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I Forge Iron

Oroshigane (photo heavy)


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*NOTE: My memory of some things is a little foggy. This project was ongoing and posted on my IG with some details not here I imagine @caublestonecutlery

This is about 30% of the steel I made this year. Some of it didnt make the cut as I was experimenting and testing different parameters of the furnace and run.


Average spark of this seasons orishigane


The puck that the spark belonged to



Cut puck in half. Rather porous to be expected, but still very dense


Polished and etched to show dendritic structure






Spark test showing extremely high levels of carbon


Very neat puck. This one showed a gradient of cast to steel.




Break on the edge indicated cast


Spark test of steel portion


Another steel portion


As we move into the cast region the spark starts to turn red and shorten


Another very short reddish spark






Here is a sample piece from same puck showing gradient



Not really sure why i posted two of identical pic.


Fuzzy pic of same piece etched


Better pic of etched surface


Time to cold break with 12# sledge


Fractured like glass

20170628_192344.jpgPolished and etched a sample

20170917_192024.jpgI found out a Lowes 20 miles away had 3k firebrick.

20170917_194554.jpgSo I decided to make a traditional japanese side blown

20170917_210422.jpgNeeded a table made for this.

20170918_195531.jpgYou got that right. I had a little guidance by from a friend of a Japanese Swordsmith for the construction.

20170918_202639.jpgThe EPK clay I washed it down with was cured

20170919_180204.jpgI wanted to leave as much ash as possible

20170919_182445.jpgThis i gently packed down

20170921_075506.jpgMore pure ash added

20170921_132527.jpgWetted and packed in further

20170923_111227.jpgRod for tekogane plate


20170923_113857.jpgEven some japanese sword smiths use Borax for this step.

20170923_114119.jpgA mix of some borax and rice straw ash, along with Japanese rice paper to wrap.

20170923_114206.jpgIt wraps well. No wonder they use this.

20170923_114311.jpgCoated in more rice straw ash

20170923_114416.jpgClay slurry I created a year ago when these endeavors began

20170923_114542.jpgLiterally first forging in this new forge was this project. Feel confident.

20170923_123530.jpgThe confidence was somewhat warrented, and also not. I lost about 1.5# of material into the forge, as the rod was made of orishigane, and that was my mistake. Not shown in the pics is the creation of the rod, made of material like the rest of the sword material. So it melted. Not to panic, I had the rod from the previous half and it was made of wrought iron with a much higher melting point. At this point there was no fuss, and I wire welded it to my bar that was now 1.5# lighter. It consolidated well however.

20170923_123534.jpgAs you can see

20170923_124201.jpgI went on to fold this bar, alternating my cut and fold width wise, and length.

20170923_135648.jpgThis is a lengthwise fold




20170923_144202.jpgClean bar. 5 folds (Ran out of charcoal for a 6th). I will fold this 1 more time, and then stretch and cut in half, and doing the same with the bar from last year, combine them all to fold together another 6+ times.

20170923_145815.jpgEven after 5 folds, the carbon level is very intense.



That's it for now. Other projects have pulled my attention.


Thanks. Its a ton of fun. A lot of work and practice has lead to this 

The blues were actually in my orishigane. The grade 1/b tamahagane is just meant for my own study.


This is video of my work on this last year.



Again, last year making the first half of this blade. 



Each heat is basically a fold, so yea welding heat. It may get a quick low heat at the actual folding the bar over part as it is a bear to bend and work such a high carbon steel. Once tbe temps cool down cool enough as the bar is being drawn out, it feels like a thick bar of W2 or mildly the same resistance something like crucible will give the hammer.


The first half i worked last year was a tremendous amount of work. I was developing my methodology while also figuring out how to get the steel the cleanest. The first half was made from melted wrought and some had bloomery bits in it. Except after reading aristotles accounts of steel in his version of a furnace, i learned that if i took the material i melted once already and melted it again, i would have a cleaner steel that had a higher homogenity in carbon. Which it did. The only drawback was the return in steel quantity was greatly diminished.


I think the first bar had probably 12 melts worth of steel in it. Which incudes the remelts of the melts.


Between that bar and this bar i made a fair amount for testing and even made some for trades with other smiths. Then i took a break ajd started working on other projects. Charcoal is expensive, and i get bored of making charcoal in the retort.


I revived this project after spending the day at Jesvs's old house on top of the mountain. He had a lot of spare crane cable, and implored me to use it in remelts.


So this past spring i decided to do probably another 20 melts or so testing out one parameter of the furnace to another. I even ran into some problems that required me to have a neureaka moment while reading Art of the Japanese Sword.

This last bar is made from remelted crane cable for the most part and my hope is that the differing feed materials may lend to a contrasting hada on the blade in the end.

Ive found that the feed material isnt all that important. I still have tk send pieces for analysis, but my suspicion is that the remelt process at least strips the steel of Mn in the melt. My testing with the remelts over time have indicated this. Ive melted 1018 that had .8Mn per spec sheet, and the resulting 5 fold steel example was as shallow as you would expect from Mn devoid steels. The modern steel remelt also did not require a 2nd or 3rd remelting to achieve the cleanest steel possible either.


It all folds and sticks to itself like a dream.

I think you have seen a lot of this live on my IG Caleb.

Have been working on the ability to push carbon into high carbon steels to make them higher carbon steels using higher carbon orishigane and carbon migration principles laid out by Verhoeven.


This orishigane was pulled from the furnace and knowing how well I can make ultra high carbon steel from one end of the puck to the other, used the entire mini-bloom of orishigane. Folding was conducted using my own formulation of mud and rice straw ash.


From there it was folded 9 times and laid to rest until I was ready to use it.


The spark yielded a rather high carbon spark. Much higher than W2, so I set out to sanmai weld W2 with orishigane at mid to high temp welding heats with soak in hopes of pushing carbon into the W2. Then drawn out into a billet to be used as core material.


From there I constructed a sanmai with this material and my usual 1018 mild jacket. This time using a lower temp forgeweld to mitigate migration into the mild.


Drawn out and a gyuto was made. Hardened using japanese Ht techniques and just got done machine grinding it. On to hand sanding.


Unfortunately I dont have time to make this a kasumi style kitchen knife and stone polish it like I really wanted to as this is going to Bladeshow and I dontnhave time. So sandpaper, loose abrassives and etchants it is.



I started polishing it for kasumi anyway (japanese natural stone polish). Long way to go :0



Some micrographs of the core steel. The core steel is again W2 sandwiched between orishigane. A few show the clean weld of the two disimilar metals. I need to obtain a few more etchants to show grain boundaries.




It's an obsession I've fine tuned for over 6 years now.

I've started micrographing my steel from the raw hearth steel. My results compliment findings in historically produced steels found by archaeologists which is neat. I am currently poised to be assisting in creating a large database of structures for other researchers to use.

Lately I have pushed my furnace to cross the 2% C threshold and making larger quantities of white cast to be mixed and blended into my steel. Once carbon starts to cross 2%, ledeburite starts to form and the material starts to become a ceramic. 








I've been talking with several archaeologists and even Skip William's (which reminds me that I need to get back in touch with him) about these structures.

At any rate, I've gotten better at polishing for pics. Heres some more of steel under 2% C but right at it. Super nice stuff. This material is going into my nihonto projects and kitchen knives.

What you see is saturated pearlite with grain boundary cementite. Once the steel is eutectoid, perlite can no longer store cementite.






And some crazy widmenstatten structures that are probably widmenstatten ferrite, but based on my sparks on some of it, I swear its widmenstatten cementite.








I've hit above 4%, lol. Some of that ledeburite pics show carbon in the 3.8-4% range.


I've also managed to make some gray cast with precipitated graphite. However, it doesnt play nice so its avoided.






This will make things clearer .en-iron-carbon-phase-diagram-complete.png


You are welcome Jerrod. I knew I was pushing into crazy territory, but didnt fully understand cast characteristics until most recently, and what to look for in my product.


As stated earlier in this or my crucible thread, I had various samples of my crucible steel and some hearth steel for a researcher to look at. On of the samples was a 4fold piece of hearth steel. He had mentioned then that I had a clean band of heavy cementite, or iron carbide in the piece. At the time it was a mystery, but now things are getting so clear. This is why I love metallurgy and steel creation. Theres so much I learn the further I go in my journey that I am able to critically inspect previous work and findings a refine my understanding.

Anyway, the piece was cool and he did take a micrograph, albeit not as bright as mine are.


He also used a Vickers hardness test that the microscope was outfitted with to determine between ferrite and cementite structures. Inside that dark band it was showing all of or most of the white to be cementite at the grain boundaries.


It was really bizarre to see and try to decipher. Skip messaged me and said ledeburite, and my hunt for knowledge took off. I delved into my microscopy book and many items online. Found a lot of good information, and even stumbled across a bit of research that connected me with an archaeologist in Europe who happened to have already been following my work on IG, lol.

He mentioned the test end was 5x5 microns with a 1g charge. The left side was a pearlite and ferrite strike with the indention being 15% larger and the centered hits are smaller, being cementite or iron carbide.

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Thank you Daniel, I have to follow along as a spectator but I'm loving the ride. 

I have a couple questions though I'm sure you've answered or explained at least one many times. If you have a web site or similar I can do some deeper looking and reading I'd like a link. 

However I'll toss them out now, you can shoo me hither if you're as tired of answering it as I can get. About the clay mix you cover the stacks of plates to weld. I'm pretty sure it's there to prevent oxygen contact, do you break it off before delivering welding blows? If not does the mix require special cleaning before further folding and welding?

Frosty The Lucky. 

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I have a website, but I do not go in depth on the specifics.

When I bring it out of the heat to weld, much of the clay melts as it contains a heavy amount of silica. The power hammer drives it away. If any gets trapped, which I'm sure it does, it is further driven out in the folding process. I have stored a lot of japanese forging footage and converse with a few Japanese swordsmiths (with broken japanese and translators, and vice versa as a few know broken english). They are not always forthcoming, but they are typically happy to show off steps in the process. Doing it long enough I know exactly where to look if I have a question about something, and with video footage going back decades to present day, along with their candid photos, the process is pretty well mapped out.


I will say that part of the mixture sinters to the outside as opposed to melting and I do indeed scrape that off as soon as it comes out.

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I have found Mr. DanielC's  'other' post on,* bladesmithsforum I am very happy to have been made aware of that site, through this thread here.  It appears to be a very authoritative site concerning metallurigal matters and knifemaking.  (this opinion should be tempered in that I have not made many knives, and do not profess to be a cutler).

I also noticed that there are a significant number of I.F.I. members there.

Mr. DanielC mentions that he has had extensive correspondence with metals  archaeologist(s). I have followed that subject for several decades and I'm curious to discover who(m) they are.  Again thanks for the extensive post and pictures. I would be most interested in hearing more about your progress.



* containing the same topic and pictures.

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It is/was Don Foggs site and devoid of all the fluff found on some of the other blade forums. However, the forum format of exchanging information is quite a bit more dead than it ever has been and most of us converse through social media.

I've been talking to a few archaeologists. One that studies medieval weaponry and another that studies ancient metals and their uses. Both are friends, and both have been following my work for some years now apparently. I would share their names, but I am not quite sure that is appropriate given this stage in our plans, idk. I'm poised to write an academic paper (as a non-academic) with one and create a database with the other. Not sure if divulging that information publicly would be wise.

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