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[Sticky] Rain Drop Damascus

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Travis Fahlgren
Posts: 29
Travis
Topic starter
 

I want to take a shot at making some rain drop pattern damascus here soon. From those of you that have made it what is a good layer count for this pattern? It seems to me that to high of a layer count would not be good but I'm not sure how high to take it. Thanks in advance.

Travis

 
Posted : 09/06/2016 10:40 am
Gary Mulkey
Posts: 775
Prominent Member Apprentice Bladesmith
 

Travis,

Not for just a rain drop pattern but for most it's usually best to use around 300 layers. You can vary this if wanting an extra bold or fine look but 300 is kind of a "norm".

Gary

 
Posted : 09/06/2016 5:14 pm
BrionTomberlin
Posts: 0
Member
 

Got to go with Gary. I find about 300 gives you a nice look Travis. Too fine and it kind of washes out.

Brion

Brion Tomberlin

Anvil Top Custom Knives

ABS Mastersmith

 
Posted : 09/06/2016 8:44 pm
Karl B. Andersen
Posts: 0
Member
 

Lower layer counts also equals less time at temp and shorter forging time.

This means less homogeneity of carbon migration. That's another reason for shooting for 300 layers.

At 300 layers, your layers are only about 8/10,000ths of an inch thick and will make carbon equalizing a fairly easy distance to travel.

Karl B. Andersen

Journeyman Smith

 
Posted : 09/06/2016 10:19 pm
Kevin R. Cashen
Posts: 0
Member
 

For me it depends in the pattern, I think twists look better between 80 and 160 layers, while ladder and raindrops need at least 300 layers. I find the patterns that depend on exposing topography in the layers benefit more from higher layer counts. If you can squeeze more layers into the area that you are grinding away, there will be less you have to grind away. On lower layer counts I get around the carbon diffusion issue simply by soaking the billet a little more and taking my time welding with more cycles. For rain drops I have noticed an annoying habit for drilled dimples not wanting to forge out but rather to move with the reducing surface, so I took to making dies that create raised round bumps that I grind off the outside of the billet, this give me a nicer pattern and lets me pattern the billet during the end of the welding operation without even having to let it cool, the time savings is substantial. One tip that I have is to use something like a round, or ball end, mill rather than a drill bit to make your dies. The parallel sides of a drilled hole will grab your billet at temp and force you to knock it off before proceeding, while the crater effect of a ball end mill will release much better.

"One test is worth 1000 'expert' opinions" Riehle Testing Machines Co.

 
Posted : 10/06/2016 7:37 am
Travis Fahlgren
Posts: 29
Travis
Topic starter
 

Thanks for the tips guys I really appreciate it. I did the first weld today and tomorrow I am going to cut and stack again. I'll shoot for about 300.

 
Posted : 10/06/2016 8:32 pm
Ed Clarke
Posts: 317
Reputable Member Journeyman Bladesmith
 

Hey Guys!

An additional question on this topic: Once you have your patterned bar and are ready to create the actual blade, do you grind to shape or forge to shape. My concern is pattern distortion...

Thanks!

 
Posted : 21/07/2016 9:51 am
Ed Caffrey
Posts: 0
Estimable Member Master Bladesmith
 

I agree with the layers counts mentioned. The way I do most of what I call "Stock removal" pattern is to accomplish the stock removal (in the case of Rain Drop, drilling approx 1/3 of the overall billets thickness. For example I would drill when the billet is approx 3/4" thick, drilling 1/3 or 1/4" into each side, then forge to a finished thickness of approx. 1/4-5/16" (take into consideration cleanup).

There are basically two types of patterns with "simple" damascus.... 1. "Stock Removal" patterns (those where you remove material such as ladder, or RAIN DROP). And "Mechanical Patterns" (where the pattern is created by manipulating the billet such as twists, folds, etc, versus removing any material.

"Stock Removal" patterns are best forged as closely to finished as possible, otherwise grinding can "erase" the pattern if taken too far.

"Mechanical Patterns" don't present any great chance of "erasing" pattern via grinding.... only changing the appearance of the pattern.

One "trick" that I often do on a billet that going to be a stock removal pattern is to cut the billet into 3 pcs before the final weld, and add in a piece of thicker material (either 15N20 or 1080, depending on whether I want the bottom of the rain drop or ladder to be dark or light when etched), then make the final weld, anneal and pattern the billet. If you're careful when patterning, you can stop the drill or the cuts on the thicker layer. Another "trick" is to use a 60 degree countersink to "widen" out the drilled spots.....this keep the edges from folding over and creating cold shuts, and also adds to the over all pattern in the finished blade.

 
Posted : 21/07/2016 5:53 pm
Karl B. Andersen
Posts: 0
Member
 

|quoted:

On lower layer counts I get around the carbon diffusion issue simply by soaking the billet a little more and taking my time welding with more cycles.

That is my major concern with lower layer count billets.

I love single twist immensely. But I like the chatoyance more with high layer, even though we seem to pay the price for losing some pattern display more easily seen with lower layer count.

There's always something to trade off.

Karl B. Andersen

Journeyman Smith

 
Posted : 22/07/2016 10:16 pm
Karl B. Andersen
Posts: 0
Member
 

|quoted:

Hey Guys!

An additional question on this topic: Once you have your patterned bar and are ready to create the actual blade, do you grind to shape or forge to shape. My concern is pattern distortion...

Thanks!

When I ladder a knife, I forge it to its basic shape at about 1/2" thick - then press in the ladder and grind off the highs, leaving a profiled blade 1/4"+. That way I don't lose the ladder eveness but forging after.

When I forge a twisted bar into a knife, I chop-saw cut some of the point to get it started so as not to stretch out the twist. I despise that.

As I refine the point profile, between heats I grind off the upset mushroom rather than reducing it with the hammer. It's the forging it flat that stretches out the pattern, so I just grind it flat as I go.

I don't let myself get caught up in the thinking that EVERYTHING has to be done with a hammer.

Professional 'smiths of yesteryear used every tool they could to do their jobs.

So do I.

Karl B. Andersen

Journeyman Smith

 
Posted : 22/07/2016 10:25 pm
Joshua States
Posts: 1157
Member
 

This conversation would have been a great addition to the topic of the month thread this month. Especially the parts about stock removal patterns as opposed to forging patterns and the effects of pattern distortion from each method.

Joshua States

www.dosgatosforge.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

Also on Instagram and Facebook as J.States Bladesmith

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

 
Posted : 23/07/2016 3:29 pm
Travis Fahlgren
Posts: 29
Travis
Topic starter
 

Thanks for all the great replies. I did give this a go and while I got some of the pattern I wanted I think my holes were a bit shallow and I lost a lot of it in the end. I think I will try to follow some of Ed's advice when I try next.

 
Posted : 23/07/2016 7:49 pm
Rob Thomas
Posts: 5
Member
 

[media] http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TGZssT_H_8 [/media]

On my Raindrop I only use 150 layers. I think that it is plenty. If you do too many layers it gets too fine. You want your customer to be able to see that pattern to appreciate it. For some reason some makers think more is better - that is not always the case.

Rob Thomas

 
Posted : 03/02/2017 12:44 am
Girnie Brown
Posts: 65
Member
 

|quoted:

For me it depends in the pattern, I think twists look better between 80 and 160 layers, while ladder and raindrops need at least 300 layers. I find the patterns that depend on exposing topography in the layers benefit more from higher layer counts. If you can squeeze more layers into the area that you are grinding away, there will be less you have to grind away. On lower layer counts I get around the carbon diffusion issue simply by soaking the billet a little more and taking my time welding with more cycles. For rain drops I have noticed an annoying habit for drilled dimples not wanting to forge out but rather to move with the reducing surface, so I took to making dies that create raised round bumps that I grind off the outside of the billet, this give me a nicer pattern and lets me pattern the billet during the end of the welding operation without even having to let it cool, the time savings is substantial. One tip that I have is to use something like a round, or ball end, mill rather than a drill bit to make your dies. The parallel sides of a drilled hole will grab your billet at temp and force you to knock it off before proceeding, while the crater effect of a ball end mill will release much better.

scrolling thru old threads and gathering note, that die making detail is gold........understand this was 4 years ago for you but new to me and a valuable nugget.

Minimum Effort = Minimum Results every time

 
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