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Hey everyone, so far I’ve been using pretty decent sized chunks of leaf spring, or pre bought and rolled knife steel (1095, 1.5x12”, 1/4” thick).

I am starting to forge weld and get into Damascus. First couple billets will be a combo mild steel and spring steel, all 1/8-1/4” and all about 2.5” long. 

My question is roughly, how big of a billet would I need to make a 8” full tang drop point? That’s total length btw not an 8” blade. 
 

just trying to wrap my head around how many layers I would need to do once I get the confidence to step up to 1095 and 15n20 billets 

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Weigh the knife you want to make and add 50% minimum. You might consider making some small billets until you master forge welding. Heating and soaking are touchier the larger the billet unless you're going to encase it in mild steel. Even then.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Good tip Frosty, I’ve already made a similar one so I can weigh it easy. Def starting with smaller ones and using some mild and scrap I have laying around until I get the hang of it. Save the good stuff

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If you do a fancy pattern you may lose a lot of weight to scale.  Some patterns only appear when they are heavily ground and so are more like stock removal knives and the starting point to grinding may be double the end knife.  If you are good forging then a knife forged to shape may have little grinding.

I'd suggest starting with a billet twice the weight of a finished blade and not being surprised if you end up with a smaller blade than expected.

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I know this may not be the answer you are looking for but I have found that I get better results in welding larger sized bundles..I start with 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" by 12" to 18"..(plus I use sheet/shim stock and weld anywhere from 30 to 70 or so pieces the first weld.)...this is a decent amount of material..at least for me and it allows for enough laminate for me to make just about any pattern I wish..plus if I have any excess I simply set it aside for another project..Last time I checked steel usually doesn't go stale..

JPH

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JPH, I'm guessing that you do not weld a billet of that size with a hand hammer.  Do you use a power hammer, hydraulic press, fly press, or what?  From the very clean and even finished billet I am going to guess a hydraulic press.

Also, do you have any comments on tying the billet together with wire vs. tack welding it?

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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Geo..

Did you  see that 8 pound hammer next to that welded billet?? That is the hammer I use and have used for the last 35 years or so since I worked up to that weight from my 6# one..

As far as wire  and tongs vs welding and welding on a "handle"..I use wire as the way I work a handle would only get in the way.  By not having a thingy sticking out off of one end I can simply reverse the piece in my forge as continue working  section by section.. I am a wee bit old fashioned in a lot of ways...

JPH

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GNM: 

You have got to remember that I have been doing this stuff for 50 years..experience means a lot in this line of work..and believe me..I have made more than my share of mistakes and had a lot of things that didn't work out right..

JPH

 

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That one I have to question Jim. I find it hard to believe you've made MORE than your share of mistakes, plenty to be sure but I doubt more than your share. I don't think we're counting experiments that didn't work, those aren't mistakes, knowing what doesn't work is valuable information.

I see native talent for bladesmithing in you, what I like to call a knack that lends you an above average feel or sense or whatever for making blades. I'm betting YOUR share of mistakes is considerably smaller than the average share. Give it 50+ years to mature and I'll bet a mistake is a real head slapper.

Not arguing, just pointing out there are natural talents at work in everybody but not matter how strong your knack you have to exercise it for it to grow into something good.

I do have a 8lb. single jack hammer but the one I use is a double jack. The single jack came as a take it or leave it all deal at a yard sale. I tried it out on time and it hurt me, almost a weak before my wrist stopped hurting.

Frosty The Lucky.

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On 3/6/2021 at 4:32 PM, GrayCat said:

First couple billets will be a combo mild steel and spring steel,

This may not give you good steel for a knife.  If the spring steel is 5160, or has close to the same carbon content, and you combine that with mild steel which may have around 20 points of carbon, with evenly distributed carbon migration you'd end up with something around 40 points of carbon - assuming you are using equal amounts of each starting material.  You'll probably also lose a little carbon in the process of forge welding.   The end result could be squarely in the medium carbon range, which will harden but is typically not considered good for edge retention.   Since creating pattern welded billets is so labor and time intensive I assume you'd prefer to end up with something that will make a decent knife when you get done.

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Not to mention the contrast between spring steel and mild is not very eye catching at all. It's primarily the difference in carbon content that you see in the etch. The more heats you take, the more carbon migration you get so the lines between the two steels get all washed out. If you're doing to try it, I would definitely make a small billet and get it up to the layer count you are going for. Then see if you're comfortable with the pattern you get. Or just swap out the mild for something with some Ni content (15N20 is the most common example).

I'm with Buzzkill on this one, it might make a cool letter opener or decorative piece for another project, but I'm not convinced you'll end up with a knife that was worth all that effort.

Edit: That is unless you juice up the billet with some high carbon steel (I have some old files that are 1+% carbon that I keep around for stuff like that). You can weld a thinner piece into the center to make a monosteel cutting edge. Just a thought.

Edited by Frazer
Added afterthought.
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What I understood from the OP's posts is that they are not expecting to get a functional knife...yet.  They want to practice the technique on some inexpensive steel , so as not to drop a lot of coin in refining that technique.  I can totally see doing so, I am not wealthy either.

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However if they do get an example of "Beginner's Luck" it would be nice to be able to end up with a knife and not a letter opener.  As the time in knifemaking is generally heavily slanted in the grinding/finishing/hilting end; working with appropriate materials is really pretty cheap.

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FL:   I get my steel from two places mostly.. Pacific Machine and tool Steel in Oregon xxxxxxxxx  or Security Steel in MI  xxxxxxxxxx Telephone numbers are not allowed

Hope this helps.

jph

 

 

 

Edited by Mod30
Remove phone numbers.
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On 3/18/2021 at 3:23 PM, LeeJustice said:

What I understood from the OP's posts is that they are not expecting to get a functional knife...yet.  They want to practice the technique on some inexpensive steel , so as not to drop a lot of coin in refining that technique.  I can totally see doing so, I am not wealthy either.

I suspect most of us on here have had the same thoughts.  It's a bit of a trap though.  After a while I think most of us have concluded that it's actually cheaper in the long run to purchase known new steel for things like blades.  A lot of times steel we get for free ends up costing us more in the long run, especially in the time and fuel areas.  For knives I've found that the cost of the steel is insignificant compared to the fuel, abrasives, pins, glues, etc.

There is something to be said for practicing techniques to improve them of course, but practice is usually best done with the materials that the finished product will be made from.  For instance if you wanted to enter an archery competition and you decided to practice with a 45 pound draw bow although your intention was to use a 60 pound draw weight in competition, you would get some benefit - but you'd get more benefit by practicing with the one you'd use in the end.  In this case a successful pattern welded billet is a source of joy when starting out, no doubt about it.  However, that joy is even greater if you can turn that billet into something you can sell or use and be proud of.

All that to say I recommend practicing with materials you intend to use in finished products.  It seems a little daunting at first, but forge welding short, straight, flat pieces of high carbon steel really isn't that difficult to accomplish.  If all mating surfaces are clean and shiny, the right temperature is attained, oxidizing flames are avoided, and firm "dead blow" strikes are used, the success rate should be very high.

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