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Doug Ayen

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sorta-wootz [Oct. 14th, 2011|11:48 am]
Doug Ayen
Well, the iron had definitely melted, there was a beautiful clean puck of steel in the bottom of the crucible, sitting under a couple of inches of almost emerald green flux. No external dendrites, sad to say, but it spark-tests as high-carbon, probably around 2%. And I was able to save the crucible, so I should be able to get at least another melt out of it.

I polished and etched, using FeCl, and it looks like there are patterns in the steel, very fine ones. I think this is because I've been adding a bit of vanadium pentoxide to the mix -- vanadium acts as a crystalline nucleation agent, so the more vanadium you have in the mix, the finer the crystalline structure, hence the small dendrites. I've got it soaking in etchant now, to see if a really deep etch turns up anything interesting. Even if not, this is a good puck of high-carbon low-alloy steel, and will make an excellent feedstock for some pattern welding later on.

I feel I should add that, historically, the very best wootz was much like this -- iron, carbon, a bit of vanadium, and little else. While making excellent blades, they didn't have a pronounced "watered steel" effect, the markings only showing up faintly and too-fine-grained to be really discernible by the naked eye. Still, it's not what I'm aiming for.

The solution seems simple -- next time, omit the vanadium. I'll try a batch, hopefully tonight, using just cast iron and wrought iron, with the same flux cover -- new flux, though, as the old flux may have too much vanadium in it for this experiment. I can always re-melt and add more in later, but I can't think of a way to remove Vanadium from a melt.

So, a qualified success.

[User Picture]From: cz_unit
2011-10-15 01:22 am (UTC)
Impressive stuff

Question. Interested in going to Wrenn fair next weekend?

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