Making a Knife From Failed Damascus

I made myself a damascus billet. Or, rather, I failed at making a damascus billet. Many of the forge welds didn't stick and the billet looked like a big overly dry dog turd.

I could have thrown it out, but I decided to persevere and see if I could make something, anything out of it. As it turned out, I made myself a workshop knife that is wicked sharp and I really like the organic gnarly look of the splits and fails. There was enough decent steel for the blade part.

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Step 1: Billet

I won't go in to how to make a damascus billet as I obviously don't know what I'm talking about.

You could, of course, do this with a decent billet of damascus if you are lucky enough to be one of the many many people with better skills than me.

Step 2: Forge

Unfortunately I don't have photos of the forging process as I was busy forging and swearing at the time.

The essence was to find a part of the billet where the welds were good and hammer that into enough steel for an acceptable blade.

From there I stretched and cajoled the steel into as long and tapered a handle as I could manage where any holes and flakes would be incorporated into the handle ensuring the handle still had, like me, just about enough integrity to get by.

Step 3: Daily Grind

I forged the piece into the rough shape I wanted, then used files and a belt sander to shape it further. I shaped it with a belly that would be useful for cutting leather (for my next project) and a sharpish point (also for leather). Once happy with the shape I roughly sharpened it. The full sharpening would wait until after the heat treatment.

Step 4: Heat Treat

Once again, no photos of this part as I had a red hot piece of metal in my hand at the time.

I heated it to non magnetic then plunged it into some oil.

Step 5: Come Up and See My Etchings

Once cooled and all the crud had been washed and sanded off, I etched it 1 part ferric chloride to 2 parts distilled water. This took about 15 mins to get to the stage I liked it.

I didn't have a big enough container handy to do it in one go and was too impatient to go and get one.

I neutralised the acid with some acetone as that's what I had to hand.

Step 6: Clean Up and Polish

Uh, clean it up. And polish it.

Step 7: Job Done. Almost.

Here's the finished item. I have sharpened it properly now and it cuts like a broken heart.

Step 8: Add to the Wall of Half Finished or Half Assed Projects..

The other damascus blade on the wall is for a folder and came from the good end of the billet.



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