First Damascus Billet.
Posted 09 May 2012 - 04:37 PM
Saturday morning I am planing on trying my luck and making my first damascus billet.
But I have never every done anything like this so I am clueless about what materials I will need.
For the metal I have a old chainsaw blade.
I have seen people making chainsaw blade damascus billets by hand and I wanted to try.
Dose any body here have any experience with making this kind of damascus?
What are the steps I should I take?
How would I go about the whole posses?
How do I tell when the billet is at welding temperature?
I know this is a ton of questions to ask.
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.
Posted 09 May 2012 - 07:57 PM
I admire your enthusiasm. Good luck.
Anvil Top Custom Knives
Posted 09 May 2012 - 08:45 PM
Good Luck on the Chain
Posted 10 May 2012 - 06:56 AM
Chainsaw chain is usually oily and dirty. I would recommend cleaning it in kerosene or some other solvent: BE CAREFUL very combustible and toxic fumes. Keep away from fire and do not breath. The "billets" I have made were done as follows: Clean the chains/s you want to use. Fold them up in as small and tight a bundle as you can - about 4" - 6". Then wire the bundle together and weld a work handle on to the bundle so you have something to hold on to. It is real floppy at this point. Put the bundle in the fire and "cook" off any remaining solvents, etc. Warm it up to a nice forging temperature and then use 20 Mule Team Borax as a flux. (This is a laundry additive and you can get it at the supermarket. Use it straight out of the box.) I keep my Borax in a metal shaker with holes to sprinkle the Borax evenly. Now bring the metal up hotter and hotter until the surface looks "wet". This is welding temperature and you need to LIGHTLY start hammering/ welding the loose billet together. Start at the end farthest away from you so you do not burn all the wire of before you get some of it welded. It takes a while because the chain is made of so many pieces and even though bundled it is still "fragile" and can fall apart while welding if you are not careful. Flux the billet with the Borax each time you put the billet back in the fire after hammering it. You need a good wire brush to brush the billet after hammering and before fluxing and putting back in the fire. Once you get the billet "stuck together" it is easier and just like welding up bars but you have to make it into a bar first then fold and weld like a "normal" billet.
You may want to try welding two or three bars together before trying the chain so you get the hang of the welding first. The fire is very bright and you should wear welding glasses that you can get at a welding supply.
Hope this helps,
Jim Crowell MS
Posted 10 May 2012 - 07:19 AM
Posted 10 May 2012 - 07:56 PM
Anvil Top Custom Knives
Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:31 PM
I had never thought of that before, that was very helpful.
I do know what your tanking about with the steel and will have to try that.
do I have to grind the coating off these pieces before forging?
Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:46 PM
Posted 11 May 2012 - 11:08 AM
I just saw a video in you tube and the guy starts his damascus by dipping it inn something.
Do y'all know what that's all about?
Maybe someone has already mentioned this, but I think what you are referring to is dipping the billet into a saturated solution of borax (in hot water). Hot water actually dissolves quite a bit of borax--cold water not so much, it seems. Not sure if this is still the recommended practice within this community (or if it ever was), but some recommend it.
Also, I would agree with what other folks are saying about starting with something simpler like San Mai. I have very limited experience, but I was making a billet of 1045/1095/1045 yesterday and feeling pretty good about it (and myself). Then I left the billet in the forge a little too long (well, a lot too long) and totally destroyed it--burned it right in half. Luckily, I hadn't spent too much time on it (just hours, not days). If I had been 3/4 of my way through a damascus billet I would have had much more time/$ invested and it would have been tougher to take...
Good luck this weekend!
Posted 11 May 2012 - 08:39 PM
Posted 12 May 2012 - 02:08 PM
Go for it and good luck!
Posted 13 May 2012 - 12:18 PM
Using the great advice y'all gave me I forged my first bar of damascus today.
It went well and welded together and stuff like that until I got it to a bar shape.... then I ran into 2 problems.
1. I found out pretty soon that the I did not use enough chainsaw blades and so it was not thick enough.
2. When it got to a rough bar form it developed 2 cracks all the way down the length of the bar. When I tried to fix it it just got worse because it acted like a seesaw.... hit it on one side and the crack on the other side would open up more, hit it on the other side and the other crack would open even more.
I stopped there and shut the forge down because I did not want to waste all the work from the previous 2 hours.
Now I will post in steps what I did from beginning to end in hopes that y'all will see where I went wrong.
1. Since I did not have kerosene I decided to dip the blades in plain unleaded gas.
2. After the blades where pretty clean I lit the forge and prepared for forging.(IE I got all the hammers I needed, got my safety stuff exetera.)
2. Before I hit it withe the hammer I put it in the fire till the surface looked wet and it was slightly dripping.(almost like potters clay)
3. Then I took it out of the forge and while it was still SUPPER hot I caked it over with borax.(then I stuck it back in the forge)
4. I took it out when it looked wet again an started lightly hitting it with a 1/2 pound hammer.
5. After every hammering I would cover it with borax again and then put it back in the fire until it looked wet.
6. After it was firmly welded together it looked like a sponge in the shape on a 1/2" x 1/2" x 6" bar.
7. At this point I switched to a 3 pound hammer but I still didn't go full throttle.(if you know what I mean)
I just kept on forging in this manner until I noticed those crack and then I stopped to ask and see if y'all could help.
Hope y'all can help,
Posted 13 May 2012 - 07:24 PM
As far as correcting the cracks. Well you could try bringing the billet back up to heat, wire brush the billet especially in the crack areas. Then sprinkle more borax on and bring back up to welding heat. Go lightly and try to weld up small sections at a time.
Anvil Top Custom Knives
Posted 22 May 2012 - 07:29 PM
Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:37 PM
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