Being a non-pattern welded steel, this type of steel still displays unique characteristics that are clearly visible to the untrained eye. As you see in this main picture, swirls of the crystalline structure “Cementite” move along carbide structures like a flowing river.
It is easy to appreciate the visual characteristics and this one in particular has an estimate 1.7% Carbon which accounts for the incredible activity.
With proper composition to start when I create the initial ingot, to the entire forging process, each and every degree of heat and force of the hammer blow was deliberate in order to bring out this specific pattern which would otherwise not exist. As the saying goes, not all crucible steel is wootz, but all wootz is crucible steel.
This is easily one of the most difficult challenges as a smith to undertake.
“Not all crucible steel is wootz, but all wootz is crucible steel…”
After the steel is sorted and I commit to each piece in the crucible, it is fired for an hour under melting temperatures using a propane powered melting furnace.
The following pictures are of a polished and etched section of a raw crucible steel ingot. Its heavy dendritic-needlelike structure is indicative of ultra high carbon content. Typically the higher the carbon content, the bolder the pattern will be.
The bottom two pictures are later in the steel’s life becoming a blade. This is after the denritic structure has been spheroidized into realigned cementite bands. They will eventually more closely follow the path of forging,
This steel from the beginning is a difficult, yet rewarding undertaking that I have found to be an enjoyable challenge.