Elevator Cable Knife

I purchased an unusual knife about 20 years ago from a blacksmith in Virginia. He took a length of 5/8 elevator cable (H-10 steel he said)
and beat the bottom half into a blade. He used the other half as the handle.
I am now into paper wheel knife sharpening and I am still amazed whenever I look at my elevator knife. The edge was polished to a very sharp finish. (I can post a photo if requested).
I also use oxy-acet brazing to build recumbant trikes for myself so I have heat available.
So, I said to myself, "How about making an elevator cable knife"?
Does anyone know how to go about doing this project?
BoyntonStu
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Take a class in blacksmithing, or buy some books and build a propane forge.
I have made a cable damascus knife from 3/4" cable. It takes some skill. That skill will not come easily. It takes a few years of practcie. You might make one after a few months of hard work, but after a year it will be much easier.
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That was not my finding, my jaw droped at how easy the cable welded tog.ether. It was old dirty and rusty, pulled out of the mud at the scrap yard. I built a small forge with ceramic wool and use a goss torch with large tip for the heat. Boric acid from Wallgreens for flux. If you hit it and it crumbles it was too hot. Hit it soft at first, and slowly hit harder as the cable packs down. Hammer in a way that keeps the cable from unwinding, hard to explane but you will see. Then all of a sudden it will firm up and then you can wail on it! Easy for me, harder for Ernie, YMMV. Am I an old hand at blacksmithing, no, not at all. I made a few leaves out of hot rolled steel, a knife or two out of files, and then went for the cable damascus blade. I always found the handle and sheath harder to make nice than the blade.
Les
Snip

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There are a LOT of things you are leaving out of this explaination. If it gets too hot it is ruined and will not make a good or even a bad knife. You do not explain a method of cleaning the cable prior to welding and that will lead to inclusions or cold shuts.
Cable will tent to try to become unraveled when you start to hit it and usually will not wled because of the looseness and rapid cooling when removed from the forge. This is why you twist it, to get all the metal in contact and retain the heat longer. You have to weld on the rising heat so you only have a second to hit it when you remove it from the forge. If you wait too long, you will never get it to weld.
Even after welding ("all of a sudden it will firm up") wailing on it is not advised until you have manipulated it enough to know there are no impurities (inclusions) or unwelded (cold shut) areas or wailing on it will just break it apart.
Just because it is steel does not mean it is not fragile. There are rules to follow if you want something that is correct and just heating with a torch and wailing on a piece of cable does not explain what has to be done to do it correctly. You have thermal cycling to do and normalizing as well as heat treat and tempering.
I have already responded to this message but just want to make it clear that there is a lot more going on that your description tells. You may be very capable of doing it but you did not explain it well enough to get a new person started correctly.
All of this is based on knowing what type of cable you pulled out of the ground at the scrapyard. Was it crane cable, elevator cable or post tentioning cable? All need to be worked and heat treated differenetly and you really should know what steel it was made from to get the best heat treatment. Differnet elements in the steel require different heat treats.
Did you test your knife after you were done? Did it perform properly? Did it get hard after heat treat? Have you done this more than once?
If I were to pull a piece of cable out of the ground at a scrapyard, I would make five or six knives out of the stuff and test then to destruction before deciding how to heat treat for a good blade, then make one and heat treat as my test indicated, then test the knife. If all goes well, you have a good cable damascus knife.
I like Ernie's reply just because he does not give the impression that it is as easy as you make it sound. Some long time blacksmiths cannot forge weld, EVER.
Bob
On Tue, 23 Dec 2003 12:19:58 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.net wrote:

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Bob, I feel like your busting my balls for trying to help here. If that was not the case sorry. From your reply it sounds like you thought I should have wrote a book here, this is not the place. I wrote in an encuraging maner because Ernie made it sound too hard, so hard as dont even try. What I said covered a few of the problems I overcame (hot short). Last one I made a few weeks ago from 1/4 galvanized cable that fell during Isabel. I know, now your head is spinning because I use galvanized :)
If you know a blacksmith that cant forge weld, he aint a smith is he? At least not to me.
At any rate the info I gave out was more than I had to start with, and just wanted him to try for himself. For me it was harder to make a good forge than a knife. A good book is "The Pattern Welded Blade" Better yet is to putzz around and see for ones self.
Alas, you can please some of the people some of the time......
Les
There are a LOT of things you are leaving out of this explaination. If it gets too hot it is ruined and will not make a good or even a bad knife. You do not explain a method of cleaning the cable prior to welding and that will lead to inclusions or cold shuts.
Cable will tent to try to become unraveled when you start to hit it and usually will not wled because of the looseness and rapid cooling when removed from the forge. This is why you twist it, to get all the metal in contact and retain the heat longer. You have to weld on the rising heat so you only have a second to hit it when you remove it from the forge. If you wait too long, you will never get it to weld.
Even after welding ("all of a sudden it will firm up") wailing on it is not advised until you have manipulated it enough to know there are no impurities (inclusions) or unwelded (cold shut) areas or wailing on it will just break it apart.
Just because it is steel does not mean it is not fragile. There are rules to follow if you want something that is correct and just heating with a torch and wailing on a piece of cable does not explain what has to be done to do it correctly. You have thermal cycling to do and normalizing as well as heat treat and tempering.
I have already responded to this message but just want to make it clear that there is a lot more going on that your description tells. You may be very capable of doing it but you did not explain it well enough to get a new person started correctly.
All of this is based on knowing what type of cable you pulled out of the ground at the scrapyard. Was it crane cable, elevator cable or post tentioning cable? All need to be worked and heat treated differenetly and you really should know what steel it was made from to get the best heat treatment. Differnet elements in the steel require different heat treats.
Did you test your knife after you were done? Did it perform properly? Did it get hard after heat treat? Have you done this more than once?
If I were to pull a piece of cable out of the ground at a scrapyard, I would make five or six knives out of the stuff and test then to destruction before deciding how to heat treat for a good blade, then make one and heat treat as my test indicated, then test the knife. If all goes well, you have a good cable damascus knife.
I like Ernie's reply just because he does not give the impression that it is as easy as you make it sound. Some long time blacksmiths cannot forge weld, EVER.
Bob
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Les,
Not busting you in any way.
I just wanted him to know that maybe Ernie made it sound difficult, but you made it sound way to easy.
It is fairly easy after you do all of the work required to know what you are doing. If you don't bother to do the research to learn what it is you are trying to do, you are wasting your time. The chances of getting a good forge weld and proper heat treating and tempering is pretty much impossible to do your first time, especially if you are not working step by step with someone that does know what they are doing. I believe that is what the original post was attempting to do, get information.
My goal has always been teaching this craft to others. That is why I have a lot of tutorials on my web site. I will "Write a book" if that is what is required to get someone to understand and overcome their ignorance to get them to actually make something that they can be proud of.
As for smiths that can't forge weld, there are a lot of them out there that make their living as a smith but can't forge weld. It may be something you think is a requirement to call yourself a smith but not everyone can do everything. I can forge weld but I can't do some of the things these guys can do with nothing more than a hammer and some hot steel. Everyone has talents and I try to focus on them and ignore or at least work around their inabilities. The local blacksmiths association has a lot of smiths that have been blacksmithing for 30+ years that cannot forge weld but they can make rivets like you won't believe.
So, we can work together to get the original poster past the "CAN I" stage to the "What do I do next" stage and eventually to the "I have a cool knife" stage.
OK?
Bob
On Tue, 23 Dec 2003 21:02:55 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.net wrote:

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Bob, I'm sorry I took your post the wrong way, it is hard to get feeling on paper. I see we do both want the same thing, other people to make damuscaus steel! So every one remember ther is more than one "right" way to do it. For a newbi I just skiped heat treat because they will be thrilled to see the pattern after etching! One step at a time, fix your problems as the occur, and each blade will improve on the last. And dont forget there is going to be a lot of hot flux squirting out be fore the wailing stage :) And yes I do hit it as hard as I can with a 3lbs hammer! And no I dont have a limp wrist at 6'2" 230 lbs. This just goes in with the way people do things different from each other.
Les
On 23-Dec-2003, oso snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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Bob (?) wrote:

Nonsense! I've NEVER seen a blacksmith worthy of the name that couldn't weld in the fire. The skill is basic to the craft.
--
Tom Stovall, CJF
Farrier & Blacksmith
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I agree that forge welding is a basic skill of a good blacksmith but I do not agree that it is a required skill (in this day and age). It sure would make life as a blacksmith easier if you could forge weld but why do you think that anyone that can't do it would not be worthy of the name?
I will make the assumption that you can weld since you claim the skill as a requirement. However, I am willing to bet that you would be offended if someone said a farrier could not call himself a farrier if he used premade shoes. Nowdays you almost have to so you can conserve time.
I just think forge welding is an old skill that is not required anymore to survive. Would you say that someone is not a blacksmith if they get out the tig welder and weld instead of doing it in the fire?
Just because someone can't do something is no reason to say they can't be something. Welding does not make the blacksmith, it is just a part of the overall skillset. Not every pilot can be an astronaut and not evey singer can be famous.
Not every critic can be right, either.
I did not see you offer any advise to the original poster, did you just come to put others down and brag on yourself or are you willing to assist?
Let's see your advise on how to make a knife out of cable. After all, that is what this post is all about. Please start by explaining the transformations that take place in the steel as it is heated. Explain why steels go non-magnetic on the rise but stay non-magnetic to a cooler temperature when the temp falls. Explain pearlite, martensite and how he can tell when he reaches criticaI temp for an unknown steel. Please also explain how he will know when he is ready to forge weld when you don't know what metal he is working with. Explain how to tell the colors of the steel when you don't know if he is working in daylight, shade or at night. Please also explain normalizing and why it should be done and how to avoid warping. Is magnetic north quenching fact or fiction? What about tempering? I would like to hear your methods of tempering in the fire without damaging the heat treat. Also explain the quenching mediums and what is best for his scrap piece of cable. Also explain all of the possibilities he has available to him as flux. Should he use borax, anhydrous borax or sand?
I am sure we can all learn from such an expert, after all is is all just basic skills to you, right?
Bob
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Bob (?) wrote:

Differences of opinion are what makes for horse races.

Mostly because the skill of forge welding is intrinsic to the craft of blacksmithing. Simple as that.

Did the "CJF" give me away?

You'd lose. As a matter of expediency, most farriers use factory made shoes, but any farrier worthy of the name has the skills necessary to forge whatever shoe he needs.

True for most horses, but factory made shoes can't give every horse what it needs to do whatever it does most efficiently - which fact is the reason that forging skills are still necessary for efficient farriery.

Survive as what?

That'd depend on what they were joining and the type of work in which they were involved. In blacksmithing, there's considerable difference between fabrication, preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction. Each category requires different joinery skills.
Personally, I run through about 10# of TIG filler rod each week and my plasma cutter runs overtime - but I can bloody well jump weld in a gasser if need be.

Alas, doing and being are inextricably entwined. Your aunt can call herself your uncle, but her plumbing gives her away.

As you correctly point out, forge welding is an intrinsic part of the overall skill set.

Dare I point out that your logic is faulty? In reality, every pilot has the skills necessary to pilot an aircraft; every singer can sing.

It only take a single critic to point out the emperor is nekkid. Lack of raiment can be a convincing factor.

I responded to YOU, not the original poster. That's probably why I edited out all of the post except for YOUR statement to which I responded.

Did you wish to digress further, or did you wish to address the issue?

I've never considered admitting to basic skills held for decades amongst my peers to be bragging. What'n hell do you think "CJF" entails?

Did you wish to learn how to forge weld?

Nope, I'm not a knifemaker.

Nossir, that bloody well ain't what this post is all about! I responded to YOUR claim, to wit: "Some long time blacksmiths cannot forge weld, EVER..." In reality, you don't know any blacksmith who can't weld in the fire. Period.
--
Tom Stovall, CJF
Farrier & Blacksmith
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You can't possibly be for real. I will not respond to your jabbering in the future. If you are not willing to help people, stay out of the topic.
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Bob (?) wrote:
[deletia]

As real as it gets, but I have an obvious character fault, I don't suffer fools like yourself all that well and I'm too old to start making nice to idiots because it's politically correct.

In reality, you can't respond because you've made a fool of yourself. Despite your claims, you're simply wrong: the ability to forge weld is part and parcel to the craft of blacksmithing. Ask any blacksmith.

Had you read for content, you might have noticed I offered to teach YOU how to forge weld. It usually takes a student about 30 minutes to make a forge weld. It takes the intellectually recalcitrant longer - so maybe you'd better plan on a week or so.

Or what? Will you hold your breath 'til you turn blue? Whine interminably? Keep posting execrable drivel?
--
Tom Stovall, CJF
Farrier & Blacksmith
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What say ye? Do you have to forge weld to be a smith? Do you have to sing on key to be a singer?
Les says yes.
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I have just learned that there are NO blacksmiths in this world that cannot forge weld. I learned this from someone that has apparently researched this issue and interviewed every person that calls themselves a blacksmith. I stand corrected in my misconception that the people that told me they were blacksmiths but also said they could not weld were telling me the truth. NOW we all know that these lifelong liars need to close up their blacksmiths shops. I will inform them to do so.
I do have a question for the all knowing. Is the author of the following book review a LIAR? If so, maybe you should straighten him out as well.
The blacksmiths Gazzette sells a book called:
How to Forge Weld on A Blacksmith's Anvil For Those Who Have Diligently Tried and Failed. http://www.fholder.com/Blacksmithing/review1.htm Quote from page "I remember meeting a fellow who had been blacksmithing for 10 or 15 years, but had never been able to make a forge weld."
I am not sure why a blacksmithing dedicated web site would sell a book on how to do something that ALL blacksmiths already know how to do.
OOPS! This author must not have met the all knowing guy that straightened me out. Could have saved himself the time it took to write this book.
Also these people seem to think forge welding is required for MASTER Blacksmiths. They recommend the same book. http://www.ploughbooksales.com.au/008445.htm
Anvilfire Guru's Den "If you can't forge weld you can at least produce traditional looking work that looks good even to other smiths." http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/archives/arc_index_53.htm
Seems reasonable to me that not EVERYONE can do EVERYTHING.
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Bob (?) wrote:

Try to read for comprehension: I wrote, "I've NEVER seen a blacksmith worthy of the name that couldn't weld in the fire. The skill is basic to the craft..."

If you have the odd moment of lucidity, you might want to ponder my quantification of personal experience as it relates to your illogical statement.

You may know a fabricator calling himself a blacksmith who can't weld in the fire, but you damn sure don't know any blacksmith who can't forge weld.

You're kidding, right? You appear to be of the somewhat laughable persuasion that everything you see in print is worthy of belief? In my experience, it takes an apprentice less than an hour to learn to forge weld.

Presumably, a book purports to teach folks how to forge weld would be aimed at a target audience of wannabes and neophytes, not blacksmiths.

What part of, "Any blacksmith worthy of the name can forge weld," seems to be beyond your comprehension?

You seem to be basing your argument on the ludicrous proposition that any master blacksmith would NOT be able to weld in the forge.

Have you forgotten your lesson on the application of various forms of joinery from a previous post? Do you really think Jock Dempsey is of the opinion that any blacksmith would NOT know how to forge weld? Why don't you ask him?

Forge welding is a skill unique to blacksmithing and, to some degree, farriery. Simply put, if you can't weld in the fire, you ain't a pimple on a blacksmith's arse.
--
Tom Stovall, CJF
Farrier & Blacksmith
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On Wed, 24 Dec 2003 09:13:07 -0600, oso snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

A viewpoint I'd personally hesitate to disagree with.

Weyger's bloody awful book "Complete Modern Blacksmith" - doesn't even mention blacksmithing. Just one of its many serious failings.
-- Klein bottle for rent. Apply within.
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On Wed, 24 Dec 2003 11:01:17 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.net wrote:

Do you have to, no. That isn't to say a failure to achieve this skill is an excuse for a lack of continuing efforts to master the technique.
As a farrier I use a propane forge in my business, and while I do carry a Lincoln Electric 110 Wire welder I use it as little as possible. It took a lot of swings of the hammer, a lot of flux and a lot of propane to achieve a acceptable forge weld.
A gentleman by the name of Jim Poor, an international competitor with the American Farrier's Association, can forge weld in a propane forge and you'd be hard pressed to find the join. He made a point at a clinic I attended that no shoer should apply a shoe he can not build, a sentiment I've heard expressed by some friends with more years of experience shoeing than I have had on God's green Earth. I took it to heart and practice every time I am in the forge at the shop.
While you could go all your life without forge welding it is considered a skill possessed by anyone who is adept in the trade so I'd say yes it is skill possessed by adept smiths.
Scott Jenkins Certified Journeyman Farrier
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I forge weld in coal, that's how I originally learned many years ago, and I forge weld with propane, the way I now do all my forge welding. It is a whale of a lot easier and cleaner for a beginner, and no problem with burned steel. I get the impression below that propane forge welding is for some reason more difficult. It is with a poor forge, or inferior burner design. I have known a number of farriers who forge weld in propane, but I also knew a few who have forges that are not capable of reaching forge welding temperatures. From my experience I believe that the burners that many farriers use(d) were poorly designed. That certainly would lead to the idea that propane is not a good fuel for this kind of welding. That is unfortunate for those who believe this to be the case.
As to the original question this post goes back to, I don't see the need today for a smith to have to be able to forge weld, but I also can't understand why anyone would not take the time to learn, due to the variety of things it enables a person to do. I am certainly not a purist, I will use whatever welding technique, or brazing technique, is most suitable for the job at hand, but there are just some things that are best done with a forge weld, and some things that can only be done with a forge weld. To me, it seems that to be a smith who can't forge weld would be like being a plumber who can't solder. It is just one of the techniques or skills of the trade.
Ron
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Ronald Reil snipped-for-privacy@mindspring.com

Yes. I think that's a good analogy. The paper question is: Is forge welding a defining characteristic of being a blacksmith? And the paper answer is that it depends on the paper definition of the art. The practical answer, though, is that if forge welding is not known to the practicioner, it certainly should be.
One difference between plumbers' soldering and blacksmiths' forge welding is that for the plumber (lead worker) there were fully lead pipe systems that once required knowledge--not of soldering--but of "wiping" a joint with the gloved hand. These are no longer used, just replaced. Even lead-calked CI pipe (soil pipe) joints are seldom used. But for the blacksmith, it's somewhat different, because the ancient art is yet central to the practice. The fact that it's easier, much more cost efficient, to gas/electric weld, that these technologies have all but replaced forge welding, does not mean that those wanting to master the modern version of the ancient art would not consider forge welding essential to the skill set. And, as Tom posts, find it a practical aid in some tasks.
Frank Morrison
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I guess it is decided.
You must know how to forge weld to be a blacksmith.
It has been said by Tom Stovall so it must be so.
I know I would not doubt the word of anyone that can drop the name of Jock Dempsy.
The thread can close now since the issue has been decided and there is nothing anyone else here can say to change it.
The great Tom has made the determination for the rest of the world to follow.
Thank you Tom for taking the time to make the world a better place. We are al indebted to you for an eternity.
WOW, imagine, there will never be a need for anyone to ever think for themselves again.
Funny thing though, I have never heard anyone drop the name Stuvall.
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