View Full Version : Stainless ladder damascus san mai - WIP

10-25-2013, 12:28 PM
Thought this one would make an interesting WIP.
I am quite an obsessive about san mai, I have loved it from the very start of my bladesmithing journey. I heat treated and ground san mai before I ever did anything in mono steel:D In many ways its really good training for how to properly forge taper and grind a blade. As it reveals all shortcomings. I have been really enjoying focusing on some stainless clad san mai recently in plain clad and soft stainless damascus.

So now for a ladder pattern, no room for error what so ever when done in soft clad san mai. Obviously if the core moves too far off centre, you wont have an edge material in places. Or too little balance of cladding or overgrinding, will lead the pattern to get washed too far up the blade, you will have a carbon blade with blobs of stainless.

Hoping for the perfect balance I forged my san mai billet as close to size as I dared before cutting my ladder by hand, as I have no Mill. This when briefly forged down gave me a blade blank tapering from about 4mm to 2mm with a pretty tight even ladder, considering it was hand cut. Everything had to be kept very clean of scale at each process as with forging close to dimensions a few hidden lumps of scale or nasties hammered in could spoil the day.

The starting blank, Heat treated and triple tempered already. .... Possible handle materials...
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_112024_zps001928e1.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_112024_zps001928e1.jpg.html)
First step to grinding very much speeded up on new beast of a grinder...
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_120312_zpsc6ff39ba.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_120312_zpsc6ff39ba.jpg.html)
And profile tweaked..
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_120536_zps7a6fc23a.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_120536_zps7a6fc23a.jpg.html)
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_122008_zps4aa99bf6.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_122008_zps4aa99bf6.jpg.html)
Here is the ladder before grinding the bevels.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_122613_zpsa9465c8f.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_122613_zpsa9465c8f.jpg.html)
A pretty tight ladder, there was room to cut it a bit tighter still, as there were flats inbetween....I want a Mill;)
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_122613_zpsa9465c8f.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_122613_zpsa9465c8f.jpg.html)
Check the even wiggle on the core indicating how the ladder pattern has moved the layers on forging down.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_122646_zpsdeb03ecd.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_122646_zpsdeb03ecd.jpg.html)
This blank seemed rather more prone to warp than usual, likely as the core is wiggling around. Some careful corrections before grinding.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_115421_zps3aa5f85a.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_115421_zps3aa5f85a.jpg.html)
Now watch carefully, as we grind....hoping the core will hit the centre line all along the edge. Given that the forging stage is done perfectly, grinding is simply like joining the dots.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_124118_zpsd2e5d5c6.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_124118_zpsd2e5d5c6.jpg.html)
I check regularly as the grind gets thiner at the edge and rises up the blade.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_124129_zps2cf3ae92.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_124129_zps2cf3ae92.jpg.html)
Plenty of core...
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_130812_zps297e87b9.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_130812_zps297e87b9.jpg.html)
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_130817_zps70479397.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_130817_zps70479397.jpg.html)
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_130824_zps83262552.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_130824_zps83262552.jpg.html)
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_130829_zps499fe2fe.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_130829_zps499fe2fe.jpg.html)
Pretty close now on the double bevels, soon time to blend and convex... Mulling over handle... maybe too garish?
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_131324_zpsc1f6fd16.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_131324_zpsc1f6fd16.jpg.html)

10-25-2013, 12:43 PM
Wow, that is very cool. Great work, Will!

Don Nguyen
10-25-2013, 12:45 PM
Oh. My. Goodness.

I don't have the the ability to describe my reaction on seeing that core being revealed. You are a madman Will. This is already one of my favorite WIPs.

10-25-2013, 01:00 PM
I think I stopped breathing while I went through all the pictures Will. Jaw dropping . Your work is amazing.

10-25-2013, 01:26 PM
Now THAT's a WIP!

10-25-2013, 01:31 PM
That is totally Badass!

Mucho Bocho
10-25-2013, 01:43 PM
Great Photos Will, thanks for taking time photo-document the process for us!

10-25-2013, 02:29 PM
Wow, I really like this photo documentary and its beautiful subject!

10-25-2013, 02:33 PM
Thanks Fellas, I'm glad your enjoying it:) Watching the core appear like that tells allot about the grind as well. You can see it come up further now as I blend and convex and further thin into the edge.
Just bringing the grind up a little and making it even across and even at the edge.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_142941_zps60c02c68.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_142941_zps60c02c68.jpg.html)
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_142954_zpsda01ee83.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_142954_zpsda01ee83.jpg.html)
Then blend and convex.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_143914_zpsa37d27cf.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_143914_zpsa37d27cf.jpg.html)
Heel about 3.75mm
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_143934_zps89fba08f.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_143934_zps89fba08f.jpg.html)
Thin at tip already,http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_143939_zpsf3c85d06.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_143939_zpsf3c85d06.jpg.html)
Pattern has come up further, if this was a flatter ground knife it would come up allot further and be washed out.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_144457_zpsb1cec2be.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_144457_zpsb1cec2be.jpg.html)
Has come up further than I would like towards the tip on this side, a run of the ladder cut a bit deeper probably, but for a hand cut ladder, Im very pleased, and the main thing we have core on all of the edge.
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_144514_zpsfaabbadc.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_144514_zpsfaabbadc.jpg.html)
http://i798.photobucket.com/albums/yy262/catcheside/20131025_144705_zpscfbc518d.jpg (http://s798.photobucket.com/user/catcheside/media/20131025_144705_zpscfbc518d.jpg.html)
So some final finish on the blade to come next week and the handle. Not made my mind up on materials, except we will have stainless damascus split ferrule and endcap. Just had some amazing flamed redwood from Mark I would like to have a look next to the pattern.
Cheers All, have a lovely weekend :)

10-25-2013, 02:46 PM
Fantastic work Will. I love your San Mai; your Redshark now has a deep patina on the edge and really looks like a shark's jaw. Nice teeth!!!

10-25-2013, 02:50 PM
Thanks Mate, great to hear, yeah one of the most rewarding things about owning and using stainless clad carbon, the selective patina, especially in a nice blue:D

10-25-2013, 06:30 PM
Alchemy and Tears

Michael Rader
10-25-2013, 07:59 PM
Wow. Very nicely done.

10-25-2013, 09:40 PM
do you etch to see you're progress or is it just to show the camera?

10-26-2013, 12:49 PM
Well, thanks very much, looks like I got lucky with this one. :) Yes indeed in all san mai its necessary to have a quick etch now n again to check progress.

11-04-2013, 04:30 PM

You're still the king of the WIP's.

11-05-2013, 05:54 AM
Thank you Justin, should get this finished this week with a bit of luck.

11-05-2013, 10:20 AM
Holy ****! I'm in love!

11-05-2013, 10:53 AM
It reminds me of a cartoon shark, in a totally badass way. Awesome WIP Will! Stunning work