Composite damascus cleaver - WIP

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Jul 9, 2011
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Here we have a 9 bar composite prepped for welding. Alternating tight twist of pure nickel/01 and 15n20. The Top bar is a soft twist in 1080/15n20 and pure nickel. So the spine will be softer after HT and temper. The edge is a solid layer of 01 steel.


The stack after welding grinding clean and etching. This shows the twist pattern in their compressed state, only the outside of the twists are currently visible.



This shows the details of the different metals. The pure nickel is brightest, then 15n20, the 01 as etched appears black.



Plan for the Cleaver. The plan has evolved as I have worked as it has been that type of piece. it will be a tall heavier build Nakiri, Thick on the spine but full distal taper and hollow faces, a flat bevel each side. Extreme geometry. The handle will be damascus jade and nickel silver with high grade Koa wood.


The billet now forged close to final taper and ground clean. The Taper is 4mm over the choil to 1mm at the tip. Bevels are not ground at this stage. Blade is now ready for heat treatment.


Pattern details, the pattern now forged out is decompressed. The stars towards the core of the twists are already visible and will become more pronounced as the geometry is ground.



The blade has been heat treated. The edge tested to 65-66hrc as quenched. This was tempered back to 61 hrc, just a perfect balance for 01. Bevels are now being ground and hollow grinding on the faces of the blade from the spine to behind the bevels.



Grinding is nearly finished, i have put an edge on the blade to test it on food at home. Now I will make final adjustments to the geometry and move to hand finishing.

Super cool WIP Will. Thanks for sharing! Now get back to work on those Burke/Catchesides :poke1: :justkidding:
Thanks Guys, It's all on the go, I got the rest of the Burke blades HT'd and now straight! while I was indulging in this over the weekend. Next week is grinding...grinding ..grinding....:D

More process here.....Very detailed this time on process. Hope it doesn't send anyone to sleep.:laugh:

Progress over the weekend. Working on the damascus for the ferrule and end cap. i really want it to get the look of the compressed multibar twists in the ferrule, and it should look very tasty ground into on the corners revealing the inner parts of the twists on the octagonal, Thats the plan anyway. Plus this blade is not light, not as heavy as you might think with the geometry but still it will need some balancing.:D

Bit more process detail here for you too, although using various different camera's/phones as batteries kept dying etc, so excuse any inconsistency in image quality.:)

Strips cut to size for the billet.
left to right.
Pure nickel/01/15n20


Pieces ground clean and uniform.


Each piece wiped down with acetone and stacked in the order desired.


Stack is squared, placed in the press, ends of the stack are held with a bead of mig weld while stack is under pressure.


The billet will be welded inside a mild steel can, as the thin nickel must be protected until the weld is complete.


Billet top and bottom painted with release agent so the can will not weld to the billet.


Stack loaded into the can.


The can is purged with pure argon.


Billet is soaked at an appropriate temperature for the materials. 1230-1300 degrees c works for me with 01 in the billet.


The weld has been made, a gentle squeeze in the hydraulic press.


Billet is left to soak in the can at a lower temperature, around 1200 c for 15-30 minutes, allowing grain growth across the weld boundaries.


And allowed to cool slowly in the dull heat of the furnace. I'm especially careful to do this when using 01, also a good idea generally after extended soak times.


Breakfast time in Rotherwas industrial estates finest eatery!

After a quick brunch the welded stack is released from the can.


Billet is brought up to heat, lightly fluxed on the edges and drawn out at welding heat.


Billet is now cut to two.


Each piece drawn to approximately 15mm square.


Both pieces drawn out to 15mm square the corners knocked off but not too much.


Each piece is twisted evenly and tightly, fluxing and cleaning as we go. The bars are twisted in opposite directions. It takes some time to get the twist tight and even doing it by hand.


Both pieces twisted, the diameter fattens and the bars shorten on twisting. I would say this is a medium/tight twist. It could go a bit further but in this case there is no need I don't think.


Pieces after pickling to remove forge scale.



Bars are now brought up to heat, lightly fluxed and drawn to about 12mm square.


I need to make some smaller squaring dies for the next stage. I have some larger ones for the press, these 30mm ones will be for the power hammer. I missed 2 heats here, previous to this I half forged the square edge in on each bar individually. But I had my hands full at that point! This is just the final heat squaring the top and bottom on the former, (30mm square bar).


Dies as forged.


Always round the edges on the top and bottom tools or there will be unpleasant pinching of the metal and work will stick in the dies easily.


Check for alignment as bolted in my hammer tool holder.


looking good!


Ready for the 3x3 twisty ferrule block! Bit long winded but makey tool now savey time later:D
My pleasure Johnny, glad you like them. Just realized I've passed 1000 posts and it must be near my year anniversary as a KKF maker, so a full WIP seems appropriate.:biggrin:
Man great job on the pictures Will and a shot of breakfast very nice.
Awesome WIP it's always amazing to see the work that goes into some of the exotic Damascus patterns. Only question though why the plain O1 for the edge and won't that shorten the overall lifespan of the knife? I've never had to deal with it but there's been a few posts here of old knives that have been worn down to a half of their original height through decades of sharpening I can't imagine ever sharpening that often but with this knife at a certain point wouldn't you run out of the O1 edge and have the Damascus patten be your cutting edge?
Awesome WIP it's always amazing to see the work that goes into some of the exotic Damascus patterns. Only question though why the plain O1 for the edge and won't that shorten the overall lifespan of the knife? I've never had to deal with it but there's been a few posts here of old knives that have been worn down to a half of their original height through decades of sharpening I can't imagine ever sharpening that often but with this knife at a certain point wouldn't you run out of the O1 edge and have the Damascus patten be your cutting edge?

Excellent question and one i've given allot of thought. Firstly it is a big old chunk of 01 on the edge there, it extends right up the bevel a good 20mm of it there, and 01 at this HT is tough as old boots! If you ever wore that entirely away, the steel mix behind it is very serviceable, just a slightly different nature, the nickel layers are super thin, but soft so it would be a toothy edge, 01/15n20 make a tough blend. In a more open pattern like this there are hardness differences between the steels, but still you have something 59-60hrc on the edge, except the uber thin nickel slices.
I think you would have to use this day in day out sharpening and thinning daily for many years to get that far.

The choice of 01 on the edge in this case....I want a uniform, uber fine grain steel on the edge most suited to push cuts. On a Suji or even a big Gyuto the relative toothy edge of damascus is perfect for a slicer.

These are tiny details, it could be damascus on the edge and it would work fine on push cuts, its just little tweaks trying to make something as good as it can be for the specific style of knife, or to the best of my ability/knowledge at this current time.

Lastly with the composites, this is a very old way of making a blade of differential hardnesses. The absolute hardest, toughest steel is on the edge, a hard but tougher mix in the centre, and a softer mix on the spine. Its not something thats really needed unless you got into a Suji sword fight with a rival on the line......but its just nice to work though some of the old knowledge in a kitchen knife. Its mainly for the look and the uniqueness, though its nice that the construction brings more to the table than just looks.

Another bonus is that this knife can be thinned as you sharpen, (as the final bevels are flat) without effecting the pattern. I'm planning on etching the whole thing, then a stone finish to the bevels, which is for the most part 01 anyway, It may or may not have a micro bevel, but it will be kept tiny in keeping with this style of knife. So that allows future users to play with their stone collections, getting that nice hazy finish on the bevel without touching the etch.

So assuming someone does buy a knife like this to use day in day out as an utter kitchen beater sharpening daily and unnecessarily on a course brick:bigeek: - it is designed to be up to the task within reason and I have given some thought to hard use.:biggrin:

Thanks Guys for the comments.:biggrin:
Really interesting to see how it is done,it looks like an immense amount of work.It is cool that you are reviving an old pattern.Thanks for sharing
However I was very surprised not to see any black pudding in the fry up?
I do love good black pudding, but only the really good stuff, I've even eaten it cold as a bar snack, jolly good. No good in damascus billets though, it just makes everything all sticky:cheffry:
thanks all:biggrin:
Awesome Post!! I love seeing the metal work behind the blades, and I love seeing how much thought goes into each step you took! Amazing !! Thanks for sharing !! I cant wait to see the finished Piece!!
Stornoway black pudding is easily my fav! Knife looks great, i love the various experimentations that go on!
More progress on the Cleaver.:biggrin:
For the ferrule and end cap damascus continued...
Pieces clean and laid out for billet assembly.

Twisted pieces are arranged in a stack of 3 x 3. Each clockwise twist piece is placed next to an opposing twist. 8 twisted bars around the outside, a mild steel bar making up the center one.




I'll be using the flux method as the pieces are not perfectly square, care will be taken to massage the pieces together pushing out any liquid flux. The piece is held in the press and tacked in a way to allow flux a way out.

And ready for welding.
Some video's of the forging for you, I will be making a u tube one of the whole build and cutting when its all complete. These are unedited so excuse any gaps.:D

Click on the photo to link to the video.

First stage, gently squeezing the billet together in the press.

Keep it all clean!

And into the new hammer dies, remember I'm still massaging the piece together, assuming there are still gaps and trapped liquid flux.

Final run in the dies to 30mm square

And finishing down to size,

The piece now as forged, ready to be cleaned over and cut to more manageable pieces for grinding true.

Got these pieces out of it, 2 100mm chunks just over 25mm square, and I cut two diddy bits to squash a bit bigger for endcap, I did a spare while I was at it.


Little pieces squished for a bit more wiggle room on the endcaps.

Here is one of the blocks for ferrules trued up and etched.


Now a little more on the blade. Having tested it before, I ground the hollows further making the geometry more extreme. Tonight I gave the bevels a honing to check they are flat and true and gave the blade another test on food.


I'm really happy with it now...I'll do a cutting vid when its all done:D

Thanks for watching folks:biggrin:
Very interesting shape on the cleaver, what are the dimensions?
Think of it as a robust tall Nakiri. Blade dimensions 212mm x 70 mm, taper on spine 4mm to 1.5mm, the taper from halfway down at the apex of the hollow, 2mm to about 0.7mm.
Bit more on this Fella, :biggrin:
Handle pieces, composite damascus ferrule and end cap, Red koa with nickel and Jadeite spacers.

Shaping the slot in the ferrule.



Quick check for fit up..

Pieces now bolted up dry on my jig for shaping.



Old man dust:D

Rough ground to shape..

Hi Will

INdeed an interesting piece..

a) Approx total weight
b) Balance point.

Think of it as a robust tall Nakiri. Blade dimensions 212mm x 70 mm, taper on spine 4mm to 1.5mm, the taper from halfway down at the apex of the hollow, 2mm to about 0.7mm.
Thanks Guys :biggrin:
David, I will let you know the weight, balance will be on the heel or just in-front.
I have a few others to polish and etch, final finish etc.... hopefully will get around to finishing this one this week too.:D
Looking pretty special

YOU referring to the man with the wood facial powder or the handle?

Will .. I hv always enjoyed your wips and also following yr train of thoughts in designing and making the knife.Some serious tapering going on in this piece .. from 4mm to 0.7 at the end.

Look fwd to your video .

d mum says i'm special:lol2:
Feels like the cold slowed me down this week, no forging going on so I got pretty frosty:sad0:
However this and a few others just require a little fine finish and etching tomorrow.:biggrin: