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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 05-05-2021, 11:28 AM
KenH KenH is offline
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widening billets with press?

Hello all, and first of all a great big THANK YOU to Ed for his help in building a forge. I'm really happy with the forge I built, and say again THANK YOU for the guidance Ed gave for that. It still amazes me that I can put a 12" billet in, and it will heat to a pretty even heat from one end to other end without any real bright or dark spots. So much better than a burner pointing straight down from top.

Now for my question: How to widen a billet? My problem is even using flat dies the billet grows MUCH longer in relation to growing in width. i.e., I've squared up a billet to 3/4"X3/4", then press it out using flatting (flattening? Which is correct?) dies, it might grow to 1" wide but no more.

Also when doing San Mai, I might use 1/8" of SS for each side with a 3/16" high carbon core. Right now all I've got is 1" wide. After setting the welds to a nice solid feel, I can take small bites with flatting dies to make it thinner. This makes the billet grow longer without all that much widening. I'd like to draw the billet wider as well as longer. I'm thinking of something like a mini-fullering die, with perhaps 2 or 3 fullering grooves that are perhaps less than 1/8" high each (to give <1/8" grooves). I'd think perhaps the top grooves alternating between the lower grooves? Does any of this make sense? OR - is there better ways? Remember I'm on a low tonnage "H" press. This image below is an attempt to show what I'm talking about. This is a side view as looking from side of press with "humps" laid out same as a fullering die.



Thanks for all your help and I'll keep the Prayers coming for your improved health. We (especially me) want (need) you around for a LONG time.

Ken H>
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Old 05-05-2021, 11:54 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Quote:
How to widen a billet?
Everybody! Please chime in with your inputs on this.

My input: IF you are building a specific pattern into a "can", widening it once getting the can fully welded isn't an option... the reason is that the pattern will quickly distort to beyond recognition.

The route I take is that when I am reducing "the square", I seek to end up with the square being just slightly larger then the width of the blades I intend to produce from it. The "extra" is to allow for grinding/milling off all the can walls.

In other words, if I intend to build hunter size blades, I will forge the square down to something in the 1 3/8" range, and once the "can" is completely removed, it will end up in the 1 1/4" range +/-, which is the width I most often use for hunters. I usually make big "cans"..... and when forging the can down, will often forge a portion to 1 3/4" square for bowie sized blades, and then some into 1 3/8" square for hunters, and maybe even some to 1" square for folder blades and/or scales.

The idea of building canister Damascus is to create a specific pattern or scene, and preserve it throughout the forging process, and into the finished blade/knife. That means much of has to be thought through ahead of time. Just have to change your way of thinking through/conducting the process.

Now.... to widening in a press. Your press is the 12 ton "H" frame... right?
This is one of the big drawback to an "H" frame design, and a plus for a "C" frame design. On most "H" frames you can't get to the dies from the sides. The only answer I have come up with is to build mild drawing dies, with the ends of the dies facing the front/back of the press opening. And even then it's not an easy chore to gently press in different places across the billet...unless you use stop blocks. Then you of course have to change out dies and in order to get things flat again.
It might seem silly, but this is one of the place were I couldn't live without my air hammer! HEY! Maybe you could talk the Mrs into an air hammer too? (I had to try! )


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Last edited by Ed Caffrey; 05-05-2021 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 05-05-2021, 03:17 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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Ooops Ed, I should have been more clear on this "widening" aspect. It's not just for a "can" Damascus, but any Damascus billet, even plain steel billet or the San Mai that has no pattern. Any type of billet that needs to be drawn wider as well as longer. Drawing longer is easy, seems wider is harder. I can draw wider with my hammer just fine, seems with a press it's harder.

Well, I've typed several ideas here and the more I think about it, perhaps Ed is right - best not to try for "widening" the billet to fit the blade, just make billet wide enough for blade.

Thanks Ed, your help and guidance is always helpful, even if it's not always what I want to hear {smiling sadly}

Ken H>
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Old 05-06-2021, 01:19 PM
Chris Railey Chris Railey is offline
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You just need to make some fullering dies. Ed essentially described them above. Think drawing dies but turned 90 degrees. Want me to send you a picture of the ones I made for my 12 ton?

If you are viewing your dies from above your press they need to face like this II and not like this =.
The billet will never get wider if you do not push the metal in that direction. With the dies facing parallel with the steel when squished it will push the steel outwardly making your billet wider. After you do that some hit it with the flat dies again to even out the high spots and it will get wider. Repeat until you are happy.

Last edited by Chris Railey; 05-06-2021 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 05-06-2021, 04:16 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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Originally Posted by Chris Railey View Post
You just need to make some fullering dies. Ed essentially described them above. Think drawing dies but turned 90 degrees.
That's exactly what I drew above, just didn't explain myself very clearly. That view is from the side of die, not the end of die. Think front of press where you're looking in toward the die. Just like a mini-fullering die, but with two humps. A fullering die would work by using a kisser block to prevent more than 1/16" of fullering on either side. Too much fullering could make it harder to prevent inclusions.

Ken H>
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Old 05-06-2021, 07:35 PM
Chris Railey Chris Railey is offline
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Here are my redneck fullering dies as they sit in the press. Works perfectly.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpeg 14733B69-6526-47BC-8C0E-F046BD6191BE.jpeg (375.8 KB, 10 views)
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Old 05-06-2021, 08:47 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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Looks like they would work just fine. I'll be making a set of those some day. That would make a nice fuller, is it 3/4" rod? Hard to tell from photo - might even be 1" or larger.

Here is the squaring dies I finished today, I took a 1-1/4" OD square tube with 1/8" walls, cut in half to make two angle irons. I then filled the space with a railroad spike and weld, then welded to flat plate for die base. Not pretty, but I think it will work.

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Old 05-07-2021, 07:18 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Since we're talking about presses.....some things popped into my mind that I feel are very important....

When installing dies on your press, leave them a bit loose, that way they have some "wiggle" room to move a bit with odd/uneven shapes in what you're forging. Another reason is that dies, as well as some portions of the press will expand/contract when heated/cooled. If tolerances are super tight, things can, and often will just break a weld or even part of the press structure.

If there is one thing that will hard break dies and/or a press, it's not having/allowing enough "slop" in either!

When it comes to actually building dies for your press, don't get too concerned with the steel you use for dies. I would recommend using plain old A36 cold or hot roll.
Why? Way back when I first purchased a press, I spent a substantial sum of money buying D2 steel for dies. I spent the time and effort to not only cut/shape pieces of D2 to what I needed, but also heat treated them, thinking to keep them from deforming during use.

DUH! Soon they were all back to dead soft and deforming, because the heat of forging had tempered them out to dead soft. Ever since, I just buy A36 in the shapes I need, and lightly tack weld the pieces to the dies plates...... that way a quick pass or two with the angle grinder and the old deformed ones come off, and I tack weld new pieces in place.


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Last edited by Ed Caffrey; 05-07-2021 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 05-07-2021, 08:14 AM
Chris Railey Chris Railey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenH View Post
Looks like they would work just fine. I'll be making a set of those some day. That would make a nice fuller, is it 3/4" rod? Hard to tell from photo - might even be 1" or larger.

Here is the squaring dies I finished today, I took a 1-1/4" OD square tube with 1/8" walls, cut in half to make two angle irons. I then filled the space with a railroad spike and weld, then welded to flat plate for die base. Not pretty, but I think it will work.

Not sure how big they are I made them from an old circus tent stake someone gave me. Your squaring dies look good to me, they are pretty even.
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Old 05-07-2021, 08:44 AM
KenH KenH is offline
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Chris, Thank you for nice comment, I tried very hard to get the dies even.

Ed, I had not thought about that, but you are absolutely correct about the need for a bit of wiggle room. Especially for dies like squaring dies that have to "mesh" a bit. If they're not "exact" (I know my dies are not) they will try to "Move" under pressure so they do line up. With even 12 tons of pressure something would have to give. Better for it to be "wiggle room" than the die itself. Flatting dies I wouldn't expect it to be as critical?

Ya'll just keep good info coming - THANK YOU.

Ken H>
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris Railey View Post
Here are my redneck fullering dies as they sit in the press. Works perfectly.
Hi Chris. Because they work perfectly, take this for what it's worth...

I'd round the ends of your dies a lot more if I were you. It looks like those might have a sharp enough transition to distort the pattern a lot more at the ends of the dies than if the radius was larger....
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:51 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Great piece of advice BillyO! That is one of those "gems" of information!


About the "wiggle" room.... I have it throughout my press, and it was built in not only by necessity, but by design.
My dies "slide" onto the die holder/plates, and all of them have a lot of that "wiggle" room intentionally.... even the flat dies. Now that being said, my flat dies are 8"X6", and that's only because I have the tonnage on Orange Crush that allows those large flat dies. As usual, there is a drawback.....there is a lot more movement from end to end or side to side if what I'm pressing isn't fairly well flat and well centered inline with the force of the ram.
I have to be very careful to ensure I am always pressing with the hot steel aligned with the cylinder's ram. Off one way or another, and force the dies to tilt too much, and something is gona break. Usually when I screw up and it happens, it's the angle iron guides on the dies themselves, and not the press/frame.

You folks are great!! I am going to copy all the information we've put in this thread and use in.... hopefully in a book I am planning. Keep it coming!!!


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Old 05-07-2021, 10:56 AM
Chris Railey Chris Railey is offline
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Originally Posted by billyO View Post
Hi Chris. Because they work perfectly, take this for what it's worth...

I'd round the ends of your dies a lot more if I were you. It looks like those might have a sharp enough transition to distort the pattern a lot more at the ends of the dies than if the radius was larger....
Good idea, I have meaning to round the edges of my flat dies but I will round the fuller too, Thanks.
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Old 05-07-2021, 04:44 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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Ed makes a good comment on how the dies "should" be mount, with slide in clips. I've been looking at this press and wondering why they didn't do that. It will be so easy to fab up and make the dies truly "easy change" while in use. With the bolts, even when they're only finger snug they're darn hot about changing the dies during use. I tend to leave bolts loose so the dies will slide in, but I'm constantly having to push them back into place, or the4 bolts work themselves tight and require a wrench to loosen for die change.

BillyO makes a good point, and I can see the reason. Why didn't Coal Iron do that on their flatting dies from the start? All their dies I've seen photos of on their website are sharp edges. It will be easy to take to 2X72 grinder and form a small radius on the edges. I would think even the squaring dies I just made would benifit from a small radius on the edges?

Ed, Make note of all these ideas for your book.

Ken H>
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:45 AM
Chris Railey Chris Railey is offline
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Make two sets of quick change die holders and I will pay or trade you for a set...
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