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JŠnos Sibinger

Location: Hungary/France
Joined: 31 May 2009

Posts: 50

PostPosted: Sun 07 Apr, 2013 1:50 pm    Post subject: A little damascus blade         Reply with quote

Long time no see!
My last one and half year was quite... Busy, with the exams, than all of a sudden, I found myself in the south of France in Nimes, with the Compagnons du Devoir! (A great group of eager craftmen, my most sincere respects!)
We have a great workshop here, so finally I can try things that I was only thinking about next to my two treestumps at home in the short weekends of the work.
One of these ideas of mine was to make a damascus steel blade, and here I would like to share with You my experiences (and the excitements!). Happy

Here, in the house we have plenty of mild steel, but our sources of harder materials are... Limited to say the least, (officially we do not use high carbon steel during the courses) but happily (for the evil apprentices) in the workshops, where we spend the bigger parts of our day the saws work under great pressure, and this results in failure, broken, chewn up blades. like this, it is easy to obtain the required quantity of hard steel.

I have taken four pieces of saw and one of mild steel, since the previous was much thinner, so like this the layers had approximately the same thickness. a little bit of cleaning with the grinder, and I started the forge welding. I am not an experienced blacksmith, later due to this I have lost a lot of material, but in the beginning everything went quite well!

The first problem I encountered was that the blades of the saw was on the outside, and I welded the pieces together only on the end... The results? The thinner blades heated up more quickly, they became longer, and thus they formed beautiful arches next to the ticker mild steel. A bit of hammering and some more welding in the middle did the trick.

After using "some" coal and flux (the workbench was like the ending scene of Scarface Big Grin) I managed to make a nice bar of forge welded steel of two layers of saws with mild steel in the middle. I made another bar, but now of four layers. After it was finished, I forge welded the two pieces together. I had to repeat this seven times, to achieve the desired number of layers.

As I have observed (the professionals on this forum know this much better) the most important was to take time to let the material heat in the inside too. Sometimes I made mistakes but happily the second soldering always repaired the mistakes of the previous. But not in the last pass... I had already burnt a way too large piece of the material, but in the end, to have a healthy blade I had to cut off the ends, since there the quality of the welding was... not quite acceptable, to say the least.

I have toughed, the most difficult part has passed, when I held the piece of damascus steel in my hand... But no... I wanted to make a little knife, for a female friend of my, and what could I say, there was note quite enough material for a gros messer, so I was quite unhappy, when I have seen that the material has opened in the middle during the shaping... A nother welding, with a lot of flux, and it was a success!

I was really excited about it, because there was already a lot of work in the little piece, and I slowly started to have an emotional bond to it. Happy

After the crisis I decided to go on with the grinding, I roughed out the shape, but than I had to use the forge again. I wanted to make a pattern, wich is achieved by drilling small holes into the surface of the blade. It was risky, but I took great care during the work, shaped the blade, made the small holes (Only onto the surface of the material!) And with another hat in the forge I planished them.
After this I started to work with the file, but the material, the blade of the saw was too tough for it! The tool became more and more smooth, so I decided to use sandpaper and later the orbital sander, and I immediately fell in love with it!

I heat treated the blade, altough I have heard that it is not completely necessary in the case of a damascus blade. For the first time, it was not quite fine, but for the second I was satisfied, and after some more work with the sandpaper the piece was ready for the acid.
The pattern was much more beautiful than I have imagined, I was satisfied with it. it was not too strong, but I wanted to make something less... Less outgoing, and the 10% mixture of HNO3 was great for this! (It is a cruel material, but for this purpose it is perfect.) I just stained the blade using a rag, submerging it in the acid would have meant way too much exposure.

The sharpening took several days... Normally I can sharpen a knife easily, but this little piece did not give itself easily! finally it was done, I have attached the vegetable tanned leather pieces using Palmatex. The knife was looking just as I have imagined. I was really happy with it, and so was my friend too! Happy

As soon as I can I am going to send some better quality photos of it with the scabbard too!

I hope you have enjoyed this little description, if you have any questions, I hope I can answer them! Big Grin

Best wishes!


 Attachment: 62.75 KB
THe finished bar and the materials [ Download ]

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The drawings and the piece [ Download ]

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The piece before the drilling [ Download ]

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The pattern drilled into the blade [ Download ]

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The sanded blade [ Download ]

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After the acid [ Download ]

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The finished piece [ Download ]
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William P

Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,488

PostPosted: Mon 08 Apr, 2013 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

wow, that looks like a nice little number.
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