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Thread: 2013 "ore to knife " class

  1. #1

    2013 "ore to knife " class

    I had the pleasure of running my annual" ore to knife" class last week.
    we worked all week , one smelt on monday built and run by me and then the students built and ran their own furnace building it on tuesday and running wednesday.
    It was a full on week... and hot!
    I was busy smelting on the monday so did not manage to get any photos on that day .
    ran smelt processed 40kg of magnetite ore through furnace and got a nice solid 10 kg bloom (weighed after putting it under the hammer.....)

    the students started the furnace and materials processing.....

    charcoal needed to be sorted into the rite sizes....

    the furnace material needed to be mixed up ....equal parts horse manure , sand and cley (with a little hay chopped up in it.....)

    The students decided to do a mix of magnetite and hematite for the second smelt . so rock needed breaking up...

    then the furnace build began....

    The initial base was dried with gentle aplication of a blow torgch to firm it up and then on with the furnace...

  2. #2
    the furnace needed adornment and this class had a real flair for that aspect .....






    the snake was made from china clay and had a few problems while heating up.....
    first it started to curve...

    and then explode....

    after a hard days furnace building we lit a fire in the furnace and put it to bed to dry out overnight.........

  3. #3
    Knifemaker Member Beau BDeyeForge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Very cool project, something I've been wanting to try for a long time.

  4. #4

    after a night of drying out the smelter is ready for lighting

    A libation is pored ( a fine home brewed Norwegian beer)

    and the burn is afoot.....

    even though the smelt is afoot the decoration continues, ochre , charcoal and china clay as paint medium...

    we make a guess at the sweet spot for slag tapping.......(turns out to be the wrong place but nice idea)

    and the smelt continues.....

  5. #5
    we had numerous slag runs, If our slag daemon had still been intact this would have been about the right spot.

    My life will be forever changed by the echo of Jack Jack saying (like only he can)...... Ssslllaaag, I cant help hear it every time we tap the volcano.

    the charges were meticulously weighed, this smelt was aiming for steel. every 10 minutes a charge was added. 2 kg charcoal was to 1.5 kg of ore (50% magnetite and 50% hematite), we were aiming for carbon steel...

    hard work smelting , with all that charcoal burning a little impromptu cook up made sense. (while the furnace was being tapped) sirloin stake .....don't you know.

    steak is good.....cut up with a knife made at last years class smelted from ore.....

    finally the smelt was done , more votives were added to the fire...

  6. #6
    member Chui's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    - great thread, Owen...............nowt like a real slag

  7. #7
    During the running of the furnace we put 55kg of ore through and 90 kg of charcoal including the heat up and burn down cycle. the furnace ran for nearly 7 hours.

    All things must come to an end and in this case it was a gentle kick that did it

    With the furnace down there was a little digging around to find the bloom

    My current way of reducing the ore is to smack it flat under my 200weight hammer, however before we do this a lot of the slag and crud needs to be removed from the bloom and so the good old sledge hammers come out.....

    once the slag is knocked off we are left with the product of 7 people working hard for 2 days

    Here is the bloom (probably weighing around 15kg at this point)

    its then off under the 200 alldays and onions where it becomes a nice dense pancake.

    after 3 days of smelting and furnace building time for a this case a Becks to put the bloom in perspective . The three pieces here are mondays and wednesdays blooms mondays at 10kg and wed at 11.5 so in old money thats 48 pounds of dense usable bloom.

    so 3 days in and 50 lb of bloom.....
    In many ways that is just the beginning of the story , and certainly just the beginning of the work.

    More to come.

  8. #8
    member Chui's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    - forgive my ignorance, what and how do you do about do you get to pure steel from that pancake - or shall I shut-up, sit back and just look n learn......?!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Chui View Post
    - forgive my ignorance, what and how do you do about do you get to pure steel from that pancake - or shall I shut-up, sit back and just look n learn......?!
    the material in the squished pancake is a nebulous mix of sintered iron... steel and slag .
    the material is purified (if thats the right word) by forging it and folding it hot. during the forging process the slag is ejected from the material and the folding cuts through the material so that layers are exposed and more slag can be ejected.
    this material is wrought iron/steel in its most basic form. It is worth remembering that most iron/ steel was a wrought material right into the 20th century (with the exception of expensive cast steel).

  10. #10
    Day 4 ...Thursday...
    I set about bashing bloom.
    In the past I have found that making iron and then processing it into steel is a much simpler task that making steel and then having to process the steel into a usable form.
    the smelt on monday was such a success that we decided to aim for making steel on the second smelt and as a result we had both iron(y) and steel(Y) bloom to process.
    as I expected the iron was a lot easier to process than the steel.
    Leif (one of the students taking the class) squished down some steel bloom under my sahinla as he had experience using a similar hammer whilst I started bashing the iron bloom.....
    the other students squished bloom or practiced their forging.....

    I decided to try and emulate a process I had seen on the internet posted by lee Sauder who managed to fold and form bar straight from a bloom.
    so I proceded to forge bloom.

    I did the heating in my gas forge ... My forge runs hot enough to forge weld wrought iron materials. I burned a full bottle of gas (47kg) in a day and a half.

    to my surprise the bloom came together into bar stock.

    but needed a little babying under the hammer

    I take my safety kit seriously but wearing my forge welding armour ment that I lost 7lb over the day , despite drinking copiously.

    In the end it was worth it though, I managed to forge a solid 1.5 inch square bar pretty much straight from bloom, 6.5 kg in total and I must admit that this made me feel very chuffed.
    Having usable material after 3 hours of forging is quite an achievement . If I can emulate it its a real game changer for me and this material.

    the bar behaved almost identically l to old wrought iron and from this point was a pleasure to forge out.

    the steel bloom however was still a bit of a bitch to work and despite being of a nice solid nature I needed to fold it up to 4000 layers before I was happy with it.
    here is the steel bloom before folding.

    I got a little involved in this process (bit of a battle as always) so did not take any photos for the rest of the day.
    In the end I finished processing material on friday morning.
    4.5 days into the process and we were now at what would normally be the beginning of the process ......
    Ready to start forging and shaping blades from our san mai steel and iron bloom material.

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