Introduction: Bicycle/Chainsaw Chain Damascus Steel

Here is how you can make a different kind of Damascus steel that has a very distinctive look. The main component in this kind of Damascus is either bike or chainsaw chain. For a brief history of Damascus steel please check out my cable Damascus instructable.

Step 1: Materials

For this instructable, I purchased 2 105 link bicycle chains. Be forewarned that even though the chain you have may look like it doesn’t have a coating it may still have one. I purchased the chain above because it looked the least coated but as I discovered later it was in fact coated and yielded an interesting pattern. I used a bar of mild steel as a base to hold the billet together though it is not necessary it just makes it easier to hold. I cut the chains in half with an Emory cutting disk on my angle grinder.

Step 2: Billet Prep

I folded the 4 sections into equal sized rectangles and stacked them on top of each other. To keep everything together, I wrapped the ends in masking tape and then wrapped the whole billet in stainless steel wire. The masking tape will burn off in the forge and the wire will break off by the time the billet is forged out.

Step 3: Pre-forging

Before forging, the billet was thoroughly soaked in wd40 and then coated in borax. This will aid in the forge welding of the billet but will eat away at the interior of your forge so using a protective refractory shelf is preferable.

Step 4: Forging

Heat the billet to a bright orange or yellow and firmly strike it with each strike parallel to the anvil. Work your way down the length of the billet so that it is compressed evenly. Once the billet reaches a dull red color coat it in more borax and heat it up again. Rinse and repeat until you have a solid homogenous billet.

Step 5: Final Forge Related Steps

Some of the chain sections may separate from the billet as it is being forged. To prevent these from causing more problems later you can break them off with a chisel. Also at this point in the forging, the wire should be staring to fall off and should be removed. It’s better to have hot steel fall off your piece on your terms and not randomly.

Step 6: What You Should Have Now

The final billet may not look particularly pretty due to the nature of the chain. Based on the shape you may want to chisel off certain areas so that you won’t have to grind them later. You may also need to go back and re-forge the billet based on how it looks during the grind.

Step 7: Cutting and Grinding

Once the steel is appropriately forged you can grind the steel to shape. I used a grinding wheel on my angle grinder for the majority of the work and a sandpaper wheel on it for the pre acid sanding. The hole in the top was made with a carbide drill bit on a handheld power drill.

Step 8: Acid Etching and Polishing

The pieces were left in a ferric chloride bath for 12 hours and a pattern was revealed. You can either keep the pattern as is or polish it like I did. To prevent the pieces from rusting I used several coats of renaissance wax. The pieces were finished with brass jump rings so that they could be worn.

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