Ms Dagger Question
Posted 06 February 2011 - 08:50 PM
#2 Guest_John White_*
Posted 06 February 2011 - 10:06 PM
I've been following your work in progress thread on Bladeforums with great interest. You not only do great work, but usually show several new techniques and fixtures on every knife that I can learn from.
I'm quoting here from part of my reply on the other thread:
"With reference to the "forged blade" question, if the rules required the damascus MS blade to be "forged to shape", that is, forged both to profile and to bevels, the rule would read differently. As makers understand, some damascus patterns require forging to shape. Other patterns, including many twists, multi-bars, and mosaics, require forging to profile, but may be stock removed to bevel to produce one pattern, or further forged to bevel to produce another, "distorted" pattern from the same billet. Some, like ladders, may be pressed and stock-removed, or ground and double-forged.
Any damascus blade an applicant forge-welds him or her-self is a forged blade, and will be judged on the quality of craftsmanship and artistry achieved, so long as it meets the 300 layer, non-random criteria."
Forging damascus cleanly, precisely and elegantly to make a Mastersmith dagger is the task. The particular techniques used by each applicant will surely vary.
As I said, I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your progress.
Posted 06 February 2011 - 10:23 PM
ABS Chairman Greg Neely wrote a series of articles for the ABS Journal on MS and JS testing and the second article in the series focused on Master Smith testing. I have a page on the ABS Website on Master Smith Testing which I worked on with Chairman Neely and he approved.
You have to start with the rules. The rules for the art dagger are set out in detail in Chairman Neely's article on the ABS Website and include the requirements for the blade of the Master Smith dagger. The requirements are as follows:
"2. The blade of this dagger must be forged of pattern-welded Damascus steel of the applicant's making. It must also be:
A. Of at least 300 layers in construction. Should the applicant make a mosaic or geometrically patterned blade, at least one area should readily be identified as having 300 layers.
B. A minimum of 10 inches in length, guard to tip.
C. Ground in either a double flat grind (diamond cross-section) or double hollow-ground.
Naturally, the blade must be straight, symmetrical, and contain no flaws or cold shuts. After all, this literally is your masterpiece! Twists, ladder patterns and mosaic patterns are all encouraged, but be sure that there is at least one section visible which the judges can ascertain that the blade meets the 300-layer minimum."
As you can see the rules specify that the art dagger blade must be forged of pattern welded Damascus steel and ground in either a double flat grind or be double hollow ground. The rules do not address a requirement to also forge the dagger blade to shape during the building process. The reply above by Master Smith John White addresses the practical issues involved in forging different Damascus patterns to shape. In any event, I have requested a ruling and will post it.
In addition, I should also point out that the ABS Board of Directors voted at the June 2009 Board Meeting to exclude the "random pattern" as a Damascus pattern used for the MS dagger blade.
ABS Forum Administrator
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Posted 07 February 2011 - 01:29 PM
I contacted Master Smith Bert Gaston who is the Chief Judge for the ABS Master Smith Judging Panel and the ABS Vice Chairman with your question and this is his reply:
"John White has stated the case very well. Since applicants for MS cannot submit random pattern Damascus in their art dagger, they have to use manipulated and complicated patterns. These patterns may be destroyed by forging closely to shape, so grinding to shape is in order.
The applicants must make their Damascus steel so this satisfies the requirement of forging. Of course, the Damascus must be at least 300 layers."
Bert Gaston, Vice Chairman ABS
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Posted 07 February 2011 - 04:59 PM
Posted 07 February 2011 - 06:43 PM
As John White and Bert Gaston have pointed out, there are many of the more sophisticated patterns which must be formed by grinding after the patterns are manipulated. The spirit of the rule regarding forging allows this, as the billet and the manipulations will require forging, and a lot of it, in most cases. Some patterns change markedly, depending on how they are treated. For instance, a dagger blade of diamond cross-section made of a ladder pattern billet (cut rungs) will display a series of ovals along the center median of the blade if it's blade bevels are ground in, rather than forged. If the bevels of the blade are forged in instead, the ladders will continue along the blade bevels after grinding, much the same as a ladder pattern on a single-edged blade.
Many of the manipulated patters are purposely ground rather than forged at some point to achieve the desired effect. We have no problem with this, as long as the billet was forged by the bladesmith.
Much the same applies to the one folder allowed by a Master applicant. He or she is allowed one folder as a test knife during the board review; however, it must bear a pattern-welded damascus blade. The board felt that the fact that the bladesmith forged a piece of damascus for the blade met the requirement that the knife bear a forged blade.
I don't know of any folder maker who is forging folder blades to shape, other than some of the guys who are making the primitive style folders with no springs, similar to those carried by the buckskinners of old. Most folder makers begin with a piece of precision-ground steel, whether it be plain carbon steel or the smith's own damascus which has been ground for the purpose. This is why a carbon steel folder is not permitted for Journeyman judging. There's just no forging going on there.
Hope this helps. John White had pretty much covered this, but thought I'd pitch in.
Posted 08 February 2011 - 07:55 AM
I knew the correct answer, but as I have not been a part of the ABS judging and also was being challenged on multiple fronts, I felt it best if I got a ruling from persons with more significant credentials than I.
Posted 02 June 2012 - 03:49 AM
This morning when I woke up I was thinking about the same Question.
I also thought this forum would be a Great place to look for the answer, or ask the question.
Thank's to all who replied.
Posted 05 June 2012 - 12:21 PM
From a technical standpoint, the wording "2. The blade of this dagger must be forged of pattern-welded Damascus steel of the applicant's making." says two seperate things about the required blade. If you break it down...
1 - "The blade of this dagger must be forged..."
2 - "of pattern welded Damascus steel of the applicant's making"
The sentence says that the blade must be forged and then states of what it is to be made. In my opinion, it's a general statement that either needs to be made more clear in order to stand on it's own or the details need to be stipulated later in the bullet points of the rules to reflect what is being said here on the forum. Bullet point "C" clearly states how the primary bevels are to be ground but I would suggest adding the wording "to it's final dimension" (or something like it) so that is reads.... "Ground to it's final dimension, in either a double flat grind (diamond cross-section) or double hollow-ground."
To me, based on the information being provided by those in authority the quoted rule above could stand on it's own and be less confusing if it said something more like...
"The blade of this dagger must be made of non-random patterned, forge-welded Damascus steel of the applicant's own making."
A bullet point could be added to state that the blade's primary bevels and profile can be forged or stock removed based upon the applicant's preference.
Again, just my two cents... The Devil is in the details, as they say.