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Ed Caffrey's Workshop Talk to Ed Caffrey ... The Montana Bladesmith! Tips, tricks and more from an ABS Mastersmith.

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Old 01-02-2018, 02:25 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Plug Welding Anyone? :)

Well, for the first time in 3 months I made my way into the Forging shop to see what my body would let me do. OH MAN! I gotta get busy and exercise! I turned into a noodle! This is a project I'd started back before my guts went south, so I figured it would be an easy physical project.

I started with a 1 1/4" X 5/8" thick piece of my "Fossil" Damascus, annealed. I bored 7/16" holes (no particular pattern). I'd already made some Explosion pattern damascus, and thought it would look good in a plug welded format. I forged the Explosion pattern billet round, then turned it down on the lathe to .4380" so I would have to "press fit" (drive it) into the 7/16" holes. I did the same thing with a piece of 1 1/4" X 5/16" 1084.

I hammered the rod into place, then cut it off on the bandsaw. Filling all the holes.

Next, I milled all the rods to equal length, milling both ends. Finish on the ends isn't important, but having ALL the rods the exact same length is.... if they are different lengths, and you try to hammer or press them when welding, you WILL get cold shuts around the outer perimeter of the rods.

Once all the rods are to equal length, it's time to head to the forge! I've had issues in the past trying to do plug welds "dry", so I flux with anhydrous borax, and have much better success. The key to welding, beyond proper temp/atmosphere, is to have the rods long enough that there is some remaining after welding..... if you hammer or press them flush with the surface, bad things tend to happen. My motto is..... I can always grind it off, but can never put it back!

In the case of the above image, the billet is 5/16", which means that once annealed, I can bandsaw it into two, 1/4" thick "slices", and forge blade from those.

"Nobody cares what you know.....until they know you care."
See me at table 2Q at the Blade Show!
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Old 01-03-2018, 04:36 PM
pcpc201 pcpc201 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: South Alabama
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Glad you're able to be back in the shop; that just looks like an awful lot of work...
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Old 01-05-2021, 03:55 PM
Faromon Faromon is offline
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Florida
Posts: 3
This looks pretty decent, I am not sure if I could do the same. There is a lot of work to do, it would take me so much time and as a beginner I don't have the accuracy yet. I am practicing at home when I have some free time and I get better by little. I am using ZP2202 leather welding sleeves to protect my hands after I found this review, what do you think about this? Are they good for a beginner? I feel like they are comfortable enough and the protection is good as well.

Last edited by Faromon; 01-11-2021 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:07 PM
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TexasJack TexasJack is offline
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Location: Southeast Texas
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2 years old and no pics of the final product??? You're slipping, Ed.

God bless Texas! Now let's secede!!
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Old 02-18-2021, 02:46 AM
ReidJustin ReidJustin is offline
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 2
Cool! It's still relevant and still great work, man! I used to be interested in welding, too, and it was nothing more than a hobby, but over time I realized that I wanted to work as a welder, because it is a useful skill. Now almost all enterprises have elements that are welded by other people with their own labor, so I decided to be among their employees. I think I made the right choice by applying for courses that taught me everything I need to become a welder with a good career. So you should not only get carried away, but also translate it into the right things

Last edited by ReidJustin; 02-21-2021 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 02-19-2021, 01:29 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Now live in Las Cruces NM.
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I can't wait to see the knives you forge out of it Mr. Caffrey. Bet it will look great. The last batch of Damascus I made I'm embarrassed of. LOL
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