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Spent the evening in the workshop. I ended up working on a couple of… - Doug Ayen's Blacksmithing Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Doug Ayen

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[Nov. 26th, 2002|10:22 am]
Doug Ayen
Spent the evening in the workshop.

I ended up working on a couple of different projects.

The first thing I tried was to see how feasible it would be to forge an integral bolster on a chef's knife. To do this I started with 1" dia. L6, and just used the power hammer to forge in a shoulder. After some calibration, and a bit of hand hammering to even things out, I think I can say that it works. Even with a 50 lb Little Giant hammer, however, L6 steel does not forge easily. This is definitely a case for a larger hammer -- but that will have to wait a while. Maybe once I go pro.

I tossed the rod into the vermiculite bin to cool off -- I'll probably just cut off the piece I worked on, as it's just a 2" bit of drawn out steel still attached to an untouched rod. Time to start designing a knife around this principle now that I believe it can be done.

After that, not be exhausted yet, I spent some time fiddling around with the wrought iron I had carburized. I decided to start work on what will be an opposing chevron pattern welded core for a knife, probably a Frankish seax, as I have a good picture of one that looks neat.

To make the core, I took some flatish wrought iron I had around the shop and carburized it, using a pack method (put iron in a closed, heatproof and almost airtight container, pack bone charcoal around the iron, heat in a furnace until carbon migration has penetrated to the center of the steel. There's good evidence of the Romans using this method, although I've read some sources that claim the technique was "lost" when the empire fell. I rather doubt that such an obvious technique was really lost, however.)

I actually did this step over a year ago, so I've had a pile of flattened, cleaned primitive steel sitting on my steel rack for quite a while. To make the core, I alternated three layers of wrought iron with two layers of the carburized iron. As the core won't be cutting anything, the combination of wrought iron and steel should give enough springiness to the core without being brittle, and I'm hoping it will give a nice, clear pattern when polished.

Stacking, forge welding, and then folding the billet went well. I had one separation while drawing out the first billet after initial welding, but it tacked back together again with a little flux. The 2nd and 3rd foldings went well, and I now have a 1' bar of about 1/2" x 1/2". It should have about 20 layers, which will give a good, bold pattern if things work out the way I expect them to.

The next steps on this project are to round off the rod and draw it out a bit longer, then heat freaking hot and twist. If I can get the whole bar twisted evenly, I can then double or triple it up, add on a all-steel edge, and weld the mass into a single billet. Some forging and grinding should give me the knife I'm looking for.

Lastly, worked a bit on the power hammer. Sill having some minor problems with getting the bottom die to stay in place, but it's much better than it was. Oh, also did another fold-and-weld on a piece of pattern welded L6 and 1095 -- though wiser heads than mine have discovered that this particular combination is prone to cracking and twisting during heat treatment. We'll see how this works out, not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it when I'm done making the billet.

--Doug Ayen
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