Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Making Damascus steel page 2
The ability to change dies quickly can be handy at times. The press I currently use was made by Jeff Carlisle of Great Falls, Mont. I have employed a good number of presses over the years and have not found one that I like better. Dr. Jim Batson sells plans for a press similar to the one that Carlisle markets. If you decide to purchase or build a press, I would recommend that it be at least 20 tons and have a good quick-change die set up.
Power hammers embody the traditional blade smith tool and have been used to make tons of damascus. I have used hammers ranging in weight from 25 pounds to 500 pounds at hammer-ins and friends’ shops over the years. Hammers are more fun to run than a press once you get the hang of them. They also distort the patterns or figures in steel billets less often if the operators have good control of them. Bars can be drawn down more quickly with hammers than with presses, and power hammers tend to knock forge scale off rather than forge it into the billets as presses will do.
Whether you choose a press or a power hammer, remember these machines can be dangerous. Combine all the mechanical power with steel that is 2,300 degrees and serious injuries can occur. Always think safety first when operating a press or power hammer.