PDA

View Full Version : OT? First week of blacksmithing



lazlo
06-20-2010, 01:39 PM
Blacksmithing isn't machining, so this isn't exactly on topic, but I started taking a semester-long blacksmithing class from Will Bastas -- a famous (and very talented) blacksmith and artist.
http://www.blackmetalstudio.com/

Boy, what a contrast to machining! It's amazing how soft steel is when it first comes out of the forge -- it hammers something like old Play-Dough (if you have kids). But it quickly hardens, so you're working in ~ 10 - 30 second intervals.

I learned the hard way -- that's where the expression "having too many irons in the fire" comes from: the size of the stock you're working determines how quickly it heats up, and therefore how many irons you can juggle while the others are heating up in the forge. When you've got too many irons in the fire, especially when it's a busy forge, you have near-misses with glowing iron pokers :)

So far, we've learned super basic stuff: bending, drawing, tapering, scrolling, and punching. Some of the smaller items I was able to bring home and photograph:

Tong clips (will be nice for my heat treat furnace):

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u15/rtgeorge_album/Blacksmithing/TongClip.png

A knot forged from 1/4" round:

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u15/rtgeorge_album/Blacksmithing/Knot.png

A leaf:

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u15/rtgeorge_album/Blacksmithing/leaf.png

lazlo
06-20-2010, 01:45 PM
By the way, aside from being able to forge tools in the shop, another reason for my interest in blacksmithing is forging knives -- if there are any custom knife-makers in Austin or the surrounding area who'd be willing to show me some basic tips, please drop me a PM!

x39
06-20-2010, 02:00 PM
I've taken a few basic blacksmithing course and found them quite interesting, to the extent I built my own brake drum forge and am currently planning on building a small shed to house a larger forge. Forging provides an opportunity to do things with metal that would either be very time consuming or wasteful of materials by other means. I think it is a skill that is every bit as useful as welding for the general metal worker. It is also relatively cheap to tool up for.

barts
06-20-2010, 03:29 PM
I've taken a couple of classes in blacksmithing... it's surprising how adding additional skills & capabilities changes one's design approaches sometimes...
It's also a great way of introducing metal working to kids; they love the fire and sparks and getting that stiff piece of metal to change shape, and they can actually hope to do it at home with a bit of work.

- Bart

Fasttrack
06-20-2010, 03:50 PM
Fantastic! Once I settle down somewhere I need to look into taking a class. Blacksmithing is actually how I got into machining, but I've sort of left it behind just because I haven't had the time/place for it.

Nice work, Robert! I really like the knot - that's a neat piece to show off to the non-metal workers ;)

Mcgyver
06-20-2010, 03:57 PM
very nice Robert, i would love to do some work like that. close to being on topic for me.

oldbikerdude37
06-20-2010, 04:36 PM
A forge and small foundry setup is on my to do list.I find beating on stuff with a hammer is very therapeutic, take out all your aggression and feel great.

Duffy
06-20-2010, 06:32 PM
Laslo, Are you using gas-fired forges or "traditional" coal-fired ones? I ask because it is difficult to obtain good quality smithing coal, and when you find it it is spendy. A smith near me drives to Montreal and buys it in 100lb bags, and I THINK it is over $20.00/bag. It is available from the mine in Pennsylvainia, I think, but not many businesses bring in a few pallets and stock it for small-time buyers. By the way, I hear the same moan from live steamers.

cuemaker
06-20-2010, 07:35 PM
By the way, aside from being able to forge tools in the shop, another reason for my interest in blacksmithing is forging knives -- if there are any custom knife-makers in Austin or the surrounding area who'd be willing to show me some basic tips, please drop me a PM!

You should visit Blade Forums...Lots of maker and blade forgers on there...

I have a new knife, hand forged damascus by Zoe Crist..

http://i201.photobucket.com/albums/aa129/xringx/knife/DSCF1757.jpg
http://i201.photobucket.com/albums/aa129/xringx/knife/DSCF1767.jpg
http://i201.photobucket.com/albums/aa129/xringx/knife/DSCF1770.jpg

x39
06-20-2010, 07:51 PM
You should visit Blade Forums..
Good suggestion. I'm a hobbyist knifemaker (stock removal) and frequent BF. My preferred haunt there is the Wilderness Skills and Survival forum. Beautiful knife by the way!

wierdscience
06-20-2010, 08:50 PM
Looking good so far Robert,Blacksmithing is fun,project #945 for me is a power hammer,arms are getting old you know.

lazlo
06-21-2010, 09:48 AM
Laslo, Are you using gas-fired forges or "traditional" coal-fired ones?

It's a gas forge. There's bad ventilation in the ACC metalworking facility, and somewhere in the past students complained about the coal smoke. :(


You should visit Blade Forums...Lots of maker and blade forgers on there...

Thanks! Just signed up...


I have a new knife, hand forged damascus by Zoe Crist..

Wow, that's gorgeous. I've watched videos of traditional "damascus" and mosaic damascus, but I can't figure out how he made that pattern?

We're on to power hammer tonight, hopefully I can type tomorrow :D

Michael Edwards
06-21-2010, 12:55 PM
We're on to power hammer tonight, hopefully I can type tomorrow :D

You lucky dog. The local antique tractor and steam show has a blacksmith area, and when they fire up the steam hammer it's always a crowd pleaser.

steam hammer (http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1036/4721460132_dfe617c16d_b.jpg)

ME

Tony Ennis
06-21-2010, 01:38 PM
I've watched videos of traditional "damascus" and mosaic damascus, but I can't figure out how he made that pattern?

The pattern is a by-product of the way the Damascus steel is made - by folding two (or more) different steels repeatedly. That is, the steel is beaten to 1/2 the desired thickness, folded over on itself to produce the proper thickness while doubling the layers, and welded together with heat and hammer. This process is repeated many times.

The steel is finished with an acid that attacks the different steels differently and makes the pattern more visible.

While the pattern can be controlled, What you're seeing is the result of tiny tiny imperfections in the folding process.

There are a million variations.

One way to do this is to use cable. Apparently it's made of different steels.


Cable Damascus (http://www.prometheanknives.com/shop-techniques-3/how-to-make-cable-damascus)

lazlo
06-21-2010, 03:16 PM
The pattern is a by-product of the way the Damascus steel is made - by folding two (or more) different steels repeatedly. That is, the steel is beaten to 1/2 the desired thickness, folded over on itself to produce the proper thickness while doubling the layers, and welded together with heat and hammer]

Modern pattern-welding (what we're calling "Damscus") isn't folded. They take alternating strips of contrasting color: often 1045 or 1095 and L6 or Nickel. Weld the ends (to keep the stack together), and forge it down it in the power hammer.

The strips are cooled, the scale ground-off, cut, stacked, re-welded, and the process is repeated.

The reason they don't fold the stack is because it's very easy to get a cold shut, which ruins the billet.

But my question about Zoe Crist's damascus is more specific: his pattern doesn't look like any of the three main style of pattern-welded damascus: twisted, ladder (where you grind slots into the billet and hammer it flat), or birds'-eye (where you drill holes in the billet and hammer it flat).

It also doesn't look like mosaic damascus, where you make a box with alternating square bars (how you make American flags and such) -- that style has a replicated square pattern. The latest trend is to EDM a specific shape, which you forge into the billet, and repeat the power hammering process. That's how you get patterns like these horses:

http://www.johanknives.com/bilder/objekt/5.jpg

dp
06-21-2010, 03:23 PM
That looks like a fun class, Robert - will you be creating a forge of your own? If so, got any ideas on what it will look like and what you'd like to produce?

lazlo
06-21-2010, 03:37 PM
That looks like a fun class, Robert - will you be creating a forge of your own?

To clarify -- we're making the simple stuff I posted on the first page -- we're not doing pattern welding :) Pattern welding, besides being an art-form in itself, is almost entirely power hammer work. There's a follow-up class for power hammer and another class on toolmaking, but they're extraordinarily difficult to get into -- only 8 slots in the class and a *lot* of people who want to take it.


If so, got any ideas on what it will look like and what you'd like to produce?

Funny that you mention it Dennis -- I'm torn :) It takes a whole different set of tooling, not the least of which is an anvil, and a lot of space. The local blacksmith's group (Balcones' Forge) has a guy who make a neat little benchtop forge: he takes a large section of square Schedule 40 (?) tubing, cuts out a section in the middle, and stretches it width-wise with a piece of plate. He lines the it with firebrick, and the gas plumbing is surprisingly simple...

ckelloug
06-21-2010, 05:05 PM
We want to see a real forge, not a half baked forgery when you build your own hot place to pound out metal . . . Good luck Robert. That looks fun.

cuemaker
06-21-2010, 10:18 PM
Lazlo,

Hope you dont mind, but I have emailed Zoe this thread and asked him to give you an answer...

fciron
06-21-2010, 11:18 PM
You're taking a class with a great teacher. I probably don't need to tell you to make the most of it.

I'm lucky to live in Kentucky, about a mile from one of the few yards that handles blacksmithing coal. I buy it bulk, but I know they ship it all over the country in 50 lb. bags. Not cheap.

Cumberland-Elkhorn Coal and Coke (http://www.ce-coal.com/)

fciron
06-21-2010, 11:34 PM
whup, I answered before I saw the second page.

My reason for stacking rather than folding damascus is that you wind up with two identical steels side by side when you fold; if you stack then you can maintain alternating layers of different steels.

The old reason for folding was to try and combine lots of small bars of steel into a single consistent piece. That's why more layers was better, each time you double the number of layer you spread out all the inconsistencies throughout the piece. So they become less inconsistent. The point being that folding worked for that purpose, but is less desirable for pattern development.

As for the pattern in that blade, remember that the pattern development doesn't have to happen at the end. Twisted or ladder pattern bars can be welded together to form more complex patterns.

wierdscience
06-22-2010, 12:31 AM
Robert,your mailbox is full.

cuemaker
06-22-2010, 07:55 AM
I got this from Zoe

I signed up for the account but it wont let me post until the mods confirm it so I will explain to you here and you can re post for me and when I am full authorized I will join the discussion...

I will try to be brief an if gets confusing I will be more than happy to elaborate..
First you take 10 pieces 6" long by 1.5" wide and 3/16" thick of 1095
Second 9 pieces of 15n20 (basically 1084 with 2% nickel)
stack the 15n20 and 1080 alternating layers
The billet will be about 4" tall
MIG tac weld the end of the billet just to keep them together in the forge
Forge weld the billet together
Then turn the billet on its side so that all the layers are vertical, now forge down on that axis. When this is forged down the layers kind of bow and distort a little. Draw this out to about 1/2" thick by 1.5" wide by about 30" long. The I cut the billet in 6 sections 5" long. When these layers are stacked up the distortion cause by forging down on the cross axis creates little "W"s.
The I forge weld that all back together. Then I draw it out again at 2" wide by about 1/2" thick and then cut it into 2"x2" squares. I stack these up on top of each other until it is about 4" tall. Then forge weld it gently so as to not distort or make the stack too small, but keep as much the original shape. After it is welded, I take a dull hot cutter and cut down through the billet while white hot. The dull cutter does not "cut" but actually smears the layers. After the billet is split, while it is still hot , I flux it and close it up and forge weld it back together , giving it the appearance of the feather... I hope hat help a little.. if you would like more info please let me know ...