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Cappygold

Forge welding/ pattern welding combos

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Hey everyone, I hope there is not a similar thread already but I could not find it either way.  I am looking for everyones experience with forge welding different steels together.  What combos work, which will fail almost every time etc.  As I am aware the most common combo is 15n20 and 4140 or 1080/90

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Perhaps you could ILL a book like "The Pattern Welded Blade" by James Hrisoulas at your local public library instead of asking us to type in what it covers. Of course if what you want to do is NOT blades; then that might NOT be the best source.  You didn't say what you want to do with it---Jewelry? Ornamental ironwork? Armour? Blades?....

My favorite fool around billet is bandsaw blade and pallet strapping; start with 25 layers! (I quench test the pallet strapping to select higher carbon content for blade billets)

Also some mixes work better in propane forges than in coal, coke or charcoal forges; what kind op forge do you have?

I will say that a sodium and calcium billet pretty much needs to be done in a hard vacuum...Metallic Hydrogen takes a lot of pressure...

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A nice and inexpensive combo with good color is "wagon tire" and old horse drawn buggy springs. Its pretty bullet proof and if you make sure one of the springs is in the middle makes a pretty good knife.

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1075, 1080 and 1084 are forgiving to work with and weld nicely to 15n20. 1095 is also great but requires a little more attention to detail on the quench. There are things you Should do every time that you can get away with not doing on some alloys, doesn't mean you're doing everything right, just that some alloys will let you get away with it. Things like normalizing cycles. O1 welds nice and can make a great pattern welded blade as long as you weld it to something with the same range for heat treat. You have 4140 on your list which is a water hardening alloy and wont get as hard or temper the same as the higher carbon steels on your list. The question isn't always "what can I get to stick to each other", but "how are these two or more alloys going to heat treat?". 4140 could be welded to W1 because they have a critical temp close enough to each other to harden together and they are both water hardening. Hopefully you will have enough carbon migration during forge welding that they will balance each for the temper. There are so many alloys available today I doubt that all the possible combinations have been tried. If someone is just learning how to weld it's best to follow on the work others have successfully done and proven to be good combinations. Once you're getting good, repeatable results from two known alloys like 1084 and 15n20 then start your own experiments and post the results. If you want to achieve a different effect, like a lower contrast than you get with 15n20, try welding up two alloys with different carbon content but no nickel. They will still etch but it will be shades of grey without the silver. What you etch with can have a big effect on appearance too. One of my favorite finishes for pattern welded projects is Casey Birchwood gun blue. There are also "plumb brown" metal finishing solutions that will still allow the layers to be seen in a more subtle way.

My personal combos are,

1095-15n20

5160-mild (or wrought)

5160-A36

5160-1095

O1-1095

O1-mild (or wrought)

Those are the known alloys I've had the best results with for my purposes but it's also a lot of fun to make something beautiful out of pallet strapping and old band saw blades. You may never know what the alloys involved are but when it works it's no less rewarding!

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