|Now we've got some steel to work with.
||[Sep. 10th, 2011|01:03 am]
Shear steel, to be exact. Details and pics behind the cut.|
I didn't get started until about 8pm, but I did manage to get quite a bit done.
First, I got the rest of the blister steel billeted up -- stacked on a firebrick, loosely welded together with the oxy-acetylene torch, fluxed, and into the forge. I was running it hot today, using more gas but bringing everything to heat quicker. I mixed up a more aggressive flux for this session as well -- a borax base, with a good amount of boric acid and fluorite mixed in. This gives it a better wetting action, a more aggressive bite on any oxides, and a higher working temperature. On the negative side, the fumes can be annoying, but if you're sucking fumes off of a welding-temperature forge, even a gas one, you've got other problems.
Speaking of which, I now know a few things I didn't before: what it feels like to have my nose hairs catch on fire while inhaling; what it feels like to have a white-hot block of steel bounce off your leg (hint: it hurts); and that even steel toe boots don't prevent hot flux from landing on your ankle and melting your sock to your boot liner and skin. No major damage done, but keeping the steel moving under the power hammer while your ankle is on fire is quite invigorating. I suspect adrenaline is involved.
I tried to weigh the billet before welding, but it seems my scale has gone tits up. Changing the battery didn't help, so I'll be picking up a new one tomorrow when I do my weekly farmer's market run. According to my notes, it should have been about 1355g. It did turn out to be a bit larger than the other billet, so that seems about right.
As before, the first pass was with the hand-hammer, a 3kg french pattern, just sort of mushing it all together. It feels, as I know I've written before, sort of squishy, not like you'd expect steel to feel. It did weld up pretty cleanly, so on the 3rd heat I moved to the power hammer, and
consolidated the billet and started to draw it out. Four heats later, it was about 3/8" thick and about 4" on a side, square, so I scored a line and folded it over. Well, almost -- the steel at this point has the consistency of cheese, and it broke on a flaw a half inch from the scored line.
No worries, that's just the first fold. Flux, back in the forge, and finish the weld with the hand hammer. Draw it out again on the power hammer, fold and weld. It folded pretty cleanly this time, but the ends were ragged from the previous fold. Easy enough to fix -- this time I drew it out long and skinny, then folded each end in about a quarter of the way from the end -- ok, about a third on one side and 2/3rds on the other, but close enough. This gave me a good shape for the fourth and final fold for this billet. During this weld, however, a bunch of flux and scale flew off and somehow managed to fall into my right boot, giving me some impressive blisters and, since I was in the middle of a weld, requiring me to work through the shock and discomfort.
While I was preparing for the fourth fold, I took the other billet, fluxed it, and moved it into the forge to start heating up. After the fold, I combined the two billets, and got another couple of heats to draw it out -- but at that point, it was almost midnight, I was exhausted, burned, and muscles and joints were aching. Also, I bounced the final, combined billet off my leg when I bobbled the tongs while using the power hammer. I took that as a sign.
Starting number of layers: new billet 8, old billet 48
Current number of layers: 112
Starting weight: 2080g
Current weight: ????
Time spent: 4 hours today, 13 hours total