16") to serve as a contrasting layer (and maybe to limit carbon migration? who knows).

 

Except these aren't 15n20, they're actually 1095, which I'm only going to find out once I etch the final blade. I'm literally about to forge weld 1095 to itself for no good reason. Whoohoo!

 

drvLiJn.jpg

 

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This is the resulting san mai billet (ok, technically this is 5 layers, not 3... I'm sure there is a name for that... then again do those 3 x 1095 layers really count as 3? and what is the meaning of life?)

 

3yvtO8B.jpg

 

We're ready to forge the blade proper.

 

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Cleaning up the forge scales...

 

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Shaping...

 

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More shaping...

 

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Heat treating...

 

This is where I'm going to lose some of you I'm sure. No clay, no differential heat treatment, no water quench, just a simple Parks 50 quench. Once you see the blade I think you'll agree there would have been no point in attempting a hamon: no room for it, and a blade that's way too busy already.

 

LlmXJID.jpg

 

After cleanup, polishing and etching. This is as-etched out of the ferric chloride tank, before cleaning up any oxides.

 

qhWXFDU.jpg

 

Notice the lack of a contrasting layer next to the 1095 core? Yep, those "contrasting layers" were not 15n20, they were 1095, and they're indistinguishable from the core (save for a very faint weld line). I can't believe I picked up the wrong steel... I really suck.

 

DKzRSYN.jpg

 

And here you can see the consequences of my very first mistake in this project. After so much profiling and sanding, and because the meteorite was on the outside of the twisted billets, there are very few areas where the meteorite is still visible:

 

Yk3Mq8O.jpg

 

The irony is there is plenty more meteorite left than in these spots, but most of it sits right between the cladding and the core...

 

And... as you can see, the taenite has been thinned out to oblivion, too :( It is still visible under the microscope, tho:

 

67TT7Rp.jpg

 

Now for the mistake that really sealed this blade's fate:

 

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cq7qEGW.jpgYIHvowe.png

 

Yep, these are two very visible delaminations between the core and the cladding (and more of them on the tang). What happened is that I ran out of propane pressure during this forge weld, and I lost temperature at the worst possible moment. I worked as fast as I could and I thought I got away with it, but I didn't.

 

At this point I'm heartbroken :(

 

I pick myself up, telling myself that I made other mistakes anyway and this is really good practice for the next blade, so I decide to finish it anyway.

 

The original plan, because of the meteorite, had been to inlay "Star Iron" in gold on the tang. Instead, I go for "Shimatta" in copper ("damn it" in Japanese).

 

 

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This was a really fun project. I feel silly for making so many mistakes (including some I have not mentioned here) that should have been easy to avoid, but I learned my lessons:

 

- In a twisted billet, put the interesting material near the center

- make sure to use the steel you mean to (duh)

- make sure there is enough propane for forge welding, when in doubt, assume there isn't.

 

I will eventually do another one of these, hopefully without the above issues. In the meantime, this will hang on the mistake wall as a reminder that I should really think before I act.

 

Cheers! :D

 

 

Edited by Francis Gastellu
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Fail or not - a beautiful piece of steel :)  practice makes perfect ! Those small areas surely can be learned to avoid in the future :)  keep up the good work !

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What a ride. FWIW, there is quite a bit of beauty in that blade.

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There can be more beauty in a single flower than an entire field of them. Those few small areas are all the more precious because of the "normality" around them. Even as is, its a beautiful piece so finish the handle and put it on display. But, if it were me, I'd cut the tip off, say 1/2 inch behind the delamination, and see if it goes all the way through the blade. I'd always wonder if I could've saved the blade and it would drive me crazy.

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16 hours ago, Troels Saabye said:

Fail or not - a beautiful piece of steel :)  practice makes perfect ! Those small areas surely can be learned to avoid in the future :)  keep up the good work !

 

10 hours ago, Charles dP said:

What a ride. FWIW, there is quite a bit of beauty in that blade.

 

Thank you, sirs! :)

 

9 hours ago, Brian Myers said:

There can be more beauty in a single flower than an entire field of them. Those few small areas are all the more precious because of the "normality" around them. Even as is, its a beautiful piece so finish the handle and put it on display. But, if it were me, I'd cut the tip off, say 1/2 inch behind the delamination, and see if it goes all the way through the blade. I'd always wonder if I could've saved the blade and it would drive me crazy.

 

Thank you, and I think you might have just jolted me out of the blinders I was wearing... I could just do this:

 

0HCiAVt.png

 

It'll make for a much thinner/pointier blade, but it's not entirely egregious (I think?), and I guess it'll give it more fumbari ;) Now the inlay on the tang is definitely going to puzzle someone, someday :P 

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I just saw this thread for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the journey. FWIW I think the blade looks great in terms of the patterning regardless of how much the meteorite shows. I'm trying to figure out if you reprofiled the blade edge past the delam, or just ground the bevels down to eliminate the pattern.

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Joshua States said:

I just saw this thread for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the journey. FWIW I think the blade looks great in terms of the patterning regardless of how much the meteorite shows. I'm trying to figure out if you reprofiled the blade edge past the delam, or just ground the bevels down to eliminate the pattern.

 

Thank you! I'll be reprofiling the blade this weekend to the shape of the white overlay in the photo above (been distracted by another WIP), I'm only hoping the delaminations don't run too deep, I really don't want a filleting tanto ;)

 

 

On 3/11/2021 at 9:06 AM, Dave Stephens said:

A worthy failure! Very well done.

 

6 hours ago, Doug Webster said:

This is a gorgeous billet and an excellent journey.   Thanks for sharing 

 

Thank you for the kind words! :)

Edited by Francis Gastellu
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Posted (edited)

Well, that blade went on a bit of a diet: bottom delam was very shallow but the top one required quite a bit more grinding. There's still a faint weld line, but that's as far as I'd go. What do you all think?

 

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Also, it didn't appreciate what I did to it, it bit back :wacko:

 

BjnqJxo.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Francis Gastellu
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The forging gods generally require a blood offering.

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