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Doug Lester

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Everything posted by Doug Lester

  1. Things are better today, I re-heat treated my blades yesterday and should be able to hit them with the grinder tomorrow with some fine belts. Found out that a partial bundle block is one of those things that you only need worry about if you are having symptoms. I ain't haven' no symptoms so I guess that I won't worry about it until I do. Did sqat today (I'm on vacation this week) and enjoyed every minute of it. So what can I say...life happens, then it doesn't. Gee's folks, almost forgot to say thanks. Doug Lester
  2. For clay, try the cheapest clay kitty litter at the grocery store. It will be in a bag. It can be mixed with a little sand or vermiculite. I think Tim Lively used 2 parts clay to one part sand and a good handfull of wood ash. Chopped up hay can be used to kind of help it stay together. Just mix it kind of thick and lay it out where you want it. Give it a couple of days to dry and build a small fire in it for a while to cook out the water. With a large fire, as you would build for forging, the clay will tend to vitrify into a ceramic. However, it will probably not be sturdy enough for coal or coke but it should be fine for wood or charcoal. You might visit Tim Lively's site and see what info he has there on home made refractory. Doug Lester
  3. Go to Congress Tools and take a look at their oil stones. I went with a suggestion from someone else that I use the semi-hard stones for polishing. Get a sellection of grits and I'd suggest going up to around 400 grit before hardening. I have used water stones but didn't care for them particularly and they're consliderably more expensive than oil stones. The courser water stones don't seem to last all that long but, on the other hand they are the cheapest. Water stone grits go much higher that oil stone grits with the very fine grits going $100-$200 each with some manufactures. Some swear by water stones but I don't find them worth what you have to lay out for them. You can obtain a good selection of oil stones for what you can pay for one fine grit water stone. One caution, if you do get water stones never ever even think of putting oil on them or they will be ruined. Some of the wood working sites have water stones as they are popular for sharpening chisles and plane blades. Norton makes synthetic water stones and natural stone come from Japan and Europe though they have makers of synthetic stone too. An alternative to water stones is lapping film from 3M. It comes in 8X10" sheets of various grits. They are used wet and need to be applied to a hard flat surface. They can be obtained with a self-adhesive backing. The manufacturer suggests a sheet of glass for a backing but I got a polished stone tile from Lowes that worked great. I'm not crazy about them as they wear out rather rapidly like sandpaper but they aren't all that expensive either. Sandpaper is another alternative to stones. Congress Tools have sanding sticks that have rolls of various grit sanding strips contained in them. You just keep advancing the roll as the paper wears out. I have also seen a thread where various grits of sandpaper is use to polish a blade on a palm sander. As I recall, the person who posted replaced or reinforced the plate on the palm sander with a sheat of Micarta. The above systems are for polishing only. There are a number of honing systems and most of them are good. I've used several but I haven't found any that are really any better to me than a selection of a course, medium, and fine stone. The best one for you will be the one that you will find that you use best. I'm not trying to be funny but these are the kinds of tools that are very individual. I have a Coote grinder that I find very useful but I'm still not sure that I am going to give up stones entirely. I'll just have to see what works out for me. The question of power tools and hand tools is not an either/or issue, it's what gives you the results that you want. (Of course what you can afford figures in there somewhere to.) Doug Lester
  4. Phoning Ellis is probably not the best way to get ahold of him. If you can't place your orders from him from his web site the next best thing is to e-mail him. Please do turn your font size down; really large font is the equivalent of shouting into the phone. Doug Lester
  5. Ok, finally found my copy of "The Complete Bladesmith" by Jim Hrisoulas and I can see where the confusion arises from, including mine. There are several illustrations of where the softer low carbon steel or iron is wrapped around the high carbon steel. However, when you look at the edge it is the high carbon steel that is one the surface, indeed it is the only metal present. On page 156 figure 148 there is an illustration of steel welded around an iron core. So Matt's assertion that the iron or low carbon steel is wrapped around the high carbon steel for support is correct but so is my assertion that the high carbon steel is wrapped around the iron or low carbon steel. It's just a matter of technique. Reguardless of the technique, however, the high carbon steel must be presented at the edge. Doug Lester
  6. I first started out the day with my new family doctor informing me that I might be developing a cardiac condition, but then again maybe not (so don't worry about it). The EKG just had a computer reading and still needs to be read by a cardiologist so it could then come back as just that, don't worry about it. I wish that she hadn't said anything about it intil the final reading came back. I came home and decided to straighten out the tang on one knife that I'd already hardened and tempored so I just shrugged and accepted that I woul have to repeat the heat treating. I tried to light my forge but neither of the boxes of matches that I had would light; good thing that I'm only about 5 minutes from the store. I finally got the forge going and hardened the two blades that I was working on. (BTW that anti-scale powder that Midwest Knifemakers Supply really does work) and popped them into my oven which I had just regulated to 400 degrees. Two hours later when I went to take them out the oven was at over 500 degrees and the dial was still at 350 degrees like it was when I put the blades in. I guess that puts me back to square one. Being that this townhouse doesn't belong to me anymore, I don't know if I want to fix the oven for sake of the next 6-8 months that I'm going to be staying here. Tempering blades is just about the only thing that I use it for. I feel like climbing into bed, pulling the sheets up over my head and sticking my thumb in my mouth. Wish I still had my stuffed bunny. Thanks for letting me vent. Doug Lester
  7. The purpose of the Japanese bladesmiths' art was not to see how many layers of steel could be built up but to make a superior sword out of some pretty lousy steel. Tamahagane came out of the oven as this massive amalgamation of iron, steel, and slag that varied from wrought iron, through steel with various carbon levels, to cast iron. This mass was broken up and sorted by appearance by carbon content which is especially remarkable because these people had no idea what carbon was. I'm not getting down on the Japanese because iron/steel workers in the West didn't know what steel was until about the mid 1700's. All they knew is if you did A you got X results, and if you did B you got Y results. They forge clumps of tamahagane flat and then welded them together to form a billet. These individual clumps were probably not individually homogenous let alone as a group. The billets had to be drawn out, folded, welded, and drawn out again repeatedly to guarantee a homogenous mixture of carbon and trace elements thoughout the billet. The low carbon steel was welded into or onto the high carbon steel billet not to blend toughness with hardness and wear resistance as much as it was to stretch out the supply of good steel and it was found that it worked but they had not the slightest clue as to why. Modern steel are of more a consistant quality and the constituents of it are added to give a certain physical caracteristic. Modern steel has characteristics and capabilities that the old swordsmiths in Japan or Europe could only dream of. As good as some of these swords were I doubt that the best could stand up to swords made of properly sellected and handled modern steels. Matt, you might want to go back and review the illustrations in Jim Hrisoulas' book on basic bladesmithing. I believe that it is the one which has the chapter on making the samuri sword. You may be mixing up what he is representing in the illustrations to be the softer inner core and the harder outer covering of the billet. I have all three of his books and I'm pretty familiar with them. Just to be fair, I'll dig through my piles of books and review the copy that I have. Doug Lester
  8. Well, if you have an anvil with a hardy hole you get yourself a hardy tool that, like the hand held tool, is called a hot cut tool. You place the red hot steel over the edge of the hardy tool and strike it with a hammer. If you want to cut it all the way through with the hot cut tool I would suggest that you get a brass or copper hammer. That will save knicking your forging hammer and will save the edge on your tool. The way that I do it is to cut about half way through on the hot cut tool and then trickle some water down the cut from a cup over the slack tub. When it get kind of cool, I give the bar a whack with my hammer to break it. Remember to bring both cut ends back up to red and allow to cool normally to get rid of the martensite and the retained austinite. Doug Lester
  9. This is going to have to be one of those "beg to differ" statements. It is the outer layer of a blade that one wants to be hard so as to take and hold an edge. If one wants to have a soft core to a blade to supply extra toughness there are better and more reliable ways of doing it than choosing a shallow hardening steel such as one of the 10XX series. At least according to some smiths. Also my personal preference would not be 1050. I'd choose something with just slightly more carbon in it, such as 1060 to 1070, for the outer layer. One of the best traditional method for making a Samuri sword with a soft middle is to wrap a high carbon steel around a low carbon steel. The outer high carbon steel gives hardness and wear resistance and the inner core supplies strength and flexability, though there is some agruement that because of carbon migration the steels will become homogenous during the process of forge welding and forging out the blade, but lets no go any farther into that now. The depth of hardening also depends on grain size (Verhoeven, pp 87-89). Courser grain size may allow through hardening at 1/4" but large grain size weakens the blade. Experimentation shows that with fine grain size the blade doesn not form with a case of martensetic steel (the hard stuff) around a core of pearlite and bainite (the softer tough forms) What forms is an edge of martensetic steel out to the thickness that it can form completely though the thickness of the steel backed by a section of bainite and pearlite from one surface through to the other. We are assuming a blade of homogenous steel in this example. All of this depends on variables of grain size, speed of quenching, carbon content, and any alloying elements present. Another way to make a sword blade is to choose a low alloy, moderate carbon content steel such as 5160 or 9260 which has a greater hardenability and will harden through the thickness of a 1/4" thick blade but will have the alloying elements that will inhibit grain growth to provide toughness in the steel. Those elements may also form carbides that are harder than the cementite. The lower carbon content will also allow the steel to be tougher by forming martensite crystals that have less stress in them because of the lower carbon content trapped in the crystals and less cementite within and around the pearlite crystals which promotes hardness and wear resistance. Welcome to the mysterious and maddening realm of steel metalurgy. Doug Lester
  10. I can't add to anything to what Matt had said about building forges. For tongs, if you aren't going to try to make your own, try www.gstongs.com. That's the site for GS Blacksmith tongs. They're custom maked and run a little less than the backsmith supply stores. I have a blade tong made by Glen and I'm very happy with it. Doug Lester
  11. It's good that you have a group of blacksmiths out there that you can work with. The outfit that we have around here rather looks down at us poor unskilled bladesmiths. The $50 Knifeshop is a great book for beginners but Jim Hrisoulas' book on basic bladesmithing is good too so if you're ever at a place where you are thinking of expanding your library, you might want to give it a look. Jim Hrisoulas has even been known to post to these boards occasionally. Doug Lester
  12. My understanding is that the ceramic fiber matting doesn't get reallybad for you until it is heated over 1600 degrees. After that, you really don't want those fibers introduce into your lungs. This is something to remember if you're repairing a used forge that is lined with it. Wear a well fitting respirator. It's a lot cheaper than try to treat lung cancer and a lot less inconvienant that trailing an oxygen canester along behind you. Doug Lester
  13. A single cut bastard file such as you have is what you need to draw filing a blade. Go online and get yourself a smooth cut mechanics file in single cut. It has finer teeth and will leave a smoother surface. Do you major filing with the bastard cut file and then dress up the surface with the smooth cut. Remember to use the file card often. A pilar file, one with no teeth on the edges is great for cutting the plunge line. I like oil stones. I get mine form Congress Tools. You will need a sellection from course through medium to fine grits. These stones are for polishing. Other people use sandpaper but you keep having to change it frequently. I've also use water stone and, to be honest, for the money I had to lay out I was totally unimpressed. As far as steel goes make sure that it has an adiquate carbon content. I'd recommend at least 0.6% for low alloy steels like 5160. In the 10XX series I'd stay above 0.7%. Many or most steel suppliers to the blacksmithing trade carry low carbon steel such as 1018 or A36. These are structural steels that most blacksmiths and welders want but they are totally useless when it comes to making knife blades. I may have it wrong but it sounds like that you are trying to learn knifemaking off what you can find on the net. Not a very good way of doing it. Try getting some books on the subject. Jim Hrisoulas has a very good book on basic knifesmithing and both of Wayne Goddard's books are great and they all can be found at Amazon.com. Doug Lester
  14. Normalizing is generally done after forging. Forging shoves the pearlite, ferrite or cementite crystals round a lot which stresses the crystaline structure. The steel is heated until it is non-magnetic which indicates that it has converted to austinite and then the "normal" forms of steel crystals are allowed to reform in a more orderly fasion relieving the stress in the steel structure. Also when these crystals form they tend to form smaller which can correct the effects of overheating. The latter is the reason for the multiple normalizations. The steel is usually annealed, brought up to non-magnetic and allowed to cool slowly in an insulator to decrease the hardness and wear resistance as much as possible. Some smiths feel that a properly normalized billet is as soft as it needs to be and skip this step. A soft billet or blade is necessary for filing with a steel file and facilitates rapid grinding with a grinder. There are different opinions as to how close one can forge and/or grind a blade to finished form prior to hardening and tempering. Many feel that bringing the edge too close to finished dimentions is asking for the blade to come out of the quenchant looking like a potato chip but there are other things to consider. If you are using files and stones to finish the blade you will be doing yourself a favor to bring the blade fairly close to the finished state before hardening and tempering. Files will not work well with hardened steel even after tempering which will leave a lot of work to be done with stones. Most with belt grinders will take the blade to around 220 grit and then harden the blade. If you are working with files and stones you will probably want to go up to about 400 grit befor hardening. After hardening and tempering, I'd soak the blade over night in white venigar and scrub it with a brush or very fine steel wool to bust off the fire scale and then go back to the 400 grit and progress from there. One other thing that you will want to do between hardening and tempering, especially since you're forging a rail road spike, is to see if the blade will resist a file. If the file bites into the blade the steel is too soft and will not hold an edge. If the file does bite into the blade you might want to bring the blade back up to non-magnetic and try rehardening in warm water. The trouble with rail road spike is that they are marginal for making knife blades at best. The high carbon spikes are at best around 35 points of carbon which is just about the absolute minimum for hardening. Another thing about rail road spikes is that they are designed to be extremely tough by adding copper to the alloy which, if you refere back to my last post is the opposite of hard and wear resistant. If after quenching you find that the file just barely bites into the blade you might want to consider not tempering the blade at all. It would probably be at a minimal hardness for a blade and you won't want to soften it any. If the file takes a good bite on the blade then I would suspect that the spike is low carbon and will never harden enough to take and edge. The best "rail road spike" blades are make from "spikes" that are first forged out of tool or spring steel and then forge into a blade. On the positive side. What you have done is showing real good work. That is a real good knife blade shape that you have forged and filed. All things considered, I think that you have a really well shaped and funtional blade style, very much like a Nesmuck. Whether or not that blade hardens for you I hope that you will try it again with a better steel. You seem to have a talent for starting out with thicker stock. You might want to google steel suppliers and get some O1 or even W1 drill rod. You could try flat-stock.com, I know that they carry O1 and W1 drill rod, Admiral Steel carries 52100 in round rod. Diehl Steel lists 1065 and 1075 under bright bar as well as 52100, click on strip steel and look down towards the bottom of the screen. They also list O1 and W1 drill rod but stay away form the others listed because they are either air quenching or are complex alloys that tend to be red hard, or both. I'd get 5/8 or 3/4 inch rod though 1/2 inch is workable for narrower bades. Keep up the good work. Doug Lester
  15. JKV, a quick way to increase the effective weight of your anvil is to build up steel plates underneath it and then securing the anvil down on top of it so that it can't move. Doug Lester
  16. Barrett, try reading Oakeshott's "The Archiology of Weapons". You'll find that in Europe the production of fine sword blades was concentrated in just a few areas. A few books on the Vikings, which is a term most properly applied to the Norse raiders, would be nice too. They weren't just a bunch of dirty savages running around in animal skins. They had a fine and compex culture and they're the people whom we get the idea of the Saturday night bath from, which put them way up on the hygenic level for people of their time. Our ideas of democratic government come as much from them as it does from the Greeks and the Romans. Yes, they were brutal wariors. This was a time when all war was brutal and the practice of killing every man, woman, and child of the enemy that you could lay hands on was pretty universally practiced. As Adlai said, having the press on your side helps. If Christians slaughtered pagans and infidels, it was to the glory of God; if Christians took it in the head from pagans, it was Satan's work. The Vikings were no more brutal than anyone else, they may have just been a little more industrious at it. However, their main effect at this time is that they were intrumental at keeping commerce going in Europe. When I started out with this affliction, excuse me, hobby of knife making I was told that a forge is a hole in the ground with an air supply to it and a fire burning in it. Everything else was just a matter of elivation. Doug Lester
  17. Great job!! It really looks like it's ready to rumble. What is the ethnic origin of the Dha? Doug Lester
  18. I think that you are operating on some false assumptions here. One is that not every blacksmith was a bladesmith; the latter is a more specialized craft. Bladesmithing was located around sources of good iron and,as long as the iron held out, the settlement stayed where it was at which could be for hundreds of years. These people were not as mobile as you are thinking. I doubt that whole villages or settlements packed up and moved at one time very often. Some members might move on to a new settlement but there would also be those who stayed. Most swords especially were traded for and not locally made. There were some style of swords such as the longseax and the single edged swords that were usually locally made but that didn't mean that every village had a smith that could make them. A smith would only have to worry about rebuilding a forge for smelting iron if there was a source of iron available. If not, he would have to trade for iron. Other than the the blacksmith who was moving his operation would pack up his basic tools and go. When he got to where he was going to he would build a very basic forge and set up shop. As time went on he could improve his operation. Doug Lester
  19. Ellis is filling orders according to the message on his site but he could be working on it between repair projects. Have patience. Doug Lester
  20. Yes, a Lively forge is made using a galvanized tub. The home made refractory keeps the steel shell from getting hot enough to vaporize the zinc. Keeping with the same priciple you can make a side shot forge out of a galvanized steel bucket. Place notches in the sides of the bucket across from each other to allow you to keep the work well below the surface of the fire. Instead of laying the tweyere across the bottom of the bucket as you would with the elongated tub in the Lively style forge, run a piece of blackpipe through the wall of the forge to about 2" above the bottom of the fire pit. This is small enough to be stored in a shed after you empty the charcoal out of it and it cools. You don't have to drill holes in the twyere as with the Lively forge because the air will come out to the end of the pipe. In the Hoods Woods video, Tim Lively built a forge in a clay lined trench in the ground. A great solution to building a forge to heat treat long blades. I can't believe that San Luis Obispo is so upscale that plain clay litter can't be found; just look for the cheapest clay litter that in the grocery store. It should be in a bag not a plastic jug. If not, give the stuff with baking soda a try. I don't know what type of soil you have out there but even a heavy clay soil could be used mixed with sand, wood ashe, and maybe a little straw. If you have a wood burning fireplace or you have friends that have one you could save the wood ash and use it as a liner like Tai Goo does. You can shape it by dampening it slightly and patting it into place. Just remember that wet wood ash is very alkaline and can cause chemical burns. If you want to get some ideas on cheap gas forges try going to elliscustomknifeworks.com and take a look at the forge gallery. Try looking past the construction of the forges to the principles that they work by. You could probably build a blown forge out of a couple of soft insulation bricks, an old hair dryer (if the heating element is shot, more the better) and some small blackpipe from the local tool-in-a-box store. If you want to stick with the refractory in a coffee can idea, Ellis sells ramable refractory in small bags. Please people, no e-mail stating that Tai Goo has a bad reputation on this board. That's between him and Don. Doug Lester
  21. Heat treating is not a process but a group of related processes that achieve different things by manipulating the crystaline forms of iron/steel with heat. Annealing is heating the steel to non-magnetic (austinite) and then allowing it to slowly cool in an insulator, like vermiculite or wood ash, or in a programable oven. This allows for the formation of small body centered crystals of iron/steel (ferite) which is tough but relatively soft (at least as soft as iron/steel goes). In this state the iron/steel is the least abrasion resistant that it can be which facilitates shaping by filing and grinding. The steel is usually in this state to be shaped with a steel file. Normalizing is something like annealing but the cooling is allowed to occure a little faster in ambient temperature air without any insulation. This is done to reduce the stressed put in the crystaline structure of the iron/steel during forging. It can also correct grain growth that is caused by over heating the steel by allowing the crystals to reform from the "hot" form (austinite) into smaller "normal" temperature forms (ferite, pearlite, and cementite). This can require more than one cycle but too many cycles could leave the steel too soft to where it will never be wear resistant enough to take an edge. The majority of the crystals in the "normal" temperature form of steel will be pearlite which is ferite (essentially pure iron) arranged in alternating layers of with cementite (iron carbide). Between those crystals of pearlite crystal of ferite or cementite will form, which is determined by the carbon content of the steel. Below 77 points of carbon ferite will form between the crystals of pearlite and at 77 points of carbon or above cementite will form. An easy way to remember what normalization is that the process allow the iron/steel to cool normally. Hardening of steel is achieved by heating to steel to it's austinetic state and causing it to cool very rapidly trapping steel crystals in abnormal forms for it's cool phase, about 1300 degrees F. and less. This is done in a quenchant such as water, brine, or oil. These abnormal forms are retained austinite, a face centered cubic crystal as opposed to the body centered crystal of ferite which is the cool form of iron, and martensite, which is basically ferite supersaturated with carbon. Both of these crystaline forms put a lot of stress on the bar of steel and can cause it to break in a brittle fasion if struck or dropped. Sometimes even just the stress of being in these abnormal forms can cause the steel to break. To reduce the hardness and increase the toughness of the steel it must be tempered. Tempering depends on temperature and time with the temperature being the most significant in the reduction of hardness by allowing some of the carbon to escape from the martensite crystals and the retained austinite to convert to ferite and cementite. Usually the steel is tempered for more than one cycle of heating and cooling to facilitate the conversion of retained austinite which is not desirable in a knife blade. Temperature level and, to a much lesser degree, time is used to control how much carbon is allowed to escape from the martensite crystals to adjust the hardness. It's a bit of an oversimplification but hardness and toughness in steel are opposites and wear resistance usually accompanies hardness but is not the same thing as hardness. The proper hardness for knife making is usually achieved between 350-450 degrees depending on the alloy of steel used and the desired hardness of the blade. The length of cycles is usually 1-3 hours with three cycles being used to allow the retained austinite to convert to a normal form of iron. The steel is allowed to cool to room temperature between cycles. Tempering is best to be done immediately after hardening to prevent hearing the dreaded "tink" of breaking steel which is usually followed by language that the women folk would just as soon not have the children hear. This is just a gross overview of heat treating and there are various exceptions and alternate techniques that I'm not going to go into at this time. I have no intention of writing a Cliff Note on John Verhoeven's book " Steel Metalurgy for the Non-metalurgist" which is probably the best book on the metalurgy of iron/steel without having to be well grounded in college level physics to understand it. Doug Lester
  22. I'll stand by my statement on W series of steel being one step above mystery metal. The reason is that the composition of what is in them vary more than most steels, especially in carbon content, and there can be variations in the requirements for heat treating. As GEzell noted, that can worked around by buying the largest batch of the steel at a time that you can afford and it also helps to stick with one supplier. He also gave a good list of forgable steels. Stay away from the more compex alloys. They can be red hard (restists moving under the hammer) or they may be air quenching, which is one headache that beginning smiths should put off dealing with. According to Dr Jim Hrisoulas, just about any type of steel can be forged as long as you pay attention to it's charcteristics but it is best to learn to forge with simpler steels before learning to deal with the temperature control that these steels demand. Also woundn't be a bad idea to have a power hammer, or at least a lot of endurance in your hammer arm. It is also cheaper to screw up a piece of 1084 or 5160 than it is one of these more complex steels. I would highly recommend that you get some good books to read, Jim Hrisoulas has put out two books that are great. Wayne Goddard also has two books that are great for beginners but I don't think that he goes into steel selection as much as Hrisoulas. I will also pass on a bit of advice that I immediately ignored. Start small. Small blades take less time to work on and are easier to keep straight. Shorter blades are also quicker to finish with hand tools. One other thing, a mistake that you didn't learn form is a mistake wasted and don't be afraid of making mistakes, they can be your best teachers. Doug Lester
  23. Jesse, as someone else who would like to give a flypress a try, I say that it would take quite a bit of casting and machining work to make a flypress. I'm not sure of all the design specifics needed to make a funtioning press instead of a 400-500 pound paperweight. I think that the best thing to do is to save up all your pennies and to try to talk or work with someone who has used one of the presses for forging. I think that making a treddle hammer would be simple tinkering compared to making a well funtioning flypress. Doug Lester
  24. Hoo-rahhhhh!!! Doug Lester
  25. Words fail me!! Truely a sword for a clan chieftan; totally above a mere king. The forward loop guard of polished brass is the cherry on top of the sundae. Doug Lester
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