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Old 31st October 2020, 06:29 PM   #1
mross
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Hey all, found this while looking for Barbie's for my wife in an antique shop. Price was to good to pass on. Although it took me a bit to talk myself into it. It looks pretty worn, does seem to have some age. Can't tell if it's meteor iron or not. First look does not appear to be. Definite forging flaws. So what do you all think?
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Old 1st November 2020, 08:19 AM   #2
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Hello Mike,

There is no way of knowing if this keris was forged with meteor iron unless you start full-blown (and partly destructive) scientific material testing which most likely will yield negative or inconclusive results though. From statistics alone, chances for use of meteor iron are slim to none, anyway.

This blade started out as a straight blade and, unfortunately, someone tried to grind the waves into the blade by stock removal; certainly not a traditional approach, sorry.

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Old 1st November 2020, 09:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mross
Hey all, found this while looking for Barbie's for my wife in an antique shop. Price was to good to pass on. Although it took me a bit to talk myself into it. It looks pretty worn, does seem to have some age. Can't tell if it's meteor iron or not. First look does not appear to be. Definite forging flaws. So what do you all think?
Looks grind and good keris does not come cheap, at least a few hundred USD. Meteorite iron? Most likely not so.
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Old 1st November 2020, 05:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
Hello Mike,

There is no way of knowing if this keris was forged with meteor iron unless you start full-blown (and partly destructive) scientific material testing which most likely will yield negative or inconclusive results though. From statistics alone, chances for use of meteor iron are slim to none, anyway.

This blade started out as a straight blade and, unfortunately, someone tried to grind the waves into the blade by stock removal; certainly not a traditional approach, sorry.

Regards,
Kai
Kai, that makes sense on the luk's. Would explain why they looked a bit off, which was one of the reasons I vacillated on it. I had not thought of a latter modification to a forged blade, good eye. As to meteor iron, it depends on how it was forged. I have seen blades where the Weidmann pattern is still visible. It is not easy to do you can't forge too hot, but I have seen it. I would have to clean it up and give it a ferric bath, might be worthwhile.
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Old 1st November 2020, 05:52 PM   #5
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Whether the luk were ground or forged later, the blade totally lacks harmony.
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Old 1st November 2020, 11:59 PM   #6
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Whether the luk were ground or forged later, the blade totally lacks harmony.
That's above my pay grade, have no idea what that means. Could you explain?
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Old 2nd November 2020, 09:29 AM   #7
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I simply mean that the luks are not evenly spaced and forged, and that the blade has poor proportions.
Personally I am not fully sure that the luks were ground from a straight blade (please draw a line from the middle of the base of the blade to the tip with a ruler on the screen), they may have been forged later by an amateur smith?
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Old 2nd November 2020, 05:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mross
Kai, that makes sense on the luk's. Would explain why they looked a bit off, which was one of the reasons I vacillated on it. I had not thought of a latter modification to a forged blade, good eye. As to meteor iron, it depends on how it was forged. I have seen blades where the Weidmann pattern is still visible. It is not easy to do you can't forge too hot, but I have seen it. I would have to clean it up and give it a ferric bath, might be worthwhile.
Just a word on meteoric material and keris. As has been pointed out, once forged into a blade you cannot really tell if meteoric iron was used. I am afraid you will have to show me a blade that displays Widmanstätten patterns still visible. If such blades exist it seems likely that a slice of meteorite would have to be added rather late in the process and not really heated to temperature. I certainly have never seen a keris like that.
That said, the percentage of keris that were actually made with meteoric iron are relatively few. These were mostly made starting at the very end of 18th century when remains of the Prambanan meteorite were taken to the Surakarta keraton where it was used for pamor material in a select few keris. The idea that most or even many indonesian are made with meteorite is a bit of a myth, one that has been used to great profit by unscrupulous keris dealers in recent years. Yes, it is a great allure, but impossible to prove and mostly false. The keris you have presented i would have considered collectable if not for the damage inflicted upon it by someone who thought they could improve upon it or make it more desirable by turning the straight blade to wavy through stock reduction methods. But even in its original state it does not seem like the type or quality of old keris one would likely have used meteoric pamor in.
If you do try to clean this up i would not suggest a ferric bath, but rather a more traditional method of using more mild fruit acids. If there is a pamor pattern at all you would then need warangan (a mixture of arsenic and lime) to raise that pattern. But i can pretty much guarantee you will not find any Widmanstätten patterns visible in this blade.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 08:36 PM   #9
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I collaborated closely with Prof. Jerzy Piaskowski for a number of years, about 15 years I think.

Prof. Piaskowski was a noted historical metallurgist and he carried out intensive laboratory investigation of keris and the gonjos of keris. His work was purely academic and not at all the sort of thing we would stumble across in material written for weapons collectors.

I discussed with Jerzy this matter of the detection of meteoritic material in keris several times during the time we were assisting one another.

Prof Piaskowski's opinion was that it was not possible to know with any certainty if material that had been through the forge welding process would have had a meteoritic source.

Further, when meteoritic material did become available to the rulers of Central Jawa towards the end of the 18th century, and was eventually found to be able to be forged and used in practical implements, the availability of this material was limited to people who had a close association with the Surakarta Karaton.

However, apart from that, small amounts of meteoritic material did come on to the market in Central Jawa by way of casual finds by people living in the area where the meteor fell; when it fell it broke apart, and small fragments were spread over a wide area.

When meteoritic material did come on to the market it was very expensive, being very expensive it was not the sort of thing that might be trusted to a village smith, it would have been given to maker capable of producing a top quality product.We cannot expect to find meteoritic material in anything other than keris of exceptional quality.

I own two items that are able to be attributed to Empu Jayasukadgo. Both these items are of very high quality, both display the material characteristics that are traditionally associated with meteoritic material.

I recently cleaned, stained and dressed a keris for a gentleman living in the USA. This keris was also attributable to Jayasukadgo, and also had material that had the same characteristics as the items I have just mentioned.

About 25 years ago I was involved in the making of a keris that used meteoritic material in its pamor, the keris was made by a very talented craftsman in Solo, I forged, welded, cleaned the meteoritic pamor material that was used in this keris. The pamor of this keris displays the characteristics traditionally associated with meteoritic pamor.

There has been quite a lot of investigative work done on pamor and on the materials used in keris, a little bit of time asking Dr. Google some well framed questions will produce a lot of information.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 11:54 PM   #10
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Alan, thanks for that. I agree that unless you can see the pattern you cannot tell what the material is unless you do a in depth metallurgical analysis. Much like working wootz the pattern can disappear if heated to high. Makes you appreciate how good the ancient smiths where. For those wondering what it looks like here is a blade that appeared in Blade magazine, while not a keris it should give you an idea.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 12:04 AM   #11
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Gas forges, compression using presses, electricity, other ways I do not know about.

Now try it with charcoal or coke and a hammer.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 04:11 AM   #12
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Thanks for digging up those pics from Blade Magazine. Honestly that doesn't really look like a Widmanstätten pattern to me, but i suppose that might possibly be what happens when you hammer a thin layer on and the pattern distorts. I would expect more intersecting lines and angles though. This looks more like a fancy pamor manipulation. If you have any links to the actual article in the magazine i would love to read what they said about this beautiful blade.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 01:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Gas forges, compression using presses, electricity, other ways I do not know about.

Now try it with charcoal or coke and a hammer.
Amen brother. I love the gas forges no fuss no muss come up to welding Temp fast and can be held steady. But ol-smokey has it's allures as well, however not having to tend the fire constantly and work a bellows is not missed.

David, here is a link to the kids website;
http://www.burlywoodworks.com/
yes, a kid 17 years old.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 03:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mross
Amen brother. I love the gas forges no fuss no muss come up to welding Temp fast and can be held steady. But ol-smokey has it's allures as well, however not having to tend the fire constantly and work a bellows is not missed.

David, here is a link to the kids website;
http://www.burlywoodworks.com/
yes, a kid 17 years old.
Thanks for the link. Talented kid indeed. However, i don't see anything on his site about that particular push dagger being made with meteoric ore or that it displays a Widmanstätten pattern. I went into his video section and he does show himself making a ring from meteorite, but no forging was involved. I didn't see any video about the making of that push dagger. There are videos about working with damascus steel, but not meteorite.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 07:22 PM   #15
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Mr. Ross, gas is indeed very easy to use, making damascus with gas is easier than baking a chocolate cake, but the big thing I don't like about it is that although it is great for welding, it is in my opinion less good for welding and , again for me, close to useless for heat treating.

With coke & charcoal you can control the heat in any part of the blade, so you can bring the edge of a blade to critical, and leave the back relatively soft. Effectively you can apply heat to a piece of work wherever you need it, and at whatever level you need, but with the gas forges I've used this is simply not possible, you get a fast, even, overall heat, no real control at all.

I've never used bellows, even in Jawa I've used electric blowers. A cheap electric blower is a worn out vacuum cleaner on blow cycle. Tending the fire is what makes coke & charcoal so manageable, its talking to you the whole time.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 07:26 PM   #16
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here's the page from Blade Magazine October 2020
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Old 3rd November 2020, 08:29 PM   #17
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The Empu Karja di Kromo forged five Kerisblades in 1904. The forging of these blades is described by Dr. Groneman. His articles are published in the Internationales Archiv fur Ethnographie in 1910 and 1913.
I made a replica of the first blade Karja di Kromo forged. I tried to make the pamor material just as it was executed by the kraton of Surakarta. I used Campo del Cielo meteoriet and adjusted the quantities a bit to approach the properties of the Prambanan meteorite.

From each stage in the forging process I kept material samples.
By modern spectrometric analyzing methods the meteorite could be detected from the beginning of the forging process till the completed blade and during all the stages.

Below a picture with a part of the photo of the original keris published in the IAfE, showing the original pamor of Keris number I, forged by Karja di Krama and below that, the pamor in the replica forged by me. I think I am getting close.

So these days it is possible to trace meteorite in Keris, probably as long as the quantities are not extremely low.
(As example, Djeno Harumbrodjo mentioned, he used one gram of meteorite starting the forging of a Keris (on two kgs or more of iron and steel?).
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Old 3rd November 2020, 08:55 PM   #18
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That is cool. Keep at it. Lots of meteor material available these days and not overly expensive. Love this stuff.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 09:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Mr. Ross, gas is indeed very easy to use, making damascus with gas is easier than baking a chocolate cake, but the big thing I don't like about it is that although it is great for welding, it is in my opinion less good for welding and , again for me, close to useless for heat treating.

With coke & charcoal you can control the heat in any part of the blade, so you can bring the edge of a blade to critical, and leave the back relatively soft. Effectively you can apply heat to a piece of work wherever you need it, and at whatever level you need, but with the gas forges I've used this is simply not possible, you get a fast, even, overall heat, no real control at all.

I've never used bellows, even in Jawa I've used electric blowers. A cheap electric blower is a worn out vacuum cleaner on blow cycle. Tending the fire is what makes coke & charcoal so manageable, its talking to you the whole time.
Full agreement, I have a Lively forge with the hand crank blower. One of the things I have heard others do but have not tried it as I am more of a hobbyist/deletant is using coal etc, to carburize low carbon material via carbon migration to say make something like wrought iron hardenable. Did not mention that as it is a bit controversial some say yeah and other nay. Many of the smiths I know that started out with fire, grumble a lot about the gas forge but won't go back.
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Old 3rd November 2020, 10:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mross
here's the page from Blade Magazine October 2020
Thanks for the article. What there is of it. Frankly it is not at all in depth and everything in it is prefaced with "according to Tristan". Far be it from me to doubt the word of a 17 yr. old boy, but i can't help but be just a little bit suspicious of his claims. That said, it is still beautiful blade, but if that is indeed the original Widmanstätten pattern and he didn't heat it beyond the temperatures that would eliminate such patterns, did he indeed make a structurally sound weapon, or simply a beautiful art object? Did he mix his meteorite with iron and a steel core or is his blade 100% meteorite that was heated, beaten a bit and than shaped? There are no answers to be found in this article unfortunately.
Regardless, my original point was that you will never find such a pattern in an Indonesian keris that could serve as proof of meteoric content. Though, of course, one should never say never when it comes to keris i have learned.
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Old 4th November 2020, 12:01 AM   #21
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Seerp, I think what David is looking for is that unique Widmanstätten pattern, and what I used to be looking for was concrete evidence that the contrasting material in a blade did indeed come from a meteor.

In your photos I can see contrasting material, but how do we know that this came from a meteor unless we saw it included in the forging when the material was still in the forge?

That is problem. We cannot pick up something that we have no previous knowledge of and carry out any testing that will definitely confirm that the item contains meteor.

During the 1980's and 1990's I made a lot of pamor and nickel damascus. I made pamor using several different types of nickelous material, including pure nickel and Arizona meteorite. I made a lot of damascus using pure nickel, and few pieces of damascus using meteorite.

If you presented me with a mix of various pieces of pamor, polished, etched & stained, I doubt that I could tell what material had been used to create the pamor. If I had a piece of meteoritic material in my hand, that is pure meteorite, nothing else, that had been folded and welded 8 or 10 times, then polished, etched, stained, I could not tell if it was meteorite or not.

If I use the traditional "touch test" on a blade that contains meteorite, I can detect a very tiny, almost imperceptible difference between the meteorite blade and a blade that has used commercial nickel, or some nickel alloy.

But then this might just be my imagination, because the blades that I do this sort of test with are only blades that it might be expected could contain meteorite.

The point is this:- we cannot confirm the presence of meteoritic material in a blade after that material has been through the forge welding process.

Actually, I don't consider meteoritic material to be anything special, the cleaning process requires great care and a delicate touch if you wish the resultant billet to be pure meteorite, but once you get to using it as a component part of a blade it is no more nor less difficult than any other nickelous material, and when the blade is finished --- well, I've already commented on that.

The photos are of a keris that I commissioned from a maker in Solo, I will not name him as he is a very private man and I do not have his permission to use his name, enough to say that I considered him to be very talented. He retired from keris work some years ago.

This blade definitely does contain meteor. I made a billet of pure Arizona meteorite that I gave to this maker and it was used in this blade.

This is the only keris that I know of that unquestionably contains meteoritic material.
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Old 4th November 2020, 12:14 AM   #22
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Mr. Ross

Yeah, I've got a little WWI farriers forge with a hand blower, not much good for serious work, fire bed too shallow, cannot get it to welding heat, alright for little light work.

The forge I used for blade work with coke had a 12" deep firebed, about 5" wide and 15" long. It was built in an old truck wheel and used a vacuum cleaner as the blower. Bottom blown.

The sort of thing you are talking about I never got involved in, if I lit up the forge I had a specific job in mind, I never played with things, coke was too hard to get, and now is close to impossible to get.

With charcoal I used a more shallow forge and much wider, side blown. You tend to use a lot more charcoal to get a job done than you do coke.

Coal is OK for general work, but its filthy stuff and I dislike intensely using it.
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Old 4th November 2020, 05:21 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Seerp, I think what David is looking for is that unique Widmanstätten pattern, and what I used to be looking for was concrete evidence that the contrasting material in a blade did indeed come from a meteor.

In your photos I can see contrasting material, but how do we know that this came from a meteor unless we saw it included in the forging when the material was still in the forge?

That is problem. We cannot pick up something that we have no previous knowledge of and carry out any testing that will definitely confirm that the item contains meteor.

During the 1980's and 1990's I made a lot of pamor and nickel damascus. I made pamor using several different types of nickelous material, including pure nickel and Arizona meteorite. I made a lot of damascus using pure nickel, and few pieces of damascus using meteorite.

If you presented me with a mix of various pieces of pamor, polished, etched & stained, I doubt that I could tell what material had been used to create the pamor. If I had a piece of meteoritic material in my hand, that is pure meteorite, nothing else, that had been folded and welded 8 or 10 times, then polished, etched, stained, I could not tell if it was meteorite or not.

If I use the traditional "touch test" on a blade that contains meteorite, I can detect a very tiny, almost imperceptible difference between the meteorite blade and a blade that has used commercial nickel, or some nickel alloy.

But then this might just be my imagination, because the blades that I do this sort of test with are only blades that it might be expected could contain meteorite.

The point is this:- we cannot confirm the presence of meteoritic material in a blade after that material has been through the forge welding process.

Actually, I don't consider meteoritic material to be anything special, the cleaning process requires great care and a delicate touch if you wish the resultant billet to be pure meteorite, but once you get to using it as a component part of a blade it is no more nor less difficult than any other nickelous material, and when the blade is finished --- well, I've already commented on that.

The photos are of a keris that I commissioned from a maker in Solo, I will not name him as he is a very private man and I do not have his permission to use his name, enough to say that I considered him to be very talented. He retired from keris work some years ago.

This blade definitely does contain meteor. I made a billet of pure Arizona meteorite that I gave to this maker and it was used in this blade.

This is the only keris that I know of that unquestionably contains meteoritic material.
Beautiful awesome piece.
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Old 4th November 2020, 06:31 AM   #24
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Thanks Anthony, yes, at his best --- which was most definitely not always --- I consider this man to have been the best exponent of his generation of the classic Surakarta keris.

Here it is in full dress.
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Old 4th November 2020, 04:38 PM   #25
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Thanks for showing that beautiful keris.
You haven't yet, and that is probably by intent, but are you willing to make any comments about the push dagger this young smith claims has retained the Widmanstätten pattern from the meteorite he used. It has always been my understanding that is not possible once forged, but my experience with actual forging is limited to a few simple projects done with old railroad spikes so i have no expertise to go on here. But it sure seems like a spurious claim to me.
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Old 4th November 2020, 07:17 PM   #26
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To my knowlegde, the Widmanstatten structure disappeares at a temperature of about or some over 700 degrees C.
The materials for forging the dagger are too cold to forgeweld at that temperature.
Widmanstatten structures are formed by extremely slow cooling of the material during millions of years.
So the meteoritic material has been inserted in te dagger cold, or at least on a temperature lower than 700 degrees C.
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Old 4th November 2020, 08:19 PM   #27
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Spot on Seerp. Jerzy said pretty much the same thing about ID of meteorite after the forge weld process.

It is a really pretty keris David, in fact much better than the photo shows, that photo was done more than ten years ago, my equipment and understanding has improved a bit during the last 10 or 12 years.

As for our young wouldbe blade smith, I'd just as soon not comment, let other people teach him what's right & what's wrong.
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Old 5th November 2020, 01:02 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Thanks Anthony, yes, at his best --- which was most definitely not always --- I consider this man to have been the best exponent of his generation of the classic Surakarta keris.

Here it is in full dress.
I am lost for word. Even the dress is awesome.
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Old 16th March 2021, 02:27 PM   #29
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In A. Weihrauch's thesis there is a dokumentation of an experiment - they made a weld sample with different ferric materials, and one of them was an iron meteorite.

Even after forging and welding the Widmanstätten pattern is still recognisable in enlargement 500:1.

There is a remark "after a longer glow they (the W-patterns) disappear completely.".
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Old 16th March 2021, 09:39 PM   #30
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That is very interesting information Gustav.

I assume that Weihrauch was talking about welding in the forge?

It is interesting, but also confusing.

The weld temperature of iron is + 2500F (1400C) at and above this temperature the surface of the iron is beginning to show white, it is sticky and on the point of liquification

The weld temperature of most steels is + 1700F (900C) and it is into high orange in colour, the surface is sticky but not liquifying.

Nickel has a lower weld temperature than the steels, I'm not sure what the actual temperature is, but I'd guess +/- 200F lower, say around 1400F - 1600F.

So when we weld a piece of material like meteoritic material, that has nickel running through it we are welding the iron at more than 2500F and the nickel is also going to be at +2500F, however, the melting temperature of nickel is between 1600F & 1700F, so when the weld is taken, that nickel is already well past its melting point.

To take the weld, hammer blows on the surfaces of the material are required, initially only light, but increasing in force.

The colour of the iron when first hit will be close to white and it will be beginning to liquify.

Weihrauch has stated:- "after a longer glow they (the W-patterns) disappear completely."

To my mind it is truly miraculous that any Widmanstatten pattern remained in the material, even before it was hit with a hammer. If, of course, Weihrauch was talking about forge welding, not gas welds, nor electric welds.

To use meteoritic material in a blade it needs to be cleaned, this is achieved by folding and welding the billet of meteoritic material. In my experience it usually takes at least 7 welds before the meteoritic material is clean enough to use. So 7 or more welds, combined with quite heavy forging. Then more welding to attach the meteoritic material to the steel core.

I think I'll continue to back Prof. Piaskowski's opinion.
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