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The Damascus Forum The art and study of Damascus steel making.

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  #1  
Old 03-04-2018, 09:51 AM
G.T.Metz G.T.Metz is offline
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Cable welding problem?

Suddenly having trouble welding cable. 20+ yrs experience, 8-10 cable knives/yr. Same gas furnace, reducing atmosphere(4"flame out front). Prepare 6x25x1" dia. cable by burning out grease, heat to orange, twist tight, clean scale, heat to upper red & flux, heat to welding and light hammering. Anhydrous Borax melts and bubbles, let the 1st heat soak for couple more minutes. Surface of the steel is wet & sticky (test with iron coat hanger). Color is high-end bright orange, almost yellow. Usually get 3" weld between heats. Spent the past couple days welding 8 billets and only one is acceptable. Joint between welding heats is not weld, but next 1-3" is. Getting a spiral gap nearly all way through the billet at these heat welding seams. Ran out of old borax,(no label) ordered 2 more, one straight anhydrous, one with metal filings, neither make a difference. Is it possible to heat to much where borax is gone? Contamination of some sort? Hand hammering, getting FRUSTRATED! Suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks, Greg
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Old 03-04-2018, 03:11 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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I'm not an expert on cable Damascus, but you probably have either a clear coat cable or the alloy isn't partial to forge welding. I remember TIG welding cable and it burned off a lot of smoke as it was coated, every wire was coated with a clear plastic polymer. Just a possibility and you may need to burn the cable longer. On the one billet that turned out alright did you do anything different because it sure does sound like a contamination problem? You can try adding powdered charcoal (use a rasp to make) to the borax mix too and see if that doesn't help. Twist the cable open and saturate with the mix and twist tight at orange/yellow heat.

Last edited by jimmontg; 03-04-2018 at 03:16 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-04-2018, 06:12 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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Like Jim said, start with any unusual additives. You probably know this, but just in case; zinc is common on cable and can cause issues. You know zinc is present from a white/blue wispy flame coming off the cable. Fully galvanized would be more than obvious, the whole billet will "burn" with that white/blue smoke and it may even snow, so don't breath that stuff.
You might also take a section apart and inspect the core, sometimes there is a string of paper present that can cause issues.
I'd start with getting a different cable and see if that solves your problem. I just use plain old 20 mule team borax and do a lot of cable, lol.
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:14 AM
G.T.Metz G.T.Metz is offline
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Thank You for the info. and advice Jim and JM, Using same cable I have welded for past 10 yrs. Old logging cable, no clear coat, 6x7 wire core. There is some alloy in it as I get 3 different colors/texture when etching. Problem is between the weld heats, 2nd weld doesn't want to take to the 1st, 3rd not to the 2nd. Just that conjunction as then next inch or two will weld. Did open up the cable, flux and retwist on several of the billets, no luck. Will try the charcoal tip (never heard that one), if insanity continues. Did get a successful billet yesterday, however, I had to grind a LOT more off the outside than usual, spiral gap was only about 1/3 deep. Interior was good??? Scratching my Head! Have 20 mule team in shop that I use for my fur pelt clean-up. Might try a shorter section and try to weld in one heat instead of multiple. Means smaller knives but less frustration. Will let you know if I find anything out. Thanks again and have good time forging! Greg
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Old 03-06-2018, 02:07 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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The charcoal addition is so you don't burn out the carbon and by adding it you can stop worrying about burning it out with a higher welding heat. That's all I meant to do with it. Maybe if you can burn hotter it may weld better. It's just something in a YouTube video, I think it was one of James McClendon's videos. May have been somebody else, was it you James?
Found it at the end of this video. Yep, it's James.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQFsHhfdlPs

Last edited by jimmontg; 03-06-2018 at 04:33 PM.
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  #6  
Old 03-07-2018, 05:43 PM
G.T.Metz G.T.Metz is offline
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Jim, Thanks for clarifying info on charcoal addition. thought maybe it was some flux trick. Will try to attach photos of cable weld problem. 7 of last 8 billets like this. ?????
Cable Weld Problem #1.JPG

Cable Weld Problem #2.JPG

Bernie Driscoll #1.JPG
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  #7  
Old 03-08-2018, 05:57 PM
jmccustomknives jmccustomknives is offline
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I think it's odd that the cold shut is on the same seam. So, I think maybe your forge isn't quite getting hot enough and this is causing the problem. I've noticed that as time went on my forge would do that, the flux and just general use would degrade the insulation. Once I got in and relined it the problem was solved. In my experience when cable fails to weld the first time, for some reason getting it to weld up a second time is much more difficult. I believe that since you are in the lower range on the welding temp that second chance problem comes in play.
Putting the ground charcoal may help since a higher carbon content will lower welding temps.
Keep us up to date on the progress.
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  #8  
Old 03-09-2018, 10:07 AM
G.T.Metz G.T.Metz is offline
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Thanks for helpful reply JM. I concur that the 2nd weld is usually more difficult! I believe you are on to something with the idea of a slightly cooler, worn forge, this one is 20+ yrs. with only one interior recoat. I may redo the interior and see what happens. Managed to get a smaller billet made, so now have 2 cable knives to work on. Forge fix will be a little while off, but will definitely do it before next cable welding attempt! Will let the forum know how things work after that. THANKS for you help and hope you have fun with your forging. Take care, Greg
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