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  1. #1
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    Mar 2008
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    Default When to put in wire inlay

    I probably deserve to get laughed at for asking this question, but I guess I can say that I was drinking or something when I posted it if it begins to haunt me.

    I am going to make a damascus straight razor that has an inch wide blade that is 3/16'ths of an inch thick. I want a simple border of wire inlay on the tang and a small gold/brass celtic do-dad about 2 inches long on top of the spine. Here's my question:

    I know that I need to cut the channel for the wire before heat treat, but at what stage do I add the wire? Before or after the heat treating? The steel will be heated to about 1,600 degrees for ten minutes + or - and then tempered at about 400 for a few hours.

    If I add a border to the top of the spine (3/16'ths inch wide), what wire size should I use? I may have to use brass instead of gold, but I can make that decision later. I have a draw plate to size the wire.

    Here is the steel that will need a bit of work first.
    Attached Images
    Take Good Care...
    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Bandera County, Texas
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    Bill, you should get the channel prepared (cut and undercut)before heat treating and tempering, then apply the gold after. When you are preparing the channel try not to raise the edge up around the channel as it will be a bear to smooth out after heating treating and tempering and you would run the risk of either tearing -out the gold or eroding it below the steel's surface so that its not flush.

    This is a great idea. I can't wait to see more of this project.

    Best,

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Los Angeles area, California.
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    Bill,
    You would have no problem completing the inlay before heat treating at 1600 degrees F.
    If you are using 22-24 KT gold.
    We very often color case guns that are inlaid and the heat is 1800 degrees, no problems.
    Just leave the fine cut detail on the gold surface 'till after heat treat.
    It can get banged or rubbed during the process and need to be touched up.
    No sense in having to cut it twice.
    Best wishes,


    PS. You can do it the way Jim suggests. Just undercut while in the soft state.
    Where the edges are raised up from undercutting sand or stone them before heat treat.
    This is not my favorite way to do it, you can have some heat treat scale remaining under the gold
    in the bottom of the channel.
    John B.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Baker City , Oregon
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    Very important info----- I do a lot of gold work and case hardening. 24k gold normally melts at about 1880 fer. But when packed in charcoal it melts at about 1525 to 1550. The thinner the gold the lower it will melt when packed in charcoal. WHY? I personally think the carbon changes the molecular structure of the gold into a sort of alloy like carbon changes iron into steel. However no matter what the reason I know what I am talking about. I have had to do some work over for that reason too many times. If the part is not packed in charcoal the gold will stand the normal temp. unless it is in contact with some other types of metal such as lead or tin. If gold is in contact with tin or lead it will alloy with the lower melting metal at the lower melting metal's normal melting temp. This is the reason gold is never soft soldered. I know. believe me.
    Also remember--those inlays will have to be sanded down after they are installed or sculpted. I recomend doing the gold first but hold your heat treating temp down to 1550 if they are pack hardened in charcoal. I don't mean to be contentious John. but color hardening is never done at 1800 If the temp exceeds 1550 you will begin to loose the colors and come out plain gray. If the temp exceeds about 1650 or 1700 the surface will take on a grainy look. like orange peal.
    The screws in the photo below were color case hardened and then heat blued. the gold is .003 thick.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2008
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    Nambe, NM
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    Bill, sounds like a very cool thing. Please use gold, your work is too valuable for brass unless there are other considerations.
    Love to see it when you're finished.
    Kevin P.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin P. View Post
    Bill, sounds like a very cool thing. Please use gold, your work is too valuable for brass unless there are other considerations.
    Love to see it when you're finished.
    Kevin P.
    Although my razors and knives are good, my engraving needs a lot of practice to match them. I just didn't want to act like my engraving skills were good enough for gold yet. However, since the damascus I bought for the project is expensive as well... what the heck, right?

    Thanks for the responses. I will try to update the saga with pics as the project progresses. I do have the blade profiled, tang tapered and master grind close to being finished. At least for the stage before heat treat. I have to leave the blade thicker until after heat treat, otherwise the cutting edge will look like the bottom fin of an electric eel. When it's tempered, I'll finish grinding the blade.

    I know that there is probably a reference here somewhere about sources for gold wire, so I will look for it rather than take the lazy route of asking about it here.

    I will also be looking for tips on how to keep wire in a channel cut by a #37 GRS flat graver. Don't hit me... I'm assuming that would be the one to use to match the small area on a tang and on top of a 3/16 inch wide spine?????
    Take Good Care...
    Bill

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    The Oxfordshire Cotswolds, England
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerrywh View Post
    Also remember--those inlays will have to be sanded down after they are installed or sculpted.
    Can you please explain? As a gun engraver, once the inlay is in that's it. It shouldn't need sanding or sculpting after case hardening unless it's accidentally damaged in some way.
    cheers,
    Marcus




    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten."

    www.hunt-engraving.co.uk

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  8. #8
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    Feb 2008
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    DH Fell in CA and Hoover & Strong in VA for your gold needs. Google for details.
    Kevin P.

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    Dallas, Georgia
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    Rio Grande also has gold wire as does Ray Viramontez (I think I spelled that right) in South Georgia.

    Marcus,
    I think what he's referring to is the necessity to flatten the inlay after the gold is pounded in along with the resultant "raised lip" formed when doing the undercut around the edges of the prepared channel. At least that's the way I read it.
    "Politics is like an andouillette: It should smell a little of sh-t but not too much."

  10. #10
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    Nov 2006
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    Not to get off topic but I was wondering since you have the master grind done already; how do you keep the blade blank from warping when it gets cooked? Seems like a blade that thin would warp badly in an oven. I'm getting educated here.
    "Politics is like an andouillette: It should smell a little of sh-t but not too much."

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