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  1. Today
  2. I'm planning on attempting my first large blade over the next two or three months. I'd like to make a large messer and would welcome any tips on the approach, especially in regard to a few questions I have. I aim to produce a piece that is historically inspired, but not a reproduction. I'll outline my plan in sections below. I'm willing to spend a little extra money to invest in tools that will make it easier for me to create large blades, but I have to work within the constraint that I have very limited electricity and an outdoor work space (so I couldn't use a heat treat kiln, for example). Over the past several years, I've made several seaxes with blades around 550 mm and 6.3 mm thickness with little distal taper. I'm happy with how they've turned out, but I generally founnd the hardening step to be the most difficult part of the process. At least, hardening is the part the process for which I have the least certainty. I think maybe I'm heating the blade too hot before quenching? Dimensions and steel Steel: 1075 from NJSB Overall length: 1400 mm Handle length: 400 Guard length: 350 mm Blade length: 1000 mm Basal width: 60 mm Basal thickness: 9 mm Distal thickness: 3 mm Curvature: Tip 20 mm above the top axis of the handle Notes: I'm aiming for a total weight of around 2.3 kg. I'd like the blade to be fairly stiff. The design I'm referring to is the bottom sketch in the attached photo. Equipment I have a two-burner Hell's Forger propane forge. I think this is adequate for my forging needs. I plan to forge only a basic shape and then do much of the shaping by grinding. 1. I wonder if I should get a second one of these so that I can put them end to end (i.e., to make a four-burner forge) to cover the most of the blade when attempting to get an even temperature for normalizing and hardening. Or will I be able to achieve an even heat just by moving the blade back and forth through the two-burner forge? Normalizing I have a lot of trouble judging steel colors. Even in the evening with a color chart ready for reference. I'm sure it's a skill that comes with experience, but I need to work up to being able to read the colors. Will I do more harm than good by overheating the blade during normalization. In other words, is it better for me to err on the side of underheating the blade, rather than overheating the blade during the normalization cycles? Hardening For the hardening step, I plan on building a quench tank out of a 5 ft (sorry for the inconsistent units!) section of galvanized steel stove pipe with a 6" diameter supported on a wooden frame. I anticipate quenching in canola oil. A few related questions: 1. Is canola oil adequate for such a large piece? Should I use a different medium? I'm aiming for adequate rather than optimal. I'd be willing to invest in Parks 50 if that seems like a far better option than canola oil, but the shipping to my location in Alaska is extremely expensive. I only want to invest in Parks 50 if all other options are inadequate. 2. Should I try to find a larger diameter quench tank so that the oil doesn't heat up too much? 3. Is it worth aiming for a lower heat, such as right at non-magnetic, for the quench? 4. I plan to leave a 3 mm edge on the blade for the heat treat. Does that sound reasonable or is that too thick for a shallow-hardening steel? Tempering For the tempering step, I plan to modify a large charcoal grill so that it can fit large sections of the blade. Then I will temper the blade in multiple sections for 1 hour twice with a quench in the oil tank in between each cycle. Edge retention is far less important to me than toughness. I plan to temper the entire piece at 600 F or as close to that as I can achieve in the charcoal grill. 1. Is there a problem with inconsistent tempering time, where some parts of the blade will overlap between tempering sections (e.g., some parts of the blade could be tempered for a total of 4 hours rather than 2 hours). 2. Is my target of 600 F good or should I adjust higher/lower? I'm not sure I can get the temp of a charcoal grill higher but see #3. 3. Is it worth me tempering the spine by torch after the tempering cycles in the charcoal grill to bring the spine back to a higher temperature? Scabbard I have Covering the Blade (Volken and Goubitz 2021) as a reference for building the scabbard. I notice that Volken and Goubitz state that glued scabbards became more common in the 15th/16th centuries, but they offer no further elaboration. I plan to build the scabbard similar to the scabbard for Peter Johnsson's bollock dagger with a parchment lining, a 3 mm hickory slat on each side of the blade, a linen wrap around the wood/parchment, and a 2 mm (~5-6 oz) leather cover over the linen. I anticipate using Titebond III to glue all parts. 1. Is a glued leather construction appropriate for circa 1490? 2. Volken and Goubitz also state that parchment linings were common. I have goat parchment on order. For a large blade, should the parchment be glued together in sections? I may think up more questions before I begin work, but hopefully this is a good start without being too overwhelming to answer. Thanks for any help that anyone could provide! I've already learned a lot from these forums. I really owe Jeroen a big thanks for putting so much information on seaxes onto this forum. I wouldn't have succeeded in my past projects without those resources. If anyone has good reference material to suggest for large messers (books, articles, etc. in any language), I would also be grateful for the recommendations. References Volken, M., and O. Goubitz. 2021. Covering the blade: Archaeological leather sheaths and scabbards. SPA Uitgevers. Zwolle, Netherlands. 300 pp.
  3. I started making knives to make the Tom Brown Jr knife and it kinda of got away from me; turned it into a Gabe Rathe woodsman. It has been about 2 years. I really like it; fun to use and processes smaller wood efficiently. 1/4" 80CRV2; hand filed saw back. I put a chisel grind knife inside the axe edge and allows the ease of feather sticking and used for a draw knife. Used it for fire making a couple times for wood processing and out performs my other hatchet. Saw needs some TLC on the file but, that'll come later.
  4. Yesterday
  5. Not sure anyone is checking this thread any longer, but it was helpful for me in my search for a press, and I am hoping to pay it forward. I was fortunate enough to happen upon a 2 year old Coal Iron 12T press with minimal use for a price I couldn't say no to (even after reading about its limitations, considerations, etc.). The information provided here, an in other forums, was extremely helpful in assisting me to get the most out of the press. I'm going to pause right here and add my personal disclaimer that none of this is intended as a professional recommendation, this is simply a means to share what I have learned and what actions I've taken. If anyone would like to modify their press, you do so at your own risk! I am an engineer by training and profession, so I ran through some steel calculations and satisfied myself that the press frame would support the forces exerted by a 4" cylinder. As well, I had a brief chat with someone on the Coal Iron site and although they would never endorse any modifications to the as-delivered press, they did confirm what the press was designed to perform to. I found a 4" dia x 6" stroke cylinder designed to operate at 3,000-psi that is a bit shorter than the OEM cylinder that came with the press. I'll have to measure the total clear depth between flat dies, but it is sufficient for what I need for now. One thing to consider when making changes to the cylinder, is not just the tonnage it is capable of delivering, but the pressure (psi) it delivers to your work piece. This is a function of the operational tonnage of the press, and the size of the piece in contact with the die. As Ted notes above, adding the larger cylinder makes the relatively small default dies work too well. In fact, I am going to be making my own dies from now on that are square and built off 5" square x 1" thick steel so that I can turn them 90-degrees. They will have an effective working area of ~3" x 3", although I don't intend to use the entire area because then we'd be right back to the effective pressure of the smaller cylinder. However, with a 1.5" or 2" wide billet, the 3" depth (front to back) of a square die works well and removes the incidence of those sharp indentations reported in posts above. It's all about balancing the total pressure one can apply, over the area you want to apply it. The action of the press slowed a bit by having to move more fluid in to and out of the larger cylinder, but frankly, I found the thing a bit too fast with the OEM cylinder (I use the foot pedal that came with the press I purchased used). As for drawing, I find it much more efficient to use my 50-lb Little Giant. If you don't have a power hammer, don't worry, this press with the cylinder mod will do that, no problem. The fast acting hammers just do it quicker and in fewer heats. I sincerely hope this helps someone out there.
  6. Yeah it tends to crumble a bit. That's only if you don't melt it first..... It can be cold forged, but it's less work to just cold bend it.
  7. This thread is such an epic. If this was 1000 years ago, it would make good fodder for a saga. The Saga of Aidensmith.
  8. Thank you for that most gracious compliment. It really means a lot to me that I have had a positive influence on another maker. This came out really well and the filework on the frame is a wonderful addition to this piece. I have played with the split frame a couple of times, and watching this on social media has reignited the urge to do more of it. It's just so difficult to get both sides alligned perfectly, I have always considered it beyond my ability. I guess it's time to practice more. I have a couple of questions about that Hamon: Did you clay the blade before quenching? How hot did you quench?
  9. Stressed at work and life got in the way again, at least made a start to the wiring of the new VFD
  10. Last week
  11. If I find a wood that needs to be stabilized, no matter how pretty it looks, I look for another wood. An exception to that might a nice piece of burl wood. I share Geoff's opinion of Osage Orange (the North American variety). It's not exactly fancy and it's not exactly plain but it oxidizes to a russet brown with a deep luster. That wood has been used for fence posts that stood up for decades. Doug
  12. I had an 86# block of H-13 that was my best anvil until someone cleaned me out of almost all of my tools. I had a leg vice that would hold my hardy tools, it was just a little high. So you don't need a classical anvil to do your work on. Anyway, I'm glad it's working out for you. Doug
  13. The bolsters are curved with a 2 inch radius. I think that is what you are seeing.
  14. Both are top notch but the pattern on the first blade is outstanding. Doug
  15. 1. Jaron Martindale 2. Bob Ouellette 3. Aiden Carley-Clopton 4. Alan Longmire 5. Geoff Keyes 6. Conan Dunlap 7. Jeremy Blohm
  16. I was looking at the anvil today while trying to get some things to finish the kitchen so I can get back to forging again. I only have a anvil made from rail. I don't have a Hardy hole or a true point on the horn. So for me it think it may have been upgrade; but, was sorely displeased at its size. I do like the new swivel vise that harbor freight produced under Doyle.
  17. Thank you for all the responses from your experiences. All the knives you have showed look beautiful. I live in TN and just enjoy the process of imagining pattern and making it. I enjoy using the base materials to keep costs down in creation. I've watched many videos on stabilized wood and pretty sure I canake it. But not sure at this point in my knife making it would warrant me spending the time or money. I did a bunch of research and found for me this far a recipe of wax, boiled linseed oil and cut with a thinning agent. I don't remember the recipe cause I made a quart of it. Got it from the University of Wisconsin agriculture department. I can find it if you're interested. I have just started using liners; but so far I have only used brass or copper. So far with natural wood they hold up fine. I fully expected that the natural wood would separate because of the moisture/temperature rate differences. This one I used a square and round brass pin with natural cherry wood. I also check through my knives and reapply when necessary. What I read is everyday for a week and once a week for a month or so then as necessary.
  18. Very nice in every way. Is that a shadow, or have you contoured the bolster back into the handle a bit?
  19. Made some progress today. Note to self, trying to forge brass is a bad idea. Geoff
  20. A couple 7 layer blades I forged with @ChrisBriggs. Configured in the following. WI-1095-WI-1095-WI-1095-WI WI: wrought iron.
  21. Made it through heat treatment! This material likes a fast quench and I didn’t want to buy 10 gallons of oil, so I used water with a touch of dish soap. Tempering was done using the forge. by watching the oxide colors.
  22. 1080 / 15N20 crushed W's ,one eyed and the other stretched with Maple handles and and stainless fittings.
  23. >Oh, and I'd like to see that anvil without the big open space underneath. More mass under the sweet spot is always good. Yup - I don't understand why anyone would want it to be thin there - that seems the most important place to have mass.
  24. Thank you very much for posting! Beautiful leaf! In Europe it's a hell of a mess at the moment - first there was an insane fad for scrapping anvils, then we blew up our steel making industry leaving us technologically incapable of producing anything more difficult than potatoes, then Forged in Fire with its high-on-drama low-on-metallurgy approach kicked off demand for anvils, finally our energy insecurity and corrupt politicians funded and appeased Putin resulting in war and now we've got an anvil shortage with used anvils reaching very high prices and me walloping out knives on a chunk of old railway line. Would definitely be interested if any of these Harbour Freight anvils make it over to Europe! Having the Hardy Hole in the right place is definitely looks like an advantage! (The term "acciaio" is just Italian for "steel" - I'm not sure why Vevo chose that for their anvils - guessing that they may have just copied it from an old Italian-made anvil - because it's a word not a trade name I don't think they'd be able to register it as a trademark which is a disadvantage.)
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