Nickel layer for Damascus

KenH

Well-Known Member
Hello all - As ya'll know I'm VERY inexperienced with pattern welded (Damascus) billets. I've only made one low layer count (10 layers) billet with 1095 (.092") and 15N20 (.072") with a .003" layer of pure nickel between the layers. All arm 'h hammer power here. This is the knife I made from the billet:

My question is how much strength is lost with the nickel between the layers? With the next billet I would like to make a twist pattern. Would the nickel increase the odds of the welds coming apart? Someway I would like to make the layers more visible. With the layers drawn out flat as I did there the layers don't show up very much. I only see 3 or 4 layers on each side. I suspect I lost a couple of layers from scale.

@Ed, thank you for comment about less strength with SS cladding and 1095 core on San Mai - I'd not thought about that. For kitchen knives that shouldn't be a problem.

Ken H>
 

Jason Volkert

KNIFE MAKER
I have limited Damascus experience also but what I would try is 1095(or 1084) and 15n20(forget the pure nickel) and start with those 10 layers like you did restack it and make 20. Then I would twist the hell out of it. I think that would look pretty cool. I would probably twist it with decent size impact gun. Just make the end square to fit in a impact socket and put the other end in a solid vise.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
Just remember that the nickel that extends to the edge will not harden or hold an edge so Jason makes a good point about not including pure nickel in the mix. If you do use nickel and fold the billet make sure that a nickel layer doesn't fold over another nickel layer in the forge welding. With proper atmosphere control it is possible to forge weld nickel to nickel but it takes a lot of experience to keep nickel oxides from building up and preventing a weld. Make sure that steel is overlapped onto steel for an easier time in forge welding.

Doug
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
A very good point Doug on keeping the fold so there was always nickel to steel, and not nickel to nickel layers. Because nickel doesn't harden is something to think about with the twist idea - each twist would put a place where the nickel would be on cutting edge, but only a .001" or so thickness of nickel since the nickel layer is only .003" thick before any forging is done.

I was concerned about the strength of the steel to steel bond with that .001" (after drawing out) of nickel between the steel. If nobody has ever tried it I guess the only way to find out is try it.

Thanks for your comments.
 

Kevin R. Cashen

Super Moderator
It must have been around 20 years ago now (time flies) that Tim Zowada and I did a fairly exhaustive research and testing of Damascus mixtures for the New England Bladesmith Guild's Ashokan Seminar. Included was a 1095 with a small proportion of pure nickel, mix. We essentially found that the pure nickel contributed almost nothing but contrasting visual effect, but did result in a very unstable edge if it was allowed to be present at that edge. Under magnification, large, jagged chunks would be missing from the edge from sharpening and this would continue during use on soft, fibrous, materials, but the edge would rapidly dull if exposed to more solid mediums.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
.... pure nickel contributed almost nothing but contrasting visual effect
Thank you so much for the response Kevin. Since the nickel does "almost nothing" I'm assuming that means nothing negative or positive. That's exactly what I was looking for. The contrasting visual is what I'm looking for. Now all I've got to do is plan to keep nickel away from the edge.

Ken H>
 
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