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The Outpost This forum is dedicated to all who share a love for, and a desire to make good knives, and have fun doing it. We represent a diverse group of smiths and knifemakers who bring numerous methods to their craft.

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  #1  
Old 04-26-2002, 12:14 PM
mongoismyname
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Damascus Question


In a magazine i have a very well known author
states that "Quality Damascus cannot be made by hand"
in other words you need to have a powerhammer/treadlehammer etc..
I find it hard to believe, but then again i dont know much..
Seems quanity could fit that statement but not quality!
Ok someone set me straight
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2002, 12:45 PM
Sweany
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then how do you account for the old stuff,?Who feeds the machines? I am with you on quanity, course if you had 6 kids and.......

It's easier, with a power hammer or press.

I know a guy that made quite a bit of good stuff with a sledge hammer before he was able to afford a power hammer.

I made some with a 6lber and it was good stuff
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  #3  
Old 04-26-2002, 01:11 PM
Roger Gregory
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That very well known author should be force-fed the entire print run of the magazine

How does he account for all the great pattern-welded blades of the Viking and Anglo-Saxon smiths in the days before power-hammers, the Damascus steel of the Islamic empires, the amazing old Japanese swords....?

It's the smith, not the hammer.

Roger
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  #4  
Old 04-26-2002, 01:19 PM
The Flaming Blade
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WHAT THE


HUH ???

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  #5  
Old 04-26-2002, 01:49 PM
prizzim
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HAH


The Pink Guy reappears. An excellent symbol of absolute bafflement. Love it, Tai.
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  #6  
Old 04-26-2002, 02:02 PM
Raymond Richard
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Re: HAH


Tai or Tia, I'm getting old. That picture cracks me up!!!!Ray
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  #7  
Old 04-26-2002, 03:58 PM
MaxTheKnife
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Re: HAH


Wel, I'm betting this 'well know author' learned to make damascus on a power hammer so he's biased. Not hard to believe when you consider that that's how they teach it at the ABS school in Old Washington, Arkansas. But I'm here to tell you that he's as wrong as the day is long. And I'd say it to his face too without any hard feelings. Just the knowledge that I CAN and DO forge quality damascus with my 4 lb shop hammer allows me to say that. Of course, I have a treadle hammer now but I don't use it unless I have some real heavy metal to move. I don't consider making damascus a real heavy job unless you're making mosaic damascus with powdered metal. And I don't think that's true damascus personally. I think they should call that stuff powdermascus. And that's the way it looks from Paris, Arkansas!
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  #8  
Old 04-26-2002, 06:46 PM
mongoismyname
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Re: Ok maybe i jumped the gun?


Heres what was said by B.R. Hughes in the April 2002
issue of "Knives iiLustrated"

Talking about a maker buying a powerhammer beacause
it is extremely diffucult to produce quality damascus
with a handheld hammer. Thats on Page 32 bottom
right side of page.
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  #9  
Old 04-26-2002, 07:57 PM
Bob Warner
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Re: Ok maybe i jumped the gun?


I can see how he could say it is difficult, but no more than difficult.

What I mean is, when working on your pattern, a ladder for example, you have to know to forge evenly or your pattern will not be consistent down the blade. I would think that it would be difficult for those learning to do it. The experienced smith knows to count hammer blows or continuously check how even things are. The use of a power hammer or a press could make the "THINKING" a little less critical because everything is getting forged evenly (not one edge and then the other) like handheld hammer blows would do. In the case of a press, just put it under the press and watch it flatten out, no hammer skills needed there.

The difficulty to me would be the inability to THINK about what you are doing and executing it properly. The press and the power hammer are just allowing you to do it with less SKILL.

Hope I conveyed this the way I mean it.
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  #10  
Old 04-26-2002, 08:40 PM
MaxTheKnife
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Re: Ok maybe i jumped the gun?


Perfect Bob. I couldn't have said it better myself. B.R. Hughes has obviously never forged up any damascus. He's just watched it being done with a power hammer and he's impressed with the results. Nothing wrong with that. That's his impression of good damascus making methods. And there are probably smiths out there that may have told him that little mistruth. When you're in the moment, watching a pro forge damascus on a power hammer and listening to what he has to say about it, I can see where it would be easy to get carried away with that smith's expertise. B.R. is a good writer and believes what he writes. I met him at a spring hammer-in at Old Washington. And if you want to know the truth, I highly suspect that he got his story from the damascus guru in this country, Bill Moran. But you have to realize that Bill is in his 80's. Of course he uses a power hammer. It's easy, dependable and makes a good high quality damascus. But if you look at some of his earlier books he used a hammer and anvil. So, if you look at it in it's proper perspective, that story is right and wrong all at the same time. It's all about context Mongo. You don't need a power hammer to make quality damascus. But it helps to streamline the process.
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  #11  
Old 04-29-2002, 12:20 PM
Bog Iron
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Trad Dam


*traditionally* a smith would not be making pattern welded stuff---a *GROUP* of smiths would!

You've seen Nat Geo's "Living Treasures of Japan"? Three strong young folk on sledges doing the heavy work while the fellow who looks like he remembers getting his first edition of "the Book of 5 Rings" signed by the author provides the judgement on how to work the piece.

Today we are labour poor and tool rich; doing it by yourself is not how they did it; but how many of us can afford a good thrall.

Shoot you can do #### fine pattern welded stuff by hand---but it wears you down; production is easier using a hammer, faster too. A press is great for when you are being *very* fussy on the pattern and the localized impact of the hammer throws things off.

If a person was starting out and planned to support a family I'd advise them to learn to weld by hand and then invest in the power "tools" as fast as they can. Build a reputation and then think of going all by hand when you can get the money for your work out of your stuff.

Bog Iron, (done more by hand than by hammer---and my elbow lets me know it!)
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