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WIP 3 bar layered damascus braid


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So here's how the idea came to be. At work yesterday we were talking about our "knot" tree. (Its a tree we tied knots in the branches years ago and it all grew together). And in tieing more knots and doing a couple braids with the smaller branches the thought popped in my head to do it with steel and make a blade out of it. 

 

My plan is to use a 12 layer bar, a 1/2" W1 rod and a 12 layer billet cut into 4 chunks, forge welded and drawn out then cut in half for a total of 96 layers. I am so excited to see what kind of pattern this will produce (if successful) I left work an hour early just to get started, lol. 

 

So far I have the 12 layer bar done around 5/8" thick round, the W1 is cleaned up and ready and I got as far as cutting the 2nd 12 layer billet into 4 chunks. Hopefully I can get those welded up and drawn out today and get the braiding started this weekend.

 

Ive only been able to find 2 videos/pictures of someone braiding steel for a blade but in both instances the pattern was never shown. Has anyone attempted this or have a picture of what kind of pattern this process will yield?

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So heres a progress update. I made a mistake when cutting the 2nd 12 layer billet up. Instead of 4 peices I cut it into 5 and then left one in the vice (doh!). So its still the same number of layers except not as much material. Its obvious when you look at the rounded bars length.

 

Anyways I got the 4x12 (48) cut in half and welded together - so were at 96 layers. Just finished rounding the bars into about 5/8" thick rods. The W1 is 1/2". 

 

Its my daughters bday party this weekend and the wife has me doing a bunch of stuff in preperation for that (shes turning 5). Hopefully Ill find some time this weekend to get these braided up. 

 

My plan is to weld long handles on each rod and weld one end together. Ill heat all 3 up at the same time using one burner on the forge and as I wrap them around eachother I want to be able to hand hammer them together to keep them as close as possible. 

 

My only real concern is getting them to weld together without having to smash them together so much that the pattern is lost. I plan on using something similar to the jelly roll process in braiding these.

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When I look at the photos of the knife that Bjorn posted, what I see is a 3-bar billet twisted for some portion and welded, This became the blade after forging flat. The handle is the remaining 3 bars, actually braided and then forged flat. The handle has the "look" of braided bars, while the blade is 3-bars twisted.

 

I'm not really understanding what you are attempting to do from your verbal description. The whole "I plan on using something similar to the jelly roll process in braiding these" idea really confused me. I'm not sure how a jelly roll translates into braiding.

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I mean as I braid the 3 bars I plan on hammering the twists tight - without gaps, as you would a jellyroll. Sorry it was unclear, never tried this before.

 

On the website the author states "forge-braided grip". To me that says handle. The blade doesnt appear to have a braid style pattern (not that I know what one would look like, I can't imagine that blade is anything like what I intend on producing).

 

Im guessing the pattern will look something like a basketweave thats angled and twisted but with each "square" / overlap, the pattern will vary between the 12 layer, 96 layer and single layer of W1.

 

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Actually if you look at the blade's handle closely you can see its braided but its not entirely forge welded. It has gaps between the braids. 

 

So he might have turned the braid into a blade but theres no distinct pattern visible.

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The pattern is clearly visible in the blade and in the handle. (Click on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the photo and it will take you to larger images)

It's not as distinct as some makers' patterns, but I think that is because of a combination of poor lighting and very little etch time. The blade is definitely three twisted bars and the handle is those same bars braided. Whether the handle is actually forge welded together is questionable. The maker certainly left it rough on purpose so the braid was clearly visible. 

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Got done with work early so had some time to work on this. Braiding it was tough. Its most definately not a perfect braid but I beleive I got it all welded together. It got a bit short on me so Im going to cut it in half and stack it to get some height on it. But the sad time has come for any bladesmith... when the propane runs out in the middle of a project...

 

So anyways, heres the pics I took.

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Pics are backwards

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Ok finally got the tank filled. Got the billet welded together and rough shaped. I believe I need to remove more material for the pattern to be more of what I expected (although I think it got smooshed and stretched a bit too much). Anyways heres the pics from today. Just a quick clean up and quick etch.

 

 
 
I think.next time if/when I attempt this again I will twist it after braiding.
 
Still kinda cool, Ill finish it.

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Edited by Chuck J
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That does have some interesting stuff going on.  A tighter braid would help, and I'd use that torch I see in the background. Certainly worth further experimentation!

 

Another thing I see that would help is to make a solid stand for that ASO.  You're fighting that cast iron hard enough on its own, having it on a bouncy stand makes the work even harder.  You want all the force of your hammer to go into moving steel.

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I know I need a more solid stand. Problem is in what little free time I get to myself I always want to forge instead of work on equipment ^_^.

 

Wife is working today so I got some time this weekend. Ive decided on 2 things - 1, im going to straighten the blank out and chop it up into several peices, stack and twist it (possibly adding more steel one way or another) and 2, Im going to make another braid using similar steels and then twist the hell out of it (and yes this time Im gonna use the torch, along with some other needed changes for this).

 

I got the blank straightened and is cooling off along with a 24 layer billet of different sizes of 15n20 and 1095 and also another billet of some armor plating my neighbor gave me. He gave me about 30 3/8" thick 2x3 cut outs. Got 5 or 6 of those stacked n drawn out. Im not sure exactly what elements are in it so Im not sure what Im gonna do with it yet, but I know its pretty hard stuff. I quenched a peice and it snapped without bending the slightest.

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4 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

 I'd use that torch I see in the background. Certainly worth further experimentation!

 

 

 

So I was just standing in the same spot I took those pics cleaning up some steel and I thought, "how did he see my torch? Its in the BACK of the garage..." 

 

Those cylinders under the blank in my pics is my propane tank, lol. It came out of a 2011 crown vic that was converted to run on propane.

 

Here's a pic of it.

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Its a pretty unique tank. No one who has seen it has ever seen one like it, including me. I thought it was common enough but I guess not. I got it from a guy who demo'd cars.

 

Time for supper so it's time to shut the forge off. I got a bit of progress done today. Got the braided blank cut n stacked, twisted... alot of times, got the 24 layer billet cut n stacked, up to 72 and finally got the 5 peices of armor plating welded n drawn out. Not sure what the exact plan is yet but first I want to get the twisted billet forged to shape and cleaned up.

 

Pic

 

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Ok so twisting the braided billet didnt reveal much other than a "regular" twisted pattern. 

 

I cut the billet in half and forge welded it back together to get some height on it.  Its pretty small now, about 1 1/4" x 4.5". Not sure if Im going to turn this in to anything. While still cool its not what I was looking for. 

 

Ill create a new thread when I attempt this again.

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Quick anvil stand from a couple of 2x10 boards. Cut up into equal lengths, nail together with an alternating 1-1/2" offset. Bend a couple of flat straps across the offset faces. Chisel out a small depression for the anvil base. Instant anvil stand with tool rack.

 

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On 8/22/2021 at 10:36 AM, Chuck J said:

Not sure if Im going to turn this in to anything.

That's enough steel for a hunter/skinner.

 

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Good ideas. Maybe Ill turn it into a skinner.

 

The reason Im using that light stand is because every day I want to be out there stuff has to get moved. First thing is the Harley, then the anvil/stand and the propane tank. This stuff has to happen just to walk thru the garage.

 

We are working on moving and buying a new house. My main requirement for our new house is that I NEED a separate building for my shop. I have so many tools and peices of equipment jam packed in my garage... Its maddening. I actually have a 4x8 steel tube I bought in hopes of filling it with sand and using that as the base. But Im sure as hell not doing that before I get my new shop!

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I have everything in my shop (except the drill press) either on casters or able to be moved with a 2-wheel dolly.

 

My anvil and small forge have kinda taken root (but I can still move them if needed). My metal band saw, wood band saw, grinder, table saw, planer, and big forge can all be moved to the middle of the floor and back to the wall when cleaned up and not in use.

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