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First blade!!!


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Today was a good day! I have officially forged my first blade. Not only was it my first blade, I also challenged myself to try and make it out of an old band saw blade that I had gotten from my workplace (it was thrown away, didn't want it to go to waste). I cut, cleaned, stacked, and forge welded small pieces of the blade into a billet. I was pretty impressed as to how well it worked out, I don't have any flux at this moment, so I made sure to get the metal as clean as possible and keep the temperature as constant as possible. I'm sure there are probably some micro delaminations, but I have yet to see any. Now I do realize the grinding is sub par, but I'm still waiting for by belt sander to be delivered. I feel I did okay considering the fact that I was using a flap disc on my angle grinder. Id love to hear what you all think, and would gladly take any advice or criticism you may have. No matter what though, I feel like I've turned a big corner today in my blacksmithing adventure, and am definitely hooked! It's such an amazing feeling taking trash and turning it into a usable tool!

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Nice job. Welding a stack of bandsaw blades is a fun project. I did one back in 2016 for the KITH that year. On their own, it's questionable whether you have viable tool steel as many of these blades have mild steel bodies with tool steel welded on the edge for the teeth. Did you test harden a small coupon off the billet to ensure that this steel will work? If not, it's a good smithing exercise and you should probaly finish that knife regardless just to use the whole thing as a practise project. What did you have planned for the handle?

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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, Joshua States said:

Nice job. Welding a stack of bandsaw blades is a fun project. I did one back in 2016 for the KITH that year. On their own, it's questionable whether you have viable tool steel as many of these blades have mild steel bodies with tool steel welded on the edge for the teeth. Did you test harden a small coupon off the billet to ensure that this steel will work? If not, it's a good smithing exercise and you should probaly finish that knife regardless just to use the whole thing as a practise project. What did you have planned for the handle?

Thank you for that. And with still being new to this I didn't think of doing a test piece. To be honest I kind of just went for it lol. I thought I had gotten it decently hardened but unfortunately it won't keep its edge, so it's more of a practice piece (a great experience none the less). I do still plan on finishing it though and putting a simple wood handle on it. It's kind of funny, Im a lot more comfortable with metal working, so the handle process is a bit more daunting to me than the forging. I have some older hatchet handles that I was thinking about using (keeping with the recycling theme), but I'm not sure exactly how I want to do that yet. Going to do some digging around to get some ideas tonight. 

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22 hours ago, Joshua States said:

it's questionable whether you have viable tool steel

 

Helpful hint: next time alternate blue steel pallet strapping with the bandsaw blade.  It's 1095.  Bandsaw blade is usually an alloy with nickel for toughness and flexibility rather than straight mild, which means it'll etch bright.  The pallet straps etch dark. And harden.  Via the magic of carbon migration, you'll get a blade of uniform carbon content that will harden and will also show a decent pattern.

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Thank you so much!! We have lots of those blue pallet straps where I work, and I mean A LOT lol, I always assumed they were nothing special, but that makes sense they are decent steel. They do hold together 25' long bundles of stainless steel tubing. I know what I will be doing at work tomorrow lol. Can't wait to try it out. I will be getting some flux for the next try though. Two quick questions, does Borax actually work as good as I've heard for flux, and also, is it nitric acid that is used to etch steel? I know I could look all this up, but I am really enjoying these interactions with my fellow smiths (hope I can count myself among you all, as a novice of course lol). 

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Borax does indeed work well as a flux, just remember it's not glue.  It merely suspends the oxides long enough for you to weld, if you're fast about it.  Speaking of which: sand the blue off the pallet strapping, it'll weld better. The blue is an oxide.  To use the borax, assuming it's plain 20 mule team, heat your billet to red and sprinkle liberally with borax. It'll foam up and fall off. Keep doing this until it has melted into a thin coating over the piece.  If using anhydrous borax, it'll just melt on like a glaze.  If using boric acid, same thing.

 

On etching: Nitric acid (HNO3) is too strong, it'll eat both steels equally.  Most of us use ferric chloride, aka circuit board etchant. Dilute with distilled water to about 1/4 strength versus what the bottle recommends for etching circuit boards.  you can use sulfuric (battery) acid or hydrochloric/muriatic acid, but they are also too strong and will not give a lot of contrast. They're also harder to neutralize after etching. With FeCl a shot of regular Windex will do it.  The other acids need a strong solution of sodium carbonate (washing soda) to stop the etch.

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On 3/16/2024 at 9:29 PM, Jacob Boehme said:

the handle process is a bit more daunting to me

Now's a good opportunity to use that search engine tool we have here. Put Hidden Tang in the search bar, click Content Titles Only, and Find All My Search Terms. You will get a bunch of results., including  people doing it their first time and getting feedback on how to do it easier, faster & better.

 

Alan suggested a good way to introduce yourself to pattern welding and even out the carbon content. I think to get the best carbon migration, you would either need to soak the bar near critical temp for a while once it is fully welded, or do a few folds/stacks. If you just plan on doing a single weld, stack the initial billet from the center out and use 2 or 3 pieces of pallet strap in the very center. That will put the best steel on the edge.

 

I'll add this to the acid discussion. Any acidic liquid will work, if you have the time. Lemon juice juice works as does really strong coffee, if you are willing to leave the blade in it for a day or two......

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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

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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On 3/18/2024 at 7:41 AM, Joshua States said:

Now's a good opportunity to use that search engine tool we have here. Put Hidden Tang in the search bar, click Content Titles Only

Ty for the advice, the search feature is a wonderful tool! I have gotten quite a few ideas and tips from reading through some of the results. I'm not quite as apprehensive as I was, and don't feel like I'm going in blind. Hopefully by the end of this weekend (as long as a welding project I picked up didn't take too long) I'll have a handle on this blade. I also was able to get some 20 mule team Borax and some blue pallet straps. So again, time depending, maybe I'll even be able to forge out a new, stronger, prettier blade. I almost regret taking the welding job, but gotta have money to invest in my forge! 

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11 hours ago, Jacob Boehme said:

These are the straps we have at my work. 

 

Nice!  Wider than the ones I get.  How wide is your bandsaw blade?  It's best when doing this to cut the teeth off and then trim both steels to the same length and width. Helps get a good weld.

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15 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

How wide is your bandsaw blade

Unfortunately the blade is half the width of the straps I have, which means it would take a decent amount of work the get them to be even. Worth it for sure, but yeah the straps are awesome and I have an almost unlimited supply lol. 

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On 3/21/2024 at 9:34 PM, Jacob Boehme said:

Unfortunately the blade is half the width of the straps I have, which means it would take a decent amount of work the get them to be even. Worth it for sure, but yeah the straps are awesome and I have an almost unlimited supply lol. 

So lay the bandsaw strips two on a piece of pallet strap with the teeth on the outer edge and cover with another piece of pallet strap. If you are carefull, the straight edge of the bandsaw should keep tight to each other lessening, or even eliminating any chance of a weld void. after welding, grond the edges down.

When I used bandsaw blades I ground the teeth off because the kerf creates a space between the bandsaw and the piece next to it. you need to remove the teeth to avoid that. 

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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

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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On 3/18/2024 at 5:41 AM, Joshua States said:

Alan suggested a good way to introduce yourself to pattern welding and even out the carbon content. I think to get the best carbon migration, you would either need to soak the bar near critical temp for a while once it is fully welded, or do a few folds/stacks.

Here's an old research article I came across years ago about carbon diffusion.  Let me know if it's out of date info or still relevant(?):  IIRC (I should probablyre-read the article to make sure I uploaded the right one...) it takes 4 welding heats to basically even out the cabron(?) 

damascus diffusion.pdf

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RIP Bear....be free!

 

as always

peace and love

billyO

 

 

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5 minutes ago, billyO said:

Let me know if it's out of date info or still relevant(?

Very relevant and supportive of m assesment.

"In the eight-layer sample it is observed that the pearlite concentration has almost equalized, however ferrite still decorates the prior-austenitic grain boundaries in the 203E layer (Fig. 6). By the time the material has reached 16 layers, the carbon content of the sample appears to be uniform as shown by both layers consisting of nearly 100% pearlite"

 

So they started with 4 layers and after the second fold, they had managed to even out the carbon content. I will face facts that this experiment was working at much higher heat (welding heat) than I suggested when I said to soak the initial bar above 1450F. My understanding is that carbon migration starts at or around critical temp and the process quickens with higher heat.

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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

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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It is also worth noting that as the billet is folded or cut and stacked then forged down each time, the layers are getting thinner, so the carbon has to travel a smaller distance in later heats.  This becomes more of an issue when talking about really low layer  billets (such as san mai, for example).  It will even come into play when we look at starting materials.  If your initial billet is starting with a few chunks of 1/4" material, you'll get slower homogeneity than if you started with more layers of 1/32" material.  

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