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

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  #1  
Old 05-05-2021, 02:25 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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"How to" for Canister Damascus

Hello all, As some of ya'll know I've recently got a new Coal Iron 12 ton mini-press. I'm now enjoying playing with forge welding without all the "arm 'n hammer" work I've had before.

Let's assume my canister is 1-1/4" OD with 1/8" walls. OR, I've also got plenty of 1-1/2" OD square tubing but it's only got 1/16" walls. Do you think there would be a chance that 1/16" hold together enough to set the weld set before forming too much scale? I'm running a pretty rich flame with a good bit of dragon's breath trying to keep oxygen level low inside forge - isn't that the way it's done?

I know there are a couple ways to get the "can" free from the billet, (White out, rusty inside, etc) but just how much "can" is left after all the scale formed during forging, especially if using the thin 1/16" wall cans?

With a square die I "assume" I'd press perhaps 25% on first press, then flip canister 90 and press the other side? If this is the case, should I press the full lenght of the canister on one side before flipping? OR, make one press, flip, press the other side and work my way down the canister? I'm thinking the canister would only be 4" long so we're only talking 3 presses per side to get full length (dies are 1-1/2" wide). My set of squaring dies are they're pretty small- only about 1-1/2" square max. These can be reduced by using a shim to reduce size - I think anyway.

"IF" the 1084 (1080) powder was 325 mesh (talc like), Would there be a big deal of difference between final product of using 1095 powder? Reason I ask Jantz has 1080 power in 325 mesh with 4% nickel, but the 1095 powder is plain with no nickel. They do have a nickel silver powder, which I'm not sure how it work work vs actual nickel powder. 15N20 etches pretty bright and is only 2% nickel.

I would think if making ball bearing (52100) Damascus then plain powder would be desired so the powder sections would etch dark with the bearing etching shiny?

I know I've asked several questions there, but it sure would be nice to have a "step-by-step" explanation of "how to make" canister.

Ed, and any other folks who would comment, thank you in advance.

Ken H>
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2021, 02:30 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Thanks Ken!

Ken and I were having an email conversation, and I asked him to post it on the forums so that everybody could join in and help us all learn! PLEASE chime in with any ideas/help/methods. I certainly don't know it all, and usually learn as much as I give on these types of threads.

Here's a few things about canisters.....
1. IN GENERAL, when powder is used in any form in a "can", that overall can is going to require 50% OR MORE in reduction to ensure everything is solid/welded/no voids. So what that means is that you have to be cognisant of the size (mostly the width) of bar or blade you want to end up with...and start with the right size tubing that will get you there AFTER it's been reduced at least 50%, keeping in mind you will want a tad extra for the can walls, which will need to be removed. (either ground or milled away).

2. The wall thickness you choose goes back to the "give-n-take" again. 1/16" wall will certainly hold, you just have to be more gentle with how much you press at a time.... in terms of how deep you allow the press dies to press/bite into the can. The other side of using 1/16" wall, is that there is less to remove, and it will be easier to remove less "can" wall thickness. Typically I use between .080-.120 wall tubing... but because I start with such large size (often 4x4" or 5x5" square X 12+" long), by the time I have it forged to my desired end size, the can wall are just paper thin, and as long as I make sure I've kept to reasonably square while forging, after annealing, it's just a couple of passes with a face mill and the "can" is gone.

3. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ANY CANISTER.....IS THE THICKNESS OF MATERIAL YOU USE FOR THE "LIDS", AND HOW YOU PLACE IT. OK, all caps should have grabbed your attention. my advice is to make your "lids" out of AT LEAST 3/8" thick plate, and then cut so it fits INSIDE the can, very tightly. Leave enough pace unfilled inside the "can" so that you can place the lid inside. and there is about the same "lip" left around the top of the "can" as the actual lid is thick..... in other words, push the "lid" down, pressing the can contents until there is about 3/8" or more of the "can", sticking up above the lid. Weld the lid on. If you do it that way, the weld will not break open before you have the contents solid enough to remain in place.

4. Now...onto forging. Next VERY IMPORTANT thing... BEFORE you weld the final lid on your canister (I also weld on a heavy section of rebar or pipe for a handle). Have your forge running, and up to the correct temp. Here's why..... if you weld the final lid on your canister, and the can is not fully/completely sealed (which they never are), as that weld cools, somewhere WILL suck in the surrounding atmosphere. If you allow that to occur, there is a very high probability that you will get a void or only partially welded area where the atmosphere got sucked into your canister. As soon as the final lid is welded in place, straight into the forge. There is always tons of scale, so I never concern myself with that. When it comes to heating/soaking, even the smallest canister I would ever make, gets at least 45mins of soak, AFTER it appears to be at welding temp. (I try to maintain 2370F or so for any "can" welding/forging)

Now, onto talking about how big a bite to take..... you always want to do your best to forge a can down as evenly as possible. That is what maintains any pattern you've built into the can. "Bites" or how much you press.... the very first weld is the biggest bites I take during the entire forging process... and those are never more than 1/4"....that means from the top AND the bottom, so neither dies bite in more then about 1/8". Rotate 90, do it again, then move down the length a die's width, do it again, repeat, repeat, repeat. You will "feel" the can stiffening at things weld. NEVER EVER try to take too big of a "bite"....that just distorts/wrecks things, and then you can never recover.


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Old 05-06-2021, 04:19 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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Thanks Ed, that's exactly the type of info most folks like me are looking for. I've been working a set of squaring dies today and almost got them complete. Let me get out there and finish them. I'll move the press out, put top set of dies in, then lower gently to make sure the bottom set lines up exactly before tack welding in place. That's the only way I know to be sure they'll match.

Ken H>
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:07 AM
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billyO billyO is offline
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Thanks for the detailed description, Ed.
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Old 05-18-2021, 05:56 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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OK, here's my first attempt at Canister and following Ed's directions. I think it turned out pretty good. I "think" I understand what we're seeing. See the "islands" of solid brighter just above the patterns? I think that is the meteorite that is 6% nickel making it etch really bright. The patterns are the bits of Damascus I cut up and dropped in. The solid dull grey is the 1084 powder to fill the empty places. I "think" that's the case anyway. All in all, I think we did a successful canister weld.

I "really" need to work on getting a pattern, but this Canister was just an attempt to see if I could get it to weld. I started with 1-1/4" OD square tube with 1/8" walls and about 4" long. I cleaned a few scrapes of Damasic I had, cut up into small pieces and dropped into canister. Put 3 smallish pieces of Campo meteorite in the upper section, welded it all up good and put into forge. I didn't rust inside of square tube, white out, or anything. I allowed the canister to weld solid as one billet. Then ground over 1/8" of outside off to be sure I got all the mild steel. This is the result.

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Old 05-19-2021, 10:17 AM
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That looks a bit better than my first attempt, Ken (unless you ground out the sides, that is).

This was a small can, 1/8" wall. I think I should have squished the sides once more before removing the can and starting to draw out. Speaking of which, I used KILZ in the can and here it is after slicing the can open around the perimeter:
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Old 05-19-2021, 10:21 AM
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billyO billyO is offline
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On a related note (this is a how-to, right?)

When doing cans, are there steels that should be avoided because they don't weld? Specifically, I'm thinking of using short lengths of some sort of stainless steel jewelry wire or some other nickel silver wire of different diameters to try for a shooting star going across the sky...
What type of wire would you recommend that would stay bright after the etch?
Thanks.
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Old 05-19-2021, 12:17 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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Thank you for the nice words.

Your first attempt looks darn good to me. I don't consider the edges, they're made to be cleaned up. Your can sure did peel off nicely. I just might have to get me a can of that Kilz primer stuff as well as it seems to work.
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Old 05-24-2021, 08:29 AM
KenH KenH is offline
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It will be a while before I do anything with the canister billet. At this time I'm more interested in learning this forging stuff, both with canister, twist, and perhaps straight billet. The press is very new for me and lots of learning to do. I've got a couple more canister billets I wish to make before working on a blade. One will be a 52100 ball bearing canister, and dreaming of a El Campo meteorite canister billet. I've got a small bit of that meteorite in chips that could be spread thru a 1084 powder billet. I'm thinking I need to wait a while on the meteorite canister to learn more.

BillyO, in my response to your question above about "how to", that is very much an Ed question so we'll have to wait until he returns from his medical tests in a couple of days.
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Old 05-24-2021, 11:40 AM
Chris Railey Chris Railey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyO View Post
On a related note (this is a how-to, right?)

When doing cans, are there steels that should be avoided because they don't weld? Specifically, I'm thinking of using short lengths of some sort of stainless steel jewelry wire or some other nickel silver wire of different diameters to try for a shooting star going across the sky...
What type of wire would you recommend that would stay bright after the etch?
Thanks.
Ed will be along to give more intelligent answers than me but as far as what to avoid I can help a little. The nickel should do fine I have not ever forge welded any but some makers I know of use it in their Damascus just remember if you use it you will be adding a non-hardening metal to your knife billet. As far as stainless goes (TO MY KNOWLEDGE) the lower carbon steels weld better than the higher carbon. 416-410 etc but they take a longer time at welding heat but so does canister. That would be my main concern trying it. I like the idea of stainless wire in a can I think that could look really cool so I will be following this one for sure please let us know if it works out. I am sure you know this already but in that situation I would use powdered steel without added nickel powder. That contrast should rock if it works. Good luck.
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Old 05-24-2021, 11:50 AM
Chris Railey Chris Railey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyO View Post
That looks a bit better than my first attempt, Ken (unless you ground out the sides, that is).

This was a small can, 1/8" wall. I think I should have squished the sides once more before removing the can and starting to draw out. Speaking of which, I used KILZ in the can and here it is after slicing the can open around the perimeter:
Ken, when you go to draw that billet out I will try and save you some heartache I experienced the last and only time I peeled a can from a billet. When you draw the billet out go slow and keep it pretty much at welding heat the entire time. If you go too fast or it cools you will get the cracks and splits like Billy O showed above. Ed explained it to me this way (and it actually made sense to me) When you are dealing with cannister you have thousands of little forge welds to keep together while you are drawing the billet out and that needs to be done at welding heat. I tend to leave my cans on the entire time because to me, it helps keep those cracks from occurring. Most of my cans tend to have about 1/8" walls so by the time I draw that out to billet length it is easy to grind off because it is thin. Keep experimenting, I love making cannister...
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1084, 1095, 52100, ball, bearing, billet, ca, case, damascus, dies, etching, forge, forging, hammer, how to, iron, make, making, powder, press, scale, silver, small, welding, white


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