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Howard Clark

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  1. I would suggest that the question is "can I afford to throw the salt away, and possible damage the furnace too"? And not, that you cannot afford the stainless steel. Yes, mild steel pipe will function in application as a high temperature salt pot, but only briefly in terms of time at operating temperature. I know the stainless is expensive, but sao is the time to build the rig. It will get frustrating quickly if you have to replace the pipe that often. I have not ever used "homemade salts" so I cannot answer that part of the last question. It is not a question of wealth so much as a question of how much of your time are you willing to spend building stuff that is disposable ? The stainless steel tubes are also consumables, to be sure, but the lifespan is many, many times that of carbon steel pipe in this application (at least 316L does). And it is not the salt that does in the tubes, but rather the scaling of the pipe on the outside from the exposure to air at temp, or in the case of a gas fired rig, the flame atmosphere. Also it may end up cutting the pipe at the liquid line on the inside for all the same reasons, oxidation at temp., but also accelerated by the salt at that location. I strongly suggest that if you do use steel pipe that is not 316L that you keep at least one spare on hand at all times, and two wouldn't be a bad idea. Good luck
  2. What were the quantities of other elements in it, Tim ? Carbon and nickel are both good, but not the whole story either.
  3. [dunno] It depends on whether you ask a polisher, a collector, or a metallurgist. ::
  4. There are hundreds of tons of coal under the farm I own, but I would not use it for forge fuel unless there was NO other choice. The Iowa coal industry went dead in the 1930's for the most part, for a variety of reasons (mostly economic). A big problem today (in addition to the economics of the thing) is that Iowa coal is about 6-8% S, and definitely NOT what you want for forge fuel. I do like your attitude about things Tai, most of the time anyway ::
  5. The fracture grain appearance between pearlite (soft in the back) and the martensite (hard along the edge) is never the same. The two different microstructures fracture differently, and it is evident on inspection that this is so. On a differentially hardened piece, the fracture grain will always be different in the different structures. It sounds to me like the hardening jumped well above the clay on your 1050 blade, and the small bit near the mune where the appearance changes is the only pearlite there, the way it sounds. Hard to know without pictures, and sometimes they don't even help much.
  6. Smaller anvil face and smaller hammer face means more force applied to the steel in a smaller area = more movement in the forging per hammer blow. I work both bevels, near and far at alternate times. I also turn the forgings over and try to work symmetrically. With pattern welded steel, if you do all the work from one side, an experienced eye can tell that from looking at the piece. Working long ways on the anvil is a thing done for few good reasons. For bladesmithing, a pretty small face would be fine if the anvil was solidly mounted. Randal and I have had some interesting conversations about making stake anvils, though I don't believe either of us has done anything about it yet.
  7. Kit's a decent guy ! I like him. Not a smith, but one #### of a knifemaker, and both feet on the ground too. It would be worth the trip.
  8. For extension wire to the thermocouple, speaker wire is fine, and it does not have to be large.
  9. Patience Grasshopper, it gets better. And we do all need to help educate people about the why's of hand made vs. production blades. I myself have not had the courage to examine these swords. My son (nine years young) and our family are all huge fans of the books and the movies, but being a smith, I think I will not be getting my kids any LOTR swords, 'cept the plastic light up with "real swordfight sounds" "Sting" for both the kids for Christmas. When they are ready, then wood, and if(when) after that they still desire real swords, well then we will see what happens. Kepp things in perspective. Movies are an escape, not a history lesson, and not reality. I still think they are good movies though I have not seen ROTK yet. Soon though.
  10. For swords, I make only the blade, and others with the special skills required do the rest. There are a few guys that do everything themselves, and my hat is off to them. I would rather make blades though, and leave the polishing and mounting to the guys that have developed those skills to the highest level, rather than take the blade I busted my butt to make the best I could and then half ass mount it. If I take all the time required to do it well, noone is going to want to pay for it because it took me ten times as long as the guys that are good at it, so it is better to be specialized in these crafts, I think. When I make knives as finished goods I do everything myself, and do enjoy it. In the main, I would rather beat hot steel into the shapes in my head, and focus on the smithing, which is the part I love the best. Historically, it has been done that way many places, and most times (by specialized skilled individuals each doing their part on the whole). The idea of "sole authorship" is a modern American knifemaker invention. I would credit Jim Schmidt with it's creation, but I may not be correct in that. The bottom line here is that most of us that do this kind of work seek and eventually find a niche that we fit into, or quit. The search is often very interesting. The craft has shaped me as much or more than I shape the steel.
  11. Howard Clark

    Samurai

    As a National Geographic article, I was very dissapointed in that piece. In no small part due to the sword. That is a very decadent wakizashi, and likely made for some fat merchant, and not samurai at all, based on what I know (which is granted not a whole lot, but this is not a typical wakizashi, or representative of the type in any way other than length). No doubt it appealed visually to the editor, being so busy, but it is a poor choice, IMO. I thought it was fluff, myself, but perhaps that is all the editors think we can handle. I love NG, but this piece was not up to par.
  12. Looks pretty good ! Glad the spotting problem cleared up (thought it would). You want another Honeywell controller like that one ? I have one in stock that appears to function fine, but it does not carry a load when it is all wired up, in spite of the fact that it cycles and seems to work fine, when a load is applied, the switching does not work. It would be good for parts (since they are likely to be hard to find for that equipment), or it may even be repairable with some work and a better electronics knowlege base than I have. I'll send it to you for the price of the postage. And if that's a messy shop, I'd hate to hear what folks would say about mine. ::
  13. We all know how you feel about aromas Tai. :: I think most of the problem is with the homemade blend of salt, maybe, but this has happened with new commercially blended salt as well, when it is first used, brand new. Run the salt pot at temp (get it hot, up around 1550 or 1600f) for a while, let it fume and fuss and stabilize, and leave it hot for two or three hours, and I would bet that this will go away. When you put blades in it to heat treat, make sure they are clean and dry, no foreign substances on the surface. Most important, do not draw conclusions from one experience. I do not know what causes this. I have seen it with new salt. It has always cleared up for me with a couple of hours at temp on the salt. I made fancy folders almost exclusively for four years, and each and every one was finished to 600 grit prior to heat treating, filework polished and all. This happened only once, and it was due to brand new salt. My theory was that there may be some outgassing of oxygen or something else when the salt is new. I do not have concrete proof of anything, nor a real thorough understanding of why or how this happens, but it has always gone away, in my experience. If it does not, then the salt is suspect, IMO.
  14. You can form PVC with the oven, set it at about 300F, and it is quite soft and pliable. Low temp salt works real good for this too.
  15. Indeed all these things I strive toward, whilst knowing them to be unreachable for mere mortals such as I. Only the first maker can produce perfection, though I would that all that hand wrought is not perfect either, though much of it is. Whether or not that imperfection was there in the very beginning or introduced by some corrupting influence of another who's hand interfered with the first I know not. I only know that for me it is an unattainable goal. I wish for them to look as though they came from the hand that made me, and hope that they do, and yet know full well that they cannot be such for I am imperfect and thus incapable of perfection. Grace, beauty, function, and something primal that speaks to others and brings joy into other people's lives, that is the immortality that I seek. That the work lives beyond me, and is valued not for what it represents in terms of dollars, but is kept and preserved as a record of the joy of the work it's self, for it's own sake, as an enrichment of this existence, while providing for the needs of my family at the same time. And yet they are simple pieces of steel.
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