Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Pattern welded ring

mick maxen

Recommended Posts

This is a bit unique in pattern welding as I have not seen it done before. This ring has been made in a similar way to how the old damascus gun barrels were made. The weld lines spiral around the ring.


Now lined with silver,


This is a short piece of barrel I made a few years ago using the same technique,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonderful work,Mick,thanks for showing this.

The coming together of the pattern on the ring is very neat,was that your calculated intent,or a fortuitous happenstance?(Although the Turkish twist looks great no matter how the parts come together,as your barrel section indicate).

I've read long time ago how in the 1800's,at the resurgence of the damascus gun-barrel fashion,it was mass-produced in staggering quantities.Apparently,some cities in Belgium such as Liege,were producing damascus in amounts measured by hundreds of tons a year(?!),offering the barrels in a dozen or more patterns...Having read your description of the process i found it even more mind-bending...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Teenylittlemetalguy,i've come across these old records quoted in an article by one of the more well-known russian knifemakers,Leonid Archangelskiy.It'd probably be silly to post a link to it(or maybe not,electronic translation does ok sometimes).
Anyway,i could do that,or translate just the stats that he uses in his article,just give me a couple of days to dig around for it.
Possibly there's also a list of reference material,and that's likely in English,or German(or maybe Flemmish :) ).
I can post it here,if it's ok with Mick,or elsewhere(sorry for diversion,Mick).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jake, I have no problem with you posting any links for info about this. I have also read about the barrel makers in Liege, I think it was around the early 1900's that they were making about 400 tons of barrels a year. After the 1st World War the industry came to a close as technology had moved on during the war years.
I think it is The Musse de Arms in Liege, Belgium that has a whole section devoted to damascus barrel making.
My understanding of why barrels were made this way is that they did not have the know how to bore holes in solid bars but could ream out an existing hole.

The pattern on the ring is purely by chance as there is no way you can allow for lining up the pattern. The best part of a twisted bar pattern will always be as close to the centre as you can get, where the most disruption to the pattern has occured from the twisting and you dont get to see that until you clean up and etch.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mick,thank you so much for all this information.Now i won't worry about digging for that obscure article,as your expanded answer gives anyone plenty of leads for a thorough search.

You do beautiful work,and your explanations and comments are MOST clear and concise,i always learn a very great deal by reading your comments here and elsewhere.It's a tremendous priviledge it is to be able to thusly communicate with one of the world's premier authorities on pattern-welding.
There are many of us that could never dedicate the necessary time and resourses required in the process of learning this amazing craft,so thank you for sharing your hard-earned expertise,very kind of you.

Another question,if i may:Is the silver lining the inside of the ring attached mechanically,pressed in or the like,or is it some form of electro-depositing?

Thanks again,Mick.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jake, I have been called a few things in the past but never a "world authority on Pattern welding", hehe.
The silver lining is about 0.5mm thick and the way I did this was to make a sleeve that just pushed into the band and had enough sticking out each side to cover the edge of the band. After much umming and arring about what do I do now to get it to fit, I had a brain wave. The silver sleeve was already annealed and I used two large ball bearings to squeeze the liner and flare the ends, then it was just a case of pushing the edges tight to the band.

I first posted this work about 4-5 years ago on a website and got a flood of replies about making them for other people. The reality is that I made this ring to fit a finger on my right hand but as it was too small it now gets worn on my left hand. So I quickly came to the decision that if I could not make them to fit me there was no way I could make them for other people. Making things to fit people was just going to be a whole world of pain. So this is strictly a one off piece.

Earlier I spoke about lining up the pattern, as Jake pointed out. This was just a "happy accident". The photo below shows an interesting pattern line up on the fat ring. This was a piece I salvaged from what was really a disaster as it did not weld up very well. I had to turn out the centre too much to get rid of any welding flaws, by which time it was too big. The smaller piece is the ring above


There are some very interesting books about damascus/pattern welding that are still available, I think.

On Damascus Steel by Leo Figel. This book is about true damascus steel, wootz or crucible steel. There is also a very good section of about 30 pages that covers pattern welded barrels.

Damascus Steel by Manfred Sachse is probably the finest book out there about the subject, all 240 pages of it. It covers every aspect of the art from the earliest times to present day including some very fine work by the author. This book is available in both German and English. An original copy is an absolute fortune but I think it is being republished. A must have book if pattern welding is your thing.

Damaszener Stahl, Theorie and Praxis by Gunther Lobach. This is a more recent book published in 2009 and only available in German at the moment, although I think the author is trying to get it published into English. This book is more an instructional "how its done" and runs to about 170 pages.
I don't read German but the pictures are in English plus there are about 14 photos of my work included.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great,Mick,just great.
The flaring of an end to secure a section of a tube is a technique called "rolling in",it is how the tubing is installed into the fire-tube steam boilers.It's a neatest method,as it leaves both parts firmly mated yet independent,disallowing for whatever possible bi-metallic stresses to occur(rivet-like,but turned inside-out :) ).VERY good thinking on your part,seems like an ideal method for the situation!

Seems like one of the services that the jewery shops offer is the sizing of a ring,apparently there's some leeway in increasing/decreasing the dia.,but it's probably more for the much softer non-ferrous metals technology.

That fat ring does indeed have a VERY cool pattern where the parts join,wonderful,Mick!

Thanks for everything,the books sound very interesting,your work is a joy to look at,great thread altogether!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank-you very much for the explanation for your incredible work Max. It really inspires me to see what is possible with the right talent.

I have just purchased a Unimat lathe with the plan of turning my own pattern welded rings. They will surely be nowhere the quality of yours, but we all have to start somewhere.

I have been wondering how to make the silver liner. Your explanation is very clear and sounds relatively simple compared to how I was envisioning it. I was thinking of silver soldering the inside surface of the ring then turning it to size.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mark you are the second person today to call me Max but I'll let you off. The other one emailed me asking how to do something relating to pattern welding, I decided to ignore him if he can't even get my name right.

The way I made the silver sleeve/liner was to make a mandrel minus the thickness of the silver, having previously sized my finger with ring sizers. I found out later that for a band you go one size up from what you would have for a normal ring, ie skinny band.That is probably why it did not fit the finger it was made for.

Jake, that is an intersting observation about rolling in boiler tubes. About 30 years ago my father and I used to retube traction engines and steam boilers. Along with making and fitting fire boxes, tube plates, throat plates, barrels etc. I have removed and installed many fire boxes, cutting out the old stays and rivets. Then rivetting them all up again, fitting the tubes with expanders, caulking all the seams, all to insurance company standards. Most traction engines have a working pressure of about 150 psi. When the insurance company man came to see the boiler and watch the pressure test, we had to pump them up to about 225 psi and it had to hold that pressure for 20 minutes, if I remember correctly.
I like to see traction engines working and ticking over, gently rocking on their wheels. But I can't get romantic over them as it was hard work.

Heating the rivets up for fitting was my first experience of using a forge but the fascination with pattern welding got me standing at an anvil.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darn it,Mick,now on top of envying you the PW stickwithitness i'm also wistfully mulling over such a rich metalworking background such as yours.And,(just like damascus),i couldn't even do this right...The pipes in our boiler are all welded in,when my buddy Phil and i were putting it together we couldn't afford the right tubing,or the expanders to install it(even the mechanical ones are out-of-sight expensive),it's all sch.40 black pipe,welded in...No rivets,either,the shell is all welded,pipe-sheets and all...
And all that we had the nerve to take it up to was 75psi,just happen to've had an old safety on it that opened at that pressure.Need to go higher,as it's very inefficient at such low pressure.
The engine that this boiler was supposed to run turned out to be gutless after it was rebuilt,we'll be trying again with an old twin cylinder(as soon as we get our breath back),this one is a wonderfully built old horizontal twin.
The goal here is the marine propulsion,but if we fail(again!:)),it'll do to run a power hammer,it can now(the flat-belt wheel that is belted to an electric motor on my old LG is peculiarly similar to the one on the engine :wacko: ).

Romanticism?Sure!How CAN one go without it?One simply can't,but since the cruel-hard work seems to be axiomatic part of life as well,they might as well go together! :P
(And,about ALL that we're rich in here is wood.Forests of wood,rivers plumb full of driftwood!Although an occasional coal-seam too,but not too close(so we need that steamboat!).

There's nothing like the machinery of old to learn to FEEL the iron.The rivets,the punched openings,all sorts of forged parts and castings,that practically VISIBLY resist one force or other.Even just gazing at some old machine one mentally traces those lines of force,and counter-force,of balance,of resistence being overcome...
To've been an actual,skilled part of that process is priceless,my hat's off to thee...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jake, the steam boat sounds interesting, I have never worked on one of those. Most of our work was on the old traction engines. The likes of Robey, Ransomes, Fowler ploughing engines, Burrel Showmans engines and Foden steam lorries, to name but a few.
I don't wont to upset you but I still have all the tube expanders from about 1.5" all the way up to about 2.5" maybe 3". The smallest one we have is 1/2" and this was used to expand the copper tubes for a Stanley Steam Car boiler, all 300 of them if I remember correctly.

I will see if I have any old photos to show you.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's right,the water-tubes were also rolled in!Copper,eh?And 300 of them,oh my,the funny,zippy little things :)

That is excellent that you're holding on to the old tools,they need to be treasured,and loved.Altogether,it's just wonderful to discover a real,living boilerman,and in your person,out of all people,Mick!Of course,it'd be fantastic to see any pictures of old engines,tractors were,of course,the ultimatley gorgeous beasts!

Our steam experiments have rapidly reached a place where it became obvious that a machine shop of our own was not an option but a necessity.My friend Phil have since come into an 8' Southbend lathe,and his milling capacity is almost on line now as well.
We've access to a bunch of scavangables from the mining industry here of 100 years ago or so,but the size of this old equipment is too great,we'll have to be building our own.But many important extraneous parts such as oilers,injectors,and sight-glasses,do come in very handy.We found a 3/8" Penberthy injector that turned out to be in a perfect working order.

Seems like loving iron in general allows one to see the beauty in a rivet pattern,just as well as in a pattern-weld,but maybe i'm just an old hippie,trying to lump it all together...But i definitely view all engines as one of the highest forms of sculptural expression,as well as the rivets in old plate,or the intricacies of stays inside a boiler(I also,lord help me,am not shy about forging stuff out of the more wore-out,or simply less-classier parts of boilers or even engines... :unsure: )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jake, here are a few photos to give you an idea of the work we used to do about 30 years ago.
This first photo shows a complete traction engine minus its chimney. This came in for a new firebox and tubes. From memory this was the only complete engine that we worked on as most times we would just get the boiler.


The photo below shows a new firebox. This is about 24" wide by 36" long. The rivet holes in the foundation ring (square section at bottom) are 3/4" diameter and would be about 6" long to go through the outer plate, ring and firebox. This was one of the first jobs in getting the old box out, drill through all 70 to 80 rivets with a 1/4" drill to be able to cut the old rivets out with an oxy/acetylene cutter. The tube holes would be about 2 1/4" and the stay holes about 7/8" diameter ready to be tapped to size to fit the stays, once the firebox was in place and rivetted up.


This photo shows a repair section around the stoke hole door. The thickness of this plate would have been either 3/8 or 1/2". The holes around the bottom of this plate would match up with the holes in the foundation ring. The holes around the oval opening would be for 3/4" rivets. The other holes would all have to be tapped out to about 1" when the firebox was in place and stays would be screwed in and the ends hammered over. The stay taps were about 12" long as there is a gap between to outer plate and the firebox of about 3" were the water was. This job alone took forever as there might be about 100 plus holes to tap and all done by hand. The plate that sticks out towards the camera with the large hole is where the rear axle fitted.


This photo shows a new half barrel being fitted and the valve chest hanging in mid air about to be put in place. The row of two sets of bolts would eventually be replaced by rivets and hold on a cover plate over the seam. Then a front tube plate and smoke box would be fitted.


I have not been involved in this type of work now for many years but I think that the fireboxes have gone back to being constructed in the old fashioned way of being an all rivetted construction. This must be a requirement now of the insurance companies.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Incredible,Mick,simply incredible...Thanks so much for these rare photos.Some of the specifications are gruesome,such deep holes!The access to some of the places looks scary-makes one wince involuntary,can't see where one would have much left of one's knuckles,or hands altogether,it must take decades to learn to do much of this without destroying one's hands constantly...
But,what beautiful machines these were!That one in the first shot is great,i like that steering quadrant on the front axle-looks heavy-duty!
Steam is such strange stuff.Many think that it's an antiquated technology,which is kinda so,but also not quite:I don't know about the British fleet,but the US Navy is all steam...(Nuclear-fired water-tube boilers,i'd guess).
Our village here runs diesel generators to make electricity.The fuel is way expensive,and the alternatives are always discussed.My friend has just filed this grant application for a steam generator for the city,about 10 megawatt.To my amasement,the machine itself is a regular,reciprocating piston engine,not a turbine or some high-tech creature that i was imagining...Most municipal power in the US is generated by steam boilers of one type or another.
Thanks again,Mick,that was awsome to see the real boiler parts and to read such detailed description of details!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jake, skinned knuckles is an overiding memory of mine doing this work. Once all the stay holes are tapped, the stays are wound in using a pipe wrench. The old style of stays had a square on the end, like a tap to aid in winding them in. The way we used to make them was to turn the thread on a lathe and cut them to length with a cut off/parting tool. So when the wrench slipped which it did often, all those sharp edges were there just waiting for your knuckles.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...