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I Forge Iron

First Cable Damascus


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I'm walking through the scrap yard the other day and found a big honking piece of cable.  The owner of the scrap yard says, "Take it." so I do.  Cut off a hunk, forge weld it, flatten it, heat treat, and low and behold, nice and hard with a beautiful grain pattern.  So, had a little free time and thought it would be fun to give a cable knife a quick try.

I wasn't sure how much I would need, and probably took a little more than I should have.  12" overall. 7" blade.  Its pretty dang heavy.  All of the sanding was done on the grinder.  Didn't have time to spend hand sanding like I would on any other knife I made, but I think it still came out pretty cool.  Might have to pump out a few more of these.  Took it to work to show a buddy who is a "knife guy" and while he's looking at it, I get orders for two of them from other people just walking by. 

I'll never understand people.  I spend 30 hours making a knife that I think is fit to hand down to future generations, but then I do something just for the fun of it, knock it out in just a few hours, and its the most popular knife I make.  (rolls eyes)... some people's kids.DSCN2900.thumb.jpg.bff3261ca1850171b4e0aDSCN2901.thumb.jpg.029dc597e808ed2b6c428DSCN2896.thumb.jpg.3d38707e2bfca8ac84b0dDSCN2891.thumb.jpg.a8d8751db615b088af3e6DSCN2898.thumb.jpg.dd4ca5e2743d7ca7816a5

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You're obviously spending too much time on your knives. :rolleyes:  Truth is sometimes just doing a thing makes a more pleasing product than taking special care.

Nice pattern in the blade by the way.

Frosty The Lucky.

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34 minutes ago, Michael Cochran said:

Looks like a fine knife. I've been wanting to try that but the little bit of cable I have is only 5/8" and the wires are so small I'll probably burn off all the caparbon before I got it done. How big was yours? 3/4" maybe?

This cable measures up just a hair over an inch, not sure if inch and an eighth, or just one inch but do to normal variances, it measure up slightly over.

This was actually my second attempt.  On the first one, I just tossed it in the forge to start burning off the oils and everything, and then fluxed and heated to welding temp, but I couldn't get the ends to weld up.  I kept going slightly hotter and then before I knew it, half of one side of the cable was gone... melted away.

On this one, I mig welded the ends of the cable before I started, and that made all the difference.  Once I had each end forged welded and shaped in to a square, I just heated the whole thing, fluxed it, and tightened the twist in the vice.  Everything seemed to weld up very nicely after that.  I ended up cutting about a half inch off the end, before forming the blade, because there were some burnt ends from a few of the strands.

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13 minutes ago, TwistedCustoms said:

Nice work! What did you etch with? Ferric chloride always makes my cable look wavy and never with such pronounced contrast. I like it.

I used ferric chloride. lol.  After the first 15 minute etch, there wasn't a whole of contrast, so I just used some thousand grit to sand it down a little, then etched it again. repeated that two more times.  Took a total of about 45 minutes in three separate etches, with sanding in between to get what little contrast is there.  Its decent for what it is, but I've seen picture where the pattern is really quite bold.  Maybe another etching cycle or two would bring it out even more, but I just wanted to call it done and go to bed. lol

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Just now, Darious said:

what im wondering is how will the edge hold up? Have you done any testing to find out?

I tested some of the cable before I ever made a knife to see how it would harden and to see how refined I could get the grain pattern, and I was extremely happy with both.  I haven't put this one through much use or abuse yet though, but the brass rod test was promising, especially considering I was just guessing at the tempering temp... fwiw, I tempered it for two 1 hour cycles at 400.  Its shaving sharp now, and I'm just using it around the shop to cut kindling and what not.  Its holding up fine to the limited amount of use its getting now, but I do plan to put it through some real abuse at some point.  The problem is, I'm guessing that not all cables are created equal, so even if I nail the perfect HT procedure with this one, once I use up the 8 feet I have left, I'll have to go through the whole process again on the next piece of cable I can get. 

For that reason, and the fact that I didn't have to put to much time in on it, I'm just selling them cheap, like I would a spike knife... sure its fun, it will cut (for a while, at least), but its more of a novelty than anything.

If/when I can get around to actually putting it through a true destructive test, I can report back, but again, I don't think all cable is created equal so your results may vary.

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