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Forging a Ukrainian Kozak saber/Turkish Kilij


Alex Jemetz

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First, was the plaster sufficiently burned out? If not, you'd have probably noticed the metal bubbling or spitting in the mould. Secondly, brass is very fickle to melt and cast. If underheated, it's too thick and gloopy to cast. If overheated, it turns into a thick gummy mass. I hate casting it for that reason (and the toxic zonc smoke if it overheats).

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/31/2023 at 4:35 PM, Alan Longmire said:

If you're doing a gravity cast you need a lot more runners and sprues, no sharp corners in the sprues and runners, and a much larger cup on top to keep weight on the cast. Somebody will no doubt produce a doctored phot of how they'd sprue it soon.  The voids are probably from bubbles caused by the sharp corners.  Did you pour while the plaster was still hot from the burnout oven?

Thank you for responding Alan, I poured the brass after heating the mold over my forge while the brass melted (about 35 minutes).  Your advice is appreciated and I will use your recommendations on my next casting attempt--will let you know how it goes.

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Jerrod thank you for your helpful reply, it seems counter-intuitive that the mold fills from the bottom?  Am I understanding you correctly?  The metal flows from the V-shaped cup down and fills the mold from the bottom up?  I would think the first part of the pour would hinder the brass coming after it?  Or does the pour happen so quickly the metal remains liquid as it fill the mold?  I will try this and thanks again for the diagram!

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On 6/1/2023 at 3:01 AM, Jeroen Zuiderwijk said:

Hi Jeroen, appreciate your response.  I baked the mold in my oven for about 2 hours and feel quite certain all of the wax melted out.  Having said that when I poured the brass it did sputter and some shot out onto the ground and there was a decent amount of flame...

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26 minutes ago, Alex Jemetz said:

Am I understanding you correctly? 

Yep, filling from the bottom is ideal.  Splashing is your enemy.  You want liquid metal to touch as little air as possible.  

 

22 minutes ago, Alex Jemetz said:

Having said that when I poured the brass it did sputter and some shot out onto the ground

This is a huge problem.  Definitely need to pre-heat your mold more.  The wax needs to melt out then the residue left needs to burn out.  Typical investment mold temperatures are well over 1000F.  The investment shop I worked at did 1800F (maybe it was 1850) to get the shell (mold) to undergo complete phase change of the shell material for dimensional stability.  If we needed to have it colder for pouring (most often we didn't, so the steel was poured into 1800F molds) then we would lower the shell heating oven temp and let it stabilize before pouring.  Still usually 1600F or more.  

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Hi Jerrod, that makes sense to heat the mold I just did not realize to what temp.  I'm sure I didn't heat it to the correct level AND it was likely that not all the wax was melted out...  maybe that was a significant part of the problem.  Will have to try again.  Thanks for helping me!

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On 6/9/2023 at 10:55 PM, Alex Jemetz said:
On 6/1/2023 at 9:01 AM, Jeroen Zuiderwijk said:

Hi Jeroen, appreciate your response.  I baked the mold in my oven for about 2 hours and feel quite certain all of the wax melted out.  Having said that when I poured the brass it did sputter and some shot out onto the ground and there was a decent amount of flame...

Melting it out isn't sufficient. The mould will soak up the wax. This needs to be properly burned out. If there is splutter and flames coming out of the mould, there is still wax soaked into the mould. That will burn and the resulting gasses will push the metal away, creating voids in the casting.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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Thank you Jeroen, I thought that melting out the wax would be sufficient but I agree with your assessment.  How should the wax be burned out fully?  Leave it in the oven for longer?  

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On 6/12/2023 at 10:13 PM, Alex Jemetz said:

Thank you Jeroen, I thought that melting out the wax would be sufficient but I agree with your assessment.  How should the wax be burned out fully?  Leave it in the oven for longer?  

Yeah, and get it to a high enough temperature. Normally I fire lost wax moulds at at least 800C for a few hours. This ensures that there is also no carbon residue remaining from the wax in the mould material.

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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On 6/14/2023 at 5:08 AM, Jeroen Zuiderwijk said:

Yeah, and get it to a high enough temperature. Normally I fire lost wax moulds at at least 800C for a few hours. This ensures that there is also no carbon residue remaining from the wax in the mould material.

Thanks Jeroen.  I will be on second attempt this weekend hopefully if family allows me to have the time...

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  • 1 month later...

I decided to add a fuller to the saber while I am still working on improving my lost wax casting skills.  I cut a guide for the grinder in the profile of the saber out of plywood and clamped it in place.  Also I found an inexpensive 1" x 18" handheld belt sander to widen the fuller.  Here are the updated pics: 

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  • 2 weeks later...

While taking a break from prepping the blade for normalizing and heat-treat I made a template of the grip so I can get the wax model ready to fit onto the tang.  I carved out the hollow on the wax model of the tang to fit on the template. 

20230730_212421.jpg

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Test-fit of the wax guard model on the saber pleases me.  Next step is to make the plaster mould and get it set-up to pour the brass.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Working on heat-treat.  Brought the saber to critical temperature last week and let it air cool before clamping between two boards...  and it came out a little warped.  Did the second normalizing yesterday, brought to critical temp and confirmed with a magnet and then immediately clamped between two boards.  Relieved and excited it came out straight!  Finished welding tiny leaks in my quench tank.  Current weight of the saber is 2.75 lbs (started at 4.6 lbs).

20230821_221325.jpg

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3 hours ago, Alex Jemetz said:

brought to critical temp and confirmed with a magnet

Just a reminder that non-magnetic is about 100F below where you want to be for hardening, almost 200F below normalizing.  

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On 5/18/2023 at 5:57 PM, Doug Lester said:

Files do help you have more control.  Slower is sometimes better.  I still think that it is going to be as beast as far as weight goes.  I understand that shipping to Canada can be a bear if you can't find a local supplier.  Maybe one of the Canadian knifemakers on this board could help you find a source for thinner stock of an appropriate alloy for your next one.  You've come a long way on that sword and I'll love to see it finished.

 

Doug

You should easily be able to get 1/4" spring stock of appropriate width from any truck shop brand-new. Most stock is 5160, some is 6150, in this type of application the difference is theoretical rather than practical.

 

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Strongly recommend a sub-critical anneal (stress relief) pass at around 1,200 deg. F (just barely showing red in a dark room) before you go to harden this one.  Also try to get it back between the clamped boards after it cools below around 800 deg. F after quenching (and before it hits 450 deg. F).  An assistant is nice to have around to help with the latter.

 

How are you planning on tempering the blade after your quench?

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On 8/22/2023 at 7:01 PM, Jerrod Miller said:

Just a reminder that non-magnetic is about 100F below where you want to be for hardening, almost 200F below normalizing.  

Thank you for the reminder Jerrod, I will get the saber a little hotter before quenching.  After the quench I am planning to clamp it between two flat oak boards to keep it straight as it cools...  Your input appreciated.

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On 8/23/2023 at 8:43 AM, Dan Hertzson said:

Strongly recommend a sub-critical anneal (stress relief) pass at around 1,200 deg. F (just barely showing red in a dark room) before you go to harden this one.  Also try to get it back between the clamped boards after it cools below around 800 deg. F after quenching (and before it hits 450 deg. F).  An assistant is nice to have around to help with the latter.

 

How are you planning on tempering the blade after your quench?

Dan, thank you, I just asked about the boards before I saw and read your reply.  My plans are to clamp the saber between two flat oak boards after I pull it out of the oil quench.  I will have my son and daughters to assist.  Will let you know how it goes.  Thanks again for your advice!

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On 8/22/2023 at 8:02 PM, Al Massey said:

You should easily be able to get 1/4" spring stock of appropriate width from any truck shop brand-new. Most stock is 5160, some is 6150, in this type of application the difference is theoretical rather than practical.

 

Thanks Al, i do have a few short pieces of new material that I got from a truck spring shop.  He gave me access to the dumpster and I grabbed what I could carry...

On 8/23/2023 at 8:43 AM, Dan Hertzson said:

Strongly recommend a sub-critical anneal (stress relief) pass at around 1,200 deg. F (just barely showing red in a dark room) before you go to harden this one.  Also try to get it back between the clamped boards after it cools below around 800 deg. F after quenching (and before it hits 450 deg. F).  An assistant is nice to have around to help with the latter.

 

How are you planning on tempering the blade after your quench?

Hope to temper in kitchen oven at 425 F for two cycles of one our each (when the missus is asleep).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm a bit delayed in my progress on heat-trating the saber because I am having problems making a leak-proof seal on the two 3"x8" rectangular tubes I have welded together as my quench tank.  I have a baby mig-welder and have cleaned up and ground the welds to try to stop the leaks but keep getting either pinhole leaks or something 'behind' the welds.   If you have any advice or experience with this issue I would love to hear your ideas...

20230906_223502.jpg

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20230907_161049.jpg

 

This is what I used.  My tank was supposed to be watertight, but a test quart of canola completely leaked out over a month or so.  I degreased it with acetone followed by alcohol, then applied a thin layer of this stuff over the outside of the weld (my tank is a 6" tube 48" long with a 1/8" plate welded to the bottom) and let it cure for a couple of weeks.  Three years later it hasn't leaked a drop of the five gallons of Parks AAA it holds.

 

I figured this goo was designed to work on automotive oil pans and oil line joints, so it should be good for a hot oil quench tank.  There are other brands, this is just what the local parts place had, but I certainly recommend this one as excellent.

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38 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

20230907_161049.jpg

 

This is what I used.  My tank was supposed to be watertight, but a test quart of canola completely leaked out over a month or so.  I degreased it with acetone followed by alcohol, then applied a thin layer of this stuff over the outside of the weld (my tank is a 6" tube 48" long with a 1/8" plate welded to the bottom) and let it cure for a couple of weeks.  Three years later it hasn't leaked a drop of the five gallons of Parks AAA it holds.

 

I figured this goo was designed to work on automotive oil pans and oil line joints, so it should be good for a hot oil quench tank.  There are other brands, this is just what the local parts place had, but I certainly recommend this one as excellent.

Thank you very much Alan!  This is something I didn't think of and will order right away.  This board is a great resource for me, grateful to be a part of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you do another down the road, you might look at the curve. Many of the locally built sabres of these types have a straighter section for the first third or so, then a more pronounced curve before relaxing as they go. The Napoleonic western European emulations more generally had the full, deep hilt to tip curve.

 

Looking good- have you started the castings yet?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/18/2023 at 10:56 AM, Eric Estlund said:

If you do another down the road, you might look at the curve. Many of the locally built sabres of these types have a straighter section for the first third or so, then a more pronounced curve before relaxing as they go. The Napoleonic western European emulations more generally had the full, deep hilt to tip curve.

 

Looking good- have you started the castings yet?

Thank you for the advice Eric.  I am trying to make something close to what my research has shown me Ukrainian Kozaks used as sabers.  Acquired as trophies on the field of battle with the Ottoman Empire or Mongols or forged themselves.  Many sabers I have seen have even more pronounced curves but I know where you're coming from and realize in many examples that the first third of the blade is found to be straighter...  I have done two practice castings and learned valuable lessons in that I need to fully burn-out all of the wax mold residue and bring the mold up to a high temperature before pouring the brass.  Yesterday I became friends with an industrial metal-recycler with a passion for history.  He gave me two very large blocks of solid brass that will be my insurance policy for making the cross-guard if the casting doesn't work out.  I hope to create the mold tonight and hopefully pour this weekend.  Will post update.

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