First off, the design. Whether I can actually make this knife remains to be seen, but I’m going to give it a shot 🙂
This will be a 6″ blade with hidden tang forged from low-layer ladder patterns damascus steel, with a matching guard and a cocobolo handle.
Ok, first step in making a damascus knife is making the damascus. This is the more time-consuming and tedious task…
I start out with stacks of 1095 and 15n20 steel in 1/8″ thick pieces. Both these steels are high carbon steel, but the 15n20 also contains nickel which is much more corrosion-resistant than the 1095. The value of this will become apparent at the end of this process.
I grind the mating faces of all the pieces clean and wipe them down with acetone. This assures that theres nothing on the steel to inhibit the forge-welding.
Then I make 2 stacks of 10 pieces. Each stack has 5 pieces of each steel type stacked alternately, 1095, 15n20, 1095, 15n20, etc.
I run a couple welds to keep the stacks together and lined up.
Into the forge with them. I heat to orange, which is around 1500 F. and then flux the billets well with borax and then back into the forge. The flux will get in between the pieces via capillary action and dissolve any scale that would normally form. The scale would prevent the pieces from welding together.
Forge-welding requires much higher temperatures than normal forging temps. Usually around 2300 F. I dont have a thermometer to determine the temp, but when the steel reaches a bright, pale lemon yellow in color, nearly white, its time.
I pull them out and hammer quickly and firmly on the billets while the temp is at max, and if all goes well 10 pieces of steel become one. They dont melt, but the surfaces fuse together into one solid billet.
Once they are welded, I draw them out normally like any other bar stock.
Grinding off the edge shows that the welds are all solid. No gaps, cracks, cold shuts, or delaminations. Just one solid piece. Fact is, all those layers are still there, you just cant tell one piece from another.
Once forged out long enough I cut them in half, grind one surface of each piece flat and clean, tack-weld each pair together with the clean faces in contact, and then forge-weld them again, and draw them out