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    Howard County, Maryland
  1. I took that class this past November. I really enjoyed it. The instructors (Walter, Dave, and Bucky) were able to find that nice balance of letting you do the work yourself and knowing when to step in and do some hammering for you (before you made a complete mess). I left the class with a mostly finished knife (still need to do some polish on the blade and treat the wood handle) that I was really proud of. My only criticism is that they tried to squeeze too many people into the shop. There's plenty of room to forge but when you move into the finishing stages things got really bottlenec
  2. Mete, thanks for the information on the fencing blades. Just more evidence that an old fencing blade ought to be retired rather than used as a blade for beginners (which is often done in clubs). You're absolutely right about the fault of the injury belonging to the fencer. In our case the guy was fairly new and was falling back on his football instincts and charging in. When the blade snapped he didn't have enough control to stop his momentum and his oppoenent (also new) just went headlong into him. The snapped blade pierced his shoulder cleanly, entering about 3 inches. It was a good
  3. That's very interesting, B. I'd love to see pics of those handmade foils if you still have them lying around. Thank you for the detailed description of them.
  4. Yes, I agree, using a handmade fencing blade in a fencing bout would be asking for trouble. I am more curious about the doing-of-the-thing, than the pratical use of the finished product. When I fenced in college we had a blade snap during a bout and the momentum of the football player who was wielding the broken blade carried the stub right through the shoulder of his opponent. That industrial blade didn't snap cleanly but had a very nasty point on the end of the broken piece. It wasn't a top of the line, FIE quality blade, but nonetheless, a dangerous object when it failed under use
  5. Has anyone here ever tried to forge a modern fencing blade (foil, epee, or sabre)? I ask because I am curious how you would go about getting the proper properties of the blades: foil: very thin blade, lots of spring, should be able to be bent in a "U" shape and snap back to perfectly straight epee: thicker than foil, much less spring/flex to the blade but should still be able to be bent to at least a 45 degree angle out near the end of the blade and still snap back to straight sabre: thickness between foil and epee, very "whippy" near the tip but stiffer at the base Clearly it
  6. I'm not that well versed in early Celtic history, but I have read pieces of several of the surviving Roman accounts of their interactions with the "barbarian" peoples to their north. Based on that reading, I'd say that looking to primary texts for descriptions of celtic weaponry isn't going to yield much useful info. The Romans tended to either speak in very general terms, very exaggerated terms, or both. As for archaeological texts, I would guess that looking for books is also not going to yield many results. Most of the research in that field is put into print in the form of journal a
  7. I guess I'll jump in and post something about myself, even though I don't post very regularly. I grew up in a very small town in Northern New York, up in the Adirondack Mountains. I grew up, not really realizing it at the time, having a very "outdoorsy" childhood--camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, chopping wood, etc. I left there after high school and went into the Air Force, going to the Air Force Academy in Colorado. I left there after 2 years since my vision wouldn't allow me to be the one thing I was there to be...a pilot. So I transferred to Syracuse University, where I met my wi
  8. Oh, I agree with you, but there are, however, philosophical camps that would come up with the opposite answers. For me, I think the steel becomes a knife once it is sharp and can perform the action that it is intended to do--cut stuff. A handle is superfluous to this activity as a tang can be a handle, in a pinch (albeit an uncomfortable handle). You might ask, "from this point of view, does a dull knife cease being a knife?" I would say that, yes, it does cease being a knife if it can no longer cut things; of course, we will still call it a knife because that is simpler than sayin
  9. So, if a knife or sword is defined by its purpose, then does a well-made, sharp knife/sword that just sits on a shelf as decoration still qualify as a knife/sword? Does it not become a knife/sword until it is used for its intended purpose? Then, if it is the use to which an object is put that defines it, does a sharp piece of stone that is randomly picked up and used to slice open a rabbit become a knife? Or is it just a sharp stone being used as a tool? Likewise, if a knife/sword was once used for its intended purpose and is then put on a shelf as decoration, does it cease being a knif
  10. Wasn't there a news story a few months ago about a German woman who burned down her garage while trying to kill spiders with a homemade flamethrower fashioned out of a hairspray can and a lighter? That would be ironic....blacksmith shop burns to ground, not from forging but from insect removal.
  11. Let me play Devil's Advocate for a moment. In cases like demos or classes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of attention spent." If you're very concerned about legal action against you for accidents happening at your events, then you should go above and beyond to make sure your work/demo space is as accident-proof as possible. Requiring safety glasses, aprons, gloves, cotton clothing, and steel-toed shoes is not, perhaps, enough. Take a long hard look at your work space. Is there anything you can do to make it safer? Are there any trouble spots where an accident is just wait
  12. Great work, Robert. I especially like the contrast between the clean, polished finish of the blade and the darker, rougher metal of the handle...it really captures the diverse characteristics of the steel. Nicely done.
  13. Thanks for the information, Randall. I was aware of the process of stabilizing wood but I've never worked with stabilized wood nor handled a knife whose handle was made with stabilized wood, so I was really unsure how to treat it while working with it or any benefits using it might have. For my Black Walnut handle I think I'll try the linseed oil/mineral spirits/beeswax combo. Thanks again.
  14. Thanks for the response, Randal. So the stabilizer is enough of a sealant for long-term wear and tear on the handle? What sort of finish does that mix of natural materials give after you finish it? Is it slightly tacky in the hand after you've handled the knife for a while?
  15. I'm curious what products people prefer to use on their wood handles and why. I've seen all sorts of things suggested...linseed oil, various wood finishing chemicals, etc. I'm also curious about finishing a stabilized wood handle versus a non-stabilized (would that be the right term?), just dried hardwood handle. I have two knives waiting for me to finish them: one with stablized wood for the handle (to be scales that will be pinned and epoxied on) and one that is non-stabilized black walnut (threaded hidden tang secured by a pommel). Handles seems to be my stumbliing block for fi
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