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Forge Welded Pattern Steel


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 I have plans to make a pattern welded steel knife, I purchased some 1080 and 15N20 online. I wanted to practice forge welding with four 3 in long pieces of 3/16 in x 1.5 in mild steel. I held it together with REbar wire and fluxed it with mule team borax. I was unsuccessful, which I suppose isn’t surprising as it was my first attempt. I’m worried that my single burner propane forge may not get hot enough for forge welding. My process was as follows:

 first I ground the faces of the steel, then wiped them down with acetone. I tied the billet with the wire and gave the forge time to heat up and put it in the forge till they a dull red then fluxed it. I left it in the forge till it was yellow then brought it out fluxed again a gave it several light taps at which point I thought the preliminary weld had set. I fluxed and put it back in the fire. At yellow temp I went at it with some heavier blows and at this point the pieces started sliding and the wire had burnt through. In the next heat I lost the outer layers of billet fell off and I was left with two pieces which I attempted and fail to weld. 

I just want to see you anyone sees any obvious flaws in my process. Any pointers? Also are 1080 and 15N20 easier to weld than mild steel? Should I practice with a simple folded piece of steel and try to forge weld that? Thoughts?

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In general mild steel requires a higher welding temperature than high carbon steels, so in that respect it can be a little easier to weld 1080 to 15N20. 

The only issue that I have with your explanation of what you did is the "light taps."   I'm not really sure the best way to explain the initial hits, but I would not describe them as light taps.  To me they are more like firm "dead blows."   You don't want to hit with the same force as you do for moving the metal into different shapes, but you want the force of the blows to travel through all the pieces in the stack. Too much force can bounce the layers apart from each other.  Too little and you don't get the layers to stick well to each other.  I've mostly welded high carbon steels and I'm certainly no expert on the topic.  Maybe someone else out there can explain it better than I can.  If you have the opportunity or can make the opportunity I recommend spending some time with a person who has experience and can correct you when you go wrong on the spot.

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