Monday, October 26, 2009

What Flux to Use For Forge Welding Damascus Steel?

What Flux is right for making Damascus Steel?

One of my family-members asks me right away if I could make a knife for him, made of damast-steel.
This is the reason why I'm coming with another question:
What product do you need for welding pieces together, or making damast-steel? In other words: what works best?
I've been looking on and they offer borax, magi-weld and something they call "Flutsch". The last one is black and looks like tar. Magi-weld is the most expensive but does that mean it works best?

I am not familiar with those products except the borax.
Some of the smithing fluxes have iron filings in them that help the steel stick, but this can muddy the layers in the pattern. Most of us use a product called 20 Mule Team Borax. It is laundry borax. Cheap and works well. Found in the laundry isle in the grocery store. Some people use borax ( boric acid) from the pharmacy which is more expensive but is more pure.

I strongly suggest practicing welding mild steel together many times before trying damascus steel. It is a very tricky process and requires a good deal of practice.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How To Make a Flint and Steel Striker for Primitive Fire Starting?

How to Make a Strike-a-light for Primitive Fire Starting ?

First I think you are doing two great things. Teaching primtive fire starting and how to make a steel striker. Your success depends on the actual type of steel you use and the heat treating process that you use.

I have a video up on Youtube that answers most of your questions see

I use W1 tool steel but have had good luck with spring steel and others. Mild steel won't work. In the video I use an old rattail file which will work fine although not the cheapest way to go.

The heat treating is critical. It must be quenched just as the steel becomes magnetic. At this point it should through a spark with a sharp piece of flint. They will work like this but should be tempered a bit so they don't break as easily. Also the other key is that you need to catch the spark in charred cotton cloth. Again see the video.

How to Make a Basket Twist

How do you make a basket twist?

Start simple take 4 rods weld the tips together both ends
Heat the bundle uniformly and clamp one end in the vise
Twist tight one direction
Then untwist a bit and the basket should open up
You may have to tap one end a bit to get it to open up as well.
You may have to use a pry tool to get them evenly spaced.
Large globe shaped baskets are much more work but can be made around a form then welded then twisted.
Experiment a bit and see what you get.

Is to split the bar from both sides instead of welding. this is nicer but much more work.

What To Quench Tool Steel In?

What is best to quench tool steel in to harden it?

Different types of steel require different quench media.
Some require oil some require water some require air quench.
It is best to refer to the manufactures guidelines and quench as close as possible to their recommendations.

If you quench an oil hardening steel in water it will be too brittle. If you quench the same steel in air it will be too soft.

The thickness of the steel will play a roll as well. Thicker sections usually mean you can quench in the next faster medium.

How to Make a Forge Fire Pot?

How to make a coal forge fire pot?

The best solution for a fire pot is to buy a cast steel one from or or or all have good quality fire pots that will last a long time. They are expensive.

It is cheaper to weld up your own but don't expect it to least near as long. It is esentially a flat bottomed rectangle with tappering sides with a lip around the edge. General size top opening 10 by 8 inches, bottom size 6 inches by 4 inches with a 2.5 inch hole in the centre. Depth top to bottom 4 inches with tapering sides down to the bottom to fit. The lip around the edge about 1 inch wide.

You will need to add a grate in the bottom that is removeable. I have used one with 9, half inch (1/2") holes in it arranged in a grid pattern that fits over the 2.5 inch hole. This grate will get burned up but you can make another one easily. I have used 1/2 inch thick plate for this.

The plate thickness for the walls and the floor and the lip of the fire pot should be 1/2 inch thick or a minimum of 3/8 thick.

I think if you dig around they may have some more information and diagrams.

Hope this helps. Really you are farther ahead to buy a cast one and spend the $200 or so. Save you a ton of time and much better product.

Gas Forge Precautions

What is a list of precautions to take with gas forges?

Gas Forge Precautions

You are the proud owner of a new gas forge so how do you use it with out blowing yourself up?

1) Make sure the forge is set up on a stable surface well away from any combustible material.

2) The forge should be placed with the fresh air coming to you first then the forge. Remember the forgeproduces a lot of carbon monoxide, and produces a lot of carbon dioxide. It also use oxygen at a high rate.Carbon monoxide is poisonous.ALWAYS HAVE FRESH AIR ! If you feel light headed or nausea then shut the forge off and move to freshair immediately.

3) Place the burner in the forge as far down as it goes. Make sure it is secure.

4) Attach the hose and regulator. Attach the regulator to propane tank. Remember fuel threads are left handthreads. All attachment points should be secured with a wrench.

5) Check for leaks with dish soap and water. Also sniff the joints to detect any leaking propane.

6) Start the forge with pressure set to about 8 psi registering on the regulator.

7) Ball valve should be off. Place a lit piece of paper in the chamber and turn propane on. If you have anatmospheric burner (no blower) that should be it. If you have a blower right after you turn on the ball valve youneed to plug the blower in.

8) A flash back can occur if the propane velocity is lower than the air velocity. This can happen at lowpressures. The flame will go out in the chamber and start combusting inside the burner. The sound will changeand you will need to shut the ball valve IMMEDIATELY ! Increase you propane pressure and try again. Thisusually is not a problem with a blown system but could happen if the power went out.

9) Make sure your hose is out of the way of falling hot steel. Hot steel could melt the hose and ignite a fire.When the hose is connected make sure it is out of the way of direct heat from the forge as it could soften andmelt causing a fire.

10) When finished for the day shut ball valve off, turn off blower if any, shut main tank valve off. Always shutthe main tank valve so if there are any small leaks in the system you don't come into a pool of propane whenyou next start your forge. Propane will pool if there is a leak. This could ignite just by turning on a light switch.

11) General work usually about 8 to 10 psi. Forge welding 15 to 20 psi. If you are going to forge weld put apiece of sheet steel in the bottom of the forge to catch the drips of flux. Flux will eat the lining and the firebrick.These you will have to replace over time but why speed the process up. Fire brick on the front and back willeventually break and the support steel will sag. Replace when needed.

12) If you are working a long bar make a separate support that stands on the floor. This will help prevent theforge from tipping over.

13) Always wear safety glasses, and have a fire extinguisher nearby just incase.

Refacing an Old Anvil?

Is it worth the time and trouble to reface an old anvil?

Refacing an anvil is not an easy job. My short answer is to just use it as it is until you find a better one.

If you use welding rod to build up the face you will have a lot of grinding to smooth things out and you will probably take the temper out of the surrounding steel meaning that you will have to heat treat the whole anvil.

Your other option is to have the surface milled to take down the high spots. This means you will have less surface thickness over all to work with, although it will be flat. With this you shouldn't have to heat treat it.

All in all considering time and money many people just find it cheaper to buy a new anvil. Try or or for price comparisons on new anvils.

It is tough doing some of this work alone I would check for any associations in your area. It is great if you can talk to actual people and see demos close up.

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