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Old 28th May 2020, 04:30 PM   #1
Interested Party
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Default A little polish in the time of COVID

In December 2019 I had a question about a kindjal. http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=25463. The answers were inconclusive, but it was a great learning experience. I am sure in time I will find what I was looking for. Thanks to everyone for their help. Ariel in post #8 wrote, "Also, Caucasian often used a technique of differential tempering, deliberately hardening edges and leaving the body soft. Kind of like nihonto. This can be seen after a good polish, and definitely after acid etching." Honestly I hadn't considered the possibility of a differential temper. The idea knocked around in the back of my head for a few months then Covid happened and as I work in tourism I have had a bit of time on my hands. I knew a good deal about polishing from working in my grandad's gun shop as a kid (that doubled as a knife shop for the grandkids. I ground and tempered my first blades at 12), but I never did the bluing, other than touch-ups with cold blue and acid etches I knew about in theory but we had never used them. So I studied up. There is a huge amount of information hidden in this forum and the keris warung kopi forum. I did some test etches with lime, vinegar, and coffee respectively on a few blades to see what would happen. The coffee technique I'm still working on. I polished the kindjal to 2000 grit using the method Jim Hrisoulas laid out in his chapter on Japanese Heat-treating and Polishing in his first book with the variation of a 4 /12" x 8" bench mounted sanding block for efficiency and safety. The blade was finished using three vinegar etches from the same chapter. The blade was polished using cerium oxide following each etch. Before each etching bath the blade was washed with soap and water, dried, and then cleaned with acetone. I found if I kept the vinegar moving by brushing the surface with a clean tooth brush I got a more even coloration. After each etch I neutralized the acid with a baking soda slurry. The slurry darkened the blade considerably. Sorry for the long winded introduction here are the results, followed by a question. The pictures begin with a sellers picture of the before condition. I wish I had taken my own, lesson learned. Then an intermediate picture from December. Next are two full length views of the finished product showing the differential temper, Ariel was right. Finally are two detail pictures of the blade.

Opps. The intermediate picture (its a horizontal view) seems to be the next to last in order proceeded by a vertical finished view. Sorry for the confusion with the pictures. I guess the order can't be controlled after all.
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Last edited by Interested Party : 28th May 2020 at 04:58 PM. Reason: clairification
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Old 28th May 2020, 04:42 PM   #2
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Default More pics and the question

These pictures begin with a December photo of the first clean up then 3 details of the same area after the etching process. The magnification is 10x.

Now the question. Does anyone else see pattern in the blade? Is this watering or did I make a mistake in the degreasing of the blade. I did in some of the test runs I wrote about in the previous post which is why I was very meticulous in the preparation for final vinegar baths. Is the pattern shown a flaw in my technique, a "wild" mechanical damascus, or something else?

A subsequent question is if this isn't a flaw in my technique should I try a stronger etchant? Natal? I have a friend who is a local chemistry teacher, so I should be able to produce it. My main worries are about its possible volatility in storage as it gets quite hot here in summer over 105f (40C).
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Old 28th May 2020, 07:20 PM   #3
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Could be vice jaws marks (seems regular ...)... Actually, it would be nice to etch it with ferrochloric acid, it seems to have a nice blade structure.
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Old 28th May 2020, 07:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBG163
Could be vice jaws marks (seems regular ...)... Actually, it would be nice to etch it with ferrochloric acid, it seems to have a nice blade structure.

Vice jaws, that's a good hypothesis. Those regular marks were the subject of the thread linked above. They also coincided with minute traces of gold visible under magnification before cleaning and to the places that encrustation, to use Miller's terminology, would have traditionally occurred. I left the bigger, visible, traces on the tang.

What I was specifically asking the group about in this thread is the structure. Is it created by a flaw in my cleaning process, a naturally occurring dendritic formation, a wild mechanical damascus, or even a sham pattern?

I have read that ferric chloride is messy and its hard to control corrosion on the freshly etched surface during cleaning. JBG have you had any problems with it?
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Old 28th May 2020, 10:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party
My main worries are about its possible volatility in storage as it gets quite hot here in summer over 105f (40C).


perhaps a useful tip from the numismatic world :

for gold and silver one can use specific cleaning chemicals which are free avalaible on the market, but for base metal one never use chemicals as it will have a huge negative impact to say the least.
Even for some silver Medieval, Roman or Greek coins chemicals can have a negative impact on the metal (discolouring, weakening the surface structure f.i.) and hence the value.

This is not so much the case ( value impact) with blades I would presume but nevertheless can result in unwated marks and stains.

A perfect alternative is vaseline: as it is not an agressive material at all, you gently with your fingers rub it over the dirty spot and leave it there for some time. This can be 15 minutes to an hour till even the next day.
Remove the vaseline with a cotton cloth and the dirt and or corrosion will come off.
If the required effect is not yet there, repeat it a couple of times and you'll see succes will be there at least.
It works for coins and I also used it on blades and metal scabbards.

Positive side effect is that a small layer of vaseline always remains which protect the metal against water, dirt, humidity and temperature.
Henceforth safeguarding your cold weapon.
Neverteless over time some dust might get onto the vaseline, so again clean it gently with a dry piece of cloth and add with your fingertip a small layer of vaseline.

An alternative or second solution :

in the numismatic world sometimes colourless nail polish is used for protection of zinc or iron coins: a tiny drop could be used on the former corrosive point / spot of a blade after cleaning to seal it as well as vaseline does. But then again it is up to you to decide if that "drop of polish" is acceptable on your weapon....

And if it doesn't come of or not completely, nothing can be done except an Elijah Craig to polish off the pain from your soul a little...
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Old 1st June 2020, 04:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gp
perhaps a useful tip from the numismatic world :

for gold and silver one can use specific cleaning chemicals which are free avalaible on the market, but for base metal one never use chemicals as it will have a huge negative impact to say the least.
Even for some silver Medieval, Roman or Greek coins chemicals can have a negative impact on the metal (discolouring, weakening the surface structure f.i.) and hence the value.

This is not so much the case ( value impact) with blades I would presume but nevertheless can result in unwated marks and stains.

A perfect alternative is vaseline: as it is not an agressive material at all, you gently with your fingers rub it over the dirty spot and leave it there for some time. This can be 15 minutes to an hour till even the next day.
Remove the vaseline with a cotton cloth and the dirt and or corrosion will come off.
If the required effect is not yet there, repeat it a couple of times and you'll see succes will be there at least.
It works for coins and I also used it on blades and metal scabbards.

Positive side effect is that a small layer of vaseline always remains which protect the metal against water, dirt, humidity and temperature.
Henceforth safeguarding your cold weapon.
Neverteless over time some dust might get onto the vaseline, so again clean it gently with a dry piece of cloth and add with your fingertip a small layer of vaseline.

An alternative or second solution :

in the numismatic world sometimes colourless nail polish is used for protection of zinc or iron coins: a tiny drop could be used on the former corrosive point / spot of a blade after cleaning to seal it as well as vaseline does. But then again it is up to you to decide if that "drop of polish" is acceptable on your weapon....

And if it doesn't come of or not completely, nothing can be done except an Elijah Craig to polish off the pain from your soul a little...


GP I want to thank you for your advice. The volatility I spoke of was concerning the storage of Nital and the fear that I might burn down my work shop through improper storage as the building heats to 130F in the summer while I'm at work. I really should add a solar powered vent fan.

The Vaseline trick I will put into my catalogue and give it a try shortly as I have some coins to clean on a hilt. Attracting dust is a problem here as we have had 2 dust storms in the past week.

I will have to try Elijah Craig. I generally ease my pain with mezcal or rye these days (summer/winter respectively).

I was rereading some old threads and found this one again http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...highlight=nital. I had forgotten where I picked up the trick of parafilm to protect surfaces. Does anyone have any further experience/feedback/hearsay regarding Iron(III)sulfate? I.e. method of use, duration of contact with the surface to be etched, is it as messy and rust prone during cleaning as ferric chloride?
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Old 1st June 2020, 04:43 PM   #7
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Actually, you put your blade into slightly heated Ferrochloric acid, during the time you want (just check to see the pattern coming), then, you neutralize it with sodium hydroxide solution. It will prevent the rusting process.
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Old 27th June 2020, 02:57 PM   #8
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I thought as long as we were on kindjals and patterned steel it might be time to bring this thread back out from 2010. The archives really are deep in this forum. I find some new information by accident almost every time I get a chance to dig around and hoped newer members like myself who weren't present for the original discussion may be intrigued. I have noticed an evolution in the opinions of our long term members. Attitudes concerning interpretation of pieces seems to evolve as historical perspective and experience are gained. Scholarship continues to amass and maybe become somewhat less esoteric.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=11694

It is interesting to see that many people have the same trouble as me in being able to identify wootz, sham or otherwise, from finely layered laminates.

Last edited by Interested Party : 27th June 2020 at 04:11 PM. Reason: clairification
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Old 28th June 2020, 12:09 AM   #9
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Generally, Caucasian bladesmiths did not work with wootz at all. The exception to the rule was Geurk Eliarov ( Elizarov, Elizarashvili) who used Indian ingots and very questionably, his son Kahraman.
Although I have a Georgian bulat (wootz ) blade. A very similar twin of it is in the Hermitage museum and you can see it in the Miller's book " Kaukasiske vabben..." , but no wootz is mentioned. Miller dated it to the early 18th century, well before Eliarov's birth.
Thus, we still may not know the whole story.
In the 19th century, Daghestani baldesmiths , the main blade manufacturers for the entire Caucasus, avoided orders for mechanical damascus blades like a plague. They viewed them as too expensive in terms of coal requirements and time/ effort consuming.

As to Anosov.... He worked for many years trying to make bulat, including using crushed diamond as a source of carbon, but nothing came out of it. Suddenly, a Russian Captain Massalsky was sent to Persia, and brought back a full description of the process. Both Massalsky and Anosov's papers were published in the same issue of the Russian metallurgical journal, and from that moment Anosov started mass producing what he called "bulat of the best Persian patterns". Regretfully, all the existing Anosov's blades show low-contrast Sham at the most. Personally, I am not sure that Anosov "rediscovered" the secret of bulat. At the most, he got instructions received from Persian masters how to obtain ingots ( of whatever quality), but was totally clueless about the secrets of forging. He sent a "bulat" yataghan as a gift to Faraday together with very flattering letter, but one can see small smudges of something vaguely resembling bulat only at the tip of the blade. Faraday never responded to Anosov's letter.
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Old 28th June 2020, 08:38 AM   #10
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Let's say also that bloomed steel generally don't react to chemicals, giving a grey color everywhere !
That can be an clue when pieces are old, and does not react to any chemicals.
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Old 28th June 2020, 01:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBG163
Actually, you put your blade into slightly heated Ferrochloric acid, during the time you want (just check to see the pattern coming), then, you neutralize it with sodium hydroxide solution. It will prevent the rusting process.


Interesting. How long in the sodium hydroxide? Is it heated as well. It would cause a darkening if left for a bit. Given that a bit of a typographic pattern had been achieved by the ferrochloric acid I would imagine the neutralization process would enhance the pattern. If I remember correctly we used a solution of sodium hydroxide as a bluing agent in a heated container for an extended period of time then washed and polished the carbon steel.


Thanks for the bloom steel info. I can use all the clues I can get. I need to look for some old cast steel pieces in my shop and play with them to take a look for the shear patterns as well as a control for future evaluations.
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Old 28th June 2020, 02:06 PM   #12
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The solution will just neutralize the acid action by compensation, in order to came back to ph 7. You can also use Dishes soap but it a less more effective.
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Old 28th June 2020, 03:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Generally, Caucasian bladesmiths did not work with wootz at all. The exception to the rule was Geurk Eliarov ( Elizarov, Elizarashvili) who used Indian ingots and very questionably, his son Kahraman.
Although I have a Georgian bulat (wootz ) blade. A very similar twin of it is in the Hermitage museum and you can see it in the Miller's book " Kaukasiske vabben..." , but no wootz is mentioned. Miller dated it to the early 18th century, well before Eliarov's birth.
Thus, we still may not know the whole story.
In the 19th century, Daghestani baldesmiths , the main blade manufacturers for the entire Caucasus, avoided orders for mechanical damascus blades like a plague. They viewed them as too expensive in terms of coal requirements and time/ effort consuming.

As to Anosov.... He worked for many years trying to make bulat, including using crushed diamond as a source of carbon, but nothing came out of it. Suddenly, a Russian Captain Massalsky was sent to Persia, and brought back a full description of the process. Both Massalsky and Anosov's papers were published in the same issue of the Russian metallurgical journal, and from that moment Anosov started mass producing what he called "bulat of the best Persian patterns". Regretfully, all the existing Anosov's blades show low-contrast Sham at the most. Personally, I am not sure that Anosov "rediscovered" the secret of bulat. At the most, he got instructions received from Persian masters how to obtain ingots ( of whatever quality), but was totally clueless about the secrets of forging. He sent a "bulat" yataghan as a gift to Faraday together with very flattering letter, but one can see small smudges of something vaguely resembling bulat only at the tip of the blade. Faraday never responded to Anosov's letter.


I remember my grandfather giving me a synopsis of Anosov as a late teen and being captivated and caught up in his dream of ultra high carbon steels of over 1% that were both hard and tough. Unfortunately I was a bit too lazy to create my own bloomery to try to replicate the process. Anosov's claims were astounding and 30 years later seem to have been proven unfounded. Even if I had created an ingot I would have worked it at too high a temp and lost the pattern or tried to harden it and lost the pattern that way because that was the tradition I knew and could not have imagined any other process. The cost of coal for that endeavor was a bit beyond my means as well at the time as all my money was being put into school. Stress cracking blades in differential hardening experiments was already heartbreaking enough. ;(

Massalsky I don't know or remember at all. I will put him on my list of things to learn about.

The Caucassian kindjal did not seem to use the red bulat often from what I've read in contemporary sources. Conversely Y. Miller, Caucasian Arms... does call a fair few of the blades in his book bulat steel. Some are obviously imported blades, ex. plate 41. Do you know if there was a significant tradition of wootz being used by Persian or Turkish (I've read Turkish wootz kindals were much more common) smiths for their qamas? Plate 43 of the same book being an example that I have always wondered if the blade was produced elsewhere outside the Caucasus and decorated in Tiflis. You have gotten to handle more of these blades than I ever will so please forgive my badgering.

Finally, where did the Dagestanies got their steel? Did they begin to import large amounts of European raw materials? It seems if they were still producing bloomery steel lamination would not have gone out of fashion.


PS. Back to the original question of the thread; Could the pattern in the blade featured in this thread be "Large, visible martensite crystals" Rivkin, arms & Armor... p. 70, figure 6?

Sorry for a lack of documenting pictures or scans in this post. If I get a chance I will fix it.
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