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I Forge Iron

1.3-1.4% C Crucible Steel

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So, I'm working on another run of crucible in between commissions for sanity sake. This one is a little lower C than I've grown accustomed to, but hope it survives into the end.

It was melted and weighed out to 4.5 pounds. It was then roasted for ~22 hours and am poised to start the forging process.






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Was on the verge of chucking this bar today because it was not looking good under the scope. Decarb from the soak may have left a carbon content gradient that needed to be ground through revealing the true nature.

As can be seen in the picture below. The amount of spheroidized cementite looks very low in concentration to be 1.3-1.4% to me. This took roughly 6 hours to turn into a short oblong bar.


This is the picture (directly below) that made me feel like there just wasnt enough cementite.



So here I am today, about to give up on the bar. Assuming I either cooked all the carbon out in the roasting by not protecting the Ingot well enough or I overestimated carbon content. Either way, after another 3-4 hours of forging, I felt the bar finally give under the hammer and feel like a beautiful piece of steel and not a hunk of cast iron.

The watering pattern at the edge gave me a sigh of relief. Whew. Lucky me, the bar weighs over 4 pounds. Lots of blades if all remains well.


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Thanks. Given that it did water, the carbon content was indeed 1.3ish.

Even with a power hammer, crucible steel is rough. Easy, easy, easy to mess up. Really hard to sync everything together just right.

It was indeed crucible steel and Ric Furrers special that got me into smithing period.

The pattern will become more bold and pronounced the further I go as long as i dont screw it up. As of right now that etched section is still over an inch thick. The pattern gets better as you gradually get closer to blade thickness.

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I have it stored in my phone. Her opinion diverges from Verhoeven. It's difficult to make heads or tails out of who may be right, except for the fact that she doesnt make or forge crucible steel and Verhoeven worked closely with Pendray who did.

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Most of us just use the term Wootz because it is shorter, and most have realized that the only thing differentiating between modern crucible steels and historic wootz is the melting process, getting the alloying agents in the billet to form a good pattern. However I typically reserve the term for the better patterns and not the inferior ones I've seen produced by several as of late.

The patterns often associated with historic wootz are obtained irrespective of melting procedure 

A pattern in the end is dictated by chemistry, melting temp/time, time of solidification, roasting, forging procedure and heat treatment.

There are many forms of crucible steel out there that wildly change one of those key things to form a different pattern, such as bulat.

Modern purveyors of crucible steel have finally gone a little further than Pendray, and the field is getting smarter by the day.

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Yes Wootz is a subset of crucible steels not the superset.  Huntsman wasn't interested in large dendritic grains; in fact they were considered a problem and so crucible steels were teemed into ingots and then heavily forged to refine them. 

I have Dr Feuerbach's thesis on disk as she kindly sent copies out to members of the Archaeological Metallurgy mailing list who requested them back when she got her Doctorate.  I also discussed wootz with Al Pendray when he demo'd at Quad-State.( I was his SOFA provided assistant---as I was for Ric's demo on '3 ways to make steel' as well.  Its a great way to be up close at demo's and be able to ask a lot of questions.  Ric even dealt well with the floating plastic eyeball in his quench tank.)

Patterned steels for bladesmithing are only a small portion of historical crucible steel usage no matter how some groups would like to define it.

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Social media is a beautiful thing. Ann, Ric and pretty much the whole community talk, argue and present data, arguments for or against and examples all the time.

The best wootz maker in the world resides in Finland, and it is his methods that I borrow from through a friend who took a class with him.

Tbh, thanks to social media I am close friends with most of the steelmaking giants. Both professionally and personally.

I am even friends with one of Al's students and friend and he helps me make heads or tails of some things.

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The problem seems to be at my end. Several pm.'s have posted very slowly. And one did not post at all.

It seems that both of us will be viewing it tonight.

I shall be tied up, now,  cooking up some Szchuan Hot and sour soup for myself and Marg  (the marvelous), for this evening.



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Sore throat?  I always loved good H&S soup when I had throat/sinus issues; first couple of spoonfuls are like drinking hot HCl and then blissful relief.

Dan; anything published out of those discussions?  I just started a University job and so have access to the Library now.

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We could bring a gunnysack of chili's!

Dan; I'll ask a friend who is a Metallurgy Prof if he has heard of anything; I bring metallurgy questions to him and he brings blacksmithing questions to me---a sort of symbiosis.

I'm currently reading the thesis+ on the monsoon wind powered smelters of Taprobane.

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So found out there was a void in the center of the puck which led to a long cold shut. I decided to skip "killing" the melt this previous time with my go to method and instead tried to use Calcium Carbonate. Apparently not enough. Sucks, but its part of the game. 18 hours of forging under the powerhammer, 80# of propane tons figure it out though.

I had just finished coarsening the cementite and started to stretch it out too. Oh well.

Time for a new melt tonight. An old puck and some chunks of this recently worked bar. Should get me around 1.6-1.7% C.





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This is what I do when I encounter failures in steel making. I always, always, always pick myself back up and keep going.

New 5.5 pound puck, it is in the kiln roasting right now and the resulting metallographic structure will tell me more about carbon content, but according to estimations it can be 1.4% C at the lowest, and 1.7%C at the highest.

Broke the 1st use crucible though, oh well.





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