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Folded axe eye weld - Jim Austin

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I was looking at him Austin’s website as I admire his work. I noticed something interesting, he mentions forge welding in a thin piece of high carbon right in front of the eye to make the eye less likely to separate while drifting. This surprised me, the mild always seems to weld better To itself than the carbon to mild does. I would be interested in your thoughts. I intend to try a thin piece of 15n20 I use for Damascus as an experiment in the eye of one and then drift the heck out of it and a mild piece at same time from same bar and see how they do. 

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He told me he started doing this and it increased the percentage of successful welds made by his students in this critical area at the front of the eye.  It certainly worked for me. The HC steel shim welds at a slightly lower temperature,  almost acting like a kind of braising rod for the mild.  However,  unlike braizing, it becomes an integral part of the surrounding steel once forge welded.  Carbon migration takes place as well.  It is a good trick.

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Interesting.

I was just watching a video of someone making a folded axe and noted that his blade material went all the way back to the eye, rather like a san-mai construction. Would having the mild-to-high-carbon weld interface running the length of the blade make the whole thing stronger?

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I made one like that with wrought and 5160 (see my axe post).  It works, but makes forming the front of the eye a little challenging.  Theoretically I agree that if your forge welds are all of equal quality an axe constructed with a full  length bit, as you describe, should be stronger (and you never run out of HC edge as you grind it back).  I think it isn't common because by the time HC was cheap and available enough to use this profligately it made better sense to just make monosteel axes out of medium carbon.

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That certainly makes sense historically. That does bring up the interesting question of the expansion of what we are doing now, beyond either strict historical reproduction or pure practicality. One advantage the modern smith has is the choice of what techniques and materials to use for either the desired aesthetic effect or as the opportunity to develop their own skills. After all, I very much doubt that there were any pattern-welded axes on the American frontier!

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I would think you would choose a piece of plain HC steel---like an old file----for such a "drifting support piece" and not a steel with Ni or Cr which are harder to weld and so might have the opposite effect.

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Thomas,  good point.  I only used the 5160 because it was what was available in the size I wanted and free.  I would certainly have chosen otherwise if that weren't the case, but I've not had trouble forge welding 5160 to other steels, only to itself.  It is also a good choice for it's relative toughness vs HC steel with higher carbon content.  As regards to the shims that Austin advocates, I think he uses 1075 or 1095 shim stock from McMaster Carr.  I'd have to dig up my notes to be sure, but if I recall it was on the order of 20 Ga.

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I collect old hand saw blades at the scrapyard for HC shim stock---the older the better as it tends to be simpler alloys. (Tend to find them damaged and discarded more too...)

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts makes sense. I hope I have some thin w1 that might be better than 15n20. I have a horizontal bandsaw sawmill. Blades are very  dark in an etch and I think just simple steel. That might be good too. I always have a ton of those as they are 12 foot long and I saw my stops and clamps far too often. 

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