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Thread: Stainless ladder damascus san mai - WIP

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    herefordshire uk

    Stainless ladder damascus san mai - WIP

    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 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...

    First step to grinding very much speeded up on new beast of a grinder...

    And profile tweaked..

    Here is the ladder before grinding the bevels.

    A pretty tight ladder, there was room to cut it a bit tighter still, as there were flats inbetween....I want a Mill

    Check the even wiggle on the core indicating how the ladder pattern has moved the layers on forging down.

    This blank seemed rather more prone to warp than usual, likely as the core is wiggling around. Some careful corrections before grinding.

    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.

    I check regularly as the grind gets thiner at the edge and rises up the blade.

    Plenty of core...

    Pretty close now on the double bevels, soon time to blend and convex... Mulling over handle... maybe too garish?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    WildBoar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Wow, that is very cool. Great work, Will!

    David (WildBoar's Kitchen)

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Vail, AZ
    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.
    "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mrmnms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Long Island
    I think I stopped breathing while I went through all the pictures Will. Jaw dropping . Your work is amazing.

  5. #5
    Original Knerd of Knives

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Chucktown, SC
    Now THAT's a WIP!

  6. #6
    Senior Member chinacats's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    On the (frozen) water Maine
    That is totally Badass!
    once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mucho Bocho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    Great Photos Will, thanks for taking time photo-document the process for us!
    One thing you can give and still your word.

  8. #8
    Senior Member erikz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Wow, I really like this photo documentary and its beautiful subject!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    herefordshire uk
    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.

    Then blend and convex.

    Heel about 3.75mm

    Thin at tip already,
    Pattern has come up further, if this was a flatter ground knife it would come up allot further and be washed out.

    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.

    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. #10
    Senior Member ejd53's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    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!!!

    Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. Now go away you silly man or I shall taunt you a second time!

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