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26C3 Imitation - Wootz [Better Than Expected]


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Posted (edited)

Hello Everyone, 

 

So this was an experiment to see what would happen if I copied the chemical composition of 26C3 steel and then forge it out in the same manner as I would wootz steel. This was in an attempt to make a superior wootz steel that could have better toughness properties while maintaining its fantastic edge retention properties. Another added benefit is that with the increased Mn content, it would make it extremely easy for anyone to heat treat. 

 

Initial thoughts were that the Mn may choke out some of the cementite in the final etching (i.e. The microstructure, even though spheroidite, may still etch extremely black and somewhat cover the CM particles). I may be able to combat this with using a weaker acid. I was also curious to see if the increased amount of Cr would create the very recognizable High Cr patterns in wootz. 

 

26C3 Chemical Composition

 

For the chemical composition, I followed what was documented by z-knives above. 

26C3 Wootz Chemical Composition

Here is the composition that I calculated on the free wootz ingot calculator. 

 

26C3 Ingot

 

The ingot after being removed from the crucible. 

 

The ingot was then roasted at 1080 C for 5 hours, followed by immediate forging to close up any micro-porosity.

 

This was then followed by my normal wootz forging procedure. Forging a few rounds at 1080C and then bulk material movement at 960 followed by final spheroidite forging at 850-727C.

Bar etch

 

At this state the pattern was looking very intriguing but that can all change for the better or worse by the time you get to HTing a knife.

I finished the forging and cut the bar up into pieces. Some pieces were sent off for testing and others given to other blacksmiths to 'play' with. The 1600g ingot after being forged out was enough to make about 4 - 8inch full tang knives. 

 

26C3 Wootz Knife

 

AKS HT info

From the pieces that I still had, I was able to make 2 of these 8 inch full tang knives. The bevels were ground and then they were heat treated. I followed AKS recommendation for HT 800C hold for 10 min and into parks 50. The blades came out hard AF! My HRC 65 test file would not even scratch it. 2 x 2 hour temper cycles were done at 232C / 450F which should get me around HRC 62ish. I may need to bump up the temp a bit.... 62 is still kind of hard. 

 

Post HT

Pre HT

Pre HT 2

Edited by Jacob Christian
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Looks awesome.

 

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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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Thanks everyone! and @Joël Mercier it does look like starry night huh?!

I did some straightening yesterday so hopefully I will be able to get the final grind done so we can see what it looks like after quench. 

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Thank you for posting this. How long do you keep the original melt at liquid state before shutting down the furnace? Yes! Very Pretty Steel. B)

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2 hours ago, J_Martin said:

How long do you keep the original melt at liquid state before shutting down the furnace? Yes! Very Pretty Steel. 

 

I can not say with certainty because my melts are sealed so I go only off of time and temperature. 

 

The sealed crucible is placed in a cold furnace and I start it up. It will reach 1550C (This is flame/wall temp) in about 20 minutes and I hold this temp for another 40 minutes. If the melt is larger than 2.5Kg I will hold 1550C for 50-60 minutes. More steel takes longer to reach fully molten. 

 

After the hold at 1550C I do about a 20 minute cool down to 1400C which would be the solidification point for 1.5% C. This may be a little less than 20 min depending on what else I have going on. 

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OK, I dug in a little deeper and found your steps. You are a bad influence. :unsure: I found your Wootz Forum and have requested to join. I have had some projects I have been thinking about, you have showed me I might be on the right track.

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@J_Martin Your account has been created. I may just in fact be a bad influence hahaha

Here are some more pictures after HT. Temper was 2 x 2hours at 232C/450C. Testing with some files, they seem to be just above HRC60 as the chart indicated. 

 

These are two different knives that each had completely different final forging. One was rolled on a rolling mill and the other forged out from a piece .38 x .9 x 7 in

 

Rolling mill 

Snapchat-902959904.jpgSnapchat-1832562650.jpg

 

 

Forged from smaller piece

Screenshot_20240529_165857_Photos.jpgScreenshot_20240529_165908_Photos.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Here are some pictures of the final etch. Some eagle eye viewers may notice the blade shape has been slightly altered..... SIGH.... The blades came out of the quench with a very slight warp. After tempering at 450F for 2 hours twice, I tried to straighten the blade with a carbide straightening hammer. While I still do love my carbide hammer, you must be careful with it. I ended up cracking the blades along the edge but was able to save the knives as a whole. 

 

This is the knife from the second set of pictures from above. 

 

20240601_202028.jpg20240601_202014.jpg

 

 

I have finished the knife and need to get some decent photos of it. I will post them soon. 

Edited by Jacob Christian
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Here is the finished knife. 

 

 

20240626_084633.jpg20240626_084603.jpg20240626_084550.jpg

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Then here is another that I did from the same steel but different ingot. 

 

White G10, Purple G10 liners, Gray G10 pins. 

 

image.png

Edited by Jacob Christian
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Very nice!  It may be technically cheating to the purists, but the results are pretty darned spectacular.  Personally I don't think it's cheating since you do take it fully molten and follow all the other steps of the process, unlike a certain guy who shall remain nameless, who used to thermal cycle the heck out of S7 and call it wootz.  

 

I figure since you have the right ingredients in the right proportions, and you're changing the carbide structures via liquidus, it's wootz, period.  B)

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Thank you, Alan!! 

 

I would have to agree with you that some may try to say that it is not wootz but it has been through the exact same process as I would melt and forge any other wootz ingot.

 

The really intriguing part is this was all a test to try and make a wootz steel that had better knife properties and it came out with fantastic patterning as well (Definitely not what I was expecting lol). Edge retention is great in all of them, mainly trying to increase toughness. Part of the first ingot was cut into coupons and sent to a leading knife steel metallurgist to properly test and get scientific data on. So definitely eager to see those results and get any feedback that may point to better wootz steel. One of the reasons that I dumped all of the chemistry and alloying information as well. As far as wootz makers go, you do not normally see that. 

 

There has been a good bit of the question of what is wootz since Dr. Thomas' video about a month ago. My personal opinion on the matter mirrors yours. Bringing iron to a fully liquid state and cooling and then having a distinctive pattern. The patterns vary wildly but my idea is that it should at least be somewhat watering as that is what the steel is known for. 

 

I also need to work on some actually nice pictures... You can see the pattern but it really does not do it justice...

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This blade was also from the second ingot and upon close examination of the blade you may be able to see some patterning that I tried to do. It was a twist on the Kirk Nardeban rose and ladder pattern. I chose to do Xs along the length of the blade. One side it more apparent than the other. 

 

 

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Jacob,  thanks for sharing your experiments with us …you are definitely onto some interesting phenomena. I am curious to get your take on the rolling mill results. Was there a noticeable contrast between rolling and forging? Great work .

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Thank you Jan! The rolling mill is awesome! It made having only a press much more bearable. With only the press, thicknesses under .25 in or about 6mm are much harder to achieve. 

 

I believe the rolling vs forging plays a slight role in the quality of the pattern you can get but the work you do going from ingot to bar has a much greater impact. In this case there were pretty significant differences but I am pretty sure that had more to do with the level of my pattern manipulation between the pieces. 

 

Once you get to the stage of rolling out a bar, you have already "mixed" the layers and rolling will just compress and draw out in length what is already there. With forging a bar down to final shape you are continually "mixing" the layers until you get to the size that you need. I view wootz like an extremely high layer pattern welded steel. If you made a ladder pattern in pattern welded damascus, the above would fit right in line. Rolling will compress the pattern but also extend it length wise as well. 

 

Knowing this, I will take a .5x2 in wide bar and cut it into a 1 inch wide piece (usually about .4x1x5 in to get .18x1.5x8-9 inch stock) and alternate between forging width into it and rolling so that the pattern will be stretched in length and width. Only stretching the pattern in one direction seems to lead to denser look in the final blade.

 

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Excellent investigation and research work Jacob. The results speak for themselves. Just a question, looking at the two knives from the first puck, I see the sharpening bevel on the edge and I wondered what difficulty (if any) you encountered grinding that edge? Also, if you had done testing yourself on any cutting or anything? Just wondered how you saw the results compared to normal high carbon steel knives.

Thanks, 

Gary LT

"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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Thanks Gary! So I use the Ameribrade sharpening system with 3M structured abrasives up to 1500 grit followed by a 2x72 leather strop. That does not pose any challenges at all. Before using that I worked solely with Arkansas stones and those would take about the same time for wootz compared to a standard carbon steel knife.

 

As far as testing, I whole heartedly believe that wootz blades will retain an edge far longer than a normal carbon steel knife. I have not done any scientific testing but real life testing. I hunt and last year I skinned and broke down 2 deer at once and it would still shave hair after. The wootz kitchen knife that I use will also hold a very good edge for quite a while but only on a standard wood cutting board. Plastic ones like the dull it but that is with all knives. 

 

This steel will be going through CATRA testing which counts the number of cuts through silicon carbide(?) impregnated paper, so that will provide much more insight than my "backyard testing" lol.

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