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First Canister Damascus trying to figure out what went wrong


Tim695

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Hi All,

Made my first canister Damascus today using some 1090 powder with added nickel content and an old motorcycle chain. i soacked the chain in varsol for 2 days and cleaned it with a brush. I then dried it with the air compresser and then cleaned it with some Methyl hydrate. I put whiteout on the inside of the can and then once that was dry I filled it welded it and through it in the forge. I brought it up to 2200F and let it sit for about 15 - 20 mins at that temp. I then pressed it on the diagonal rotated it 90 degrees and pressed it in the other direction. I then through it back in the forge and repeated the process.

When I cut the can off, everything looked as if it was going well. see billet1.  the next day I heated the billet back up in the forge and pressed it with the flat dies. this is where it all went bad. the billet seemed to crack and want to fall apart as seen in billet3. I then cut it on the bandsaw but the internal stucture seemed to be 1 piece os forge welded steel as seen in billet3.

 

Im just trying to figure out why it went all bad so I can make sure to do it right. Any thoughts??

Billet1.jpg

Billet2.jpg

Billet3.jpg

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To my non-expert eyes it looks like you had voids in the canister. Use vibration to settle the powder into all the nooks and crannies. Vibration can be lots of taps on the side with something or other or, better yet, a sawzsall (with no blade) or other reciprocating tool pressed on the side. You'll be surprised how much stuff will fit into things when properly compacted.

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Thanks for the reply Frazer. 

I forgot to mention that in my preparation of the canister I did use a palm sander, using the metal clips on the pad to vibrate the can. I then topped it up and repeated until it stopped going down. Then for good measure I tapped it with a hammer.

Still it is possible there were voids. I will have to try again with a smaller can later this week and I will vibrate the xxxx out of the can. I think I will also cut the bullet right on one of the cracks to see what that looks like.

 

Thanks

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 2200f. seems too cool to be assured it will weld to me as well. 

Something I don't understand in general is why people go to so much trouble to clean the oil/grease out of chain before welding. A long established welding technique is to flux with oil. True a canister shouldn't need flux but the only real thing leaving heavy oil or grease in the chain is an increase in carbon content in the billet. No?

Of course you do NOT weld the canister caps solid anyway, you don't want an explosion, even a minor POOFER.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I'm confused regarding the progression of photos shown.  Is your number 1 the top photo?  If so, how did it get shorter in photo #2?

Looks to me as if you were too aggressive in how far you compacted it for each heat.  Smaller "bites" at that high yellow/white heat.  Also I would recommend keeping the billet at welding heat, or close to it, during the initial compression you do out of the cannister (at least till the billet is down to the nominal 3/8" thickness and well compacted).

I wouldn't discard your first effort.  You might be able to layer it up and forge weld it again, then use the final product as San-Mai with a core of HC steel to ensure the edge is good.

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Was all welding force just done in one axis?  I also think 2200 was too cold and when was your temperature device last calibrated?  (Though 2700 degF is in the melting range and we are trying for a solid phase weld.

Also what temps did you then work it at?  Some alloys really need to be worked at welding temps until they begin to "play nice" with one another.

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Thanks to everyone for your responses.

IronDragon, I determined the heat was at 2200F by use of an infared pyrometer. and I have been doing some reasearch and it appears I should have let it soak for around an hour if what I read was correct.

Frosty, the reason I cleaned the chain was I heard that cleanliness was the single most important thing in forge welding. also the motorcycle chain came off an adventure bike so there was a bunch of grit in the chain as well as the oil. Should there be some leakage from the ends? again I am new to Damascus and thought that canisters had to be welded solid. its easier to weld the can with a leak than no leak. how much leakage should there be?

Latticino, the billet is shorter in the later photos because i cut the billet in the center to see how it looked inside. the first photo was before I started to stretch it out after removing it from the can. photo 2 and 3 where after it was stretched and cut in half. photo 3 is the inside of the billet on the cut. and yes I may have gotten too aggressive when stretching the billet out. also can I reuse it as wouldnt it have forge scale in all those cracks?

ThomasPowers and SteveSells, all the compression was on the x and y axis. I was planning to cut off the ends, but you are right. I probably should have compressed it on the z axis as well.

 

I am going to take all these suggestions to heart and try this week when I get time to make a small 2" canister and will try all these suggestions.

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IronDragon, I will try the higher temp as well. it may have gotten there as once it was up to the 2200F. i just left it in the forge for near 20 mins and didnt check the temp again. I will make sure this one gets hotter.

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Sorry Tim, I wasn't directing the chain cleaning question at you though it sure looks like it. My bad. YES, you want the canister to vent when you heat it, internal pressure from moisture, etc. is NOT a good thing. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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13 hours ago, Tim695 said:

forge scale in all those cracks?

Possibly, that is why I recommended you draw out and fold several times to refine the billet, then just use it as a San Mai over good stock that will make your blade "monolithic".  Could make for an interesting pattern.  Now that I better understand the photo progression that may not be worth doing.  The second photo shows some very deep cracks.

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My first large drive chain billet also had some cracks that did not weld up; I used it for a beater camp knife to see how well it did otherwise.

IronDragon: So since the melting range starts lower and goes higher, 2700  "is in the melting range": (Carbon Steel 1425-1540°C (2597-2800°F) Industrial Metal Supply)

As anyone working with forge welding should already know; the higher the carbon content the lower the forge welding temp needed.

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Thank you everybody for your good advice. We have a successful bullet. The consumable fire brick in the bottom of the forge didn't survive long, but the bullet is solid without any cracks.

 

Again thank you everyone.

20220427_180055.jpg

20220427_180103.jpg

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ThomasPowers I basically got the temp of the canister up to 2500F, I vibrated the xxxxl out of the canister to make sure there were no voids. I also drilled a small hole in the lid so it wasn't fully sealed. I also used a clamp to compress the lid down way more than the first canister. I also compresses the can in all three axis. And when I was drawing out the bullet I was alloy gentler with the pressing.

 

IronDragon yeah my spelling can be atrocious especially when I don't have the reading glasses on. Haha I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. I will have to see. I will defiantly post it on the what did you make thread when I figure it out.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Well I finally got enough of a break to finish making the Damascus knife. It took me a while as I was always getting called away from my fun by work and life. I want to tank everyone that helped me figure this process out.  I had a few issues with the knife, but fewer than  the lat on, they keep getting better with each new one. I also decided to to my first hidden tang handle with this one as the the billet was small, ( it was originally just a test piece). here are a few photos of the completed knife. I decided that this knife was to be for my neighbour as he helps me out quite a lot and puts up with me as a neighbour. the handle is made from a piece of black walnut from a tree that had to be cut down on his parents farm. Also the chain was from his motorcycle so I thought it was only fitting that he got it.

 

Again thanks everyone for the help.

1st Damascus1.JPG

1st Damascus2.JPG

1st Damascus3.JPG

Edited by Mod30
Remove @name tag
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Very nice is it a hidden tang?

BTW you might want to edit the post and remove the @name tags seeing as they are frowned upon by the admin. Using the @ name on the forum    

Just thanking everyone will do and you are welcome & Thanks for the update, I like it and I bet your neighbor will too.

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You're welcome Tim, it's my pleasure. That's a striking pattern, I like high contrast low layer count patterns.

The @ tag does not work on the OS used by Iforge it messes things up the mods or admin has to fix. Not using tags will keep you on the mod's good side. That reads under their radar. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Good to know about the @name. how do I edit the post. I dont see that as an option

Yes it was my first attempt at a hidden tang. I couldn't believe how hard that black walnut is. It took forever to broach out the hole for the tang.

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