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Canister Damascus autopsy


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I’m just now getting back into blacksmithing after four months of PT. I had a wrecked right shoulder and recovery from surgery had been slow and difficult.

I feel good enough to wield a hammer now and decided to come back in grand style. I’ve had several successes doing regular Damascus, but I decided to try a canister.

I TIG welded up a 2”x2”x4” canoe, 1/8” thick walls, painted it with White Out, and filled it with spring coil segments from a garage door spring, cut nails, some hurricane shutter screws, and powdered steel.  

When I picked it up, I immediately knew I probably made it too big for my coal forge. I accidentally burned off one side of the canoe, which wasn’t good. I could only get one side of the canister up to forging temperature at one time, so I alternated sides, heating, hammering, and pressing.

I squished it down to about 1.25” thick using my converted Harbor Freight 20 ton press, but I reckon quit a bit burned off as well. Take a look at my build videos. Part 3 is a demonstration, while Parts 1 and 2 are more detailed about the build process.

I got the canister off with little difficulty. The top was completely burned away, so no resistance there.

After etching and washing, I blew compressed air on it and in it to dry it out. I noticed that it was porous like one of those aquarium rocks that makes the small bubbles. I’m assuming it was because I got it up to forging temperature but didn’t compress it enough.

I appreciate any feedback on how to do this better with the tools I have.

https://youtu.be/y32-M8o1e-k

https://youtu.be/cDd3C4T4h_8

https://youtu.be/-wdJUfO4zo0

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Edited by Mod30
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I'm more concerned with your burning things up issues.  You seem to need more fire control practice!  As for compression I would advise a striker with a 6-8" sledge over that hydraulic system as it seems kind slow and weak.

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It’s not my usual practice to get distracted and neglect the fire, so no real issues there. Only happens every once in while. But I admit that after four months of recovery from rotator cuff surgery, I am indeed out of practice.

My Harbor Freight press is really only good for making smaller knives. So, I guess I need my son to come over next time and man my big xxx sledge hammer. 

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Don't mess up *his* rotator cuff!  I lucked out my cuff was OK I just had a honking big bone spur.   Actually one in either shoulder; but they only removed the one that was still giving me trouble after the cortisone shots.

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Two things come to my mind. 1st like Thomas said the press seems way too slow allowing the metal to cool. 2nd is the billet looks like the heat didn't reach through the billet because it wasn't allowed to soak in the fire long enough. I'm no expert in canister Damascus so those who have more experience with it may correct me, which is OK because we may learn something.

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12 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Don't mess up *his* rotator cuff!  I lucked out my cuff was OK I just had a honking big bone spur.   Actually one in either shoulder; but they only removed the one that was still giving me trouble after the cortisone shots.

I'm having some issues with my "good" shoulder now. I did something to it while sleeping. The pain jerked me awake and it's not getting better. I've not noticed any pain in it prior to that night either. I'm going to see a doctor unfortunately. Strangely enough it doesn't hurt to hammer. Just to rotate it either direction like putting deodorant on with my right hand or rotating it the other direction like giving five down the line after a little league baseball game. 

Pnut

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12 hours ago, Irondragon ForgeClay Works said:

Two things come to my mind. 1st like Thomas said the press seems way too slow allowing the metal to cool. 2nd is the billet looks like the heat didn't reach through the billet because it wasn't allowed to soak in the fire long enough. I'm no expert in canister Damascus so those who have more experience with it may correct me, which is OK because we may learn something.

That Harbor Freight press was just sitting around gathering cobwebs after I replaced the rear axle bearings on my pickup.  I just wanted to see what I could make it do. I got the idea from a blacksmith on YouTube (who was also on F in F twice), but he didn't have the foot pedal and air cylinder.  I need to build a proper hydraulic press one of these days.

I remembered the admonition that if you think the can has soaked long enough at forging temperature, let it soak for another 20 minutes.  I kept that in mind. I think the problem is that only the bottom half reached that lemon yellow color.  As soon as I rotated it 180 degrees, the lemon yellow cooled to bright red.  Just too big of a canister for my coal forge.

You can see where the powdered steel didn't quite reach a high enough temperature where the steel is grey and porous.

I wonder if I can slice this up with my band saw and use it in another smaller canister?

13 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Don't mess up *his* rotator cuff!  I lucked out my cuff was OK I just had a honking big bone spur.   Actually one in either shoulder; but they only removed the one that was still giving me trouble after the cortisone shots.

Twenty-five years of kitchen remodeling is what did my shoulders in, specifically, holding an impact driver overhead and driving 3" screws into studs.  It took my ortho doc 4 hours to do my surgery.  I had a 3 cm full thickness tear in my suprawhatchamacallit, a SLAP tear in my labrum, and many bone spurs on the bottom side of my acromion, plus a couple other things I didn't really understand.  My left shoulder is worse, but I don't think they can fix it. Thirteen cm tear that is retracted 13 cm and atrophied.  Supposedly non-repairable.

My right shoulder felt good hammering on that canister, though.  I think that hammering motion is not hard on the shoulder.  It's the overhead stuff that hurts the shoulder.

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Mine was set off by using a scythe to clear my yard; something about that unusual motion set off both my shoulders---I guess it rubbed the bone spurs the wrong way. OTOH I had the surgery on the day before Thanksgiving and spent turkey day lying in bed on strong pain meds with a chiller hooked up to cool off my shoulder.  I lost weight that Thanksgiving!

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I have made damascus hammers in my coal forge, its not the coal forges fault, its your technique, keep practicing and rotate more often after it starts getting yellow, and use a hand hamer to set the weld

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I think what he was getting at was that his forge is too small for the size of the billet he was trying to weld up.  There are ways to help a billet a bit too large for your forge;  but it sure makes things easier to work billets sized for your forge.  I'd hate to see someone trying to weld a 9 pound billet in a rivet forge for instance!  I generally start folks out with a billet about 1/2 the length of the ones I weld so they can get the entire billet welded in one go. 

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Posted (edited)

I got my xxx-xxx slapped twice in two days by a mod.  One was for using a word for “donkey” that you can even find in the Bible. The second time was for “improperly quoting.”  I feel like I’m the nicest guy who will have been banned from IFI.

Anyway, I’ll try to do better.  Incidentally, I hate it when people speak about me in the third person when I’m literally right here.  :P

It’s not a big coal forge, and the canoe definitely was too big. You can watch the first youtube link I posted to get an idea of it’s size. 

I bought a piece of 1.5” angle iron and will try again with a 1.5 x 1.5 x 3” canister. 

Edited by Mod30
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Don't get bent out of shape; I was once moderated for something I had said to my Pastor in Church!  I have survived it.  It's nice to have a place I can directs children and parents to without worrying they will hit some language that will upset them!

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We do tend to discuss peoples problems and mistakes whether they want to participate or not. Had you just joined in you wouldn't have been the silent 3rd person referenced in the thread now would you. Heck, most of the  conversation was trying to guess what you'd done wrong, had you supplied some details the conversation would've been much more valuable to you and the rest of the planet. Hmmmmm?

Iforge has around 56,000 members in 150(?) countries around the world, it takes getting used to but your questions and the answers go out to the whole planet. Not discussing a common problem and the solutions because the OP chooses not to participate is doing a disservice to the other tens of thousands of members who might be able to use the information.

It takes more than a few mod edits and notes about language to get banned, you'll be moderated first. Keeping it up and trying to justify violations of the very clear site rules by citing their use in clearly forbidden references are NOT the actions of the "nicest guy" here. 

Lighten up will ya? The rules aren't hard to follow and everybody slips up. It's no big deal if you don't make it one.

Now, would YOU like to get on with figuring out what went wrong and how to get it right next time? 

Frosty The Lucky.

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