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So I went down to Mile High rigging in denver and asked if they had any spare pieces of cable. Mile High Rigging is a company that rigs cranes and other heavy equipment with steel cable. I had called on the phone announcing myself as a hobby smith and they said I could come down and pick over the remanents. I snared these beauties. The smaller ones are about 3/4" and the big ones nearly 2". I havent measured them exactly. Of course they are coated with nasty grease but I am sure my forge will take care of that in short order. I wish I knew what kind of steel they were made out of exactly but I am betting it is high carbon for that industry. At any rate I will be cutting off a piece of the smaller one, say about 6 inches, and stuffing it in the forge and seeing if I can make some cable damascus. Wish me luck! :) If I manage it, I might make a damascus carving fork. That would be cool if I could keep the patterns standing out.

Oh BTW, cost was .... zero. :) I like that price. Well I did have to pay for gas but almost zero.

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There's a lot more air space in there than you might judge. I'd double the length. Remember to clean, flux and tighten the twist before doing any welds. After a little working you'll know just how much you've got to play with (I typically draw, cut, stack and weld a few times) - if it's too much, cut off what you don't need and save it for bolsters for another knife. :)

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Yeah, I actually have a video from smartflix on cable damascus. Flux - twist - flux - twist - flux - hit around like rounding square bar - flux - square it. Played with one of the smaller cables tonight and got it certainly welded into one piece. Results are attached. I actually tried to do a bit of grinding on my wheel grinder but it is seriously the wrong tool for the job. I wasn't able to get a good grind, therefore my impromptu end only etch didnt produce any results. I really need a belt grinder but alas, money is tight.

Tomorrow I am going to fold it a couple times and hot forge it into a carving fork. Then I will figure out how to grind it mirror smooth, say to 1200, then try and etch the result. I thought of using a deer antler for handles somehow and cold rivet the handles to the piece. This would allow me to use the most of my damascus in the fork and only a small amount in a tang. I am going to have to do some research into how to finish a deer antler handle and then go look for some drops.

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Gene Osborn from centerCross knifeworks uses a vice on the backside of his forge, he twists the cable @ welding heat with the cable in the forge to get the inital weld.Saves a few steps. IIRC he did a twenty foot piece for a balister on a stairway

Works a treat! http://www.centercross.com/cciv/

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An angle grinder can sometimes be very helpful for your initial grind on cable. The last thing you want is to discover a cold shut and have one of those sharp brittle wires tear through a belt.. but your first weld looks good. :)

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Thank. I am rather proud of myself on this one. I did hit it with an angle grinder but I need to do more work with the grinder to either carve off remanent ridges in the billet or forge weld them in. I will probably go for option 1 as the ridges are not too high to manage, only 1/32" or so.

What I really need is an inexpensive belt grinder and a solution for polish grinding in tight areas. I thought of using dremel bits in my drill press but I don't know how well that would work. When I polish the carving fork I will have to get in some tight areas. Any suggestions?

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As for type of steel in the cable .. it would either be IPS or EIPS... improved plow steel or extra improved plow steel. .. yes the same stuff you use in plowing fields for farming... .5 to .95%.... I have found that the etching is beautiful, but a bit more subtle than on a regular damascus, with a higher nickel content..

did you strip any grease with a solvent to check for zinc coating/ galvanization? Most rigging they put out in weather has some ... but sometimes a good coat of grease is all they use..

good luck and post lots o pics
Cliff

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OK, next phase. Now I heat my piece to yellow and do some thinning with my power hammer, a.k.a. my 14 year old son with a 4# hammer. Its a decent power hammer but eats too much. :)

I have thinned it to about 5/32" thick and about 3/4" wide. This should make a good size. Moving that metal is tough even at that size. Its amazing how hard you have to hit this stuff. After thinning and sizing, I straightened it, heated it and brushed it then took the angle grinder to it and cleaned off the scale. Then I used my 8" bench grider to polish it to some level though of course that is the wrong tool for the job of polishing.

I need to find a way to get cold molten borax off the floor of my forge and the borax is eating my insulating brick in my brick pile forge (basically a bunch of bricks stacked up). For this reason I am seriously considering casting my new forge out of solid castolyte because of how the borax acts on the insulating brick and KAOWool. Castolyte and ITC-100.

Anyway, the next step will be to form the fork out of the billet. I think I might do it on a test piece of mild steel before I go for it with the cable billet. One thing I am proud of is that it is DEFINITELY welded. I would be stunned to find any cold shuts in there at this point.

Pics included ... note the first one reflected the light so strongly that we had to take the shot in darkness which then isnt polished. Cant win. :(

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I need to find a way to get cold molten borax off the floor of my forge and the borax is eating my insulating brick in my brick pile forge (basically a bunch of bricks stacked up). For this reason I am seriously considering casting my new forge out of solid castolyte because of how the borax acts on the insulating brick and KAOWool. Castolyte and ITC-100.

Anyway, the next step will be to form the fork out of the billet. I think I might do it on a test piece of mild steel before I go for it with the cable billet. One thing I am proud of is that it is DEFINITELY welded. I would be stunned to find any cold shuts in there at this point.



To keep the borax from eating your insulating brick, slide a piece of sheet steel onto the very bottom - a few guys recommend using stainless, but I just use whatever I have in the shop - eventually it'll crack and break down and can be cleaned out but the bottom brick will be ok. As for forming a fork, Check to make sure your material is drawn to a uniform thickness for the tines and cut a straight edge across the bottom - bisect the width using a ruler and draw a line with a fine tip sharpie keeping into account how much the metal will be tapered out for them. Then use that rotary tool you mentioned and one of the circular cut off discs to trace your tine line - it doesn't have to be too deep, just enough that you can find it when it's yellow. It'll give a place for your chisel to fit when you start splitting the metal. Just a little trick for keeping everything even - something I wish I had known when I took my first chisel to a fork tine. :)
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J.W.S. wrote:

Then use that rotary tool you mentioned and one of the circular cut off discs to trace your tine line - it doesn't have to be too deep, just enough that you can find it when it's yellow. It'll give a place for your chisel to fit when you start splitting the metal. Just a little trick for keeping everything even - something I wish I had known when I took my first chisel to a fork tine. :)

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No on the drill press, even on high speed it will be too slow for a Dremel stone to be effective. A Dremel spins up to 25,000 RPM.

Shaping small areas can be done with a small file. What Say you!?!? That isn't a power tool! Don't get caught up with the Norm Abraham power tool for everything mentality :rolleyes:

Draw file it down, and then grab a sanding block, which is another non-power tool.

I have repolished, reshaped, and restored quite a few guns with these methods. In many cases the results were better than the guys that buffed too much with a power tool. My guns had nice crisp edges, as well as not having the holes, and lettering washed out.

I did a fork for a friend awhile ago. The only thing that got worked outside the forge were the tines. Filed, sanded, and polished. Only took a couple of minutes with a rat tail, and a small flat file. I did polish them on the buffer at work that we use Scotch-Brite pads on as the abrasive. Why? Cause it was available, and I was in a hurry at that point.

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