Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Damascus Razor – Start to Finish – Part Three


Before I forget, as the design of wire inlay is put into the steel, care must be given to be sure that the weave of the Celtic-like ribbons alternate going over the top and then pass under the next ribbon as it is being crossed. You don’t want two bands of ribbon in a row passing over the top or have two bands going under crossing bands. So, it’s over/under over/under over/under and not over/over over/under. Does that make a lick of sense? Anyone? Beuler? Beuler? Ok, I’ll dispense with the comedy.

The next process is to design and put the wire inlay in the tang. This is also a freehand process. Measured, but freehand, nevertheless. Once again, square channels are cut and then undercut to accept the gold wire. Here is where we are at.

Here is where I messed up a bit… I forgot to take progressive pics of the inlay process for the tang surfaces. Dang it! Well, we will jump right into what it looks like after the gold is pounded into the channel, cut flush, sanded, and put through the heat treat process. Gold melts around 1,700 degrees or so which means the razor bake should not affect the wire inlay at all.. I hope.

I had my friend, Bill Coffey, do the heat treating for me. He took it to 1,500 degrees and quenched in some fancy-dancy special oil. After that, as you most probably know, the steel must be tempered. Since the amount of follow-up grinding was minimal, I did that before completing the tempering process. Nothing that requires much talent there… I threw it in my wife’s oven at 400 degrees, let it cool to room temperature and did it again. Double tempered. When you hear “double temper”, that’s what it means. Not so difficult, eh?

Here is what it looks like immediately after heat treat but before it has been tempered.

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Not so pretty at this stage, right? Have faith, my friends. Sandpaper is your friend. And that’s precisely what happens next. Sanding everything down where it needs to be.

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Sanding down the steel surfaces with the higher grits of sandpaper also reveals the pattern in the damascus steel. It has to be viewed at the right angle to see it, but it looks pretty good so far. What-a-ya say?

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Bout time for some tempering. Don’t tell my wife I use her oven for this stuff. Tempering adds a bit of color, but not the right color. It is not etched either, and that’s one of the desireable characteristics of damascus. That’ll come soon.

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Now we’re back to some light sanding again to prepare for the acid etching process with ferric chloride.

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And here ya have it after a “secret” amount of time in the acid bath and another little trick or two to get this effect.

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Now it’s time to put some ivory on this puppy. Oh yeah! Let me remind everyone that this is legal ivory. It came from a tusk that came to the U.S. in the 40’s as a decorative carving. I’m thinkin’ that there is more art in the form of some nice scales than in carvings, so the short tusk got cut up and put to good use in addition to just being able to look on with some appreciation at nature’s beauty. 

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I also made a box for the razor so it can be displayed or just have a safe place to sit while you prepare for your shave… Oh, and does it ever shave!!! Pics of the box to come…     





Blogger sapito318 said...

Excellent work as always, Bill!

4:06 PM  
Blogger Nacogdoches Pipes said...

Words cannot describe the beauty of this razor. You have raised your art up to a new level. Thanks for sharing this inside look at your craft. I look forward to the day when you create a razor for me.

2:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill...thank you again for a glimpse into your craft and art. That razor is breathtaking.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work Bill but there are some issues. I would recommend having it tempered properly. If your just using the oven it's not tempered properly. It needs to be brought to critical temperature. Around 1400 degrees uniformly. This makes the metal non magnetic and then it is cooled in a glass bead bath which is heated to 400 degree. You've only just case tempered the steels. Not the iron. Sorry Dude. The final temper will never hold. And since true damascus is iron and steel your trying to bring both to an even temper. The iron tempers much higher and the steel much lower, wheat color. I hope this helps you in the future.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

To the heat-treat anonymous guy. Don't know why you want to hide behind that title and not let folks know who you really are, but hey... keyboard commandos are usually like that.

On to your statement. Too bad you didn't take the time to actually READ what I wrote about the process in its entirety.

And silly me - thinking there is actually a difference between heat treating and tempering. I guess there are just some things you cannot pick up on by searching Wikipedia in an attempt to make an argument or pretend to know something you don't.

Apparently you missed the part where it was brought up to 1,500 degrees (at the direction of the man who made the friggin steel) and quenched in a special oil that had been preheated. THEN it was tempered in an oven.

Y'know, I don't look for people to dislike me or my ways, but if they do, Oh well. It's looks like you weren't trying to help. It is more likely that you were trying to either embarrass me or enlighten me with your ill prepared wisdom.

It didn't work and guess what? You are the one standing in front of everyone with your finger up your nose. Then again, no one will ever know who you are, now will they?

And I'm not DUDE.

One last tidbit; a quote from the new owner. "Bill, it shaved beautifully."

5:06 PM  
Anonymous MalelDraconis said...

I have to say, the blade is absolutely amazing, I love the wire work that you did. I also like your scales, A LOT... However.. I just really don't think they work together very well.. It's purely an aesthetic thing for me, and I'm sure others disagree, but I just think it would look better in wooden scales, something dark like cocobolo or walnut. But I have a sweet spot for Damascus blades complimented by heavy/dark wood grain. But again, absolutely amazing work, and I appreciated seeing the process as I want to start making my own blades as well.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Straight Razor said...

Fascinating! I'd say that the secret to wet-shaving is getting yourself a good double-edge razor or straight razor, shaving soap or cream and a shaving brush.
Thanks for sharing!

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi recently found a boker straight razor in an old box in storage. Is there anyway to tell how old it is or what kind it is? Bjsookie74 at yahoo

12:09 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

For the newly discovered Boker anonymous guy. Your best bet is to take a decent pic, go on the shaving forums, and ask what you have. They are usually a pretty good source of information.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Mark Thompson said...

Once again I am amazed at the work you do, and wish I had tools like in my dads workshop so I could get started on some projects. Great work, the razor is beautiful.

12:44 AM  

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