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Process I learned this weekend


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I went to a hammer-in at Ray Rybar's this past weekend and worked a process with Frank Christensen. It was something I had never seen or done before and I don't know what you would call it. I was really busy working, and the process moves very fast once the initial melt is complete, so the pics are few and far between. I offered to help Frank to learn what he was doing and that turned into Frank talking and me doing. The idea was to show how someone who had no experience with the process could learn it quickly. 

 

It starts with a #4 graphite-clay crucible and some black sand. 

#4 crucible.

#4 Crucible Grafite clay.jpg

 

Frank has had some really nice blue colors coming out of his sand recentlt. You can see some of the remnant flux on this crucible.

 

1 Blue stuff.jpg

 

The flux he uses is this stuff.

 

3 flux.jpg

 

We mix 4 tablespoons of sand and 3 tablespoons of flux together in the bottom of the crucible, this is then covered with a layer of flux and a lid (small gap) and put into the furnace/forge thingy for about an hour. ~45 minutes after the crucible comes up to temp/color.

Mixture of sand & flux

 

2 feed stock.jpg

 

After the set time, the crucible is removed, and the contents poured into a small mold. It can be anything really. We set up a rectangle using a few pieces of steel and a tray.

 

4 mold.jpg

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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Posted (edited)

The pour/ingot thingy is allowed to cool.

 

5 cooled pour.jpg

 

The flux-glass is broken off

 

6 breaking the glass.jpg

 

leaving behind a small button of high C cast iron (?) somewhere in the 4-5% range according to Frank.

 

7 button.jpg

 

This is then laid on the end of a piece of low C wrought iron and put into the forge. It melts rather quickly. You have to be very careful removing the piece so as not to spill the liquid. You then smear the button across the surface of the iron. It spreads like butter on hot toast.

 

8 spread.jpg

 

I figured out after a few tries, that I could see a point where the bead was still stable but held together mostly by the oxide layer on the surface. It was spreadable, but not runny. This is welded to the iron in one or two short heats. The bar is then folded onto itself with the button in the middle and forged out in length. The process then repeats itself. My first attempt on Saturday was a miserable failure. I didn't have the "eye" for the melting point dialed in. I lost a lot of material and the starting iron was a very thin bar and it burned up pretty quickly. I went home Saturday and took a piece of wagon rim wrought I had and forged it into a bar about 1/4" thick and 1.25" wide (the door on Frank's forge was very narrow). The second day was other people melting some sand to make buttons and I did a little forging on my new bar.

I came home with several more buttons and a billet with three buttons folded into it.

 

9 Billet & buttons.jpg

 

This is a knife that Frank has made from this process. He says it's the product of about 9 buttons folded into a fairly small piece of wrought.

 

Frank's knife.jpg

Edited by Joshua States
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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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That sure sounds like fun, and the result......WOW!
Guess what I'd be doing if I was independently wealthy......:ph34r: 

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Making the button is called Direct Crucible Reduction.  I've done that.  Smearing the cast button on wrought is a variation on the Brescian process of steelmaking, and I've never gotten that to work.   Congratulations!  

That Arizona black sand is titaniferous magnetite just like Japanese iron sand.  That's the blue left in the crucible. Tai Goo used to make wootz-ish crucible steel out of it, using calcium carbonate in the form of oyster shell pellets as flux.  Glass works as well.  

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Yes as I see your explanation of the process better here than on FB, I see thay Alan is right. They are doing a direct reduction process. Not really sure why they use borax in this when all you really need is silica.

 

The method of adhering the cast to the iron is neat. Never heard of it as a process as Alan points out though until now.

 

It's similar to how I combine cast iron made in the hearth to actual oroshi steels. Piling them on and welding at lower end heats before the cast crumbles and after a few heats of this, it diffuses enough into the steel to behave with the rest of it. I fully believe that in the beginning, the welded steel to the cast actually allows it to forge. Much like the ductility imparted to steel when you forgeweld iron to it in sanmai.

 

When crossing into really high carbon ranges and cooling slowly, you create widmenstatten cementite. I create these structures in my 1.5-3% steels and cast irons in oroshigane. The only issue with these structures present in the steel is that it is seemingly difficult to break down and diffuse the cementite into adjacent welded steels or irons without high heat. Even then, I've had it still leach out carbon much slower than cementite in grain boundaries.

 

To me, this is why his mix of that material and something like wrought shows a distinct difference of light and dark. The excess cementite hasn't diffused into the lower carbon irons enough to break apart and this etches bright.

 

I took a micrograph of the cross section of one of my oroshogane blades that used material like this and behaved as I described and it really look like this. It may also explain why I was having weird spectro analysis on some of my oroshigane. Areas after folding a bar 4-5 times had concentrations of ~.5% C, and others much, much higher.

 

This steel in micro below was 2 different billets thst were independently folded 6 times and then alternated stacked on eachother in a 4 layer stack and folded 6 more times. Notice that carbon even after 6 folds did not diffuses readily into adjacent material.

 

Edit: Orrrrr it's something Phosphorous related. ???

 

 

20210305_135436.jpg

20210301_215948.jpg

Edited by Daniel Cauble
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1 hour ago, Gerald Boggs said:

Joseph Stokes writes about using cast iron on mild or wrought in one of his UN books.  https://www.fao.org/3/ah635e/Ah635e00.htm  Chapter 18.  Having never done it, not sure if this is relevant information.

 

Same idea, yes.  And now that you posted that, I've done it on a plow point just to see, back in 2001 or so, and totally forgot! :lol:  I just didn't make the cast first. 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

That Arizona black sand is titaniferous magnetite just like Japanese iron sand.  That's the blue left in the crucible.

This sand was from New mexico, but probably the same trace elements for the most part. I also brought some of my Arizona sand and we did a melt or two with that. The buttons had bright yellow across the top surface and a yellow star in the bottom. (sorry, no pic) Weirdness, but it might have been some gold, who knows?

Speaking of which, there was a demo on Sunday with a fellow who's name I forget......anyway, he's a jeweler and engraver by trade. He turned what looked like clumps of dirt into......something extremely valuable.

The dirt

 

1 Dirt 1.jpg

 

This is three coffee filters with "stuff" in them

 

2 Dirt 2.jpg

 

Make nice freshly seasoned crucible.

 

3 Burn 1.jpg

 

Throw the whole mess in there and get it nice and hot.

 

4 Burn 2.jpg

 

There's a little puddle of molten metal there.

 

5 Button.jpg

 

When it cools, it's 24K gold. About 2 ounces of it.

 

6 Gold.jpg

 

The story behind this is he cleaned off his workbench. After collecting all the debris, he started mixing it with a variety of acidic chemicals that can kill you. After a bit he had an opaque black sludge in the bottom of a beaker. This was drained through the coffee filters and produced the little brown clumps in the first two photos. He burned the coffee filters too.

Edited by Joshua States
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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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12 hours ago, Daniel Cauble said:

It's similar to how I combine cast iron made in the hearth to actual oroshi steels.

I figured you knew about this process, or at least had a version of it. I might need to pick your brain a little at some point when I get around to trying to forge this thing out with the yellow end. This thing weighs 22 pounds and is 2.7% C.

 

W2 and Tamahagane (1) V2.jpg

 

Ray calls it Tamahagane, but it's more like cast iron. He and a couple other smiths I know have forged this stuff out into blades with spectacular results.

I don't know why I'm such a sucker for big, ugly, hunks of steel.

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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This all sounds like a great experience! all things around the making of steel are magic to me and super interesting.

 

I am always totally mesmerized by molten gold, almost an otherworldly metal.

Fun fact, in Dutch and french goldsmithing the contaminated precious metal is called ''lavure'', a term also used for dishwater containing bits of food:D 

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Really interesting stuff, cool to see some new-to-me steel making methods. That's especially interesting with the widmanstatten patterns, I've only ever heard of those in meteoric iron patterns from the nickel. I have a few hunks of cast iron hearth steel from many years ago that I've never been able to forge into anything, folding into wrought sounds like a worthy experiment to see if I can get anything useable out of the maybe 5-7lb of it that are left from the previous attempts at decarb and consolidation. Thanks for sharing!

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Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien

-Shards of the Dark Age- my blog
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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, John Page said:

sounds like a worthy experiment to see if I can get anything useable out of the maybe 5-7lb of it

If you do try it, please post your results and anything you find out along the way. I for one, would be very interested in seeing what results other smiths have with this technique.
 

As for forging the cast, I asked Ray and a couple other guys about that big hunk and how to forge it. Ray's advice:

Soak it at about 1250-1300F for about an hour. Take it up to 1600F and cut it into useable chunks. Forge in really short sessions at about 1600-1900F moving small amounts at a time. Flatten, hot cut, stack and weld. lather rinse repeat. Mostly I think this is just shedding carbon until it gets into the forgeable range. Supposedly, the third stack is when it starts to behave well.

Edited by Joshua States
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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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Will do! The minimal consolidation I was able to manage resulted in minimal actual forging, mostly just hammering it slowly into itself at high heats like you described. Welding heat for steel is melting for the cast I was working so it took a bit of trial and error and loss of most of the billet, but what's left is a fairly solid chunk large enough that I'll likely have to cut it into smaller sections to weld into wrought. Now that I think about it I might have tried something similar before but with much worse proportions that ultimately doomed it to failure. The cast was so thick and overall billet so large that it just sort of dripped out the sides. Now that I know better, the results should (hopefully) yield better results!

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Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien

-Shards of the Dark Age- my blog
-Nine Worlds Workshop-
-Last Apocalypse Forge-

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