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Tomas Benadik

Stainless Damascus - how to do it?

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Greetings, gentlemen.

 

I recently tried to do the stainless Damascus for the first time.

In my blacksmithing master's shop (not having my own yet) we followed instructions by Ariel Salaverria to the letter (http://www.aescustomknives.com/docs/tutorial16.htm).

 

On the first attempt, the container burned through after several minutes, hence the stacked steels were too cold to weld.

 

We thought that perhaps the temperature was too high or there was too much WD40 inside. Hence, on the second attempt we put paper soaked in WD40 only on one end of the container and we poured out WD40 after squeezing it inside. We also started with slightly lower temperature.

Result - after several minutes the container exploded, scattering burning coke around the shop.

Luckily, nobody was injured and the shop didn't catch fire, but it wasn't very nice.

Please see the attached picture of container after it was recovered.

 

Any ideas how to do it properly? Is there any other way to do stainless Damascus in the forge?

It is a simple coke-burning forge.

 

Many thanks!

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Having never done the process before, I'd think you should be doing that in a gas forge.  Coke/coal heat tends to be intense (hense the burn through and exploding can).  Doing it in a coke/coal forge you'll have to control the heat.  Mellow your fire and keep the canister turning until heated evenly then bring up to welding temp. 

Like I said, I've never done the process nor plan to.  IDK, the canister seems to me to be a bomb waiting to happen.

Somebody here has done this, I'm sure.  They'll set us both strait.

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You have to leave a small hole in the container to allow for expansion and escape of gasses or it is like heating a can of beans on the stove without opening it........KA-----BOOMMM !

 

This type of damascus can easily be done in a coke or coal fire if heated slowly and evenly. Canned damascus  ( powdered metal ) is done this way all the time. Patience is one of the things blacksmithing teaches us and it should be used here or the results could be disastrous. 

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I am not one who does this process, but those I know who do it use only a small squirt of WD-40… it gasifies to fill the container with fumes, pushing the air out through the small hole doc mentioned.  You seem to be using MUCH more than that!

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have you welded before?  Stainless is not for beginners,  Did you look through the knife section and read how others are doing it.

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 I havent even played with stainless yet...i havent had a need to....reminds me since it is sunny today I gotta get back to the wrought iron weld...

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You have to leave a small hole in the container to allow for expansion and escape of gasses or it is like heating a can of beans on the stove without opening it........KA-----BOOMMM !

 

This type of damascus can easily be done in a coke or coal fire if heated slowly and evenly. Canned damascus  ( powdered metal ) is done this way all the time. Patience is one of the things blacksmithing teaches us and it should be used here or the results could be disastrous. 

I agree with doc cuz if you didn't do this, You have to leave a small hole in the container to allow for expansion and escape of gasses or bad things can happen. BTW, You have to leave a small hole in the container to allow for expansion and escape of gasses or the above will happen. Furthermore, You have to leave a small hole in the container to allow for expansion and escape of gasses to avoid explosion. The link in the OP, while you may have followed to the letter, left out one important part: You have to leave a small hole in the container to allow for expansion and escape of gasses.

Just sayin' ;)

Scott

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I looked through the tutorial you linked and I did not find anywhere it said to drill a relief hole.

There is something I see in the pics that may have worked for him. If you look at the can. one end is crushed flat before steel is placed inside...on the sides of the the steel the can has folded inward. I believe that allowed the inward areas to expand outward as the pressure increased. Both sides of the can also ballooned outward the whole length. That I think matched the space needed for the heated gases inside to have room. 

I do not know wot length billet you tried to make. but I do a bit less than one foot long. I weld caps on both ends...I have never made or wish to make a pipe bomb so I drill one end,,the one farthest away from the welded on handle. I always expect a little rocket flame out the hole,,(but have never seen it happen).

I am so glad no one was maimed in this incident. It sure seemed you looked for a good tutorial and say you followed it as directed. 

Sometimes that is just not enough,,try looking at various sources for advice. 

I started almost every life event with a thought.."wot is the worst thing that could happen?" If that leads me to step back I may not do it at all,,,but most times I will find ways that I may eliminate the risk.

You posing this question here for everyone to offer thoughts is a great step. 

Remember that any member of this forum can post answers for you. Same with other sites. Experience is not required. Expertise is also not a must. That can be good and bad, however it will not take anyone long to figure out who to really pay attention to and separate out those that just type to see their names in ink. 

When i am in doubt I usually ask for them to show a pic of their work. In this case the pics of the claws show really sweet work...

I have not welded SS, can or no,,but have done a lot of high carbon steel for knives  and have more waiting for me in shop. 

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he did not state drilling a hole but from the looks of the crushed end, that is not welded, so that could allow the gas to escape.  As I said in the knife making classe's  " I add an 1/8 inch hole in the can for gas excape".  No need to go into that again here, either people will read it to learn, or they wont.

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Any liquid will turn to gas at some temperature including water There must always be a pressure relief hole. You guys were fortunate. Too bad the directions did not state this.

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Well Tomas, there is a Chinese curse that says ''May you live in interesting times'' and it would seem that you have had some of that.

 

As Steve said read the  knife section, a bit of a mission I know , but if you want diamonds/gold you got to do a bit of digging mate! :D

 

I think Dodge may ;)  have mentioned leave a small hole!

 

The wd40 is intended to burn up the O2 in the canister you could even substitute it with a small piece of corrugated cardboard. Same result. There are other ways ie. Including a small metal tube connected to an inert(Non Flammable) gas supply and then displace the oxygen slowly. This is the way it's done on the exotics not easy nor simple but really successful. 

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Gentlemen, I can't thank you enough - for your expertise, advice, willingness and words of encouragement.

I'll head back to the shop as soon as I can - hopefully this time I'll emerge victorious :)

 

As for my experience so far - I had some some cable and chainsaw Damascus, which is another beast entirely, I understand.

I wouldn't be playing around with stainless had it not been for a want of a bit of jewellery - and that would look rather sad when rusty :)

 

Thanks again!

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Just to clarify,Tomas, I believe you were on the right track putting the billet in the welded can. I have never welded stainless, myself, however it wasn't the material that caused the failure, but rather the welded can's preparation. The procedure in the link you provided, in my humble opinion, was grossly lacking in direction and disclaimer of the danger. As others have suggested, the maker of that link could, in deed have left the folded end of the can un-welded to accommodate gaseous expansion, but where he failed was not explaining the importance of the venting. Please, don't give up. Even with proper instruction, we all have to do our own R&D, however, we need to be aware of the rules that simply cannot be broken and these rules almost always involve safety. While that link was informational, it failed by not making these rules evident. Canned damascus is actually not that hard. Another smith whom I deeply respect would say, "its so easy, even I can do it" :D

Scott

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I was at Quad-State one year where the demonstrator said he never drilled a hole as his arc welds were never that good---then the can that had been welded up *well* by his demo helper popped in the forge.

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Jim Batson described this sort of weld as a pipe bomb once.  The hole is important. (I have since seen Jim perform this very weld, but no explosions)

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If you want to weld stainless, you may want to try with a simple San Mai blade where you sandwich a piece of high carbon steel between two outer pieces of stainless. No can. Just use the same size pieces of material and clamp all three together, then weld the perimeter ...mig or tig, add a tang and off to the forge for 10-15 soak at about 2300 deg. Pull it out and hammer away. You'll get a somewhat wavy cutting edge after grinding to shape and etching in ferric chloride.
John Emmerling
Gearhart Ironwerks

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if you weld all around, what do you do when it bubbles up from expansion? Because  it cant slip due to all those welds.   Plus remember if it welds up , you need to remove the weldment.

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In 2002 I welded a billlet stack all the way around,,,once...That was the last time I had a billet fail to weld and I was not able to save that one....Will not try again...everyone since has worked fine

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