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Im starting to have a do at a bit of pattern welding, with very limited success so far! - still a newby so its not worrying me (yet!)

Lack of heat from my little gas forge is one of the main problems (pics in the 'show me you gas forge thread), but im digesting Micheal Porters book at the moment, and a new tube burner is 'in the lathe' now, so I should be cooking properly by the weekend,

I am reading plenty online about the different steels and their compatability / contrast when 'mixed', the confusing thing for me is all of the different international nomicultures for steels, (as a man used solely to the 'EN' system!) - can anyone reccomend an online easy to use comparison guide?

can you reccomend me your favourite simple 'mixes' (pics would be good!)
Ive got a piece of ground flat stock and some steel pallet banding lined up for the next attempt / conversion to scrap pile ! :)

Im not lacking hammer 'firepower' and am trying to run before I can walk, but I like the challenge,

Thanks for any pointers!

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John I know you do not want to,,,but slow down and figure out some basics first, There is simply no reason to make scrap. Tip the odds in your favor with a few crawl, toddle, walk, run, steps first. For sure you say you have a marginal heat source solve that. And youmention that is part of the plan. When you get the Heat right then workd on some basic forgeing projects wioth this in mind; You need to learn how metal moves when hot and trapped between a hammer and an anvil, What really happens when you hit it? which way does it move? what kinds of hammers make it movess in which directions? Spending time on these things alone will help you speed up the learning curve. Billets are not a starting point in 'smithing, I have been throught this and read this reall close. REpeated practice that results in poor end product only makes you better at producing poor products. May want to read that again I do not feel you are slow to comprehend but there is wisdom there. When you have got a good handle on some basics and want to move on don't start with billets.. get to the point that you can do a forge weld 100% of the time without failures. A billet with a poor weld, weak spot, or slag inclusion is a poor end product. The when you get that down stack some mild and high carbon together and put in more hours, weld stack weld stack weld stack then try some destructive testing and see how good your work is. If you bend and it fails start again trying to get the 100% weld success. When you can work at that level You can make a billet. REmember that is not a pattern welded billet. For pattern welding you have to do something to the billet to produce a pattern. I am not one that calls a billet that is welded up and fashioned into whatever it will be a pattern welded whatever it is. Some folks call that a random patter and I can see why they do that. However for me a purposely manipulated billet that produces a predictable pattern is what I call pattern welded. I believe that of all the patterns we can fashion a billet into a twist is one of the nice ones and not hard to do. Square the billet up for its whole length, ( yes that is why know how metal moves will help) Then at welding temperature stick on end in a vise and twist tight. At welding heat flatten it out to what ever size you wish and you have a pattern (twist) welded billet.
Unless...Your forge is not hot enough or you left some slag in the layers or you did not get a 100% weld, If those things are present you will watch as you twist as you billet comes delaminated. I would love to have had this information when I tried the first billet. However about that time I discovered Jim Hrousalas through his two set vhs tape on makeing damascus. What few tips I have given you here are the tip of the iceburg compared to what you really need, Finding his tapes will speed up your learning by a lot of time.

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Bandsaw blade adn pallet strapping is good, but you have to be careful and shear the teeth off the blades first, which a lot of people forget, because when forged down those create voids. This also only works well for /typical/ bandsaw blade and pallet strapping. It helps to know what the metal is ahead of time, usualy you get some L6 variant for the blade, and ~1095 for the strapping (like 1050), but iv'e seen poor blades and poor strapping too which .. makes poor damascus >_< It's good to start with a good high carbon steel because you'll have a decent amount of decarb from the welding process.

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Why should we assume this has to be a high carbon damascus? John didn't say it was for blademaking and so we shouldn't assume that. I'm currently working on a pattern welded helm and there is a lot of ornamental work out there that is not a blade---ever see Billy Merrit's damascus RR spike? Some of the prettiest damascus I have seen was wrought iron and pure Ni---no hardness whatsoever but it sure was pretty! It was used for a pastry tool IIRC.

I've never had any problems, (in the last 20 years or so), with voids from the teeth; of course I usually use metal cutting sawblades that don't have long teeth and I generally size my pallet strapping to be less than the teeth allowing them to scale away a bit before working the sides of the billet.

If you are thinking about making a blade you do have to watch out for bi-metallic blades where the bladestock is a lower alloy than the tooth stock. For that you can put in a bit of file in the folds to beef out the carbon content---old, (pre nicholson), black diamond files were 1.2%C and will work great for a San Mai construction or used earlier in the billet to increase carbon content.

One of the main considerations in a gas forge is getting the atmosphere to be reducing as many of them will not run that way "naturally". If you have trouble getting it reducing you can use lump charcoal as a oxygen scavanger just throw some in the forge.

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try again....

Thanks for all the pointer so far guys,

I post over on BB every now and again so suprised I missed the steel comparison charts.

Rich, dont get me wrong, I have hit a bit of metal in the past, just never tried damascus. I work in the industrial forging industry and deal with some of the most talented blacksmiths in the UK on an almost daily basis - (perhaps newby is a relative term :)

The billet, should it ever be successful ( I will let you know !) will end up pointy. Im not a 'I wanna make a sword' type, but want a 'MeMade' damascus that I can take pride in grinding, handleing & sheathing as a belated wedding gift for my best mate.

The new burner is coming on well - tonight I have been making the flare (for a 1" burner) from a piece of 4" dia s.s. - the only bit to hand, think it will be the most expensive venturi made.... :)

My one and only failed attempt at stacked billet welding was a big file and 1/4" thick m.s (7 layers start), the m.s moved alot faster than the file which I think ripped the welds apart, funny you should mention nicholson Files Mr Powers, Thats my surname :) - must be fate.

I will keep you posted on the success (or scrap pile additions) -

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a couple of snaps of the new burner, with a bit of help from Mr Porters book, and a few 'John' Mods this is the little fella nearly finished. - I reamed the burner tube to 1 1/16" to help the gas flow. The whole thing (except the mig tip) is help together with 'tap together' fits, and slide clearances where needed. I will fire a couple of grub screws into gas accelerator, and the flare before it goes into the forge, just to be sure.

Photo 1
choke fully open

Photo 2
The s.s. flared choke closed

Photo 3
the business end, 1:12 taper turned s.s. flare

and....... finally.......

Photo 4
The first fire - sounds like an F16 on afterburner. This is it at about 1/2 gas pressure (no pressure guage on the regulator)- the flame goes much bigger and stays stable, it seems to be fully tuneable aswell - im happy with it so far

I think Im not far of the perfect 28:1 burn ratio with this one, the forge is ripped to bits being modified to take the burner (the flares deliberatly chunky) - Fingers crossed it burns as good in the forge as in fresh air!!!





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Chuffin eck John! Thats a lovely bit of lathe and mill work, my only worry is it's a bit piddly sized for you though mate surely? :)
Looks a lot like a T-Rex burner, if you've ever looked those up online. BTW I'm not 100% sure but I think that you only need the flare so the burner will work in a free air environment. In the forge I don't think it's needed, but it looks so nice it'd be a shame not to use the little fella. One other thing to remember is that there's a ratio between the size of burner and cubic feet of forge it'll heat, can't remember what it is but I think it'll be buried in the posts here or over the road. If your forge is too big for the burner you'll need two to really get cooking.
Really nice burner though bud, champion!

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cheers Ian, the forge is only a toy, but I wanna pattern weld! - I think you can get away with a flare cast / molded into the lining, but its not as efficient.

I will probably be 'overgunned' for the size of the forge with this single burner, I will be into a host of backpressure / exhaust problems as it is

(the machine shop lads would be taking the mic coz ive only worked to .002 tollerances - I was in a rush ! :) - us accountants can have a do at this machine larky if we put our minds to it !

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A quick update on this one, I got the forge fully modded and its now 'cant look at it / stand near it levels of HOT,

welded up a 10 layer billet (my first, ahhhhhh) tonight and after a quick grind down the edge it looks to have stuck pretty good (dont want to temp fate to much) - drawn it out to 2 times lenght, then ran out of flux so cant fold it ..... dooohhh. will try and get some borax tomorrow and I recon 2 folds, tap it round, a few twists, tap it square and then tap it knife shape - jobs a good un!

then a quick learn on HT / grind and handleing skills and Ill have made a knife !

need to buy some brazing goggles as my eyes are hurting a bit from looking at it, (doesnt help I flashed myself with the stick either)

here it is...... lit for about 10 mins on lowish gas pressure, im very happy with it so far, fitted a stock rack aswell.

.... pls note I realise the rubber hose onto the burner is a big no no and I would not recomend it to anyone!!!! - the burner is ice cold when running , and I disconned the hose when I switch off, before the heat transfers down the burner, It will be 'hard piped' now I know it works .......


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my first ever knife, aswell as my first 'damascus'

pleased as punch with it (its only rough ground and very lightly etched out of curiosity in this pic) ht & proper grind to follow. Its a piece of oddball ground flat stock & pallet strap. started as 9, finished 72 layers.


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Ah'm not suprised you're chuffed mate, thats a grand bit of work for a first try, seriously. I've only ever done a bit of 'cable' damascus meself for a knife, makes me want to try and make a few billets :) Might well do if I ever get chance to build a decent linisher (after tinkering with uprating the JY power hammer) they make seeing that lovely pattern a lot less elbow work.

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