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Louie M.

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  1. Yes, I have an extremely tolerant wife also, and love her dearly for it. Right now I don't have any new work to post, this summer has been quite crazy for me. Hope to get back a little bit in the forge this winter and maybe work on a tanto or 2. If I do I will post what is successful. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  2. Hi Ric: I think you are consulting the wrong people about your beard. To me there is only one person such a question should be presented to, being the main and important one in your life ( wife, girlfriend, love interest , main squeeze, or what ever designation you would like.) There is almost nothing more uncomfortable then being with your significant other in public when she is embarrassed with the way you are presenting yourself to the world. Her thinking you look like Bozo is usually not conducive to a pleasant relationship. I speak from experience. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  3. John: Welcome to the club. I have heard that 4 out of 5 men over the age of 50 develop some form of prostate problem if they live long enough. As luck would have it, mine started as soon as I hit 50. I am not a doctor but I do not get the connection between your prostate and the need for getting a colonoscopy. Seeings your family history it sounds like a colonoscopy is definately in order which is good. To me the prostate is a separate thing. For years I have gotten a PSA test ( done by a blood draw ) which from my knowledge is a pretty reliable test for prostate cancer. Your doctor should know about this if she hasn't already had it done for you. I have tried many prostate remedies and most failed miserably ( pun intended) or were heavy drugs which I was not happy being on. The remedy that has worked for me ( at least my urinary problems are livable now, I am against getting cut only as the ultimate last resort. Been there, done that. Another story some other time. ) is the broccoli cure. Just google "broccoli cure" and read up on it. Sounds weird but sure seemed to help me. If I can grow enough broccoli this year I may do it again to see if it does some more for me. Best of luck. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  4. Hi Ric. The clay I use is just some high fire potters clay. My wife did pottery years ago and she had a couple big bags left over and said I could use it. I also use this same clay in my mixture I put on for tempering. When I worked with the Yoshihara's they just got their clay out of the ground where they were working. When I run out of this stuff I may just do the same. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  5. Michael: Making the straw ash is easy. I just burn a pile of straw on the table next to my forge. That way it is right there to roll the billet in when I pull it out of the forge. The Japanese said only rice straw would work, but when I worked with them in California they conceded that oat straw would work too. They did contend that wheat straw was no good, but when my local farmers stopped growing oats I tried wheat straw and it works just fine. I grow grass hay for my sheep and some day I will try that too. All I can say about your grass down there is to try it and see what happens. Otherwise just find a local farmer and buy a few bales of straw from them. Mixing your billet with iron is up to you. It may make it easier forging for you. Usually I start out my billets layering on an oroshigane paddle, but recently I have tried it on an iron paddle but have yet to get the results I want, but have gotten good results done this way in the past. I just may not be folding enough times. ( Getting a little lazy in my old age) Another suggestion I have is about the handle you had burn off on your billet. I had that problem for a long time until I figured out to use an iron handle that was 1/2"-3/4" square stock. That big of mass is a little harder to burn off especially seeing that the HC steel heats up faster than the iron. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  6. Hello Michael, I have been making blades with my home made oroshigane for around 30 years now. I am not well versed in metallurgy but I would like to make a few suggestions based on my experience and observations. If what I say is not metallurgically sound anyone can be free to correct me. I never use borax to weld with unless I have a situation where a weld didn't take and looks to be a problem. Without borax necessitates welding at a very high temp ( yellow and sparking ) but the oroshigane seems to like it and welds very nicely. Using borax necessitates welding at a lot lower temp as the borax seems to go bad at high temps and you will not get a good weld. The high temp welding seems also to bring your carbon content down to where it will be right for a blade after about 8-10 folds. Welding with borax I feel you will not achieve this, and will retain a much higher carbon billet. Also I use straw ash when I do my welds.( Rice, oat or wheat straw seems to all work). Before each weld I roll the billet in straw ash, then coat it with the clay slurry, and apply more ash. The ash and clay seem to seal the billet and allow you to get to a very high temp for your weld without burning it up. I always do the first weld by hand, roll it in the straw ash and bring it up to welding heat again before going to my power hammer. As the billet is increasing in temp you may need to pull it out and roll it in the ash a few times. Rolling it in ash also stops the sparking and keeps the billet from burning. In my billets I use a lot of the cast iron that I make along with the good high carbon oroshigane. I try to put the cast in the center of the layers so it doesn't just squirt out when I weld at the high temps. Hope this has given you at least something to consider. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  7. I think anyone who has ever done any forging has been, or soon will be, nailed by the anvil horn. In my over 30 years of forging I seem to get it at least 2-3 times a year. That adds up to a whole lot of sore legs and other places. I guess if someone was beating on me that much I would tend to pay them back as many times as possible too. Inanimate objects seem to have an unusual sense of humor. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  8. Louie M.

    3 Tachi's

    For anyone that is still interested, there are more and bigger close ups of all 3 blades posted now on John De Mesa's website: TogiArts.com. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  9. Yes you are right Dan. The oroshigane-tamahagane just needs to be clean to weld. When I am ready to do a fold I heat the billet,scrape the surface, water blast it and fold in the same heat. The traditional steel is different from any modern day stuff. Clean, relatively air tight fold, high heat and it will weld great. Rolling the billet in straw ash as you are heating it for welding helps keep the metal from burning away as this steel welds best at a sparking temp.( I am sure you can tell that from the numerous videos of smiths forging, noting all the sparks flying during a weld). Also it is critical not to get the billet too hot as it will harm the integrity of the steel and this will show up in the final blade. In the past I have noticed signs if it on old Japanese blades which at the time I never realized what had happened until I saw it in my work. ( Cracks in the final forging ). My charcoal cutting is not precise to an exact inch in size. Bigger or smaller, no big deal. I cut my charcoal on a table and push if off into a box with a screen bottom with 1/2" squares. What doesn't go through is forging charcoal. Below that box is another box with a screen bottom with 1/4" squares. What doesn't go through that is hardening charcoal. What goes through the second box is spread on the garden. You are really doing a good job on building a traditional Kaji-ba. Looks great. I could never work from a hole in the ground so mine is westernized, built 3' off the ground standing up with a Nazel 2B behind me. I can sense your desire for precision and am wondering if maybe your bellows are too hard to push because of too close tolerances of your ram making the sheep skin too tight. My 30 year old bellows leaks air all over the place but still pushes enough to burn up steel, and you don't need any more than that. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  10. Hi Dan: I have been using the clay and straw ash method for welding with my oroshigane ever since I have been doing this work. The only time I use borax is if I have a difficult open that didn't weld up traditionally or if I am doing work with modern day steels. With modern day steels I use a coke forge for welding and forging but usually temper in my Japanese forge with charcoal. I don't think the clay and straw ash would effect the weld as it is only put on the outside surface and not on the welding surfaces. When I worked with the Yoshihara's they wanted their forging charcoal cut to about an inch in size and their tempering charcoal was 1/4 inch and up. I have been using these sizes since the day one and it has worked fine for me. I make my own pine charcoal in 55 gal drums. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  11. Louie M.

    3 Tachi's

    After having my digital camera for about 3 years now I am finally STARTING to learn how to use it. I took some close ups today and I think they turned out at least passable. ( Took the whole day though). I did not take any of the soshu style tachi because there are already some very nice pics of it on John De Mesa's website: TogiArts.com. You can see them there. I have included a full length pic of the heian period tachi to show better its shape, which is pretty wild. I didn't mention before but all the blades were made with my oroshigane. Also I will post the pics the same size as not being very computer literate I am not sure how to make them larger to be right for the forum. The first 4 are of the heian tachi and the last 3 are of the early kamakura tachi. Louie ( Yasutomo ) .
  12. Louie M.

    3 Tachi's

    It is not very often that I have had 3 long blades available at the same time ( I think I can thank the economy for that ). I thought it would be neat to photograph them all together and share them with you. Please pardon my inability as a photographer as the pics are not very good. I enjoy trying to do period style pieces ( in my own interpretation). The top blade is my impression of a late kamakura period , soshu school tachi 29 1/8" long. The middle blade is my impression of a heian period tachi 31 3/16" long. The bottom blade is my impression of a early kamakura period tachi 29 3/4" long. If I ever get able to take better pics I will post more some other time. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  13. I would like to say that your bellows looks quite fantastic and very expertly made. Very impressive. I would like to make a suggestion on your friction problem. I built my bellows after studying the one Yoshindo had at R.B Caldwells. On the bottom of the chamber below the piston he had a piece of glass. In mine I used just an 1/8 th inch piece of window glass. I think you might find it will help and make the piston easier to push. To seal my piston I just used a piece of long pile carpeting I had at the time.( No road kill raccoon available ) Over 25 years later it is still working great. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  14. This is just a guess. I am assuming the only markings on the anvil is what is shown in the pic. The marking looks to me like the International Harvester company logo. They made all kinds of tractors, trucks, and farm related equipment even getting into making M1 Garand's during WW 2. I don't know if they ever got into the anvil making business. Maybe some one else can shed more light on that. Also it could be possible ( guessing again) that it might have been used in one of their shops and they just put an ownership tag on it. Louie ( Yasutomo )
  15. Nice photos. Brings back a lot of memories. I spent a lot of time visiting the Cotswold forge as I was friends with one of the smiths who used to work there. Golly.... that was 25-30 years ago. Greenfield village was where I learned my blacksmithing at. I took 3 of their craft classes, one basic blacksmithing and 2 advanced classes. That got me started on my career of sword making. The classes weren't at this forge, they were at what they called the maintenance forge which was a bigger building more in the middle of the village. They did all the repairing and horse shoeing there. It has been well over 20 years since I have been there so I don't know if that building is still there or not. I know they have done a lot of changing since my time. Thanks for posting the pics. Louie ( Yasutomo )
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