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Question about damascus

Wes Brown

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Hello, I have been building blades for a couple years now, and working metal for over 20. I have not yet worked with any Damascus, and my daughter bought me a billet for Father's Day. My question is, can I put it in the forge to shape it to a blade, or should I go with stock removal. I would hate to damage it by heating and hammering.

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Yes, you can forge it to shape. Absolutely. 


Just make sure to not work it too cold. You can get delaminations if you do. Keep it orange heat.


Do you know what pattern you have? Keep in mind, if the billet is straight laminate (just stacked, welded, and folded) then you need to actually grind into it to reveal the pattern, so if you forge it very close to shape it will result in a less dramatic pattern. For some patterns, however, you need to forge close to shape.  There's actually a lot to cover on this subject.







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Thank you, I usually tend to forge close to shape and finish with the grinder, I just wasn't sure if I could reheat to forging temp. It seems to be just a generic pattern, it is my first working with it. I have plans on making some bullets, but need to reinsulate my forge first, or build another one, which would be easier seeing as I cant keep mine off long enough to reinsulate.

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Hopefully, the piece of Damascus you have has been sufficiently forged enough that it will behave like a homogenous piece of steel. I have found that there is a tipping point where the layers start to behave under the hammer like any other single tool steel. Most tool steels like to be forged hot and it pays to forge the Damascus at the temps that the steels within it like to be forged. As Dave pointed out, it also depends on what the pattern is, Forging distorts the patterning. If the bar is a basic random pattern, no harm will be done forging it entirely to shape, and then grinding the finished bevels. However, if it is a specific pattern that has already been worked into the steel, the forging to shape may distort that pattern enough to make it unrecognizable.


Even with a basic flat laminate random piece of steel, there are processes you can do with forging or a combination of stock removal and forging to produce a specific pattern. There is a post at the top of the pinned threads in this subforum you might want to check out as you prepare to use this piece of steel.

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Thanks Joshua, it is just a basic pattern, and it went well under the hammer. I am going to finish it out with stock removal. My daughter got me a 12 inch billet, and I figured that I could cut it in half and stretch it out i could get two nice smaller blades out of it, so far it going according to plan, other than running out of propane that is. Everyday is a day for learning. Thanks for the info.

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