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Fire And Brimstone 2011 - Doug Ayen's Blacksmithing Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Doug Ayen

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Fire And Brimstone 2011 [Mar. 30th, 2011|04:16 pm]
Doug Ayen
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It was a good weekend. I took off Friday from work, spent the day there, as well as Saturday. Sunday I was too tired/sore to go, just took the day off.

One of the big highlights of Fire and Brimstone is smelting. On Friday, Jesus Herndandez and Jeff Pringle were working, respectively, on their smelting setups. Jesus was workig on a brick-and-clay tatara, Jeff was doing wootz in crucibles. At least, that was the plan. The tuyere (air pipe that feeds into the tatara) melted, stopping that smelt, and of the three attempted smelts by Jeff, one crucible melted, one failed due to inadequate fluxing, and one had to be stopped when the base block under the crucible melted. I wasn't around for the 4th attempt, but I've seen some pics of a successful wootz cake, so I assume it worked.

There was one successful smelt -- I got permission from the organizers to run a small thermite smelt, which went off and produced about 330g of iron on Saturday night. I refrained from rubbing it in, as a) thermite is cheating, and b) these guys do a *lot* more smelting than I'll ever do, and if they failed, it's because hammer-ins are where you try to do stuff you don't normally do.

I got some opinions on how the wootz ingot came out -- spark testing and a critical eye from Jeff shows that it's pretty low carbon -- about half a point -- which is enough to pattern and harden, but to really call it wootz it needs to be around 1.5%. Recommendation: remelt with some charcoal in the crucible to raise the percentage a bit.

Chris Price did a successful batch of blister/shear steel, something I've pulled off a couple of times -- I brought a work in process with me, and got the comment of "you twisted it? Wow. I'm not going to do that in the demo."

My contribution was only the thermite and showing off some of my work, but I took away a lot more. Specifically, some insight in how to run a smelter, some ideas for making wootz more efficiently and to a higher carbon content, and inspiration (hopefully) to spend more time in the workshop. Oh, and some barstock of 15N20 & 1084 that I'm told will have excellent contrast when pattern welded, some more wrought iron, some thin O1 to play around with, and enough thin W2 to run another tanto workshop. Yes, I'm planning on running another one. Really.