|Folds 2 & 3
||[Aug. 16th, 2011|11:17 pm]
I spent a couple of hours in the forge this evening, having already packed for Reno and wanting to get this piece finished, or at least presentable, before Ashokan in September.|
Initial number of layers: 12
Current number of layers: 48
Staring weight: 845g
Finish weight: 725g
% loss: 14%
Total % loss since start: 31%
Time spent: 2 hours today, 9 hours total
More behind the cut
The billet is much more solid now, feeling like hot steel instead of lead marshmallows. Working this stuff is hard, it's incredibly hot, bits of molten slag (a mix of iron oxide and borax flux) spray out and fall into your gloves and shoes, and the radiant heat makes your skin burn, your arm hair burn off, and your hot-work gloves smolder. Bits of slag even hit and stick to your safety glasses and hat. But it works.
Starting weight was 845 g, finish weight was 725g, for a loss of ~14%, or about 7% per fold. With two additional folds, we've now gone from 12 layers to 48 layers. I want to do two more folds before calling this phase done -- a total of 192 layers. Yes, I could do more, but think about it -- the final thickness will be about 4mm, so each layer will be only .02mm -- that's only 0.0007 inches. If I want the layers visible, which I do, that's about the limit of what the eye can discern, and with carbon migration the layers may well just disappear with many more folds.
If I just wanted to make a strong sword, of course, that would be fine -- add in a few more folds and you end up with essentially homogeneous steel. Of course, you won't get some of the interesting and desirable activity that connoisseurs look for. At least I hope I can get some of that stuff, otherwise I might as well stick to 1050, which I can order by the ton online. It makes a fine sword, makes a good hamon, and it's cheap. But it's not even close to what can be achieved with the right materials.
Assuming I can keep to the 7% loss per fold (doubtful), I should end up with a billet of 560g of high carbon steel, or 1.2lbs. Not enough for a sword, but since I'm going to work up a low-carbon (refined wrought iron) core, that will give me 2.2 lbs, plus I still have the rest of that batch of blister steel if I need to dip into it. If I can get the rolling mill working again, that will greatly save on material vs hammering, and while I will certainly lose a fair amount of material during grinding/polishing, this should be enough.
Good news: I have video. Bad news, I'm not going to be able to get it edited (or even converted at this rate) before I leave for Reno. For now, here's the latest photo: