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Doug Lester

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Everything posted by Doug Lester

  1. Very nice work, Andy. Very impressive. Doug Lester
  2. Beware, one you start down the path of the bladesmith, forever control your destiny it will. I know, I've used this line reciently but who said that I was original. Doug Lester
  3. You might want to go to www.elliscustomknifeworks.com and take a look at some pictures of home made gas forges that some smiths have posted. You don't need to use pipe for the forge wall. The wall only holds the insulation and refractory in. Sheet metal rolled up and bound with wire, even though it might be more primative than you want to go, will do the same thing. Fire bricks are great for blocking the ends. The burner can be held on some sort of a frame with the nozzle inserted through a hole in the side of the wall. The forge only need to be about as long as the blade that you are going to heat treat. You can only forge abut 3-4" inches of steel at a time so you don't need any great lenght for just forging. Start with with small knives with a simple design and learn the basics. Accept that you are going to fail as much, or more, as you succeed to start with. If you don't learn from your mistakes, you waist all your effort that you have put into the blade. If you learn something from ruining a blade then you have profitted from your efforts. We all want to make great blades when we start out but you have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, and run before you can fly. Their not my rules, their natures rules. Yes, I too want to make a sword in the worst way and maybe some day I will...make a sword in the worst way. Doug Lester
  4. Don't ignore the possibility of using a charcoal forge. I built mine out of a charcoal grill. I layed a 1" diameter piece of blackpipe on the bottom, I drilled through the sides to insert the pipe, and lined it with a misture of cheap clay kitty litter, a little sand, and some straw. The heat of the fire will burn it into a ceramic. For a blower, you can use an old hair dryer, preferably with the heating coil burned out, or even a shop vac, run the hose off the exhaust. You will need a ball valve in the line to regulate the air flow. You will want about 4" of burning coals under the steel and about an inch over it. Use lump charcoal, not brickettes. Get Wayne Goddard's book, "The $50 Knifeshop", it's a great book for a Newbie and it goes into some cheap alternatives of standard tools. Goddard's "The Wonder of Knifemaking" is also highly recommended. If you want to see a good video on what little you actually need to forge, go to Ron Hood's site at WWW.survival.com and look for his special edition DVD "Primative Knifemaking". It features two of the top primative knifesmiths in the country, Tim Lively and Tia Goo. Stay away from cast iron anvils, they won't stand up to casting. They are frequently, but not affecionantly, known as ASO's on these boards, anvil shaped objects. A good bench anvil, even as light as 25lbs beats nothing. You can even use a chunk of steel set in a tub of concrete. That chunk of steel could even be the head of an old sledge hammer. As far a hammers go. A large ball pean hammer, or a mechanic's hammer in the 2-4lb range can get you started. As you learn forging you will develope an idea of what you want to work with. I do have to respectfully but strongly disagree with the advise that you cut a 6lb sledge hammer down and using it. It evidently works for Mike but it is too heavy for the adverage smith. It will tire you out too quickly and be hard to control making it more difficult to learn smithing techniques. It can also lead to painful wrists and elbows. You will need at least two tongs. I started with two wolf jaw tongs, but if I had to do it again I'd get one wolf jaw and one 1" V-bolt tong. Again this is something that you'll have to experiment with and see what works for you. Get a good selection of files. Norton Magicut files are boss when it comes to hogging off steel. You might also want to get some 2nd cut and smooth cut files. Half round files are a good shape to have and a pilar file will help cut things like the plunge line. Pilar files have teeth on the flats and the edges are smooth. A good selection of needle files are useful for filing small opening such as the tange hole in the guards. Sand paper with sanding sticks can be used to give a smooth finish to a blade. Polishing stone, the oil type, are inexpensive when you compare them to the quantity of sand paper that is required to finish a knife. Water stones are great for hand polishing from what I've read but they can run from pricey to very pricey. I've just got in some abrasive membrane from 3M and I'm going to mount them on some polished marble tile and see how they go. I'll file a report after I work on a few knives with them. An electric hand drill is very flexable. Besides drill, it can be mounted with a cutoff wheel or a polishing wheel or even a sanding drum. Dremel tools can be great in speeding things up with and I've read where smiths have used palm sanders to finish blades and handles with. Take a look at what you already have. A lot of tools found around the house can be pressed into service, at least until better tools can be afforded. I have free-associated here for a while and I'm sure others will post back to you with advise. Do a little research before you start laying out money on any tools. I read 2-3 books and watched a couple of videos before I got anything. It might save you from waisting some of your hard earned cash. Doug Lester P.S. Poor Boys is a good place to do business. I've gotten a few things from him and haven't been disappointed the first time.
  5. Be warned!! Once you start on the path of the bladesmith, forever will it control your destany. No you don't have to be crazy to be a bladesmith, but it does help. Welcome onboard. Doug Lester
  6. It's not a mixture of steel and aluminum filings that are dangerous it's iron oxide and aluminum filings, and they are theoretically dangerous. The combination is call Termite and it burns at the temperature of iron near the boiling point and supplies it's own oxygen for the reaction and is nearly impossible to put out. The thing is that it is very hard to ignite the mixture. A video on Youtube showed guys using a strip of burning magnesium to get it started; I doubt that a spark from a grinder would do the trick. That said, I doubt that I would allow any large amount of steel/iron filings and aluminum grindings to accumulate together for a long time because the steel/iron will rust (iron oxide) and, if the two metals are in about equal portions, form a pile of Thermite. After watching a video of a large flower pot full of the stuff burn it's way through a engine block, it's nothing to have laying around the house. Doug Lester
  7. Try to see if you can find one of those hand powered air pumps for inflating rafts. They look like an oversized bicycle tire pump and push air on both the up and down stroke. There should also be some plans for building a Japanese box bellows around someplace. I think even a large fireplace bellows would outperform lung power. Doug Lester
  8. Thanks for posting the info about the show. I was there last year with questions about forges. I drove 10 hours round trip just to stay for two hours. Unfortunantly, I'm scheduled to work that weekend and we're too short staffed to trade off with anyone. Maybe next year. Doug Lester
  9. An OSHA inspector would have a stroke looking at that picture. Doug Lester
  10. If I knew the answeres to such deep questions as that, I'd probably still be married...or maybe not. On second thought...na, no way . Doug Lester
  11. Well, I can't say that I ever saw anything like it cataloged in Peterson's or Oakeshott's books but I have to admit that I do like the looks of it. Seems like it would be just right for some short little feller with real hairy feet to go on an adventure with. The ruens are a nice touch. Doug Lester
  12. I'm starting to find that walking away from a project has it's advantages. It gives my brain a little time to stew over a problem that I might be having and suddenly I'm aware of the solution. It's like I was real dissatified with a dagger that I was forging, my first one, I layed it aside and fretted over it a bit and suddenly my feeble brain said "that's a Persian dagger". I took it out to the forge and changed it's profile. Then I set it down for a few days and picked it up again and I felt more satified with the design change. I feel better about it every time I pick it up. Doug Lester
  13. They list 98" bar of 3/16X1" L6 substitute for $19.20. From discussions on other threads, it's very close to what other suppliers sell as L6. Admiral originally sold this as L6 but evidently they must have had some complaints about the assay or something and found out from their supplier that it was "almost" L6. From some of the posts I've read, most people probably didn't notice any difference. I've not had any bad dealings with Admiral but they are a little quirky. I buy 9260 from them. They don't have a listing for 9260, it's burried in their listing for 5160 so you have to go look for it. As a matter of fact, their 1 1/2" 5160 that's listed on their online store is actually 9260. The 1" 9260 is listed as such. Selling to the small knife maker is not a big part of their business and I think it shows but they aren't like one supplier I e-mailed who stated that their minimum order would be $4000. At least Admiral is willing to sell in small lots. Doug Lester
  14. You might try "The Master Bladesmith" by Jim Hrisoulas. He has a chapter on spear making and he shows the yari as an example of a tanged spear head. Doug Lester P.S. That's still one outstanding knife, it doesn't matter how the bevels are forged.
  15. That is the weakness of the written word, the inflection of the voice has to be immagined. No offence was taken, just as no offence was ment. Doug Lester
  16. Take from someone who's just about old enough to be your grandfather, young health joints don't stay that way. What you are doing now will follow you into your later years where they will show up as aches and pains. You don't know how many patients I take care of say that their bum knee/ankle/back/wrist/elbow/shoulder came from the stuff they did as a "kid". Also bad habits that you form now will be all the harder to break later. Learn and use good techniques now and use them so that you won't have quite as many aches and pains as you get older. Also, as you get older, you will not heal as well or as quickly as you do now. You might want to consider dropping the weight of that hammer, very few men use anything over 4lb for a single handed hammer and fewer still use that heavy a hammer for their main hammers. I've seen your work, Mike, you probably have more tallent for making knives than I'll ever be able to develope. Don't do things now that will put you out of business by the time you're in your middle years. I immagine that you hate lectures, especially from some old dude that you don't even know. I doubt that I'd care for it when I was your age either. Sometimes I just have a hard time stop being a Corpsman. Doug Lester
  17. If anyone thinks that a symetrical double edge blade is easy to forge, give it a try some time. My first attempt just ended up with a design modification . That is an outstanding job, Chris. I hope to be able to do as well someday soon. I just have to chase my demons back into the anxiety closet and get busy. Doug Lester
  18. Everything that every body else has said! That blade is incredible and I really like the touch of rouch finish on and around the ricasso. It really makes a statement. As far as cutting yourself, I figure that I'm going to cut and/or burn myself with just about every blade I make. I look on it as sort of a baptism. (But it don't make it feel any better ) Doug Lester
  19. Ok, Mike, it looks like you do have your bases covered. I was just a little concerned because some hammers require a 2-3 foot thick concrete pad to sit on, though I did run across an add for a air powered hammer that the maker claimed could go right on garage floor without reenforcement. Doug Lester
  20. Looks good, but just a few things to think about. Is the foundation adiquate? I've read some comments where some models of air/power hammers need a thick foundation. What is the level of vibrations going to be when you use that thing? Is it going to rattle the pictures off the wall, damage the foundation of the house, destroy the garage floor? How tolerant are your neighbors, are they going to put up with the banging and rattling? I don't mean to rain on your parade but, if I read your profile right, you're 19. I remember being 19 (actually I don't, but I took copious notes ) and I kind of remember a few instances where I didn't have all the information that I needed to make real good plans. An hydrolic press, which you might be able to make, or a fly press, which is a cheaper alternative to a commercially built hydrolic press, might be a better deal for you. Doug Lester
  21. Doug Lester


    There is probably no recognized "knife steel" that makes a bad blade and W1 has been used for years. I have managed to turn a piece of it into a paperweight trying to make a blade and I'll probably try using it again if for no other reason than I have some sitting downstairs. What I don't like about it, and the other W series, is that the carbon content tends to be all over the place. The carbon can run from 0.6% to 1.4%. That can make a large difference in how it forges and heat treats. Depending on the carbon content of what the dealer has, it is basically 10XX steel with just a touch of chromium to aid with hardening. However, one dealer I ran across listed vanadium in the mix, which according to my references, should make it W2. If you want to use it, check with the supplier as to it's makeup. They should supply this information, however (ever notice how "however" keeps popping up ), I have read more than one comment that what the dealer states is in the steel and what a lab analysis shows can be two different things. If you find a source of W1 that you like, stick with that supplier and hope that the mill that supplies them stays with the same formula or you may have to relearn how to forge and heat treat each separate batch that you buy. As for forging, start in the bright orange to yellow range. Harden at 1400 to 1550 degrees and 400-450 degees for tempering to around 58-60 Rockwell. You may have to play a little with hardening and tempering temperatures because it's hard to tell what % carbon that data was based on. Some of the advantages of it is that it is reasonably priced and can be easily found in round, hex, and square bar to make intergral knives from. Actually, it's easier to find it in these forms than flat bar. Doug Lester
  22. I have used brine to harden 1095 in the past. Considering that it was my first blade and not really worth claiming, other than it was a good practice piece, it quenched well in brine. The consensus of opinion around here is to use an oil quench even on water hardening blades, so I figure that there must be a good reason for it. If you want to try brine, which as I understand it keeps bubbles from forming one the steel and causing uneven cooling, heat the water to about 160 degrees and an just as much salt as you can get to desolve. The proof of this is that there will be a little bit of salt in the bottom of the tank that will not go into solution. Doug Lester
  23. Looks real good, Mat. The handle on the large sword does look a little on the long side but I bet it wouldn't take too much research to find an historical example like it. I did a little messing around with Japanese swords when I took Jujitsu and it seems that the extra lenght in the handle would give more levarage to the cut. One of these days I might get around to making a Japanese sword but for right now I think I'll concentrate on European single edged swords. That's after I learn to make utility knives. Doug Lester
  24. Nice looking knife. It has some real nice lines and the Turkshead knot goes well with the wrap. That should be a real nice working knife. Doug Lester
  25. I think that you make a good point, Steve. I've read Oakeshott and a couple of other writers where they mention how horrible it was that someone ruined the value of a blade by polishing the geothite or other patina off. It's like when a bunch of art experts wailed and wrung their hands when the Catholic Church decided to clean centuries of candle smoke and crud off the cealing of the Cistine Chapel. They were certain that Michaelangelo's work was being damaged beyond repair. Personally, if I had an old sword that was not some historic treasure, I'd be sorely tempeted to do a complete restoration on it. Of course it would have to be in good enough condition to make the restoration worth while. Doug Lester
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