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About Vlatro

  • Rank
    Senior Member
  • Birthday 09/09/1981

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  • Location
    U.S.-Rochester NY
  • The year you started making chainmail
  1. I've used it once before and didn't like it. The hardness was not so much an issue, it coiled well with surprisingly little spring back (though it was a 20ga, heavier may be different). But I like to shear cut rings, and these definitely need a saw cut. As with other hard wires, shear cutting leaves small barbs in the cut. The metal cuts 90% of the way through and snaps unevenly. Of course, it is springy enough where I hesitated to use a saw and remove material while cutting for fear that I wouldn't be able to close the rings without noticeable deformation. You just need good small blades and patience. The closest thing I've found to it in hardness and recoil was a 20ga brass wire I got from Lowes. If you've ever tried that stuff, you'd have a good idea. Different wire vendors may be different, I got mine through a mail-order jeweler's cataloge. I'm not familiar with the website mentioned above, so it may be softer/harder. Good luck
  2. Vlatro


    Actually, I appreciate that it was pointed out. I'm finishing my degree in material sciences, and while Metals are not my specialty, I still need to know quite a bit about them. Better to realize it here than when it matters on a job. My mistake came from a simple but ultimately tragic misunderstanding of SAE designation. From that I inferred some incorrect information. Instead of making inferences, I should have looked the specific data. I decided not to, as my goal was a general overview, not a specific, in-depth look at each possible alloy. It was that decision (posting without checking my statements against credible sources) that I am apologizing for. I have been pointed to several references that have clarified it for me. I was informed of my mistake via PM rather than more typical "YOUR WRONG" posts you see in other forums. The incorrect material was removed by an admin, which is good, as I only realized it when I went to take the info down myself. In most other forums, that post would have been flame-bait. Here it was handled in a tactful manner, and I in turn gained a better understanding of something I thought I knew. These are all signs of a good community. I am grateful for that. Here are some better resources: http://www.materialsengineer.com/E-Stainless-Steel.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAE_steel_grades http://www.matweb.com/search/PropertySearch.aspx
  3. Vlatro


    My last post, "Steel Alloys" was deleted on grounds that some of the information was incorrect and misleading. Cshake and lorenzo were both good enough to point out my mistake and after further review, I clearly need to review some of the alloy content charts again. It was not my intent to mislead anyone, and I hope to have a real reference in place soon. But seeing as Steel is not my specialty, Any future posts on the subject will be better documented and have proper references, rather than relying on information I'm trying to recall from a class I took several years ago. It was poor judgment on my part not to review the material before posting. If that has lead to any confusion, I am sorry.
  4. Spring Steel is a generic term relating to the "Hardness" of the steel. Stainless referres to the anti-corrosive properties. Stainless will be a Nickel-Chromium Steel Alloy. Spring Steel is forged (heated above the recrystalization point) and usually has extra carbon. So you can have: Stainless Spring Steel Regular Spring Steel Stainless Soft Steel Regular Soft Steel When buying steel, the all-important factor is the SAE number which will tell you the alloy composition and the treatments used. From there you can deduce what properties it will have and determine whether or not it is well suited for your needs.
  5. Vlatro

    A Guide to Steel Alloys

    You are correct, all steel (including stainless) is at least somewhat ferromagnetic. However, by heating the steel above it's Critical Point (AC3) allows the rearranging of the individually charged molecules. Earlier when I spoke of the "bricks" rearranging themselves, the force that allows them to do that is magnetism. As each "brick" has both a positive and a negative pole, they will attract and cancel each other out, leaving the cooled material relatively inert to magnetism. But you are correct, carbon content and other alloying metals may change the arrangement so that many of these opposite poles can not fall into position to negate one another, leaving some residual magnetic properties. In most steels this is reduced to such a minute level, the material is referred to as "non-ferrous", even if the term is technically inacurate. Still, as the layman mailler is concerned, 99% of the wire you'll happen into is at the lower part of the 300 series and is mostly inert to the casual observer. But your point is taken. On the molecular level, there are countless rules to metallurgy, and even more exceptions to those rules. When they say "Spring Steel" it is likely a High carbon steel, but not necessarily stainless. Within Stainless Steels, most will fall into 3312-3318, or 3408-3420.As for Cold Rolled - that means it was hardened by being "mashed" between rollers at a temperature below it's recrystallization point. As such, it could be any type of alloy, though stainless is unlikely. Cold-Rolled is usually softer than forged metals that have been recrystallized. As such it makes great bail wire or lathe and mill stock. I would guess it to be 1xxx or 2xxx but the term refers to the treatment of the steel, not the alloy.
  6. I just wrote a post on this subject here In short, Carbon steel is easy to work with, but as mentioned will corrode quickly and requires proper cleaning and care on a regular basis. It is still better suited than raw iron wire, and looks more "Authentic" than stainless due to the inherent discoloration with age (even when cleaned and oiled). For jewelry, the answer is always NO. Don't use carbon steel. For armor that you intend to use (medieval recreation, SCA events etc.) its a little lighter and much more malleable than stainless which make quick adjustments and field repair a snap. You say it's for a gorget, I would then advise against it. It's the type of thing you'd wear over other clothing, and most anti-corrosive treatments will leave a residue on those clothes. If it's going over a padded shirt for actual fighting, a bit of rust staining could make you look more historically acurate, and pads are cheap. TRL's 316 Grade stainless is better suited for most items, but a bit more expensive. In my oppinion, it's worth it to upgrade to stainless, but that doesn't mean the mild steel is without it's uses. It all depends on the application. To clarify as to the type of steel, anything sold as "Carbon Steel" is 1xxx SAE grade. It contains no other metals, is allways ferrous (Magnetic) and has a maximum hardness about half that of a nickel-chromium stainless. Maleability is good for armor, spring temper cant take shearing forces (though in 16 guage it's a moot point, anything that shears that will likely kill you anyway). In smaller guages, I might say it's fine, but for a 16ga, get something easier to maintain, you'll ultimately be glad you did.
  7. Vlatro

    A Guide to Steel Alloys

    Catching up on threads today, I find several posts asking questions about Steel Grades and what they mean. This is to clarify. Steel as you likely know is just iron, heated with a specified amount of carbon to strengthen it. So ALL STEEL consists of at least these two primary components, Iron and Carbon. Steel grade is measured by a 4 (sometimes 5) digit number in accordance with SAE (Society of Automotive Engineer) standards. The first Digit of the grade number tells us what other metals may be mixed into the steel. A mixture of metals is referred to as an Alloy. The meaning of the first digit is as follows. 1 - Just steel (iron and carbon) referred to as "Carbon Steel" 2 - Steel mixed with Nickel, appropriately called "Nickel Steel" 3 - Contains Nickel and Chromium, referred to as "Nickel-Chromium" steel or Stainless Steel. 4 - Contains Molybdenum to make "Moly-Steel" which is popular in manufacturing. 5 - Chromium Steel 6 - Chromium-vanadium Steel 7 - Contains Tungsten for "Tungsten Steel" 8 - Nickel-chromium-vanadium Steel 9 - Silicon-manganese Steel The Second digit is a little more confusing because it can refer to the chemical treatment processes used on the steel, or the proportions of the alloying metals. There is a good reference Here if you wish to learn more about that, and a quick glance at the "Machinist's Handbook" will reveal even more. For many Stainless Steels, the first number or "family" is omitted. For example 304 is actually 3304, but since we already know it's stainless, the first "3" is unnecessary. The last two digits refer to the percentage (in parts per 10,000) of carbon in the steel. "01" = 0.0001% carbon "12" = 0.0012% carbon and so on. Putting this all together: You see a steel wire listed as 304 (Sometimes called A2 Steel). You know this is a stainless steel made of Iron, Nickel, Chromium, and 0.0004% Carbon. The alloy actually contains manganese in a small amount too, but the number does not indicate with out exact reference. What does it mean? 1xxx - Carbon steel. Worthless for most maille unless plated or galvanized through another process not indicated by the alloy designation. It is malleable and easy to work, but will work-harden and rust. 2xxx - Nikel Steel. Stronger and Harder than 1xxx, but still prone to corrosion. This is usually galvanized or coated for things like wire coat hangers, chain-link fences etc. 3xxx - Stainless Steel. There is a lot of variation in types of stainless, 304 is the most commonly produced as wire, 316 is "food-Grade" or "Surgical Stainless". TRL stocks both these types. Other stainless alloys are available, but these two are the most common. 4xxx - Moly Steel Very soft, often used to make gun barrels and is well suited for lathe work. This is likely what most of your mandrels are made of. It does corrode, though much slower than 1xxx steels. 5xxx - Chromium Steels This is very strong and fairly corrosion resistant, used in bridges, cars, and other buildings for structural support. However, it is brittle when torsion forces are applied and thus not well suited for maille. 6xxx and above: These tend to get expensive and are not widely available in wire. Some are well suited for maille, most are not. For our purposes, lower numbered alloys will produce superior results at a lower price. How Do I know what kind of steel this is? Most wire you happen into will be from the first 5 families. Properties of each type can be tested to give you some idea of what you have. Burn Test: Go outside and hold a hot flame to the metal. If it smokes it's likely been galvanized (don't inhale the smoke). That tells us it's most likely in either 1xxx or 2xxx. Let it cool and clean any soot off of it. If the heated area becomes black or brownish-red, it's 1xxx. If it turns blue, it's 2xxx. If no smoke was present, and it turns blue it's 3xxx or higher. Magnet Test: Stainless steel must be heated above a critical point to fuse with the chromium in it. Heated above this point, steel becomes non-ferrous, meaning it should now not respond to magnetism. Put a refrigerator magnet to a ring. If the magnet can hold the ring, it's 1xxx or 2xxx. If not you likely have stainless. Families 4 and 5 can be either ferrous or non-ferrous. Temper and hardening Temper typically refers to the "hardness" of a metal. This is achieved through the controlled heating, cooling and chemical treatment of the metal. Tempering & Annealing are really the same process. They describe the methods used to alter the physical and molecular structure of the alloy. Metals are crystals. These crystals interlock in what is called a "Crystalline Lattice". Think of the way a brick wall is constructed with each row of bricks offset from the rows above and below them. Metal crystals stack much the same way. By heating steel beyond one of it's critical points, the lattice structure becomes unstable, like knocking all the bricks out of the wall. As it cools, the bricks (crystals) rearrange themselves back into the wall pattern. If carbon or other metals are added while these "bricks" are reassembling them selves, that material will become trapped between the bricks, changing the pattern and structure they take. The resulting new pattern may make the metal stronger or weaker. A stronger pattern will use the new material to fill in any gaps and bond tightly together, making a hard but brittle material, strong against tension and compression. This is "Hardened" metal. A weaker bond will create new gaps where the structure will be able to give a bit. While not as strong structurally, it's ability to flex makes it more malleable and more resistant to torsion and shearing forces. This is Annealed Metal. All wire is annealed to be drawn. As such, only limited hardening can occur. Rather than heat treating the metal, at the risk of deforming the shape, it is usually chemically treated with cyanide, phosphates, or it is sulferized. When you hear the term "Spring Temper" understand that it's more or less meaningless. True tempering has never occurred. (at least not in round wire). Since most people use the term temper incorrectly to relate to hardness, the term is misused so everyone will have some understanding. For example, TRL sells "Spring Temper" Stainless. This is actually 316 Steel. Compared to the softer 304 Stainless, it is much harder, Not due to actual tempering, but to the higher carbon content. As you recall, the last two digits of the number relate to the carbon content. 304 = 0.0004% Carbon 316 = 0.0016% Carbon So what is sold as "Tempered" actually gets it's hardness from having four times the amount of carbon. Some will argue me on this point since different temperatures are required to achieve each carbon content respectively, and they'd be correct technically, but it has more to do with the wire drawing process (it's formed in a semi-cooled state after melting). In other areas of metallurgy, the term would be applied differently. ... More to come when I have time
  8. Vlatro

    light box

    Time for a camera hack. Since your subject is stationary, you can take multiple shots and combine them. This is similar to HDR, but we won't delve into that here. You need 2 shots. One at full exposure for the color values, and a lower light shot for the depth. I'm not familiar with your camera and don't know if you can change lenses, but try taking the low light shot (with Low-Light setting DISABLED) by placing a cheap pair of polarized sunglasses in front of the lens. Done correctly, the shot will appear almost solid black. This is okay, the info is there, it's just in a color range your eyes can't easily see. Remember, NEVER take shots in jpeg format. You want RAW. Open the dark shot in photoshop and copy in the lighter shot in a new layer lined up directly on top of it. Set the mode for the light shot as "Luminsoity" in your layer settings and play with the levels in each layer until you have something clear. Since Maille is typically very shiney, the glare reflecting off of it tends to blur the image, especially against a light matte background. You are essentially keeping the colors of the high glare photo and combining them with the unglared details in the low light version. Another thing you'll learn, metals as a rule don't like white backdrops. Do a google image search for silver jewelry and you'll see most are displayed on a black or often a dark purple backdrop. Purple works very well for silver, black or very dark red for steel, and dark, (almost black) green for copper, brass or bronze. Even if you don't want those colors in the finished photo, you can still desaturate and lighten/darken them to your heart's content after the shot is taken. Post a couple of the pics you've tried andwe can see if there are any other factors that need to be considered.
  9. Vlatro

    Cleaning: aluminum?

    The age-old cleaning question... I've been away for months, but somehow knew this would still be topping the forums. Recommended Reading: The Machinist's Handbook. Helpful how-to's and data on every alloy conceivable. Aluminum is always fun. A light acid will tarnish it. A strong acid will brighten it. A very strong acid will dissolve it. Get a gallon of pool acid (5% dilute) - $8-$11 at any pool supply store. The cheaper the better, nothing with additional water conditioners mixed in. Spray it with carborator cleaner to remove any oils from your hands that may have come in contact with it. - $3-$5 at any auto parts store or gas station. Dip it in the acid for for a few seconds and it will come out bright. Leave it in too long and it's ruined, so keep an eye on it. Dry it with a towel. Now you need a sealant. The best solution is to electro-plate it. I'd refer you to the machinists handbook or wikipedia for instructions there. It's really much easier than people think and CAN be done cheaply in your own home with easy to get supplies. Follow proper saftey precautions. If you're doing an ornamental piece that is never worn, silicone spray will do the trick nicely, but it will rub off on clothes and skin. If you're a glutton for tedious labor, acrylic sealants work very well, but harden quickly and can potentially glue your rings together, so apply one ring at a time. Now the easy/quick method. Once cleaned, apply wax. Get a block of paraffin wax and a cheese grater. You want small but coarse pellets of wax, so grate away. Now toss the piece with your wax pellets in an old pillow case and tumble or knead like dough. DO NOT tumble in a dryer. Melted wax doesn't help. The piece will come out of the sack looking a mess, caked in white wax. This is normal. Remove excess wax from the sack, and wrap in a towel and buff it out. It may take an hour or so, but it will seal nicely and be very shiny.
  10. My pliers have a rawhide grip (taken from the handles). I cut up the rawhide to make it shorter, soaked it in hot water for a few hours and stretched it over the jaws instead of the hand-grip. A few hours in my dehydrator and they shrank over jaws perfectly. Then they didn't close properly so I had to start over with a new set I ground down for a better fit. So it took 2 tries, but worked great. I then took the handles and used a rubber tool grip dip on them for comfort. $10 total expense for 2 pair, so not bad. They look like a complete mess, the kind of thing that gets a "What the hell?!" reaction, but they're very comfortable and don't scratch my rings. Guess it's not the "quick" solution you're looking for, but something to think about. In retrospect, cutting rawhide tabs from a flat sheet and affixing them with a metal bonding adhesive may have been easier.
  11. Vlatro

    Titanium maille and metal detectors.

    Most metal detectors have trouble with non-ferrous metals, they work by detecting a shift in the magnetic field of the gate. They also work better from the ground up about 3', so neck chains, ear rings etc don't usually set them off. Stuff in pants pockets will set them off more than stuff in shirt pockets etc. They also must be calibrated to meet manufacturer spec every month, US security rules post-911 still only require calibration every 6 months by an employee (not a manufacturer rep). They are also calibrated to detect nickel-steel, brass, and other common gun and knife metals as well as mercury, so usually gold, silver and other common jewelry metals are on the distant end of the spectrum of detectable metals. They tend to lower the sensitivity so small items are not detected. On the highest setting, your body with no metal would set it off. Another quirk the machines have is their failure to detect metals that wrap around the body. A solid metal belt or choker will not set it off, but a leather belt with a metal buckle will. When you wrap a metal evenly around your body, it has less of a visible shift in the magnetic field. While the effect is greater over all, there is no definable point that is greater than another. In this way, large objects can be passed through undetected by gates. Wands will detect metals under these circumstances, and are far superior to gates in respect to accuracy, but are obviously slower. It is very hard to get a gun or knife through a gate, but most other metals are easily passed without setting them off. Small jewelry like peircings will set it off easier than a large chain. The only reason you are asked to empty your pockets and remove metal objects is that it takes too long to list what will and won't pass through, people would be setting them off constantly, ignorant of what can or can not go through. It's a minor security improvement, but mostly it's a time saver for the guards. Metal detectors are more of a deterrent than a way of actually catching contraband. They make you feel safer regardless of their efficiency so it's good for people's piece of mind. In reality, I could smuggle just about anything through a gate with little effort. Newer machines are hard to beat, but most in use today are antiques from the '80's and 90's.
  12. Vlatro

    16g galvy wire

    In 16ga, 5/16" is the way to go. I would recommend using something other than galvy, the plating is usually thin (not intended for being in contact with other things) and will rub off. The steel beneath it will rust. Use stainless, it looks better, stays cleaner, is stronger (especially spring temper from TRL) and costs around the same amount of money. Galvy is a waste of time and money, good for junk materials and practice on new weaves, I would never consider making anything for someone else using it.
  13. Vlatro

    I think it's OCD...

    If working with multiple materials, you can sacrafice accuracy in the loss amount (I assume the lost rings are a very small percentage), and simply record the amount you started with in each material, then weigh the left over rings of each material when finished, subtract, and you know roughly how much of each material is in the finished piece.
  14. Vlatro


    Happens to me all the time. I actually keep a 64oz plastic drinking cup filled with rings, instead of pulling directly from the big bin. That way I will run out rings sooner and be forced to review my work regularly. It's an unwelcome interruption most of the time, but I haven't overdone it since.
  15. Vlatro

    I think it's OCD...

    @AsidiIceMyst TRL sells ring by weight rather than exact quantity. If you really want to track materials, buy a small kitchen scale. Most digital scales are under $30 and can measure from 20lbs + at a time, to about 1/10 of an ounce. That covers the typical quantities you would buy here, and there is little margin for error since you are working in the same unit of measure as they are. Purchase from TRL, record how much you spent (including shipping, tax etc) per unit of weight ordered. Example: you order 4 ounces of Saw Cut Sterling Silver 16ga 1/4'' ID at their current price of $23.85/Ounce. You spend $8 on shipping. Your total is $103.40, yeilding approximately 200 rings. Weigh in your rings before you begin. Don't forget to zero out the weight of the container first. Weigh your finished piece (before beads, clasps etc.) to determine your exact cost. Your finished piece weighs 3.1 ounces. In rings, the piece cost you $80.15. Now weigh the remaining unused rings to determine if there was any material loss. You find 0.8 ounces left, added to the 3.1 ounces of the finished piece for a total of 3.9 ounces. Subtract from the 4.0 ounces you had originally and you are missing 0.1 ounces. That's a 2.5% production loss that should be figured into your overhead. Don't average production losses across multiple materials or sizes. They will track differently. Smaller rings may slip out of your grip easier resulting in a higher number. Likewise, metals that work harden may snap, and some metals may be more difficult for TRL to cut evenly, resulting in the occasional bad ring. I have considered creating a spreadsheet that pulls directly from TRL's pricing (so it's always up to date). The issue is needing access to the back-end data source. Capturing data from the page, while possible, is ineffecient. Looks like they use a lot of ASP & javascript to do the calculations. That's easy to copy, but if they ever upgrade their database, shopping cart software, or even page layout, it renders such a system useless. Entering their prices by hand would require constant updates and is even more impractical. Spreadsheets are a great idea, but always manually check prices, qty/weight figures etc, as their product line, current inventory, alloys used, market prices or web server may change at any moment. Those changes are just too hard to track when you don't have access to the data sources.