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Old 21st January 2020, 06:02 AM   #6
Anthony G.
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 165

Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Anthony, as Thomas has said, power hammers of various types are common. I was always going to build myself an "oliver":-

but it was just another thing that I never got around to. In fact, for blade smithing, I never really found any difficulty in handling anything I needed to do with hand hammers, 2lb, 4lb, 12lb. A power hammer is undoubtedly faster, but I feel that perhaps there might be more satisfaction in using a hand hammer.

If you have a striker, or better yet, a couple of strikers, both with 12lb hammers, there is absolutely no difficulty in handling pretty big material. You can't talk to a power hammer.

The materials that are being put into the little metal container are supposedly:-

mas = gold, perak = silver, tembaga = copper, kuningan = brass, timah putih = tin, timah hitam = lead, pamor meteorotik = meteoritic pamor

this is what somebody is reciting in the first scene where the materials are put into the little container.

A bit further along the smith inserts another couple of pieces of material in between the folds, and these are supposedly :-

1) besi = iron,

2) "satu set patrun" = "one set pattern" = "a pattern set" = the material he made by putting all those little bits of various metals into the container then welding.

3) nekel = nickel

4) pamor meteoritik = meteoritic pamor

I have used the word "supposedly" because the materials he put into that little round container at the very beginning are simply unbelievable. I think this is just showmanship and B/S.

Somewhere during that film I think I heard the word "perunggu" too, and this is also totally unbelievable.

The man working is clearly an experienced smith, the material he is using is clean, the welding temperatures are correct, but I do not believe one word of the materials used --- and a few other things too.

Towards the end the smith refers to the number of layers of pamor, I forget exactly what he said, but something like thousands of layers.

A lot of pamor layers, or damascus layers, sounds really impressive, and obviously raises prices. We need to understand what all those layers actually mean.

The normal number of nominal layers for pamor made in the Solo style is 128, but this does not mean 128 welds, pamor layers increase geometrically, for example:- one weld = one layer, two welds = two layers, three welds = four layers, four welds = 8 layers, five welds = sixteen layers, six welds = thirty two layers > 7 = 64, 8 = 128. Incidentally, 8 is a very good number, it is the number of the Naga in the Candra Sengkala, so 8 welds starts you off on the right foot for powerful keris before you do anything else.

So 8 welds produces 128 layers of pamor.

So when a smith , or anybody else, talks about "thousands of layers", that does not mean "thousands of welds". Work it out for yourself, it is much quicker if you start with a stack of, say, five or six pieces of nickel sandwiched between pieces of iron or mild steel:-

1 weld = 6 layers, 2 welds = 12 layers, 3 welds = 24 layers --- and so on. Doesn't take long to get up to thousands of layers.

You have commented that:-

" Thin layers of nickel tends to move into the iron and creates an alloy."

I am no longer working, but I did carry on blade smithing work as a side job between 1980 and about 2000. During this period I made a lot of mechanical damascus, mechanical damascus with nickel inclusion, and straight-out pamor.

I sold completed damascus & nickel damascus blade blanks to other makers, I sold billets of both kinds of damascus, as well as billets of pamor to other makers. I made completed Western style and Indo-Persian style blades and I made keris blades.

When I used nickel, it was always very pure commercially produced nickel, probably from Germany. Before welding the nickel with the iron or mild steel I would invariable forge it as thin as possible, the objective being to "be able to read a newspaper through it" (not really, but to the point where it could not be forged any thinner).

I never encountered the result of the nickel forming an alloy with the iron or mild steel.

A couple of times I made some pamor material that I intended to have the appearance of old-style pamor. I used material that I knew to be hot short, I did not clean it before using it, I welded the nickel in from the first fold, then ran it through the cleaning, which would have been something in excess of 7 folds/welds to the point where there were no sparks at weld heat.

What happens with hot short material when you take it to weld heat is that it breaks up like cottage cheese under the hammer, so you need to take the first few welds very gently. Now, under these conditions one would think that the nickel might in fact become an alloy with the iron, but that was not the case, what happened was the lines of nickel still remained, but became very thin and fractured. I cannot understand how it is possible for nickel to disappear into the iron/mild steel.

Dear Alan

Thanks so much for this detailed explanation. A good source for me to write inside my keris diary. However certain part I am lost and will re-organised my thoughts and seek your advice again.

Anthony G. is offline   Reply With Quote