Well, for the first time in 3 months I made my way into the Forging shop to see what my body would let me do. OH MAN! I gotta get busy and exercise! I turned into a noodle! This is a project I'd started back before my guts went south, so I figured it would be an easy physical project. I started with a 1 1/4" X 5/8" thick piece of my "Fossil" Damascus, annealed. I bored 7/16" holes (no particular pattern). I'd already made some Explosion pattern damascus, and thought it would look good in a plug welded format. I forged the Explosion pattern billet round, then turned it down on the lathe to .4380" so I would have to "press fit" (drive it) into the 7/16" holes. I did the same thing with a piece of 1 1/4" X 5/16" 1084. I hammered the rod into place, then cut it off on the bandsaw. Filling all the holes. Next, I milled all the rods to equal length, milling both ends. Finish on the ends isn't important, but having ALL the rods the exact same length is.... if they are different lengths, and you try to hammer or press them when welding, you WILL get cold shuts around the outer perimeter of the rods. Once all the rods are to equal length, it's time to head to the forge! I've had issues in the past trying to do plug welds "dry", so I flux with anhydrous borax, and have much better success. The key to welding, beyond proper temp/atmosphere, is to have the rods long enough that there is some remaining after welding..... if you hammer or press them flush with the surface, bad things tend to happen. My motto is..... I can always grind it off, but can never put it back! In the case of the above image, the billet is 5/16", which means that once annealed, I can bandsaw it into two, 1/4" thick "slices", and forge blade from those.