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Old 12-11-2018, 11:16 AM
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Matt Shade Matt Shade is offline
Made From Scratch
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Ohio
Posts: 2,792
Default First billet of damascus

Sorry for not taking progress pics, but this required 100% concentration on what I was doing. I think it went pretty well so hopefully I will do more in the future and document the steps involved.

This is going to be a wood chisel and this is it after a rough polish and initial etch to see what kind of pattern I got. You can see a couple bad spots in it, but it is 90% sound and should be fine for use as a finish wood chisel that won't see any pounding or prying.

It is made with 4 layers of 1084 steel which is straight carbon steel and 3 layers of 15n20 which has a high nickel content. Both are fairly high carbon and harden well.

I stacked them in alternating layers to make a billet 4.5 inches long, 1.5 inches wide, and roughly 1 inch thick. This was all tacked together on the corners with my mig welder and welded onto a piece of round bar for a handle. All pieces had all mill scale ground off prior to stacking them.

I heated the billet to a dull red, and then put on a heavy coat of 20 mule team borax for flux. Using my homemade forge and running about 8psi pressure, it came up to welding heat surprisingly fast. I had only read about this and watched a couple videos but there comes a point when the steel gets a glassy look on the surface and the flux looks like it is boiling.

At that point i let it soak for a minute or two and then took it out and made light and fast blows with my rounding hammer trying to work over the whole surface. This made the initial weld and the pieces should be stuck together by this point. In order to be safe, I brushed it, fluxed it and did this process 2 more times before I made any effort to draw the billet out.

On the 4th heat I started drawing the billet out longer and thinner. My goal was to get it to a square cross section. I used a 4lb engineers hammer that I dressed the faces on for drawing it out. Came to the conclusion that I don't like rubber gripped handles at all, but it did the job.

After 2 heats to draw it out I decided to see if it was really stuck together, so I used a hard wheel in the angle grinder and dressed all 4 sides down flat. This should have removed any of the remaining mig welds, and it also gave me a clean billet to flux again.

I tried to work from welding heat each time and continued drawing the billet down until it was about 3/4 thick, 1 inch wide, and 9 inches long. At this point, I should have ground all the faces clean and then re-fluxed but I neglected to. I heated it to welding temp again, and then put the end in a vise and gave it 2 twists with a large crescent wrench.

That was where I screwed up. When it was time to forge the twist back into a square bar, I ended up with cold shuts as I didn't have a clean surface to flux and weld as the folds closed up. I did my best to draw it out lengthwise and not close the folds, but wasn't 100% successful.

After it was back to a square bar, I then forged it into this chisel.

The holes are for pins, it will have one scale on the top of the handle made out of ebony wood. The bottom of the handle will be the bare metal so that the pattern shows the whole length of the chisel.

I have to say it is very satisfying to "make" your own steel for a project. Especially when you are working in a home made forge, with home made tongs and tooling.

The etch was done with ferric chloride diluted about 50/50 with water. The tail of the handle is lighter because it isn't hardened as much as the rest of the chisel. It is where I was holding the tongs in the quench. Next time I will hang it from a piece of wire.

I will try to post pics as it progresses now, but other than adding the wood handle and sharpening it, I don't think it will change much.
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