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I need some help/information on making Damascus

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Forge welding SS isn't a beginner's project. The chrome oxidizes almost instantly and makes welding it a serious challenge. It's doable but the flux is toxic and shouldn't be used without experience.

On the other hand if I take your question correctly you want something flashy and that's really easy. Nickle forge welds with steel quite easily and when etched contrasts vividly. Best of all you don't need an agressive flux at all, plain borax works very well. It can be improved without higher risk if you add 1pt. of boric acid (Roachpruf or available in the pharmacy for a little more $ by name) to 4pts. borax.

If you want to forge weld billets of different steels you want to start with three layers rather than two. The lower C alloy will have a higher melting temp than the HC so it's harder to get welding heat without damaging the HC in a two layer weld. Placing one layer of HC between two layers of LC shields the HC from the fire.

Now, if you want a specific pattern like a personal "mark" or "Marque," you want pattern welding rather than folded damascus. Pattern welding is done by stacking different shapes of different alloys in a mild steel shell and forge welding gently. Then slices are taken to expose the pattern.

This is a very involved and varied subject and I'm not a practitioner of it outside of a little speramentein for funsies.


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Actually Pattern Welded refers to anything where you actively pattern the billet rather than just layer it and leave it---(which was called piling by archeo-metallurgists.)

Mosaic Damascus is when you can it or otherwise create a design that you then can slab and use for a mosaic tile in another billet or jsut on it's own---like for buttons.

Real wrought iron and nickel give good definition too.

If you don't need the hardenability stay away from the problems of using High C alloys
and as Frosty has so rightly said don't mess with stainless steels if you don't have to! (and sometimes even then!)

A typical mosaic piece might start with a piece of mild steel sq tubing that you place a Ni sheet design in---lets say your initials made from 1/16" x1" Ni---you want to have some vertical length. Then you pack steel blasting shot around/in the Ni pieces filling the section of tubing. give it a shot of WD40 as an O2 consumer and weld a top and handle on it---leaving a weep hole for pressure relief.

Heat and weld trying to keep the can's crossection nice and square.

When welded you can draw it out trying to keep the can's cross section nice and square and have several inches of a smaller sq rod that will have a nice bright Ni set of initials in it that can be slabbed and used as part of another billet.

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That is grate info, thank you both.

I will fined a source for nickel and give nickel w/ steel a try. Actually based on your advice I may try a stack of 1018 and 1008 just because I have it sitting around and it will give me something to do while I wait for the nickel to show up. I will leave the SS with my collection of AL in my fabrication aria.

As far as putting the pattering in, I intend to make a piece of folded Damascus and than mill the shape I want out and cast copper or possibly silver into the milled grove. I’m no place near ready for pattering welding, but maybe some day.

I will haft to give the suggested pattern in a can method a try too, just for the sake of interest and learning.

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1018 and 1008 will give very little differentiation when welded together.

Can you try slipping some large bandsaw blade strips into it to give som Ni to the mix?

Note: do not put two pieces of Ni bansaw blade back to back, always have some plain steel in between as Ni welds much easier to steel than Ni to Ni.

Now if you are a real geek "Solid Phase Welding of Metals", Tylecote; will go into what is actually happening in great detail.

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With damascus (pattern welding) start with as many layers as you can if you want an intersting pattern. Even 'low layer' damascus is 32 / 64 layers.

Basically, If you have the correct conditions for the weld to take (heat / atmosphere / flux / pressure etc) then 20 layers will pretty well weld as easily as 4 layers.

I have found the errors start to creep in after the 1st weld.

If you are welding in a gas forge (the only way ive done it) when you think your billett is ready for the 1st tap on the anvil (or press squeeze!) , take it out, flux it again, and then let it 'soak' for a couple more mins in the forge. Then weld it.

Steel isnt a great conductor of heat, so whilst the outside might be at welding heat the middle of the 'stack' might not be.

there are some excellent DVD's out on patternwelding (including ED C who posts on here). A couple of $ and hours watching these will save hours or weeks of frustration!

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A source of nearly pure nickle is Canadian quarters and dimes.

If you have a welding supply near by you can buy 98% nickle welding wire.

It'll give you something to experiment with while you wait for the foil order to arrive. When you order the foil, sheet or shim stock you might want to order some nickle screen, it makes for some interesting patterns in a billet.


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If it's a hood ornament, won't rusting be an issue? I appreciate you want to get some Damascene/forgewelding experience, but I think you should consider mokume gane. You can make it from a variety of metals (varying difficulties I understand), including nonferrous.

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www.umbaonline has several DVD-Rs dealing with the making of damascus.
cost for a 5 1/2 hour DVD is $5 plus shipping
roger in Minnesota

Hi Roger. Which DVD's would you recommend for making pattern welded steel, and forge welding in general?

There are so many videos on the site.:confused: Any favorites out there?
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For basic hand hammered damascus Jim Hon......ras DVD (sorry, forgotton his name, sure some kind person will know!) is hard to beat.

Its a bit of a 'slow burner' to start with, but covers all the basics very well.

Defacing / destroying currency is a crime in the UK - (might be a monarchy thing, dont want to upset the queen, you could end up in the tower of london :) )

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GrandLordKhorne, the best tip I have for you is like the other folks said is buy Ed Caffrey's video and do everything he does, you will be successful..One other tip which I think helps me is when you put your stack together, take your time and clean off the scale on the individual pieces, then put the stack in a vice and squeeze the crap out of it, then while still in the vise weld on the handle and then weld a bead down the opposite side. Seems to weld better for me when the stack is nice and tight..

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Yup, defacing coins is a felony here too, but not one well enforced. Having said that, living in the USA I don’t think our laws prevent us from defacing foreign currency on our soil.

I have ordered a thin sheet of Nickel which I hope arrives soon and determined that I don’t have enough Canadian money to be of much use. But I’m also ordering a number of the DVD’s suggested and intend to just play around welding scrap 1008 to 1018 in the mean time, even though I know it will not give a lot of definition welding practice is practice. I’m also working on a new specialized smaller forge just for making Damascus and welding which will be complete in a week or so, but I don’t intend to use any of the nickel until I have watched the DVD’s and gotten used to welding some of my scrap. I will post pics when I get some place with all of this.

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Yup, defacing coins is a felony here too, but not one well enforced. Having said that, living in the USA I don’t think our laws prevent us from defacing foreign currency on our soil.

Nickel (United States coin))

As of December 14, 2007 dc, the value of the metal in a United States nickel coin reached 5.5759 cents, a 1.11518 premium over its face value,[4] due to the rising costs of copper and nickel[5] against a falling U.S. Dollar. In an attempt to avoid losing large quantities of circulating nickels to melting, the United States Mint introduced new interim rules on December 14, 2006 criminalizing the melting and export of cents and nickels. Violators of these rules can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000, five years imprisonment, or both.[6]

Nickels minted from 1942-1945 during World War II contain 1.75 g (0.05626 oz) silver. The silver content of these "war nickels" as of February, 2008 is worth $1.06.

As of February 2, 2008 dc, the value of the metal in United States nickel coin has reached 6.612482746 cents, a 1.32249655 premium over its face value,[7] due to the rising costs of copper and nickel[8] and the declining U.S. Dollar.

On February 8, 2008, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow for changing the metal components in U.S. coins due to the rising cost of commodities and the declining U.S. Dollar. [9]

As of March 6, 2008 the value of the metal in the United States nickel coin has reached 7.27660499 cents, a 1.455321 premium over its face value,[10] due to the rising costs of copper and nickel[11] and the declining U.S. Dollar.

also banned is leaving the country with more than $5 in nickels or shipping (for legitimate coinage and numismatic purposes) more than $100 in nickels
The United States Mint Pressroom

also includes pennies (copper clad zinc)

once apon a time all money was based on a metal standard :rolleyes:
now its just "legal tender" valued at what the fed says it is

US nickels are roughly 75% copper and 25% nickel
Nickel Silver/German Silver/Alpacca/Paktong

Canadian Nickels:
2000–present.....3.95 g.........21.2 mm, round............94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, 2% nickel plating
1982–2001........4.6 g...........21.2 mm, round............75% copper, 25% nickel
1963–1981........4.54 g.........21.21 mm, round...........99.9% nickel
1955–1962........4.54 g.........21.21 mm, 12-sided.......99.9% nickel
1951–1954........4.54 g.........21.21 mm, 12-sided.......chrome-plated steel
1946–1950........4.54 g.........21.21 mm, 12-sided.......99.9% nickel
1944–1945........4.54 g.........21.21 mm, 12-sided.......chrome-plated steel
1942–1943........4.54 g.........21.21 mm, 12-sided.......88% copper, 12% zinc ("tombac")
1922–1942........4.54 g.........21.21 mm, round...........99.9% nickel
1920–1921........1.167g.........14.494 mm, round.........80% silver, 20% copper
1858–1919........1.167g.........14.494 mm, round.........92.5% silver, 7.5% copper

1964................big nickel......9 meters, 12-sided ........Plywood and Stainless Steel
(imagine there would be some legal repercussions on this side for melting that one down :P )
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Jim Hrisoulas, author of "The Pattern Welded Blade" perhaps?

BTW I was told that it was not ilegal to deface currancy only to pass it afterwards. This was from a friend running a minting operation; he researched it when he found he could overstrike certain coins completely obliterating the original markings and they were *much* cheaper than buying planchets and as the coins were not passed as currancy there was no problem.

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