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First time damascus WIP

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Ian Fifelski, May 24, 2018.

  1. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    Hey folks!

    So I am embarking into the sea of forge-welding and damascus. I have looked up a bunch about it so I hope the questions I still have aren't ones you have seen 5463 times. ;)

    So I am doing the good ol' 1084/15n20 mix and thinking I am just going to start with random pattern or twist.
    The steel is Aldo's; 1084 is .125 thick and the 15n20 is .095 alternately stacked to 21 layers mig welded together. Cut and restacked 4-5 times. This will all be done with a hammer and hopefully a striker.

    Questions:
    • I will be using 20 mule borax for flux. I have itc-100 in my forge. What should I expect for flux damage?
    • Because I am using flux, when I cut and restack do I need to mig weld a bead across the whole joint or can I just go from top to bottom?
    • I got a liter of ferric chloride, how much distilled water should I mix?
    • For neutralizing the acid, can I just mix some baking soda with water? I feel like I heard that somewhere but can clearly remember.
    I know I had some more questions, hopefully I will remember them presently.

    As always, any other tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. KnuckleDownKnives

    KnuckleDownKnives Time to make the doughnuts..

    Feb 12, 2015
    As far as the acid goes use windex. The ammonia in it is what neutralizes it.
     
  3. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    Ok let’s see if I can help.

    First up when you say weld are you talking mig welding every layer closed or just running bead lines down the stack to hold it togather. You don’t need to go crazy with the welder. The more you weld the more material you have to grind off to remove the weld.

    I wound just start with a random pattern. And I would shoot for 150-200 layers. As for the flux and your forge that’s a more in-depth topic. ITC-100 is flux resistant but that’s not why we use it. We use it to reflect heat energy. It’s quite expensive so usually it’s not a very thick coating. In the past it was common to use wool and a liquid that would harden up the wool. Then a coating of Satanite that was rather thick. On top of that you would put a thin layer of ITC-100. For the floor we would use Bubble Alumina and make it thick. This would hold up really well to forge welding. But flux builds up on the floor and with scales creates a big sticky lump on your floor. So all that being said, how is your forge constructed?

    When you restack you bars in 3 to 6 layers just grind the surfaces clean and tack them togather with the welder. Then heat and lightly flux befor it gets to hot. Then bring to welding temp and reflux and re heat. Remember flux is not glue. You just need a light coating. If it’s running off your billet and all over the place then you used wayto much.

    Mix your feric chloride in a 1:3 ratio with clean water. And then use windex you neutralise the acid after etching.
     
  4. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    I mean running down all the layers. I just know that in Nick Wheelers 'Stuck in the metal with you' WIP showed the welds for the restacks along the joint. I now realize that is to keep the forge atmosphere out for dry welds.

    My forge is line with 3 inches of wool and given several good coats of itc-100 for heat reflection (and boy does it work some wonders!). The floor is hard firebrick. I made it a year ago with no experience with forges/forging/or knifemaking so it isn't perfect by any means but it works.
    [​IMG]


    Great pointers, thank you.:thumbsup:
     
  5. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    I would advise finding some kiln shelf tile and cutting it up to create a "sacrificial floor"
     
  6. Tom Lewis

    Tom Lewis

    Feb 24, 2000
    To neutralize I also use windex, but also sprinkle some baking soda on the blade along with the windex.
     
  7. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    Does the flux mostly affect the floor? If that is the case I should be fine. I can get firebrick locally for a dollar or two a brick.
     
  8. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    I remembered a few of my questions. :)

    Do you normally heat the ferric chloride when you etch?

    Should I mix the whole liter with water now? Is there any reason to save some to mix later?

    Thanks again.
     
  9. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    Do not heat it. The hotter it is the faster it etches and the faster it etches the worse the finish. Flux Normaly affects the floor unless you go crazy with it and it foams up when you put the steel in and the foam blows off and sticks to the walls or roof. Just watch the flux so it does not run off the brick and onto you forge lining. Flux eats wool like a fat kid going after Cotten candy.
     
    Ian Fifelski likes this.
  10. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    I now understand much better the perks of a power hammer or press...
     
  11. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    I got the billet all welded up:) and just need to draw it out...:( Yep I need to get a striker. ;)
    Ended up going with 12 layers because I actually thought of the billet size and didn't want to start with a huge billet if it didn't work out. There was some flux damage from the flux running off the brick but luckily it was very minimal.

    I ground the welds down a bit before the forge weld because they were riding really high (small welder).
    [​IMG]

    Welded and one face ground clean. I ground the others clean earlier and they looked solid as well.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Thanks for the help!:thumbsup:
     
  12. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    Looks good! Keep on posting. Next time don't be afraid to grind the tack welds smooth with the billet before forging.
     
  13. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    I just did a quick dip in the ferric chloride and it was not what I was expecting. The 15n20 seems to be darker than the 1084, but not much definition. The thicker steel is 1084, thinner is 15n20.

    Know what may have caused this? The end was just quickly cleaned with an angle grinder.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    You sure the thicker steel is 1084. 1084 Moves much easier while forging. This is why you use thicker steel then the 15n20 when you start. When you forge the billet down if both steels are the same thickness then the 15n20 is usaly much thicker.
     
  15. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    I am sure. I have barely done any drawing of the billet, just set the weld.

    How does 15n20 normally look when you get it? It was all a matte dark grey/black for me.

    Should I grind it cleaner and etch again?
     
  16. DEllis

    DEllis Part Time Steel Basher

    966
    Oct 17, 2007
    When you quick etch, the oxides on the 15n20 appear darker but when you clean off the loose oxide on the finished blade, the 15n20 will be bright. Don't worry about it, looks exactly like it should at this stage.:thumbsup:
    Darcy :)
     
  17. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    The contrast won't really start to show well until you've hardened it.
     
  18. Ian Fifelski

    Ian Fifelski

    506
    Oct 4, 2017
    Thanks all.

    @kuraki I don't know why I didn't think of that. I know these things but I don't remember them when I need to.:D
     
  19. Fred.Rowe

    Fred.Rowe Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    May 2, 2004
    If you are looking for a less caustic welding flux, kerosene works well. The advantages are; it will not affect the forge lining and the welding surfaces are much cleaner than when using Borax. Borax works well, I've done a lot of welding using it but these days I use kerosene or any quality parts cleaner to weld with; my forges appreciate it I know.

    Happy grinding, Fred
     
    Ian Fifelski likes this.
  20. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    Wouldn’t using kerosene just be dry welding? I know people love it but is it truly a flux? I consider a flux something that desolves oxides and cleans the steel and flushes the gunk out of the weld area. Seams like kerosene just shealds the steel from oxygen as it burns off. But with a rich reducing forge you don’t have to worry about oxygen.
     

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