This tutorial is about preparing material and making the first step to get pattern welded steel. Damascus steel is actually name of different material – steel with high carbon content and pattern on the surface created in the crucible melting process, not by pattern welding. Though a lot of people mix those two things, thats why I’ve use both names.
There are a lot of movies on youtube and lots of different tutorials that show welding a package together and making a blade out of it. the first one i found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnW0aypbdj8
But not so many show how to begin.
First: you need material. High carbon steel and lower carbon steel, so you can see the difference in color after welding. Lots of people know how to weld together steels with high carbon content, but I’ve used an old file and mild steel flat steel. I think it’s just easier, but it only my opinion.
It doesn’t need to be a rusty file, but must be old – recent products are made of some alloy steels, might be too much science in them for good fire welding. 30-40 years old should be good enough. If you can’t get it – a piece of a leaf spring should be ok. Clean the material, so there is no rust. Doesn’t need to be flat or shiny, just to get rid off those rusty craters, cause they might stay in the steel after welding.
Clean the mild steel as well.
Cut both materials to the same length. Make a sandwich out of them, mixing layers of both materials. Mild steel needs to be on the outer sides. For example: MHMHMHM – where M is mild steel and H high carbon steel. Try to keep proportions of the sandwich – can’t be to high comparing to width, cause it may bent over. I made it more or less square in cross section.
High carbon steel burns faster, so you can protect it from overheating by placing mild steel on the outside.
Grind the edges flush, and get rid of rust.
Arc weld the pieces together. If you don’t know how to weld or don’t have the welding machine – bind it together with a wire, or use hose bands.
When welding remember to keep the welds narrow and weld vertically – leave as much space for the slag to come out from between steel slices as possible.
Weld a piece of a mild steel rod to hold it in the forge and on the anvil. You can also use tongs, but welded handle is more comfortable.
It has to hold together nicely. If you can not arc weld it – the package would have to be longer, so it is easier to keep it together.
Now put it in the forge. Slowly bring to cherry red, coat it in borax (a lot of borax – about a teaspoon per side) and let it melt and soak between the layers. Spread borax while holding the package side up, so the gravity will help it penetrate.
I didn’t make any pics at this stage, cuase i didn’t have time, and it has to be done in twilight so with my camera only a blur would be visible. You need twilight to judge the temperature. Welding heat is just before the sparks start to jump from the material.
You can make a little jig to help you judge the temperature. Take a piece of rod, about 40 -50 cm long and forge the end into a sharp point, almost a needle. Put it into the forge when your sandwich is close to welding heat. If the temperature is right your needle will stick to the material cause the thin end will heat up to welding heat instantly. If you see a lot of sparks on your sandwich and the surface began to melt you can throw the package out and start all over again – it has burned.
Just after you reach welding heat take it out from the forge and instantly put on the anvil and hammer it together. Every second is important – if it cools down too much, need to heat up again.
Don’t hammer too hard, it won’t help, and can cause the layers to come apart.
You can here a very specific “puff” sound when the welding catches. Later on you will be able to judge if the package is welded or not just by hearing the sound of it.
There will be a lot of sparks also. Lots of hot, sticky, nasty sparks. Were eye protection (were it always when forging) and good clothes (no synthetics, they melt and burn).
If you’re successful you should end up with something like this:
Congratulations. First big step done.