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While watching a youtube video about making Damascus...

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The process is known by some as hydrocarbon welding. Basically, as has been stated, the oil (or other hydrocarbon) burns and uses up the available oxy which would otherwise form scale. The remnant of this is carbon coating the steel which also off-gasses as CO...further preventing scale. If you have clean steel and some pressure it will bond....temp and pressure are relative as room temp is a temp and 220 ton per square inch is also a pressure and if you can do such then you will also get a weld in steel.


Once the bond begins the carbon is absorbed into the steel.


Given the size of billets I do and time they take to heat I do I opt for the can, but if you do smaller billets...under five pounds..and have a hot fore and controlled internal environment I think you will be fine. 

In my last welding session I made up 140 pounds of the stuff.



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Lucky for us, youtube is very good about making sure of facts before allowing anyone to post. ;)   Everything I have been told and done; involves getting the billet as clean as I can.  Adding oils like the fish oils of WD-40 seems to counter that.   While I am sure it will help keep the air off the billet, I am not sure how it helps the weld, ask any welder about oily vs a clean surface.


Then again any engineer will tell you how on paper a bumble bee can not fly, and if we drive faster than 60 MPH we can not breath either.  I have never tried oiling my billet before forge welding,  nor do I plan too with out more information as to what is happening to the weld this way.

Follow the link to the MSDS for WD-40 and you will see there is no fish oil in it.  It is aliphatic hydrocarbons and petroleum oils. http://www.wd40company.com/files/pdf/msds-wd494716385.pdf

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check post #12,  I said old formula. There was a show on History channel a while back covering the discovery/creation of WD-40, odd but nice end result, today they have man made oils to use.  Just though it was weird enough that I tossed it out there.

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i am again in the old school on this...however in light of the information above shared by Ric Furrer i will likely use it on all of my billets now. If it does prevent any scale during the time it takes to get to fluxing temperature it will be a welcome support to my work. 

Thank you!

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  As I read this post I keep hearing this term "can welding" being thrown around and I've never heard of it, have no idea what it is, and would really like to know.  I just did a cursory search on google, youtube, and the forum and found nothing that looked remotely close to mentioning it, as most results were "Can welding hurt you?" etc., etc.  Is it like "box welding" for mokume and/or titanium, another term I've heard of in hushed tones and necromantic whispers, and have no understanding of, and which searches only provide "How to weld a box?"  Pardon my ignorance if anything in my questions does not make sense.

   If anyone knows another post and/or Youtube video that details either one of these processes, that would be most appreciated.

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As I read this post I keep hearing this term "can welding" being thrown around and I've never heard of it, have no idea what it is, and would really like to know.

My understanding, given that I've never actually done it myself, is that is a technique for making mosaic damascus. You make a box or can, and assemble the pieces of your design in the can, and the forge weld the entire assembly.

This looks like a good video of the process (please excuse me if I screw up the embedding):


Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to embedding.

Longer video, with more detail, can section about 1 hour into it.

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Thank's a bunch.  Your embedding worked just fine.  I'll add that to my playlists.  So after seeing that video it seems safe to assume that box and can welding are the same thing.  I imagine you could get pretty fancy with something like this.

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'Can' or 'tube' or 'container' Damascus just refers to the process itself:

Start with a container that will hold the material [stainless works best because tool steel will not weld itself to the container] you want to weld

Assemble the contents in whatever shape you want

weld one open end of the container closed so it is airtight

Slip your material into the tube [you can also weld your material to the end piece before welding the end piece in place]

slip a piece of paper into the tube


Keep shaking and banging the tube as you fill it- voids left in the tube can make a huge mess of your results

Weld the open end in place leaving a tiny hole

Heat the container until you see smoke coming from the hole

As soon as you see the smoke STOP coming out, weld the tiny hole closed

Stick her in the forge and leave it there until the entire billet is the same color as the forge completely through the center

Go ahead and work your billet down keeping it as square as you are able

When you are certain it is completely welded, let it cool and cut the stainless container off the finished billet

This is the same for whatever purpose you have for the finished Damascus


There are probably as many steps that follow as there are blacksmiths. a pretty inventive lot :)


Other folks may do it differently than I. The bottom line is to find what works in your shop for you with your equipment.


Some of the patterns are used for mosaic Damascus that can end up with a repeating pattern down the center of a knife blade. The first one I ever was was a knife with repeating tiny American flags running down the entire blade. My favorite is still the Rainbow trout rising ti a dry fly.


Hope this helps-



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Rich, I just added a 'Past Knives' page to my website. The first pic on that page is one of the 4 knives I made using Harley Motorcycle Chain Damascus, following the procedure I posted. The only difference was that this was made before I started using Stainless tubing. There was enough steel for two more knives but it welded to the Damascus so badly I could not use it.


Almost all of the pictures on my old site were lost when the site was hacked, just before my hard drive burned itself up.


I have sold over 400 knives in the past 15 years. I am older and retired now and I seem to be enjoying blacksmithing more than making knives.


I did just finish up several knife billets made with steel items I had in the shop [farrier's rasps, some blocks of 4140, pieces of old hammers and saw blades, etc]. Those knives will be for sale on my site as I finish them up.


Working on a larger Bowie right now that is already sold- will probably make two.



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