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Doug Lester

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Everything posted by Doug Lester

  1. You've got to be careful dealing on Ebay. Everything listed there is the rare, a collector's item, and the best thing since canned beer and sliced rye bread...according to the sellers. Even if you prove a fraud and the seller agrees to take it back for a refund, the return shipping is on you. I got burned on a leg vise that was advertised to be complete and funtional. It turned out that it was neither; the screw was rusted into it and it was missing the mounting plate, the U-bolt that holds things together, and the spring. The seller agreed to take it back for a refund but shipping was prohibitively expensive and he wouldn't pay it so all I could do is let him take the negative hit. That anvil looks like it might cost more than the purchase price to ship. To be on the safe side, I'd pass on it. It seems like a lot of others have passed on it already. I can hear my dear mother saying right now, "if it sounds like it's too good to be true it probably isn't". Doug Lester
  2. It's an iffy proposition. It looks like it could be a good anvil. You would probably have to reface it with a belt sander. One thing to remember is that you will have to pay the seller to deliver it to a shipping company and then probably pay the shipping company to pallitize it. The freight charges are going to be on you so I'd get some idea of what it would be before bidding. If it is a good anvil, or even an exceptable anvil, that is a very good price for something that heavy. As a matter of fact, that is a fantastic price for it not to have been snapped up already. I would also ask the seller, by the way, why he feels that the face may need to be rehardened. It may have been damaged in a fire or had a torch applied to it and softened. If you stick to an anvil under 120lbs, Fed Ex and DHL will handle it. If you want a heavier anvil, remember that all the common carier will do is deliver it. You will have to be able to do the unloading. Doug Lester
  3. Tim, here's another mistake in your order. You want to do the final polishing and sharpening before you assemble the handle. The reason is that if you put it all together and you find that the temper on the edge is not right, that it will bend or chip or dull quickly, then you have to take the handle appart, possibly destroying the handle material, to re-heat treat. Plus you will have to polish out any fire scale that forms on the steel during the process. May I recommend to the two books: "The $50 Knifeshop" and "The Wonder of Knife Making" both by Wayne Goddard. In my opinion these are be best books out there for primers for the novice knifemaker wether by forging or stock removal. Doug Lester
  4. Cast steel and cast iron are two different things. Cast steel is steel that has been cast into it's rough shape. Cast iron is an iron carbon alloy with a carbon content a little above 2%; I don't have the specific information at hand. Because of it's carbon content, it is extreamly brittle and must be cast. It will break apart if you try to forge it. There is nothing that would keep a person from melting a bunch of scrap steel to get a desired carbon content and casting an anvil out of it except for the magnitude of the project. They would have to build a sizable foundry to cast an item as large as an anvil and even a relatively small anvil would be beyond the ability of a person to do by himself safely. Doug Lester
  5. Very nice, outstanding work. Doug Lester
  6. Michael, if you have $464 that you can invest in an anvil, go to www.oldworldanvils.com, they should have a few in that price range. I started out with a 30K anvil from them that was of good quality. Doug Lester
  7. Michael, you have made a very, very common newby mistake of calling a chunk of cast iron made in the general shape of an English style anvil an anvil. Those are known to us in the know (just don't ask how we came to know it ) as ASO's or Anvil Shaped Objects. They are great for, depending on their size, paperweights, door stops, or anchors for moring bouys. With a nice bright paint job, they can also make acceptable yard/garden orniments. Do not use these in place of an actual anvil, however, because cast iron is notoriously brittle due to it's high carbon content and will readily chip and break. Seriously, a good anvil is made of steel. Some say forged steel is the best but those anvils are a little hard to come by right now as they are only made by one company which I believe is in Germany. All others are of cast steel, though there is one maker who makes the lower half of the body of the anvil out of aluminum. You will have to ask someone else how the latter variety works; to me it seems like making the lower half out of aluminum to be a pointless loss of mass. (Hey, but what do I know? Most of my ex-wives would probably say not much ) You can run into some old anvils that have wrought iron bodies with steel faces( notice that I said wrought iron). I would be reluctant to buy one sight unseen. Many are all chipped out and sway backed and in too bad of shape to do anything but grind the steel plate off and see if you can find someone who can weld a new plate back on. I have heard various methods of doing this that others think might work but I have no experience in doing a repair like this, and to be honest, it sounds real expensive. Others are in fair shape and can probably be resurfaced with a belt grinder. I have seen some on Ebay that are in pristine or near pristine condition and they tend to run into big bucks because you end up compeating with collectors for them. If you can find one in reasonable condition for a reasonable price they can be a good tool and a great converstation piece. For blacksmithing in general the rule of thumb in anvil weights is the heavier the better. For knife making, I'd go to about 100-200lbs, though knives have been made on a lot smaller anvils for ages. More important than weight is the hardness. A harder anvil will be more effecient to work with than a softer anvil. You also want to have the anvil anchored well. Energy that is use bouncing the anvil around is energy that is wasted as far as forging goes. Also dodge the falling anvil is not a fun game to play. Doug Lester
  8. ...that it's much easier to spot your spelling and grammatical errors AFTER you hit the post button? Doug Lester
  9. I think what we have here is a problem with the impresice nature of language. Granted, languages are pretty uniform and convey meaning quite well, however, it varies from time and place. If I say the work "knife", which is what seax or sax translates as, the picture in my mind is probably diffenent to to picture that you form in your mind related to that word. For the most part, the picture in my mind and in your mind are close enough in detail that we can agree that both are knives. Now we introduce place and time. Four or five hundred years ago in German speaking countries we run into the grossemesser and the kriegsmesser which translate into big knife and war knife. Just about anyone now who looks at these weapons, however, would consider them to be swords but at the time they were used they were knives and different things than swords. If we could go back to the 9th or 10th century Norway we could no doubt find someone who could explain why a weapon with a 30 inch single edge blade and a sword hilt is called a seax and could also give us the lowdown on how the various sizes and styles of seax broke down linguistically but we can't do that and these fine linguistic distintions are lost to us. The result, confusion and arguements as to what bladed instruments fall under the word "seax". Doug Lester
  10. Sorry the you got burned DJ, you do have to keep your eyes open when dealing on Ebay. I bought a leg vise that was advertised as being complete and funtional. What I recieved was missing the spring, mounting plate, and the U bolt that holds everything together, plus the screw was rusted in solid. The seller adopted the attitude that it was my fault for not catching him in his lie but said he would take it back and refund the money. The problem was that the shipping price on the thing was so high that it was almost as much as the purchase price, which was all he was refunding. That said, I have gotten good deals on Ebay, one of which was a 110lb anvil of acceptable quality. I did have to finish grinding down the face of the anvil but it's a heck of a lot better than a chunk of railroad rail which I probably would have had to grind down also. Doug Lester
  11. The hot rolled 1075 that you already have sounds like it has already been hardened if it is difficult to cut with a hacksaw blade. Have you tried annealing it before working with it? Also, if you know someone with a heat treating oven you can try to spheriodize it yourself. Try holding at 1300 degree for one hour and let it cool in the oven. Doug Lester
  12. Abusolutely awsome!! The carving on the knife sheath and handle are real eye poppers. I think that the sketches of the chess pieces are great too. Doug Lester
  13. Good looking work. However, (don't ya jus hate "however's") most of the gladii that I have seen pictures of both then handle and the pommel piece are rounder. The rest of it looks pretty much right on for one of the earlier forms of the Roman sword. Doug Lester
  14. When you read about someone twice dragging a big chunk of wrought iron out of the woods for two miles and you think (?) "dang, I need to check out the woods around here" Doug Lester
  15. Doug Lester


    If you don't mind ordering over the web, I'd order from Admiral Steel. They are in the Chicago area. I believe that they carry it in both hot and cold rolled on their knife blade steel page. They have reasonable prices and shipping rates and their service is pretty good. Doug Lester
  16. I use a kiln for heat treating. I have the kind that is build up of square "rings" of insulating block which allow me to expand it. Bring the kiln up to heat and then insert to blade and let it return to heat and give the blade a few minutes to heat all the way through. If you don't have a controller that will hold a constant temperature and you want to do something that requires holding the steel at a certain temperature for a long period of time you will have to stay with the unit and monitor it. I have used mine to spherodize the blades for filing so I had to set with it for one hour so it's doable. For a anti-scale coating, try making a paste of boric acid in rubbing alcohol and coating the blade with it, then burn the alcohol off. I've tried it one time with fair success and may need to work on the technique a little. Wash it off with water after the blade cools. The boric acid is good up to 1600 degrees. Doug Lester
  17. I'd make a long charcoal forge in a trench or a trough. This is probably the least expensive option but you could also make a long gas forge with multiple burners or build your own electric furnice. I made one of the latter out of a small kiln but I have $200+ invested in it and counting. Make a tweyer out of a piece of black pipe a little longer than the sword that you'll be making by drilling approximantly 3/8" holes about 1" apart down the length. Line whatever structure that you make with kitty litter, the plain clay type, with the tweyer in the bottom. It should have enough depth so that you can have a good 4" of burning charcoal between the tweyer and the piece that you want to harden. Let the clay dry for a couple of days and the cure it by building a fire in it down the lenght to bake the clay; it should actually vitrify into a kind of ceramic. You will have to do that with an air supply hooked up to it to get the temp up high enough to do that. Build an even fire in the forge so that the steel is heated to a pretty much even temp. Everything that you want to hardened will have to be brought up to non-magnetic. You will also have to have a quench tank that will hold probably at least 4-5 gallons of oil, brine solution, or water. Oil would probably be the best to use, depending on the steel, it might be required. You could try something like paint cans epoxied or soldered together. Pre-heating the quenchant is as easy as putting a piece of hot scrap steel into it. Don't guess at the temp, measure it. A candy thermometer can do this. If your stove is not big enough to take the blade that you make, clean the scale off to bright steel and tempure by color using a hand held torch as a heat source. Keep the flame small and centered on the blade flat. Let the heat build up slowly until the edge is the color that you want and work down the length of the blade. Buff back up to bright steel and repeat the tempering at least twice more. Three or four times more wouldn't hurt. Also change from side to side. The goal is to soften the middle of the blade more than the edges and the point. Remember when you're designing your sword that it funtions more like an ax than a knife. A convex edge will give more support to the cutting edge than a straight or a concave edge will. I know that swords were made with flat and concave bevels but I think that you'll find the the actual edge was more convex. With all that said, my advice to you is not to try to make a sword until you have made several knives. I can attest that a longe bladed knife can be something else to keep the bends and waviness out of. Forging centered double bevels is a lot harder than it looks and trying to put all of this into a sword blade lenth package is probably going to be daunting. I want to make swords too but I think that I need to learn the necessary skills making knives. One has to learn how to sit up before one can crawl, crawl before walk, walk before run, and run before flying. Those aren't my rules, they're natures. Doug Lester
  18. I've got too many designs rattling around inside my head. The last thing that I needed was to get another inserted there. Right now I'm kind of committed to working on a 'hawk. I wish that a fixed blade knife was legal to carry in this state (Virginia). Something like that would be great in some kind of a clip-on sheath or a necker sheath. I think that I'm going to have to make a notebook of ideas. Doug Lester
  19. The knife is looking good. It will be interesting to see it when you have it cleaned up. As far as bulster and handle material, I think that either will look good. You could even find a way to combine the two woods. It all depends on your artistic expression. Doug Lester
  20. This DVD is highly recommended. Tim's hammer control is not to be believed and shows just how close a knife can be forged to it's finished form. It also shows just how much can be done without having a "formal" anvil and a factory made gas forge. Even if you don't want to go 100% primative, this is a very good DVD to have in one's library to watch repeatedly. I get something out of it every time I view it. Doug Lester
  21. You also might want to take a look at the Coote grinder, especially if you can scrounge a cheap 1-2hp motor. I plan to get one, probably later than sooner because I had to have my heat pump repaired today, and even when you figure in the motor that I had to buy separately, the 10" wheel, and the ceramic platen liner it's still going to come in at under $700 even including the shipping across the US. Now I know that runs more than the Grizzly but I think that you're getting more machine too. That said, I have met a knifesmith who puts out outstanding work and earned his journeyman's stamp with two Grissleys.
  22. A better way to anneal is to bring it up to non-magnetic for a couple of minutes and then bury it in wood ash or vermiculite to let it cool down slowly. You don't want to soak steel for long periods of time at high heat because this could result in grain growth which would result in a brittle steel that you'll have to correct later. I don't know if you have done much reading on knife making but having a book or two that covers the basics can be a big help in planning your projects. Either one of Wayne Goddard's books are real good and the money that you invest in reference material now can save more money, and a whole lot of headaches, later. Doug Lester
  23. This is real close to what I was wanting to post about. In looking for sources of ferric chloride I ran into a post that mentioned that there was a disposal problem with it which is probably why it's off the shelves at Radio Shack. Does anyone else have some input on this issue. Also has anyone use dilute nitric acid as an etchant? I know that it can be had at etching supply outlets. Doug Lester
  24. All those question marks is exactly why I don't like salvaged steel. If it is hard, try grinding it and see what kind of sparks it throws. If it throws a bunch of fine bright sparks it's probably ok for a blade. Or you can heat it to non-magnetic and quench it and see if it will shatter (just use a corner or better yet just cut off a small section). If it is hard enough to make a blade you will have to anneal it before working with it, especially if you are doing stock removal. I would quench in oil and temper starting at about 350-375 degrees and test the edge. If it tends to chip, take the chips out with the sharpening stone and re-temper at about 50 degrees higher and test again. If the edge takes a set, re-harden and temper again at a lower temperature. Doug Lester
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