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In Search of Hamon, Experiments at the Forge #1

Sole Smithing in the BoneYard

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#41 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 08:49 PM

Current status,

   The "tamahagane" bloom in post 38 above has been cut, with great difficulty ( unquenched and hard to break under the press ). I am very content with the appearance and the spark  pattern of the iron.

I am still having problems with the adherence of clay during the quench ( the welding clay sticks better than the quenching clay ) ...this will resolve itself over time.

 

The smelting/charcoal making season is almost here ( Dec.1 ) I want to work with some of this high carbon material prior to that time...  . It is assumed I can make high carbon bloom like the one shown ( not sure)

 

The directly forged crucible steel ( post 39) will have to be repeated at a lower carbon level ( below 1% Carbon),...reheating to a higher temperature did remove much of that dendritic look but the steel looked blotchy. 

 

I am having some difficulty getting my head around the role of the clay in the welding process..I recently read a description of it's role on Wikipedia and I think I do not agree with the writer's description. It would be better for me to understand why I am using clay rather than just using it.

 

I have found a simple blade shape and dimensions in a book  ( scanned images, photographed by me ) and will attempt to copy it ( the shape that is ) by making a pattern from thin wood ( picture below ). The short blade makes sense, due to my small charcoal forge used for quenching. I will attempt that blade shape in welded high carbon as shown above, welded low carbon having carbon added in the solid state and welded bits from flattened ingots as shown in post 36 above.

 

Forgive me for the picture xs  ...but I find it so beautiful

 

DSCN4956.jpg  cut high carbon bloom

DSCN4961.jpg  same

DSCN4965.jpg  same

IMG_2806.jpg    a book full of beautiful scanned images

IMG_2807.jpg    blade image of a blade by Minamoto Sadakazu 1869  19.1 cm long blade ( about 8 inches )

Version 2.jpg      same blade, I will make a pattern from these images



#42 Joshua States

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 11:41 PM

This is great stuff. You are one determined guy.


Edited by Joshua States, 10 November 2016 - 11:41 PM.

“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.”

 

Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day. Live, and die, on this day.

 

Josh

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

 


#43 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 12:55 AM

Thanks Josh,

 

  It is a slow process , I got distracted by a cast iron conference in your state...awesome. Cast iron is what I seem to make most of these days...there were presentations on making very small castings.., small is all I want to melt. I have to assume it ( the Japanese style blades) will all work out in the end.  I try to use authentic Japanese work as my standard and chip away ( at the steel and the process). 

Jan



#44 Michal Plezia

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 05:34 AM

Cool topic. Thanks for all the details. I have to start smelting, looks like fun :D



#45 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 30 November 2016 - 09:17 PM

Thank you Michal, there is a lot of smelting going on in Poland...I would connect with someone with lots of experience to save time and money. 

 

So I have finally gotten back into the shop and have given the welding of high carbon bloom and high carbon cast bloom bits, some time. It has taken me a full day just to get back into sync at the welding forge.., I am now getting the hang of it again. Just to review the process..I am welding in a gas forge using rice straw ash as a welding flux and as a coating during long high temperature heats.  I have cut one end off of a small sledge hammer to set the welds with and it is working well ( very Japanese and very low cost).

The idea of doing 6 welds per hour is looking unrealistic..the soak time prior to setting the welds is at least 5 minutes. I may be able to reduce the time spent waiting by processing several billets at a time.

Jan

 

Here are some pictures of some of the stacks in progress.

DSCN5001.jpg The handles of the spatulas used for welding are hazelnut a ubiquitous bush easy to dry.

DSCN5008.jpg  My homemade "Japanese" hammer. Lowering the center of gravity makes this a very good hammer. AN 8 lbs sledge cut by about 35% of weight.

DSCN5024.jpg  Rice straw ash ( not really ash yet , more of a charr ) I also make this into a powder for flux. 

DSCN5030.jpg  One of the billets, I wanted to check for welding flaws...I think the welding is going pretty well.

DSCN5037.jpg  Another billet, here I am showing the cut and the beginning of a fold. This piece will be brought to welding heat ,cleaned, closed and welded...and so on. This sample is the one shown in post #36 on page  2 of this thread.


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 02 December 2016 - 06:47 PM.

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#46 Joshua States

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Posted 09 December 2016 - 03:18 PM

Jan, those billets are lookin' good bro!


“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.”

 

Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day. Live, and die, on this day.

 

Josh

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

 


#47 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 09 December 2016 - 07:31 PM

Joshua ,

Thank you.it should be an interesting experiment. A fellow smith will try to duplicate my results with the crucible steel bits ( Nanban tetsu  ). Welding steel and letting the flux do most of the cleaning has gotten me into a bit of trouble. I made a Sanmai knife the other day using the Honsanmai  method as shown in the video earlier in this thread. The knife was made of 3 pieces of soft steel and 1 piece of Japanese white paper steel as the edge...  . The soft steel was rusty and I did not grind it , causing some slight weld failures. Next time I will go the 3 pieces of steel, 2 soft on the outside and 1 hard steel in the middle .  I will be using some of this wrought iron pressure welded( guessing here ) pipe and some DOM tubing on future Sanmai blades. The DOM sparks pretty low and should be 1008 or lower in carbon. When grinding that sandwich of steel ( quenched ) , you can tell how exposed the hard layer of steel is by just looking at the wet surface..If you really want to know you can dip it in a very dilute acid and the hardened steel will etch dark   ( because tempered martensite etches black) ... allowing you to grind harder in areas to expose the edge evenly.

 

I found the last fast cooled ingot to be smashed to bits and have it down to about 3/4 " in thickness ( must be some kind of cast iron)  my welding a stick to it did not work, the mig weld will not hold.

 

If anyone reading this has a link to a video of a Japanese knife maker cutting into a bar of steel with a hack , then placing edge steel into the cut and welding that assembly ...please post it, I have not seen one for a while. I would like to try it.

Jan


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 11 December 2016 - 02:10 AM.


#48 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 10 December 2016 - 02:19 PM

5.jpg          Last fast cooled ingot at about 50% reduction (3/4" thick) will go to about 1/4" in thickness, then heat, quench and break into bits.

frame5.jpg The cold break of what is suspected to be wrought iron pipe 3" ID, no crystalline structure is evident, will etch and check . There is some similarity here with the hot break of the crucible steel bits in the post above (#45).


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 10 December 2016 - 03:13 PM.


#49 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 09:00 PM

   Today I got a chance to fill my propane tanks and clean up some of the samples I am working on. The last quickly cooled crucible steel ingot ( microstructure shown above ) looks pretty good after I ground away all the cracks in irregularities. Forging this bar creates a lot of scale which gets pushed into the metal..I think I will flux/brush it between forgings. Due to the frequency of failed wootz  ingots , it would be crazy not to try to forge an ingot into a bar to see how it behaves as a bar, so I will try to learn as much as I can here and will still have a chance to make it into bits.

   Forging and welding a billet  ( the welding is all done by hand ) gets very iffy if the billet gets too large..I had to cut the one shown below as I sensed the welds were not taking. Here are some pics of the ingot and the high carbon bloom material just after cutting it.

DSCN5063.jpg  fast cooled ingot of crucible steel made with all bloomery iron and bloomery cast iron

DSCN5064.jpg  a freshly cut billet of high carbon bloomery iron, cut to make the welding process more reliable , this is after the first fold.

Jan


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#50 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 11:58 PM

   The last Crucible Ingot is very good and will be kept as crucible steel ( this ingot does not have my normal alloying hocus pocus ) , it was difficult to take a photo, most of the carbon was  in very small spheroids which had not begun to migrate much. I had to make a longitudinal cut as the piece got so wide my power hammer was going nowhere..so now I have two strips of very clean steel with a questionable pattern.

 

The 'high carbon bloomery iron shown above did finally weld up,  aside from the holding rod not staying in place for more than a weld or two things are going well ( I think).

 

The crucible steel bits  seem to be easier to process, I have 3 bars of bits going and only one of bloom. I am very slowly getting into a rhythm at the forge. Still cutting up billets to have a look inside to check how things are going. 

 

The welding forge is going to have to be redone as it is taking a real beating. Here are some very poor pictures from today. 

 

DSCN5072.jpg  reluctant bloomery iron..I am not sure I was working with too many welds at a time or a titanium slag or? ( or I tried to square it up too soon) Or?

DSCN5076.jpg  If you look carefully you can see a distorted dendrite pattern, this is the crucible ingot forged out.

DSCN5082.jpg  Fluxing the bloomery iron billet

DSCN5083.jpg  Poor picture,but you can make out the tearing in the folded hinge, an important visual cue regarding the state of the billet. ( This is bloomery iron )

DSCN5092.jpg  I am experimenting with some san mai methods ( whatever allows me to use my scrap is what works )

 

Jan



#51 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 05:51 PM

The MIG welded holding sticks do not work and have created me extreme frustration...I forged out some anchor chain  and forge welded it to one of the billets..I will post a pic later . I modifies some tongs hoping they ( I ) would be able handle the iron without a holding stick...not easy if the billet is not very symmetrical. The bloomery iron will be put aside until all the crucible bits are done. As time goes by I am adopting more and more traditional methods because I am learning why they were chosen.  

 


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 15 December 2016 - 10:37 PM.


#52 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 10:51 PM

The forge welded bar lasted  a while and I ended up manipulating billets without a bar at times. It was a day I should have spent staying in the house or just cleaning the shop. I have two bars ready to be combined into a bar for a tanto...I am looking roughly for a final bar about 12" X1/4" by 1 1/2" to make the blade with. I am beginning to meditate on how I deal with the quench and unwanted distortion.

 

I am trying to minimize carbon loss by the geometry of the billet and fluxing with rice straw ash ...so if a billet is 1/2 X 2 x 6  or 6" cubed and 32  inches squared of surface area  or

                                                                                                                                                                 if a billet is   1 X 2  X 3  or 6" cubed and 22 inches squared of surface area   ...that lower total surface area should help reduce the los of carbon.

I am not sure what is up with my camera but the pics are lousy here are some pics taken to day,

 

DSCN5097.jpg  after cutting into the metal , the metal is reheated (fluxed ) to make sure the hinge does not break 

DSCN5098.jpg  learning to manipulate the billet with tongs

DSCN5101.jpg  an indispensable tool for setting the beginning of the folds ( I have several pretty much like this , to finish the fold to 90 Deg. )

DSCN5102.jpg  the rod is still there , a compact billet having a low total surface area

DSCN5110.jpg  I add so much flux to my forge I have to scrape it out at the end of a run..sometimes I am scraping the bottom material as well and then I have to add some new bottom material

 

Jan

 



#53 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 08:51 PM

I have cut my 3 samples of forge welded crucible bits  ( Nanban tetsu ) in half to see what the steel looks like at this point. The spark test shows a loss of carbon but sparks are still bursting. One of the samples has some thin weld lines showing..I have nothing to compare to so I will just assume that it is normal at this stage ( 3 welds away from forging to shape ). Another sample indicates the last weld was missed , I am hoping I can recover by doing this weld over by simply welding and adding some borax in the flux. 

 

There are several minor improvements I can make to make this a more relaxing process for me. Here are some pics, the heavily fluxed samples in the last photo are of high carbon bloomery iron which I will take up at a  later date.

We will try to finish a few more welds and forge to shape next week.

 

 The hope is for me to end up with enough new knowledge and skills to move on and not feel like my time was wasted. 

DSCN5132.jpg Two cut samples , the lower samples has a bad final weld ( to be repaired?)

DSCN5140.jpg Sculptural look of a wire brushed billet , hinges to the right and facing you

DSCN5143.jpg Missed weld

DSCN5147.jpg Weld lines showing, I am hoping to reduce this by reworking the billet

DSCN5151.jpg Now we have 6 samples of welded crucible bits and some high carbon bloomery iron on the left. The cut samples will all be combined with one other sample  (1,2), (1,3) and (2,3). 

 

Jan


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 17 December 2016 - 12:49 PM.


#54 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 17 December 2016 - 01:12 PM

Feeling little insecure and uncertain about how to proceed

...I may have to start at a higher carbon level of my bits or modify my welding/heating methods to reduce carbon loss more effectively. Some of the cut billet samples are showing the banding with is associated with welding ..in particular the contact surfaces of the welds. There are a few things I can do to change the forge atmosphere chemistry , the flux chemistry and the handling process  of the hot metal ( more frequent fluxing, tighter closure of the folded billet before setting the weld and so on). In any case it seems I will have to rely more on the method and less on just being able to achieve high temperature in the gas furnace. 

Here are a couple of pics.  One of the billets was banded but diffused to a more uniform color when I was forging it to a thinner billet ( I hope).

light area.jpg  Looking at a 2mm screen , a lighter etched area, surface not polished ( 280 grit paper ) nital. 

DSCN5152.jpg  Banding of the ingots due to decarburization in and out of the forge at high temperatures. I think .the center ingot was banded prior to forging flat at welding temps.

 

Jan



#55 SteveShimanek

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 12:41 PM

Good stuff! You are really putting a lot of effort into this, thank you for sharing your progress!



#56 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 01:08 PM

Thank you Steve.

 

The idea here is not to show how it should be done but to show that by looking at what is going on ,  one can progress. 

.

The list of problem areas and possible solutions is growing ( maybe infinite ). There are fixes in the hat , I want to make sure the fixes stay within the set of fixes a Japanese smith might have used historically.  The variable I am mostly concerned with is, the heat source. I make  a lot of charcoal but it just would not be practical for me to use it  for this project. Charcoal is a drier heat source than Propane, unless you are working in a high humidity environment where moisture is going through the fire ( some as hydrogen ).

I am making a new forge today, I have changed the bottom die of the power hammer to a flat one. The power hammer would have to align the hot metal as part of the hit ..creating a sharp jerk to the billet  ( unless I had it aligned perfectly or very very hot)..I believe this is the cause for the welded stick failures ...we will see. Allowing the hot billet to bathe in the liquid flux/slag mixture on the bottom of the furnace will also be eliminated by placing a broken kiln shelf inside and replacing it frequently. More frequent cleaning of a crusty silica scale and replacing it with fresh flux............... and so on......lots of little details ( minutia ) . 

 

It may have been a little optimistic to assume I would be hitting the target on the first try...let's see.


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 18 December 2016 - 07:15 PM.


#57 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 07:14 PM

It will take a day or two before I fire up my next gas furnace. I wanted to practice making a San Mai blade..I would like to incorporate some of my scrap metal...various wrought irons and some home made steels....for the exterior layers.  This sample is 2 1/4 " diameter pipe and 1095-E . The symmetry seems fine..I would hate to have to grind the inside of the pipe ( the inside of the corroded pipe is very rough , just wire brushed ) for an effective weld. Here is a picture showing the resulting symmetry at about 2/3 of the way to final forging.

 

DSCN5155.jpg WIP of a San Mai style blade....we want the exterior layers to show some "interesting features" so first we will get the welding in place , then the other steels. The core is 1095-E water hardening alloy.


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 18 December 2016 - 07:17 PM.


#58 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 03:04 PM

I am going to need a finished forged to shape billet of about 525 grams per blade..my now 6 pieces come up just short ( in combinations of two) of that. There may be a need for me to weld in a sliver of steel in the center ( hidden completely or exposed at the back of the blade ) too get the final dimensions up to what will be needed. How fortunate the practice for that was done in the previous post. I have checked the weld between the pipe and the high carbon steel ( old file bit ) and it looks pretty good.

 

The old furnace has a temporary patch and I will try to weld up one of the tanto blanks ( pattern  shown in the book above ) . The scheduled changes are, to weld at a lower temperature but get the furnace very hot between welds...at the weld heat time, run the furnace a little richer and make sure the soak time is held at a minimum. I think there is  enough carbon left in the samples..I am not sure why one is not banded or may I am just not seeing it  ( maybe too few folds ). I will be reverting back to my standard borax based welding flux diluted with straw ash at temperature ( I am desperately going to try to flux that crack with borax).

 

In a day or two I will be walking away from this project to do a job that will give me no time to play in the shop ....I will tidy it up at a later date.

 

The first pair of billets to be welded are the two having a gap where the last weld should have been. That are both from a single cut billet.


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 20 December 2016 - 05:18 PM.


#59 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 09:01 PM

It was a disastrous afternoon....I think I did get the open weld fixed but replaced it with exfoliation and so on. Here is a blank representing the first crucible bloomery steel forge welded bits. I am a little thinner than I had planned but let's have a look at what comes out of this. Here are some pics of what I have so far just about an eighth of an inch thick ( spark indicates lots of carbon) .  I had a bit of better luck making a couple of San Mai blade blanks.

DSCN5160.jpg  Bloomery crucible steel welded blank

DSCN5161.jpg  Tanto pattern and blank


Edited by Jan Ysselstein, 20 December 2016 - 09:05 PM.


#60 Jan Ysselstein

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 11:39 PM

The blank has a line where a weld should be..so I will cut it into 2" pieces , wrap the stack with a wire and try one more weld ...then either good or in the trash. Ouch!






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