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Welcome to BlacksmitHER Radio, spotlighting male and female blacksmiths around the world.


We’re committed to providing a host of resources to male and female blacksmiths of all ability levels through podcast interviews spotlighting your fellow blacksmiths. The podcast interviews are designed to help improve your metal working skills while providing an opportunity to connect with others who share your passion of blacksmithing!  

Jan 9, 2017

Hey there, it’s Vic, welcome to the show and thank you for tuning in this week, you guys! It’s episode #94 and this year I’ve decided to read some technical articles written by Jay Burnham-Kidwell. A resident of Arizona, Jay is the owner of Metal Design and Restoration.  Since 1974, he has worked in various mediums and exhibited his work throughout the world.  He works as a studio artist, lecturer, and demonstrator in all kinds of metalsmithing including jewelry, copper hollow forms, and blacksmithing.  I met Jay at the ABANA conference last summer in Salt Lake City Utah and we hit it off right away as if we’d known each other for a long time, I think that’s how Jay is with everyone.  He mentioned he had more than 40 articles that he had written for various magazines such as the Anvils Ring and Anvil Magazine, and he would be happy to share them with me so I could share them with you on the podcast.  I’m going to call these technical podcasts “The JayBurn Journals” and I’ll sprinkle them throughout the year. So today is episode #94 and it’s a JayBurn Journal titled “Pattern Forge Welding”.  I picked this particular article because “JayBurn” will be teaching a Damascus workshop at Adam’s Forge in LA California January 21 & 22. You can find more info on the website.

Show Notes:

  • Pattern forge welding, aka “Damascus Steel” is an offshoot of the traditional forge welding of the blacksmith craft. The original material was known as “Wootz”.  The result of the “Wootz” process was a weapon grade steel of good flexibility and edge holding capability.
  • Austenite is an alloy of iron and carbon is part of a crystallization process that occurs in the Wootz process of cooling.
  • Materials used:
    • Wrought Iron – almost pure iron, easily welded with a high phosphorous content
    • L-6 – a low alloy, chrome-nickel steel used in large saw blades, exhibits good forge welds to other metals
    • 15N20 – a medium carbon steel that produces a high contract with other steels due to its high nickel content
    • 1095 – a high carbon steel frequently used on tools and applications in industry
    • 4140 – a low carbon chromium-vanadium alloy of toughness, used for hammer dies, punches and car axles
    • W-2 – a high carbon steel commonly used in toolmaking, particularly in files.
    • A-36 – An alloy steel that has replaced 1010, 1018, and 1020 mild steels, the catchall of modern steel production.
    • 5160 – This steel is touch and springy, low chromium-silicon steel that can be readily forge welded and heat treated.
    • Steel Cable – great resource for Damascus patterns, make sure it is clean and not plated. Four grades are Base Plow Steel (1084), Improved Plow Steel (1070), Extra Improved Plowshare Steel (1084), and Extra Extra Improved Plowshare Steel (1095). The last two digit give the carbon content, the “10” signifies a simple carbon steel of iron, carbon, and a bit of manganese with trace elements of phosphorous and sulfur.
    • Nickel – will readily forge weld to ferrous metals but not to itself. Retains its brilliant whiteness.
    • “Road Kill” – chain, guns, horseshoes, old files, chisels, ball bearings ect. Avoid all plated and galvanized metals.
  • Preparation of the stack is important in the welding process. All layers should be close in thickness, clean and as tight as possible. Put the higher welding metals on the outside of the stack.
  • Welding should be done in 3 to 6 seconds and in few as heats as possible, this will lessen the amount of overheating, burning, carbon migration and oxidation of the materials.
  • Cutting edge Damascus tools need to be 125 or more layers.
  • It is possible to lose 15% - 40% of the original mass in the forging process.
  • There are two etching mordent categories: acid or alkaline.

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