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I Forge Iron


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  1. It looks to me like your first pictures show a contrast of dull grey and a shiny silver color in the layers. That's probably the best you are going to do. If there is any variation in topography you may be able to restore that condition with some high grit sandpaper (around 3000 grit or so) on a flat surface and a lot of patience combined with elbow grease. That would shine up the high spots and leave the low spots as dull grey. The only other thing I can think of that *might* work is using electro-chemical etching to darken the whole thing (if that will even work on stainless) and then sanding off the high spots. Again, that requires at least a little change in topography between the two types of steel to be effective.
  2. I haven't had very good luck getting pictures with accurate colors, but I'll give it another shot soon when I get a chance to fire up the forge again.
  3. Well, so far my latest block doesn't burn back at all even after being at welding temperature and dropping back to under 1 psi. It doesn't even pop when I turn off the gas. However it has about 180 ports that are 1/8" diameter, and the ports are nearly 3 inches long. It's a big heavy burner block and if I didn't have a 3d printer I wouldn't have even wanted to attempt the mold. I think the distance between the outer burner head surface and the plenum is playing a significant role here. I have less than 100 hours on the burner head at this point so I don't know how it will hold up long term. Some of my previous attempts started out very promising, but showed degradation in the performance over time.
  4. Oh yeah! The mohawk works well.
  5. We're still learning and innovating: https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a60964033/new-alloy-defying-the-limits-of-metal/
  6. I believe most modern RR track is 1084 equivalent or possibly even higher in carbon content. It's not heat treated like cutting tools, but it does work harden at the surface. If you have the desire and means, you can make good tooling or blades from it.
  7. Nice. I've heard that a strong magnetic field can affect a welding arc. Did you notice anything different while welding on the chuck?
  8. Is there some particular feature of Hoffman's blown burner that interests you? I've built and used a blown burner, but I'm not familiar with any design specifically attributed to Mr. Hoffman. In general, forced air burners are rather simple to build and operate. Also, since you can manually control the air and fuel independently there isn't the level of precision required for proper functioning that is needed for naturally aspirated burners.
  9. If you're trying to get into this hobby addiction inexpensively here are a couple topics you should check out: https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/44842-just-a-box-of-dirt-or-a-simple-side-blast-forge/#comment-463468 https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/52308-a-collection-of-improvised-anvils/#comment-556220
  10. Is this mystery steel or do you know the designation of the alloy? The reason I ask is some alloys are notoriously difficult to weld to themselves. It is possible to get a good weld even in a slightly oxidizing atmosphere if you are using flux. The main purpose of flux is to keep oxygen from reacting with the the surface of the hot steel. So, if you have a clean surface (that means absolutely no contaminants or forge/mill scale) and you apply the flux as soon as it will stick to the steel, that should keep the surface from oxidizing and provide a good welding surface. Is there a group or a person around you with a little experience that can help you with this? It's one of those things that seems complicated, but once you can judge when you've reached the right temperature and can see and hear when the weld is set it seems far less complicated. Even after you set the weld, the pieces can separate easiest at the weld seam if stressed. It takes a few additional welding heats and hammering to get it to the point where it is one solid piece without a weak spot. Goods is correct that if you want a seamless transition you do need to scarf the end of the piece so you can work it into the parent stock without a sharp transition that creates a weak spot. However, if you're just trying to practice and understand forge welding you may not want to go that far yet. What you are attempting is good practice for making fire pokers, btw. Keep in mind that even with pristine new steel if it cracks, additional stress on the steel will make that crack run longer and deeper. Likewise, you can have a partially welded piece that when stressed will start to separate at the seam, and additional stress will cause cracking down that seam. A complete failure to weld will usually result in full separation along the weld seam. It's not uncommon to get a partial weld when starting. I still get them occasionally. One more thing: You want to hammer in such a way that you don't trap flux between the layers. So, you want to start at one end and strike along the center line as you work towards the other end of your weld. For wider pieces you'd then work the sides in subsequent heats. Think of it kind of like toothpaste that you're trying to squeeze out from between the layers when you hammer.
  11. I would not recommend starting with round stock to practice forge welding. In my opinion high carbon steel flat rectangles that are 1 to 2 inches wide and 3 to 5 inches long are some of the easiest welds to achieve. If the mating surfaces are freshly ground shiny and the edges are all lined up so there is no overhang you should get good results. Thin layers cool rapidly, so I'd suggest at least 1/4" thick layers to start with. If I were to try the stock you are showing I'd probably square a section, let it cool, grind it clean on the intended weld surfaces, and cut most of the way through so I could fold it back on itself as prep work for welding. I assume you were originally striking with the pieces on top of each other rather than next to each other as you show in that picture. I don't think temperature is a problem for you. When I zoomed in it appeared to may as though you may have actually overheated the steel in a couple places, but I'm not 100% sure. It could be oxidized flux. The reason for "soak time" is to ensure that the steel is heated uniformly through the entire piece. The outer surfaces will reach incandescence first, but the center of a piece of stock may still be at a black heat. It is possible to heat a piece so rapidly that you burn the outer surface before it's thoroughly heated. If the center is cooler then you will be losing heat both inside and outside the stock you're trying to weld. You only have a few good seconds to set the weld after you remove your stock from the forge, so you don't want to lose any heat unnecessarily. Your hammer does not need to be particularly big for this. Your blows should effectively be "dead blows." You don't really want any rebound. If you hit in such a way that there is significant rebound, that can cause the layers to separate. So, relatively light blows at first to set the weld, then back in for more heat. Until pieces are successfully welded you will usually see a dark line between the layers as they cool, and often one of the layers will darken faster than the other as they cool. Once you have a successful weld there will be no noticeable line where one layer cools faster than the other. They will have become one piece.
  12. We have the one you pictured above. It specifies a 2 minute "on" and 5 minute "off" duty cycle. I grabbed a 1/2" diameter bolt and put the head in a vice. Surprisingly to me, after about 90 seconds I'd say the threaded portion I was affecting was hot enough to forge, but just barely. The glowing portion was a little over an inch long. The heat resistant material on the coils was smoking a little at that point too. So, I guess I'd say I have to revise my earlier statement just a little. You could potentially do a little bit of short-term forging with one of these within certain parameters. However, I still don't think it would be a suitable option for sustained work on even a hobby level.
  13. What he said. I do have a vacuum system and use the aforementioned Cactus Juice to stabilize some of my knife scales. I've also used stains to get the color I want and then followed up with Tru Oil or something similar and have been pleased with the results. Stuff that is made for the beautification of wood gun stocks tends to also make wood knife scales really pop. Just follow the recommendations for the product as if you were treating a gun stock and it should turn out well. But yes, using a test coupon for just about anything you haven't tried before is a good idea.
  14. You probably already know this, but I wouldn't recommend ever putting a knife with that type of construction and handle material in a dishwasher. As long as you don't use anything known to be toxic it shouldn't be a problem on the handle. Once dried/stablilized there shouldn't be much of a chance of transferring anything dangerous to the food. Another thing to keep in mind for your slabs for scales: Straight perfect grain is boring. I did this with some walnut on my property for one of my early knives. It looks decent, but because there is no variation in the grain, or knots, or anything else eye-catching it's just kinda "blah." If that's what you're after then don't let me dissuade you. If you want something with a little character then maybe find a spot with a knot or small branch. If it's honey locust you might even be able to find a spot with an ingrown thorn.
  15. For use as a small forge, the short answer is no. Those are nowhere near powerful enough to hit forging temperatures in anything approaching a reasonable amount of time. We have one in the shop, and they work reasonably well for their intended use if you can get the coils where you need them. However, if you use too big of a coil on a smaller nut that is enough to decrease how well/quickly it heats up. If I have some spare time maybe I'll run out and see if/how long it would take to get something up to forging temperature, but I'm not sure it's even possible. The handle portion of those does have a fan in it for cooling off the electronics, but I believe there is a duty cycle recommendation. As quoted above, they also have thermal shutdown protection features.
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