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Forge Welding Questions

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Hey guys, I'm new here and after browsing for a few hours I'm really loving the wealth of information provided.

I've been making jewellery and vessels for quite a while now and I'm interested in diversifying into knives and integrating steel into my jewellery. I've made hammers, stakes, and chasing tools but I haven't really done the sort of manipulating that is required in pattern welded steel.

Sorry about all the info there, onto my questions.

My first tests on pattern welded steel were done using "tool steel" I'm not sure what type of steel it is, that's what the supply company sold it to me as. So my first question is is it necessary to use steel with vastly different carbon content, such as mild steel and tool steel to create the best contrast?

Also, after defining the pattern and form, how should it be finished before etching? My first piece was annealed, then finished to a mirror finish on my buffing machine before I etched it and the etch wasn't nearly as good as I've seen before. Should I temper the steel before I etch it? I'm using 38% ferric chloride (because that's what I have at the shop).

Thanks for any help you can offer to a newbie.

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Welcome to IFI Brody. I'm not a real damascus maker, but 15n20(nickel steel) and 1095 high carbon steel go together like peas in a pod. It brings a really good contrast out. About yer tool steel, it usually applies to low carbon steel, just enough to be able to harden. There are some really cool dudes here who will chime in and correct me, some are full time bladesmiths, with really neat damascus. Good luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm still having issues etching my patterns. The last billet I made was a twist-counter twist pattern that I forged into a ring, heat treated and finished to 400 before etching.

I placed it in my ferric solution (38.1%) for 20 minutes and when I removed it it only shows faint lines where the pattern is, it looks great but it's subtle and I'd like it to stand out a lot more.

I'm wondering if I should use a stronger solution of ferric, or if there's something I can mix it with to make it a stronger etch? I also have nitric that I use to sharpen old burs and files, will that produce a sharper pattern in my pieces?

Thanks for any help you can offer.

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carbon content will be even after a few folds, due to carbon migration, so carbon alone wont be much of a pattern, other alloys Do make a difference. We can use many metal combinations. Various added elements in the steels will cause the steels to etch differently. Manganese=black, Nickel=silver, Chromium=light gray, High carbon =dark gray and so forth.

also 38% is a bit strong, I use a lot lower. closer to 1.5%, but what ever you wish. Welcome to IFI

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