Saturday, September 28, 2019

Fire Poker Video

Another of my basic videos.  You get to see the anvil, my belly, and what I'm making.  In this case, the fire poker from yesterday's post.



It isn't a really difficult project and nothing is especially critical in terms of measurements or design.  However, a good poker makes it so much easier to manage a fire in a wood stove or fireplace.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Not a Knife!

What?  This guy makes things on the anvil that are not blades?  I mean, arrowheads aren't knives, but they are arguably blades, right?

I'm still a novice smith.  I do it for fun and personal satisfaction.  And few things are as satisfying as making a useful tool.

We use a wood stove to heat our house as a secondary heat source.  There are times when we need to poke at the wood in the stove as it burns merrily.  Or not so merrily.  But we've used our ash shovel to do that for a long time.  Like 9 years.

Until today.

Took me a lot longer to make this than I expected, but it was satisfying.  I forged it out of about 13" of half-inch square bar.  Final length is about 18".  This is too short for a fireplace poker, but just about right for the wood stove.  

I took video of the project and once I finish editing it, I'll put it up here so both of my loyal readers can watch it.  Or not.  Very few people watch my YouTube channel.  Good thing I don't try to make money from it.  It is just a way to share with folks who may or may not be interested in the sorts of things I like to do.

Recent work

I've been ridiculously busy with school recently.  This blog has suffered, I'm afraid.

However, I have made a couple of things and now is my chance to share them.

 I had a friend over to make his first knife.  I normally make one along with someone who is doing it the first time.  That way I can demonstrate each step and then he/she can follow along and do the step just demonstrated.

Pictured above it the knife I made while he made his.  Nothing fancy or special, but it is a little larger than a lot of what I make.  I rather like it, actually.  I may end up putting it in my spoon carving tool kit.

When I first started blade smithing, this was the knife I wanted to make.  I just love knives that show the whole story in one piece of steel.  They are less comfortable and less practical than knives with proper handles, but they just look cool.  I made these one day when I had time to hammer out a couple of blades.  Still need to put a final edge on them and find them homes.

These particular one-piece knives are often called Viking knives.  The claim is that these were common (some seem to think ubiquitous) to Vikings.

Now, I'm not an archaeologist, and I am not an expert on Viking artifacts or material culture, but I've never once seen evidence of this sort of knife in an actual Viking context. I've seen a couple of pictures supposed to be from Novgorod that depict knives with integral handles sort of like these, but not very many.

The issue is that if I made blades with normal tangs that would fit into wood handles, I could make two blades from the steel in each of these knives.  Steel was a fairly valuable and relatively scarce commodity in the dark ages.  Heck, right up until the Industrial Revolution, actually.  I just can't see very many smiths making a blade that is less useful that consumes twice the resources when he could make two blades that would fit wood handles with the same amount of steel.

So, I don't think they are very historical, but I do know they are a lot of fun.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Knife I Got in Trade

If you scroll back a bit in my blog posts, you will see the friction folder I made for a knife exchange.  It was well received.

Today, I got my knife from the trade.  Frankly, I think I got the coolest knife in the whole swap.  This is beautiful.  Here's a picture:

The picture doesn't really do it justice.  The edge is wonderfully straight and very sharp.  The stone has a slight translucence that just makes it almost other-worldly.  The fit of blade to handle is very tight.  I'm delighted.

Now that the summer is just about over, I think I'll have a little more time to work on some personal projects, so this blog will be updated slightly more often.  I hope.  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Bumble beads

I don't only make historical beads.  I learned this bead at least a decade ago, but hadn't made any for ages.  Knocked out two last night just for fun.



I have made them in the past with an acid yellow and the bottoms pulled into points.  They look like hornets instead of bumblebees when I do that.  I really prefer the gentle fuzzy bumblers over the nasty stingers. These will probably just be given away, so I wanted to get a picture up while I still have them.

Finished Friction Folder

So, that was almost anticlimactic.  Setting four little brass pins took me only half an hour.  I had to trim them to the same length, tap them with my smallest ball peen until they spread into the countersunk holes, and then do a little touch-up sanding on the wood where the hammer scuffed it.  After that, sharpening.

A couple of pictures:



Closed.  The scroll end invites you to open the knife and see what else the smith hath wrought.


Open.  About 3.5" of sharp and pointy.

The scrolly bit does dig into the hand just a little, but it isn't bad at all.  I think future efforts at friction folder will take this into account a bit better.  The handle is a little thicker than I had meant to make it, but this is my first, so I'll change that on the next one.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with it.

Friction Folder Update

I normally make two of anything I make.  The blade for the friction folder is no exception.  However, the scroll on the tang is different on blade #2.  Which is why the blade you see below doesn't match the one from my last post.

This is as far as I've come with it.  Right now, the finish is curing on the handle, so I can't do any more.  Kind of frustrating, as I'd love to just have it done.  Perhaps I'll find time tomorrow, though.


A trial fit-up in the open position.  I chose a good piece of maple to make the handle scales.  I know that antler is the most common for these knives, but I don't really trust a material that is so porous on the inside and potentially rather brittle.  Maybe on a future folder.


And in the closed position.  The blade won't contact the steel spacer, so the edge is preserved inside the handle.  The scrolled tang does hang out rather far, but I think it is pretty, so I'm not going to be too worried about it.

This is part of what I meant when I mentioned the blade telling its story (see previous post).  The scroll shapes can only be made with blacksmith techniques.  I mean, sure, you could hypothetically laser-cut the shape from flat stock, but on a practical level, this is a detail that announces the hand forged nature of the blade.  I personally love seeing that.

Up close, here's a shot of my maker's mark.  It is hot stamped into the steel during the rough forging stage.  You can also see some of the surface pitting that tells the story.

My mark is the rune Wynn (that's the Anglo Saxon name - the Norse name is Wunjo).  It is kind of fun because it looks like an angular P, but the sound it makes is the same as the English W.  In this way, I get both my initials with one mark.  

Once the oil finish cures on the maple scales, I will carefully peen over the brass pins to permanently assemble this knife.  The tricky bit is to spread the pin heads at the blade end enough to hold everything solidly together without locking the handle scales against the blade so firmly that it won't open and close.  This next step is the step where either I get a cool knife done or I get to start over on the handle.  Since I like the handle right now, I hope to get it done right.  Maybe as soon as tomorrow!