I've been into blacksmithing for a little under a year now, and now that I've finally managed to make and acquire adequate tools, I've been able to really start making things (my initial setup was using a small sledge hammer for an anvil and beating on it with a smaller hammer). This project is an Instructable on how to make a small, forged–not stock removal, knife with only a homemade forge, anvil, a hammer, and determination. I am by no means a professional, and this is definitely not the only way to achieve pattern-welded steel, but it is how I managed it.
Modern damascus steel is a name for what is also known as pattern welded steel, which is the metal equivalent of folding different colors of clay together to get swirly patterns. When placed in an etching compound, the dissimilar metals will etch at different rates, bringing out the beautiful contrast.The original Damascus steel was made with a different and very specific process (though similar-looking, which is why the modern definition arose) that precious few know how to achieve, and gave Damascus the reputation of near magically strong properties. The reason for this is similar to Katanas/Samurai swords–the process allowed for a much more homogenous and therefore controlled steel than other methods allowed, making it possible to turn fairly crappy and varying grades of high/low carbon steel into a controlled substance. This yielded a much more effective blade.
**This knife is dangerous, don't get stab-happy**
- Two or more steels (preferably high carbon) which will contrast each other. I used 1095, a very high carbon steel, and 15n20, a steel with a lot of nickel in it, which will offer bright and shiny contrast when etched.
- Flux (Borax, can be bought at the grocery store. Traditional "20 mule team Borax" will be perfectly fine.
- Rebar, long scrap rod (to be welded onto the billet as a handle)
- Wood of choice for handle
- Epoxy (5 minute is fine)
- Brass Pins
- Finishing medium for handle, I used Linseed oil
- Quenching oil (vegetable oil)
- Ferric Chloride
- Anvil (Preferably a "proper" steel anvil, though with enough persistence there are many other objects you could use if you don't have access to one. Things that can be used are: RR Track pieces, Big hammers, Random metal chunks, crappy "anvils" from Harbor freight, a big hard rock, really any hard and flat surface. Remember, we started out by hitting things with rocks on top of bigger rocks.)
- Hammer (I used a 3 pound cross-pein)
- Welder (optional, but helps to hold the billet together and onto the handle for the initial weld. If no welder, wrap the pieces tightly with wire)
- Forge *Capable of reaching forge-welding temperatures* – this is very important in order to successfully fuse the layers together. I'll explain more about my forge later.
- Belt grinder/files and a ton of patience
- Oven/method of tempering
- Drill/Drill press
- Vise (very helpful)