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I Forge Iron

Damascus Rings

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Hey folks,

Figured its been so long, might as well post a few things I've been up to.

An idea I've had for awhile has been to make some damascus. I figured there'd be a much larger market for damascus rings than knives, so was hoping to use the rings to fund my bladesmithing a bit. Here are a few that I've done. Started out with just some "plain" etching and then started salt bluing them with good results. Got some other "better" pictures of some of the other blued rings, but they aren't uploaded online.







I've probably done about a dozen of them so far, and have been able to sell them reasonably well. I've got a waitlist of about 12 more folk that want them and will be doing another run of them hopefully starting this weekend.

Also fooled around with some wooden rings, just for the heck of it.


Figured I'd start doing a few of these in some nice stabalized woods. Haven't had too much interest in the wooden rings though, probably just because I put them up against the damascus ones.

Anyway, thought you folks might enjoy seeing these guys.

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Thanks folks.

Svarttrost, salt bluing, or hot salt bluing is a bluing process in which the steel parts are immersed in a heated chemical solution of different nitrates and chromates (there are many different bluing salts out there and I am unsure of all of their exact compositions). In this case nitre blue solution from Brownells was used. The bluing salts are heated until molten (temperature will also change the colors you achieve, of which there are a fairly wide range, much like temper colors). The bluing salts react with the surface of the steel, depositing oxides and other chemical desposits which give color to the steel as well as help prevent oxidation and rust. It is a very common process used in gun bluing (any gun buling that is not the cold bluing, is a form of "salt bluing" or hot bluing, whatever you prefer to call it).

In terms of sizing, once they are made to a particular size, thats pretty much where they stay, with the only exception of being able to bore them out larger if there is enough material present. I custom make each ring for individual customers to their exact size (and style) specifications, this way I avoid the need to re-size rings after the fact (at least in the terms of making the rings). Its much easier to just wait to make a ring for a customer than to make a bunch of rings and to try and resize them anyway, even if I could. Unfortunately it is the nature of the material, can't really cut the rings and re-weld them to a smaller size (or add a bit to get a larger size) and have them come out looking decent with the pattern present etc.

And the steels used in these rings were 1095 and 15N20. In future billets I'm switching probably to mild steel (or at least a eutetic or hypoeutetic steel) with pure nickel. The pure nickel will provide a good deal more contrast in the pattern.

I'm also going to be playing with many different damascus patterns in these. Right now these are just a simple twist pattern, but I would like to get into some more complex patterns someday. This means much more advanced forge welding techniques though to get typically "flat" patterns into ring shape without a noticeable lap weld. So to get the pattern into a ring shape, think spiral welding a damascus barrel. Its something I'll be experimenting with.

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Thanks again folks.

Bent, unfortunately no one has purchased any wooden rings, its been damascus, damascus, and more damascus (got 13 more damascus rings to do for folk on the wait list, and seems like more keep comming in at a steady trickel). I was hoping some nicely priced wooden rings would sell pretty well, but I guess when you put them up against nicely priced damascus rings, no one cares about wood. I've had a couple people say they might want some wooden rings, after they get their damascus one first ;)

Thomas, I wish it'd be that easy to re-size these guys, but somehow I don't think this steel is going to be as malleable as silver. I could probably squeeze up a couple sizes with some annealing in-between, but it'd be faster and much easier to just bore out the ring to the bigger size.

I'll get some more pictures of things as they come along. This next batch of rings should look better than this first run anyway ;)

And BTW, feel free to drop me an email: fredeenblades@hotmail.com if you folks are interesting in a damascus ring, have questions, or just want to chat a bit, always good to hear from some fellow smiths. I've already gotten a couple emails from folks, so thought I'd just put it out there to encourage more.

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Beautiful work, well done. I think you'll do a lot better moving the product with some improved photography though, all these shots are dark and lack contrast. I'm thinking a backdrop in a different color, tan makes the rings look darker than is good. I can't recommend a color off hand though, I'd have to experiment with background colors, light and camera angles.

Photographing metal is almost always hard to get good results from. It can be done of course but your rings do NOT have the most common problem of too many highlights drowning out details so I don't think a light diffusion box is going to help. Additive filters on the lights might do it though but it'd take experimentation.

Subtractive filters on the camera might work but I'm thinking it's less likely.

So, to restate my opinion, I think a better background color, I'd start with grass green but less bright, maybe a touch more blue to it than grass green. I'd also be experimenting with lighting angles and if those didnt do it maybe I'd start on the additive filters. The tricky part of this kind of experimentation is knowing just what did what. This means make ONE change at a time but try it on all previous changes. confusing? You betcha, here's how it works catalogue each ring by it's inherent colors, Blue, tan, silver, yellow, etc. Next pick one ring, give it a catalogue number and make a note. (HECK, give it a page of it's own.) Snap a pic under the same conditions you shot these and print it out. Next, change one thing, lights or background say, background would be MY first change. Snap a pic, develope it and put it in the book on the piece's page. Do NOT forget the notes! Try another background, light angle or whatever, just ONE change, shoot a pic, print it and put it with it's brotheren with the NOTE.

Eventually you'll not only have a nice portfolio of your rings you'll have a pretty complete instruction manual for photographing rings and OTHER pattern welded pieces depending on their coloration. did you notice I didn't say "pics"? If you're going to be a pro do everything like a pro, so take photographs NOT pics.

If you've forgotten by now I love the rings I just wish I could see them better.

Frosty the Lucky.

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Those are absolutely gorgeous, both the Damascus ones and the wooden ones. It's good to see other people using the beauty of Damascus on something other than knives.

Just curious about how they are made, I am assuming with a lathe, after they are welded. In the past I have made some Damascus pendants and keychain fobs, and thought about doing a ring, for myself, but not sure how to go about it. Otherwise I may have to order one in the near future :D .

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On the subject of pictures, I would suggest some better lighting techniques.

When we were photographing guns we would have to paint them with light at times to get them to come out right. What that means is a darkened room, and a long exposure. While the shutter is on, a light source is moved around the item to illuminate all sides, and surfaces. This works good when you do not have multiple strobes.

Another method is to take the external flash off of the camera's hot shoe, and hit the lower sides that are shaded. The room lighting will do the upper surfaces.

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Thanks folks.

Darksaber, yes these are done on a lathe. I use the lathe to rough out the ring shapes and to precisely bore to size, and then the rest is done freehand with files, sandpaper and the like.

I'm definately not the best photographer in the world. I've got a little light booth setup (garbage bags and PVC ;) ) and it does an alright job.

Most of the ring pictures (the lower ones) were taken in a hurry, just for final customer approval before shipping them off, and I didn't take the time to break out all the lights for the booth etc.

I also don't have the greatest camera in the world, certainly nothing even close to being professional. Just use what I have to get by.

Its something I'll be experimenting with in the future. I'd take some more pictures of rings right now, but unfortunately I'm all out ;) .

Additionally, I don't want to make these look too good ;) , I've already got about as much business with them as I currently have time for. I'm firstly and foremost a bladesmith, and don't want these little things to take over completly. Just want to do enough of them to give some decent funding for the bladesmithing.

I should have some more rings made next weekend hopefully. And they'll come with better pictures too.

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