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What can you make from saw-chain pattern welding

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I have been working on saw chain pattern welding for a few years now and I have been trying to understand how to control the patterns you end up with. Well, I have finally achieved some measure of control.

I have made knives from these billets but it was at the early stages of my understanding and I wanted to move on to much more control of the pattern. So, I have (I think) achieved some measure of understanding and control.

My latest attempt was to make a cold work hammer and stump anvil out of saw chain. You will notice that the pattern on the hammer is straight lines on two sides of the billet and a symmetrical pattern on the other two. The pattern on the anvil got away from me in the forging but I’m still OK with the way it came out.

The hammer was made from 4 chains and the anvil was made from 5 chains.

There is 5160 welded to the hammer head and to the anvil top.










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Extremely impressive work. You should be proud of those. What's your technique for holding the 5160 on the flat face while you heat it for the weld? Or do you heat separately and join them at the anvil? (I always ask this question when I see that sort of weld. :))

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Thank you all for your kind words.

Matt, the way I was tought by Randy McDaniel was to make prings on the base metal and drive them into the face metal. But what I did was just make a small tack weld with my MIG and then ground it off after the forge weld was complete.

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Very impressive. fantastic work. Wish I could discuss the process with you over a beer someday.

Hay Teeny, That would be one long distance beer. I don't think we could be much more apart geographicaly. I'm on the east coast. But we could discuss the process on IFI if you're interested. I'm starting a new saw chain project and I could post pictures and discuss the process at each step.
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Ciladog- yeah, that would be a bit of a trip. Actually I will be in Maine in October for a wedding. Or we have to talk you into coming up for a fishing trip.
Seriously, I will be on the lookout for any info on this you post. I have made Cable damascus, and have made a little bit of saw chain material, but it didn't turn out looking anything like this base material.
Again, great job!

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Matt, the way I was tought by Randy McDaniel was to make prings on the base metal and drive them into the face metal.

I've heard of that method, tried something very similar once, but I guess you have to be pretty quick with the hammering to keep the little spikes from heating up and flattening out. I had trouble with it. The MIG tacks sound much more convenient. :)
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So today I started a new saw chain project and I will post the different steps I take to make the billet and then forge it together with some degree of knowing what the final pattern will be.

You can make the initial billet any size you want but I have found that when it is wider than 2 inches it is very hard to forge weld in the width. The billet I’m making here is large so I have divided it into two billets and after each is consolidate, I will weld them together.

I’m starting with 280 inches of 3/8 “chain. That is about 5 good size chains. I start by cutting the chain into 14” long pieces. I found that the easiest way to cut it is with my bolt cutter locked into my vise. It’s surprising how easily the chain cuts. Check out the pics.

If you want to try to calculate how much chain you will need for a project, consider that there is almost as much air space as there is steel. So you need to start with a billet that is twice as large as what you want to end up with. And add some for oxidation.

Once the pieces are cut to the 14” length, I fold them over on themselves between two plates of steel and tack weld them with a MIG so that the raker teeth interlock each other. You want to eliminate as much ‘space’ as you can. Keep the welds small and put one at each end and one in the middle. The welds at the ends will eventually be cut off when the billet is finished.

I end up with 20 pieces for this project and I keep them in piles from the saw chain they came from. Different manufacturer use different alloys to make their chain so when I put the billet together, I alternate the different chains.

Now I take 10 of these double chains and stack them and clamp them tightly together. I then weld the ends. When you weld saw chain you will have to put your ground clamp as close to the welding area as you can because the current has to flow through all the rivets and you can get a lot of sputtering when welding.

Then I put a diagonal weld across the center of the billet. The reason it is diagonal is so it disappears in the final product. If it is straight, then you will get a bold line in the billet. It seems that the diagonal weld gets lost in the pattern.

I finally weld a handle to the billet. You will notice that I put a fagot weld into the handle that indicates to me which way I want to do my folds to get layer. You can get confused which way you need to fold after a few heats.

So that’s it for now. I’ll post more when I start forging.










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I shoot for 3-5 folds and it depends on how the billet is coming together. If it gets too long, I would fold it again.

Consider that starting with a billet made from 10 layers of chain is already 20 or more layers. So 4 folds will yield over 320 layers.


The billet consolidates very well if you take your time working it from one end to the other. I work an inch or two at a time first hammering the raker teeth into each other and then hammering the chains together. I try to keep the billet relatively square as I go.

It takes lots of very light hammer blows to slowly squeeze out all the spaces, oxides, and flux. I don’t go near the power hammer or press until I have a relatively solid billet.

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ciladog, great job and description! Thanks for the photos. It makes all the difference in understanding it. Matt, in barbing the edges of the tool steel bit, the barbs need to be big enough to with stand the heat and pushing into the other metal and be sure the steel bit is cold and then hammer that the hot piece that you are attaching it to. Yea, you have to work quick. Often I'll lay the bit on the anvil with barbs up and just hammer the hot piece onto it.

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