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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 05-31-2003, 04:59 AM
Handyman Handyman is offline
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Forging Damascus

I just finish watching Forging Damascus by Jim Hrisoulas. And in his video the materials he used to create a pattern welded damascus blades are 1095 and nickel silver plates.

We don't have nickel silver plates available in our area. What alternative materials can I use to replace nickel silver? :confused:
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Old 05-31-2003, 05:59 AM
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hammerdownnow hammerdownnow is offline
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Most people pick a supply house and send for supplies. This one is about 150 miles from me. Still i make the trip a couple times a year. I picked up some nickle silver from them. They have an online catalog and they sent me a big thick one in the mail. I keep it in the library. I use a roll of TP to hold the page open for hands free browzing.....oops, too much information. Oh well here is a little more. Did you know our U.S. five cent piece is 75% copper and 25% nickle????? me neither! Click here for more nickel silver facts.

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Last edited by hammerdownnow; 05-31-2003 at 06:28 AM.
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Old 05-31-2003, 11:03 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Is a good alternative. In fact I would choose it before I would nickel. I'm sure you've heard mention of the combo of 1084 and 15N20............the reason you hear it so much is that with all of the materials available today, these two are the most compatable you can get. With 1095 and nickel you will always run into some problem that will cause you to compromise between what you want, and what you can get in the finished product. 1095 can be difficult to harden, nickel does not harden, and the two can sometimes create problems when forge welding. On the other hand the 1084/15N20 combo welds super easy, holds together during forging like no other combo, and since both materials are hardenable, you never have to sacrifice edge holding ability for pattern. I know it sounds as if I'm against 1095 and nickel.....................but why not use materials that are as easy as possible to put together? :cool:


"Every CHOICE has a CONSEQUENCE, and all your CONSEQUENCES are a result of your CHOICES."
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Old 06-01-2003, 12:39 AM
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DiamondG Knives DiamondG Knives is offline
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A word of caution, be sure that he was using "nickle silver" and not pure nickle. I had a very ugly experiance with "nickle Rod" that I thought was pure or 99% nickle rod. It turned out to be nickle silver once I read the spec sheet, but the lable said nickle rod. I used it in a cable combo I was trying, and it contaminated my forge, you could not weld a thing in it! A piece of cable looked like loose spagetti! I am not sure what causes it, but I have been told it was the copper in nickle silver. It forms a gas as such that absorbes into the lining, and comes out when certin heat is reached.(my thoughts here, not positive fact)

I do know that I had to remove my lining material, and sandblast the interior before it was useable. It's an easy mistake to make, and can be costly! By the way, Ive had very good luck with a welding rod that goes by the name "Nickle 99" ask at a welding supply store.

But as Ed pointed out, 15N20 makes some really nice patterning contrast, and its available from almost all the knife suppliers. If all the pro makers are using it, there must be a reason!

Didnt mean to write a book here!
Just wanted to pass along my mistakes so someone else wouldn't make them!


"I cherish the Hammer of Thor, but I praise the hand of God"
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Old 06-02-2003, 09:50 AM
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Michael Sanchez Michael Sanchez is offline
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According to Dr. H. (Jim) Nickle Silver is between 18 and 20% nickle and the rest being copper.

You definitely don't want to put this in the forge. As a matter of fact competing blacksmiths of old were known for throwing copper pennies into their competitor's forges in order to put them out of business for awhile.

Just my 2 cents worth

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Old 06-02-2003, 12:06 PM
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Owning that two video set, I am wondering what you are referring to. In doing the pattern weld, Jim was using Carbon steel and a nickel baring steel (L6). Not nickle silver. He also works with other mixes and speaks about using nickel sheet. That's pure nickle, not nickle-silver.

As for the recommendation on 1084 and 15N20. I highly recommend that mix. Even in lower layer counts, you get a very good performing blade. And it welds up great. Note: 1095 and 15N20 don't work as well. They have very different rates of expansion.

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Old 06-02-2003, 04:57 PM
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Nickle silver (repost)


Ummmmmmm methinks you better watch that video again, it was a mix of 1095 and A-203D/E high nickle content steels. I never mentioned nickle silver...And besides, nickle silver won't "weld" to the 1095 either.....

As far as the pure Ni stuff goes, that realy is a nice contrast material and since Ni doesn't form carbides, you WILL get the "hard and soft" layers on the cutting edge if all you use is 1095 and the Ni sheet... It is really funny cause alot of folks bad mouth non hardening layers and yet, the "legend" behind this stuff is the soft/hard layers... Go figure...

If you take the 10xx series and Ni up to the proper layer count, you will get a really aggressive cutting edge due to the fact of he softer Ni layers not hardening and this will leave the 1095 sitting "out there" like a saw blade. It isn't"surgical sharp" but it will really cut fiberous matrerials like you wouldn't believe..

But I never said nickle silver....

Back to the salt mines...


Dr Jim Hrisoulas,
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N-T Hirsute Hine'y Hrisoulas
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Old 06-02-2003, 06:54 PM
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Gary Mulkey Gary Mulkey is offline
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I have used a number of billets from Daryl Meier and his ladder was 1095 & 15N20 but the turkish was 1095 & 203E. I never bothered to ask was he used the different nickel steels but maybe you could explain the difference to a non-hammer swinger.


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Old 06-03-2003, 04:37 PM
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Steel mixes


Well to be honest, it all depends upon the whims, desires, ideas and basic choice by the maker as to what to weld with what.

I try for the best pattern contrast and cutting ability.. But then again, I do weld up some really weird mixes, including alot of various stainless steels. What I try to do is use two marterials that are more or less compatable in thermal treatment and working specs and that have the same basic amount of movement under the hammer to prevent the welds from shearing..and believe me, weld shearing is a real PITA.

But I do love using that pure Ni gives the best contrast this side of stainless steel, welds like glue and works wonderfully with most anything I have welded it to. When worked "right", you get a really agressive cutting edge due to the soft Ni "pulling back" and leaving a "saw blade" effect with the harder layers along the cutting edges.

The nastiest stuff I ever weld up I call MAD6 mix, which is M-2, A-2 and D-2 and that does take some welding to get it to stick but man, talk about cutting stuff... And since they are all air hard steels, the heat treat is super easy..In fact you have to be very careful so it DOESN'T harden on you when you don't want it to.

Steel mixes are pretty much up to the individual maker, and almost everyone has their own "favourite" mixes.. Mine is 1095/L-6 and Ni sheet.

Anyway I hope this answers your question.


Dr Jim Hrisoulas,
Author, Researcher, Swordsmith
Living in the Nevada desert.
N-T Hirsute Hine'y Hrisoulas
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