WIP - First Knife Time!

Discussion in 'Handiwork Display' started by Noah, Apr 10, 2017.

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  1. Apr 10, 2017 #1

    Noah

    Noah

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    I've been working on learning blacksmithing and studying up on metallurgy for the past 3 months. Not long at all, but it's given me time to gain some basic skills and begin building my tools.

    I held off on bladesmithing because I was in no rush and wanted to get the lay of the land a bit before attempting something this involved.

    I know some would advise diving right in, and I'm sure that's fine too. Often I dive right in and hope I can swim. With this though, I just chose to take it slow and try to build some good habits.

    The learning process has been great fun so far. Certainly no end of that in sight!

    Here's a pic of my new forge after curing the ITC-100 and bubble alumina. I'll follow up with some pictures of the first knife as it comes along.

    Comments, questions, and/or advice are always welcome!

    forge-fully-coated.jpg
     
  2. Apr 10, 2017 #2

    Noah

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    Didn't have much work time available tonight, but I did get the stock selected (15N20 and 1095), cut up and welded, handle attached, and set the initial forge welds.

    Also in the shot is the railroad anvil I worked pretty hard to shape and cut hardy and pritchel holes into only to find out that it was some of that newer track that only has a thin layer that's hardenable which was apparently removed when I milled the top flat. :( But at least it still gives me a striking anvil with some useful tool holes. I use the shorter track of my original anvil for most things, since that at least hardened and stays smooth.

    The plan is to create a pattern weld inspired by Mareko Maumasi, who I met at a knife show this past weekend. He was kind enough to share some of his knowledge about damascus, and I really love the examples of his work that I got to see.

    I've made a little damascus already, but this will be my first time with this sort of pattern. A lot can go wrong, but I'm fine with that. I'm in this to learn! :biggrin:

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  3. Apr 10, 2017 #3

    shownomarci

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    The learning curve might be long, but keep on going! :doublethumbsup:
     
  4. Apr 10, 2017 #4

    jessf

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    Can you share some more picutres of your forge?
     
  5. Apr 10, 2017 #5

    milkbaby

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    Awesome, that's definitely jumping into the deep end with both feet! Looking forward to moar pics! :doublethumbsup:
     
  6. Apr 10, 2017 #6

    Noah

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    Sure thing. Here's what I have at the moment.

    Were you looking for any specific detail?

    Or by forge did you mean the whole shop setup perhaps? Have some pics of that as well if you like. Slowly but surely it's coming along. :)

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  7. Apr 10, 2017 #7

    Noah

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    Here are a few pics of some of the random things I've been making to build tools and skills I'll need.

    Sorry, no blades yet. Just thought I'd offer a little peek of the getting-started process for anyone curious.

    Necklace from the first damascus billet I made:
    [​IMG]

    Some tongs for various kinds of stock:
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Little hammer and tong wrack to keep everything handy near the anvil:
    [​IMG]

    Using the mill at work to flatten and (after this pic) make the hardy hole in a train track anvil:
    [​IMG]

    Some tong clips and hardy tools (and a peek how bad a weld can look if you try to make it too near a magnet :O):
    [​IMG]

    And a fun little leaf incense holder I made for my mother:
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Apr 10, 2017 #8

    valgard

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    pretty cool incense burner
     
  9. Apr 10, 2017 #9

    Noah

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    Thanks!

    It was a lot of fun to make, though I worked a lot harder on it than I'd need to the next time. :D
     
  10. Apr 17, 2017 #10

    camperman

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    Looking forward to your first knife.
    Got a feeling it'll be a good un.
     
  11. Apr 18, 2017 #11

    MaumasiFireArts

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    It was great meeting and talkingi knives and Hawaiian linguistics with you my friend! I look forward to seeing how your pattern comes out!
     
  12. Apr 19, 2017 #12

    Noah

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    [​IMG]
    D'OH! Bit of a blowout...

    I was working on the damascus. Lot of work, but great hammer technique and forge welding practice. I'm pleased with how it's going so far. Slowly taking form...

    But something went wrong.

    My best guess is that some combo of not curing the refractory cement long enough, or making it thick enough, or just plain getting the fire too hot (though this should not be the issue given the temp rating on the materials I used) lead to cracks forming that allowed the main blast of my burner to creep in, along with some super heated borax, to my ceramic wool insulation.

    Net effect? Melted it.

    Pretty sure I can patch it, but in the end I may have to completely re-do the refractory and perhaps put some bubble alumina along that wall since it's the one that gets hit with the majority of the corrosive flux.
    Sucks that it'll set me back several days, but it's all education.

    Plenty more to learn...
     
  13. Apr 19, 2017 #13

    Noah

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    It was indeed a pleasure! It'll be a while, but I do look forward one day to sharing with you some new ideas in fair exchange for the great inspiration your work has given me. :)
     
  14. Apr 25, 2017 #14

    Noah

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    Forge is patched up and the refractory is dry and cured. Back to work! :bliss:

    Here's the first peek of the pattern starting to take form in the damascus I'm making.

    There's a long way to go yet, and it won't likely be as complex as I wish it was, as hand hammering this stuff (and my general newbie-ness) has its limitations. But it's a step, and it made me smile to have gotten this far. :D
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Apr 26, 2017 #15

    jessf

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    That's cool. Do you switch arms when forging? I would imagine being able to swing the hammer with either hand could be advantageous for something as intensive as making damascus.
     
  16. Apr 26, 2017 #16

    Noah

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    Yes. I'm semi-ambidextrious like most left handers, so I make a point of switching hands approximately every other heat to even out the work and increase how long I can comfortably swing the heavier hammers.
     
  17. Apr 26, 2017 #17

    nwdel

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    Really interesting thread, looking forward to more pics.
     
  18. Apr 27, 2017 #18

    Noah

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    Here I've made the next fold and I'm pleased to see that the uneven joins between the layers that I was a bit concerned about in the last picture are actually turning out to be interesting features now that the W's pattern has been better established.

    The thick black line down the middle of the billet in this pic is just because I haven't completely established that weld yet.

    Each step is like opening a new Christmas present. :bigeek: This stuff is so fun! (Yeah, I'm pretty hopelessly bitten at this point.)
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Apr 28, 2017 #19

    Noah

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    Second to the last fold!

    Once I've reinforced this weld a bit more I'll cut the billet in half and mirror fold it so that the "dragon breath" pattern is complete, and it's ready to become a knife.

    I can hardly wait, but I have some other things that need doing today, so I'll have to...

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Apr 30, 2017 #20

    Noah

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    Pattern complete!

    I'll need to do a bit more work to get that weld in the center better set.

    Plenty of room for improvement, but for a first time run with no power hammer or hydraulic press I'm very happy with how it's turned out.

    Time to make a knife!
    [​IMG]
     
  21. Apr 30, 2017 #21

    shownomarci

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    I like this pattern, but i wonder how much of a knife is this tiny piece of metal going to give you?
     
  22. May 1, 2017 #22

    Noah

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    That little piece is about a quarter inch thick, so there's still a fair amount of steel there, though certainly not enough for a gyuto.

    That said, the plan has always been to start out with either a paring knife or a petty. Currently I don't have a nice paring knife, so that makes that route somewhat tempting.

    I've been considering making a sanmai though, which would leave me enough steel for a petty and perhaps allow a high enough blade to show off the pattern more. 15N20 makes a good blade in its own right, and would nicely compliment the pattern I've made here if it were inserted as a center layer.

    The main reason I may go with a sanmai is that hand creating this pattern required a lot of very hot heats, and I'm concerned it may have overly damaged the grain structure. If I sanmai in a fresh layer for the blade I may be able to have my cake and eat it too. ;)
     
  23. May 1, 2017 #23

    milkbaby

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    Can't you still normalize and thermal cycle with descending temperatures to refine the grain? Doesn't all damascus or pattern welded steel that is forge welded get heated very hot and thus need thermal cycling to refine the grain?
     
  24. May 1, 2017 #24

    Noah

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    From the studies I've read (haven't done any myself yet) you don't actually gain much grain improvement if you can't heat very quickly with a setup like salt pots.

    If someone knows this is wrong, or has some experience to share, please fill me in. I'm always wanting to learn!

    If you make your damascus with power tools and don't have to do 9000 heats to hammer it out by hand, the grain growth is said to be negligible. But I'm afraid that with as many heats as I had to do it'd be...less than wonderful.

    No worries though. I've put a thin cut in my billet and am going to slide in a bar of 15N20. It'll look nice with the pattern and should give an excellent blade.

    A hydraulic press (likely one I build from a log splitter) is high on my list of tools to acquire after the anvil I've been saving up for.
     
  25. May 1, 2017 #25

    camperman

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    Really impressed with the work and the result.
    All done by hand?
    Kudos to you mate.
     
  26. May 2, 2017 #26

    milkbaby

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    I'd always read that heating above critical like 1600°F, air cool to black, heat to austenitizing temp like 1500F, air cool to black, then heat to subcritical 1400F, and air cool to black will refine the grain. I may be a little off on the specific temperatures, should Google.

    From a random internet forum post:
    The first cycle can be followed with subsequent heats involving decreasing maximum temperatures before cooling. The next could fall in line with the appropriate hardening temperature for that steel to leave carbide untouched but reduce grain size. This in turn could be followed by an even lower heat to initiate yet another even finer grain set with no chance the grain enlargement; it is worth noting however that eventually there is a point of diminishing returns as the grain coarsening temperature drops in conjunction with size.
     
  27. May 3, 2017 #27

    Noah

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    I'll certainly give it a try and read more about it @milkbaby. Thanks! :D

    I've seen mention of similar heat cycles here or there, but had also read that you couldn't get back to really fine grain without a salt pot or similar arrangement.

    Perhaps the cycling gets it to a state that's acceptable though? Worth a shot...

    That said, I've already cut the slot for inserting the sanmai on this knife, and I'm hoping it'll add nicely to the overrall pattern. Time will tell.

    Had another little blow out in the forge. This refractory is rated for 3000°F but it really doesn't seem to like it when I get to forge welding temps. :( :( :(

    Looks like I need to order some satanite.
     
  28. May 3, 2017 #28

    milkbaby

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    Some of the other bladesmiths here should chime in, but because the forging and the temps involved, you definitely need to normalize to relieve the stress before heat treat quenching and do the thermal cycling at descending temps to refine the grain. I bet very few people use molten salt, many do it in their forge or kiln.

    Is it the bottom of your forge being damaged? Maybe dripping flux is doing that? You could use a harder firebrick on the floor to help protect it.

    Excited to see how your damascus clad blade is going to turn out! This should be a pretty epic first knife! :doublethumbsup:
     
  29. May 3, 2017 #29

    Noah

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    No it's heat cracks developing along the top and (last time) the sides. This lets the heat in to the kaowool level which then seems to retract and eventually large portions of the refractory cement fall off.

    One can only hope. :D Of course even if it cracks in the quench I'll have learned a lot and be that much more prepared for the next one.

    I'd just be a lot happier if that didn't happen...
     
  30. May 7, 2017 #30

    Noah

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    It survived heat treat! There are definately some flaws I've had to deal with and it's far from a perfect piece, but for a first try I'm really happy with it so far.

    Now a bunch more grinding and polishing (can't even see the real 15N20 blade yet), then a handle to make. Yeah...this is fun!

    (BTW, this is a paring knife. The size of the blade is 84mm or about 3.25".)

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     

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