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The Hamon Thread

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Willie71, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    To clarify - the vast difference in appearance between the two above is 90% in how they were clayed up and quenched, 9% difference in the steels and maybe 1% in how they were polished. That was the point I was trying to make in my head but I didn't spell it out. My polishing techniques have simplified over the last couple years because of the realization that the heat treat an order of magnitude more important than how you etch or polish.

    You can't bring something out that isn't there.

    Steel composition, steel structure pre-quench, clay application, speed of quench, interruption of quench, geometry when quenched: that's 99% of hamon making, imho.
     
    Willie71 and Justin Schmidt like this.
  2. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    Thanks a ton John. When your doing the quick etches like the clip point above. Are you using FC or vinegar?
     
  3. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    That’s my experience too.
     
    Justin Schmidt and kuraki like this.
  4. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    A big "Thank You" to Warren for helping me out on my hamon process. I never quite got the look I was after, and figured out the main issue that "I" was having. Instead of using 1500 SiC to polish off the oxides, I was using metal polishing paste, namely Mother's Mag Aluminum polish. For some reason the paste seemed to erase the fine detail, obscuring it. The 1500 SiC powder was the secret I was missing. I still have a lot to learn about all this. 26C3 blade, 1475°F 10 minutes, P50 quench, 375°F tempers. Polished to 1500 grit with SiC paper. Etched in hot vinegar and then 1500 SiC to polish the oxides off. 6 cycles. Switched to hot lemon juice for the etch for the final few cycles. I may try pumice powder next time with the lemon etch cycles, but for now I just used the SiC powder. The carbide banding in this knife is really cool. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    comet_sharp likes this.
  5. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Looks good! There doesn’t look like there’s really any extra detail to bring out, from what I can see. I like the banding.
     
  6. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    The paste polish sort of erased the banding, mainly. It also erased the finer detail of the Hamon. I don’t mean any “noi” or whatever it’s called. Just the striations and fine detail of the overall grain structure. The paste stuff just seems to mask/erase it, whereas the SiC powder doesn’t. I invite anyone to try it for themselves. Do your usual etching of the Hamon (or grain structure if your steel has it), and instead of SiC powder, polish it with Mother’s mag, Flitz, etc, and compare what those pastes do vs SiC powder. The SiC powder was an “aha!” moment for me, after trying to use pastes all this time.

    Switching to lemon juice didn’t do much for me. It didn’t seem to add anything. But again, I used 1500 SiC powder there as well, compared to the pumice powder as recommended.

    I have one of those Japanese “balls on a stick” polishing thingamajigs, and tried using it with the lemon etching. Couldn’t get anywhere with it.

    My biggest question is how to get the cloud look. A thick frosty layer of the actual “Hamon”.....the white fluffy looking stuff between the hard steel and soft steel. I wonder if this steel (with 0.30% chromium) can even pull it off. I have no idea. Probably best chance of that cool look is with W2, White, 1075, 1095.

    But I LOVE the banding of this 26C3! Generally I don’t want it (preferring a better/complete solution), but the look is cool!
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  7. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    Stuart, IMO the "white" is a transitional zone that is neither quite martensite or quite pearlite, instead something in between or a mix of them, or possibly a mix of ferrite as well. With that understanding (or "belief" if it's not exactly accurate) I theorized that to get it, you need the quench to be slowed enough to just delay conversion to martensite, but not so slowed as to form pearlite completely. This seems to be correct, at least in application, as to get it to form repeatably (semi repeatably as there's some guess work involved with geometry and thermal mass), I apply the clay thinnest where I want the "white" and thicker where I want the "grey." I then, and this is where most of the guesswork is involved, quench in a way that supports the idea of cooling that area at a rate not quite fast enough to make martensite, but faster than would allow pearlite to form.

    This is basically semi-edge-quenching, where rather than plunging the blade into the oil completely on quench, I rock it in to the quench edge first, and when the level I want to be "white" has submerged, I interrupt the quench completely, then quench again with the typical plunge in for complete submersion.

    On some knives, there's enough residual heat in the spine to travel back into the "white" zone, if they're thick enough. On others that are quite thin, the rate of that first quench and the amount of time before interruption seems much more critical. On knives that are relatively thin, a full plunging quench will almost eliminate any possibility of a lot of cloudy white activity because they quench too fast even through clay.

    That's my theory anyway. If my description of the (chemistry? physics?) isn't quite accurate, it seems that the conclusion and procedure are.

    So here's 2 examples. One failure and one success. Both .150" 26C3. Both stock removal. Both clayed with the same thickness clay. Both austenitized at 1465 for ~5 minutes. Both quenched in Parks 50.

    The failure is ground to almost finished dimensions. ~.010 or .015" material left all around, .020-.030" edge thickness, with some natural distal taper from the full flat grind, say ~.140" thick spine to ~.090" thick over the length of the blade.

    Clay (satanite)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In rough polish
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You can see the hamon that formed isn't anything like the clay as applied, and where there is hamon, there is a very thin white line around it and no cloudy areas at all. This quenched far to quickly given the geometry prior to quenching. The thinner area around the tip acted as if there was no clay at all. I did not lose the clay in the quench (and for anyone getting unpredictable hamon results, this is the first thing I recommend you resolve. Dont grind finer than 120 grit. Clean/degrease completely before applying the clay. Allow the clay to set up and cure overnight or if you must, dry it with moving air, not with heat over 150 degrees, so a hair dryer on low works. Forcing it to dry quickly with heat, especially thicker clay, or clay of unknown makeup like the various furnace cements, will almost certainly cause gas pockets to form and solidify, near the blade in particular, that when hitting the quench will erupt and discharge the clay from the blade before it can do any insulating. Until you're quenching blades and having to scrape, brush or otherwise remove your clay after quenching, it will be impossible to troubleshoot your process).

    Next knife, I don't have images of the clay, but it was essentially the same. What I did differently was I left closer to .030" material on it, with a .060" edge, and there is no distal taper, it's going in to the quench with a short sabre grind only. Immediately in the post quench cleanup test etch I see better results.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Polished
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Lots of nice frosty white stuff.

    I don't have pictures on my phone to upload but will take some additional ones tonight. There are some tricks to exposing frosty white clouds, like you just learned, the grease based polishes tend to hide it. One way to expose it quickly, is to etch, then sand with 2500 grit paper until everything but the hamon is bare steel again, repeat for a couple cycles, then polish with 1500 grit loose sic. Doing a final polish with cerium oxide (pinkish orange glass polish) for some reason really really makes the frosty area pop out while not affecting much change either above or below. That gets to a level of polish that's incredibly hard to show on camera, but I'll try.
     
  8. Volkert Forge

    Volkert Forge KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    115
    Nov 25, 2018
    @kuraki That is some of the best info on Hamon making info I have ever heard.
    Seriously.
    Jason
     
  9. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    Well, it could be wrong so take it for what it's worth.
     
    Volkert Forge likes this.
  10. Volkert Forge

    Volkert Forge KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    115
    Nov 25, 2018
    I hear you. But it sounds like some solid observations you have made. Plus I have seen your hamons so you must know something about it.
    Jason
     
    John mc c likes this.
  11. John mc c

    John mc c

    274
    Aug 23, 2018
    Like was said your hamons say it all
    Some of the best I've seen
     
  12. Josh Rider

    Josh Rider KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 2, 2014
    Here’s a recent one I am working on. I agree with the others, John has a great handle on hamon development and his results are beautiful. I’m also pissed at him for dragging me back down this hole.
    528BC234-875C-41CA-A5D9-A79819B044FE.jpeg B958F43D-1842-4A2B-8DA1-DD298D229AB6.jpeg A7BE0CC6-44F1-40AE-B0AA-4629601B4857.jpeg
     
    Willie71 and Volkert Forge like this.
  13. Volkert Forge

    Volkert Forge KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    115
    Nov 25, 2018
    Nice Hamon!
     
    Josh Rider likes this.
  14. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Josh Rider likes this.
  15. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Stuart, I think you are looking for this look:

    [​IMG]IMG_0767 by Wjkrywko, on Flickr

    If so, this is done at quench. If it’s not there in the structures, you can’t make a hamon look like this. This one was 1095. I austenitized it at 1450f, quenched in DT-48. The clouds are mixed phase, pearlite and martensite. A very fine grain is needed, which is partially why W2 gets this look more easily than other steels. The Vanadium helps keep the grain pinned. You need low austenitizing temps and high quench speed. This one was clayed, but the clayless hamon is probably the best bet for getting this look. Nick Wheeler has some stunning examples.
     
  16. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    Thanks for the info, Kuraki. That is some interesting stuff to think about, for sure. I apply the clay thin where I want the transition zone to be, and thicker towards the spine. I use my wife's hair drier to dry the clay, and most of the time I do indeed have to scrape most (if not all of it) off after quenching.

    Josh....great looking hamon! Thanks for posting!

    Warren, yeah that's about what I am looking for. Basically to replicate those hamons we see on nihonto. I realize that identical replication is probably not going to happen, being that nihonto hamon are brought out with stones of finer and finer grit, rather than a chemical etch. But, like you said, the structure has to be there first. I have heard the same about low austenitizing temps, short soaks (if any), and higher quench speeds.
     
  17. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Salt pots are the ideal, or use a steel like Hitachi white/W2 with low temps and short soaks in a forge or kiln. Use a thin layer of clay, and let the steel do it’s thing. With W2, I use 1440f to get a whispy white. Hitachi white, I think I did 1425f. The vinegar brings out the white in the transition, while the lemon juice darkens the hardened steel. If I do too many lemon etches, a quick dunk in the vinegar brings it back out. I find pumice “takes away” less white when polishing compared to the 1500sic powdered abrasives.

    This is Hitachi white which was clayed, but I decided to go clayless, so I chipped the clay off. There was a bit of residue, but I didn’t scrape it off. The clayless hamon followed the residue but has the cloudy appearance. 1425f, into DT-48. I could never get a proper pic of the hamon. Probably the best i’ve done.

    Or maybe this one: this was clayless with just the offset d-grind started. W2, 1450f on this one into DT-48.

    [​IMG]IMG_5926 by Wjkrywko, on Flickr


    [​IMG]IMG_1597 by Wjkrywko, on Flickr

    My clay application typically looks like this:

    [​IMG]IMG_0713 by Wjkrywko, on Flickr

    Edit, pics messed up. Carver is Hitachi white, chef’s knife is W2.
     
  18. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Your results speak for themselves!

    When I first tried, I liked what Don Fogg and Nick Wheeler did. I copied Nick’s technique and mine looked nothing like his. There are so many variables. I think I said in the beginning, there is no right or wrong. When you find results you like, keep note of what you did, and do it exactly the same over and over. 2 out of 100 will look like the one you wanted to duplicate!
     
  19. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
  20. Volkert Forge

    Volkert Forge KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    115
    Nov 25, 2018
    @Willie71 Those look real good. Thanks for the info:). I'm working on some 26c3. I used some clay on them. I have them in the oven now. I'll post some pic's when done.
     
    Willie71 likes this.

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