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Doug Lester

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Everything posted by Doug Lester

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. I have made a commitment to myself to learn the caracteristics of 9260. I've only completed one knife made of it and I was really impressed with how it took a sharp edge. I know that I just may have gotten lucky with heat treating that one blade. I was just out at the forge this afternoon and seemed to get the charcoal going just right and was able to put some good heat into the blade and I seemed to notice that the billet seemed to work a lot easier at an orange to yellow heat than it did at a bright read. With not a hole lot of info on forging this steel (like zero) other than it works a lot like 5160, has anyone noticed that it seems to work a lot better at higher temp? Doug Lester
  5. Interesting concept. It sort of looks like a cross between a seax and a tanto. How is the grind done? I can't tell how the bevels are from the pic. How thick is the blade? Doug Lester
  6. Very nice clean work. I'll have to admit that the gladius is my favorite but the bowie shows very good craftmanship and it really has a "take no prisoners" look to it. Please post the pictures of them when you have them all decked out. Doug Lester
  7. My estimate is that knife could equit itself quite well in a close encounter of the worst kind. Doug Lester
  8. A blade with authority. Great workmanship and the figure in the handle wood is awsome. How is the Russian Olivewood to work with. Doug Lester
  9. Again, a great looking knife. Usually I don't like antler but that combination goes together quite well and I really like the way that you used the branching of the antler to give a swell at the butt of the handle. Doug Lester
  10. Great looking blades. I think that small utility knives are way under rated. I like the way that you left plenty of wood (ok, Micarta) in the handle to fill the hand. Doug Lester
  11. It is going to depend on what you meand by "good" condition but Ian Pierce in his book "Swords of the Viking Age" does show blades in "good" condition, even "ready to rock and roll". Page 52 features a 9th century sword with a blade in very good condition with some areas in pristine condition from Musee de l'Armee in Paris. Page 56 shows another 9th century blade still sharp enough to be used. A third 9th century blade is found on page 72 form the University of Oldsaksamling, Oslo, Norway which has two slight bends in it but still looks battle ready. A sword from the 10th century is found on page 77. This blade is in the British Museum, London. An 10-11th century sword from the University of Oldsaksamling is featured on page 108. Again this sword appears battle ready. Granted, the organic portions, such as handle wrappings and scales, are gone and they may have a coating of geothite or some other patination from age but are other wise in very good condition. I'll have to allow that these specimens are much the exception rather than the rule, however. There is another sorce of good Viking age swords and those are the ones which have been recycled. I don't have many references to them, as a matter of fact, I only have one. Ewart Oakeshott mentioned in at least one of his books, I think it is "The Archiology of Weapons", a 9th century pattern welded blade that had been rehilted in the 15th century and turned into a katsbalger. This weapon resides in a museum in Swithserland. Doug Lester
  12. Thanks, Mike, I wondered what was happening. As of 2200 EST the site was still down. Reminds me of working at my last job, which was a heavily computerized business. The IT folks would tell us that we'd be back up by noon and the standard line would be "which day". Doug Lester
  13. I love the lines of the blade and the handle. It all flows together well and I think that the damascus really compliments the design. Doug Lester
  14. Silly question, but does this have anything to do with the picture of a pile of junk laying on your shop floor? Very happy that it wasn't worse. Jim Hsiroulas made a statement while discussing tool safety in his Damascus forging video. It was something like: "remember that hand tools injure and power tools maim. Doug Lester
  15. A well earned award, congradulations. Doug Lester
  16. Ben, that is one fine looking knife. I have always wished that I could carve that way. I have some 1 1/2" wide 9260 on the way and I hope to be able to forge a couple of more seaxs soon. They won't hold a candle to yours but I just love the style. Doug Lester
  17. Round 3 I am not a big fan of recycled steel for knifemaking. I think that it makes heat treating more difficult if you don't know what you're starting with. You might want to go to www.elliscustomknifeworks.com and click on the steel for damascus and knife making. That will take you to Kelly Cupples site. His selection of knife steel is limited as to size and type but if you buy over $50 he will ship at no additional charge. Some people don't like them, but I have had good fortune with Admiral Steel. Their carbon steels are well priced and most of their steels suitable for forging can be purchased in 5' lengths. Of course you will have to pay shipping from the Chicago area to Maine. If you are determined to use mystery metal or you have no other choice, do not purchase large volumes of it until you have a chance to test it. Of course, if it's free, you can't argue with the price. Cut off a small piece and heat it until it will no longer attract a magnet, that should be around bright red or orange depending on the steel and the ambient light conditions, then quench it in warm oil. However, do test with a magnet, don't go just by the color. If a file will bite into it in the hardened state it does not have enough carbon to make a good blade. Also avoid railroad spikes. A lot of people do use them but they are only about 0.3-0.4% carbon (0.5% is minimal and 0.6% would be better, depending on the intended use) and usually have a lot, relatively speaking, of copper in them. The copper makes them though, which means everything to the railroads and the NTSB, at the expence of wear resistance (read edge holding ability) which means nothing to the funtion of railroad spikes. You might also try recycling auto suspention springs which are usually something like 5160 or go to a lawn mower shop and see if they have any worn out mower blades they might let you have. They're usually 1095. If you do want to try high carbon railroad spikes for knife making, test the blade after you quench it with a file and if the file cuts no more than just slightly without really digging in then you might try the blade as quenched. I doubt that the blade will have enough carbon in it to worry about the edge chipping out if it's not tempered. Doug Lester
  18. I'm kind of the same mind as you, Jesus. I've read that the kopis came from the Egyptian sword and gave rise to the falcata and the seax. As much as I respect Ewart Oakeshott's scholarship, I think that that's pushing things a little far. Lets face it, there's only so many practicles ways to make swords and knives so it would be real easy for similar designs to evolve independantly of each other. Doug Lester
  19. This is from A. C. de Lisle's signature line as noted on myarmoury.com: Never tell a hammerer that it's the hammer doing all the work. They have views on that sort of nonsense; the kind of views that also involve your kneecaps.
  20. Sorry, Geoff, but that's what the illustration in my book has it labeled as, however (you notice how there always seems to be a "however") it also recommended a heavy sheet of brass to cut on. It'll save your cutting tools. Doug Lester
  21. Ya, I know about planning too big, matter of fact I got the T-shirt to prove it . Round 2: Forging with coal can be done but be sure that you have low sulfur coal or you can contaminate your steel. Also, no one actually forges with coal. It has to be turned into coke first. You could just start out with coke but lump charcoal is more readily available and easier to tend. It has also been used a lot longer than burning rocks, A hand cranked or eletric blower is a must for any solid fuel forge. The air has to be delivered to the bottom of the fire. This is what increases the temperatur of the fire; it increased the rate of reaction in the combustion of the fuel. It's a bit counter intuitive, but the bottom of a fire in a solid fuel forge is the richest in oxygen, then you have a neutral middle layer, and the top layer is oxygen poor within it's mass. Oxygen promotes scaling, which is something that is nice to avoid. You don't heat steel on top of burning solid fuel. It has to be within the burning mass. Get good files for shaping the blade. Nicholson Magicut files are great for hogging off steel. You might want to get some second and smooth cut files also. Small needle files are useful for making small holes, such as tang hole and slots in guards. Double cut bastard files are good too if you stick with a good brand. A file card is a must. You will need to clean the filing out of the teeth of the files about every 20-30 strokes or you'll scratch the heck out of your work. You will probably want to get some pillar files to cut plunge lines. These files are single or double cut on the faces and smooth on the sides which are parallel. Sand paper and/or polishing stones can be used for finishing the surface of the blades. A buffing wheel on a hand drill is useful for buffing, if you want to do it. A regular vice and something for a blade vice is pretty much essential too. Again let me recommend that you do your homework before you get anything. A little reading ahead of time can save a lot of headaches later. If some of the terms that I have used seem like Greek to you, they won't be after you do a little reading. Google something like "knife making supplies" and check out some of the sites. Several have some great tutorials. There are probably some available here. Copy them to your hard drive and back them up on a disc to save them. That way you don't have to try to remember where that site was, and if the site goes down, you'll still have the tutorial. Doug Lester
  22. It sounds like you got yourself a good deal. 100 pounds is plenty to forge with, even though heavier is more effecient. Bill Moran used a 99 pound anvil that looked to me to be more of a ferier type. The cutting plate should be of a softer steel as should be the horn. Solutions for hardy tools is to 1) make them yourself or, 2) buy tools with a 1" or 7/8" shank and forge or grind them down. With good care that anvil may give you a lifetime of service. Doug Lester
  23. First critical piece of equiptment is reference material. I'm very partial to Wayne Goddard's books "The Wonder of Knife Making" and "The $50 Knifeshop". It will answere a lot of questions on getting started. A real good video that shows how simple you can keep it is from the Woodsmaster series by Ron Hood, volume #9. Go to www.survival.com or you can Google Tim Lively, he put out a real good DVD. A lot of the answeres to your questions can be found in these sources. You don't need a fancy European style anvil, a chunk of steel anchored in a bucket of cement, ala Tim Lively, can be used. A 25lb bench anvil is not as good as a 250lb anvil but knives and swords have been made on much smaller for centuries. I kills me to read people badmouthing small bench anvils and then go on to give directions for building a railroad track anvil. Don't get me wrong, bigger is better but it's not essential. One word of advice though, stay away from cast iron anvils. Actually these things are not really anvils at all, they're anvil shaped objects, also known as ASO's. They will not stand up to forging even if the add states that they are industrial grade. Wrought iron anvils are another matter, but they haven't been made in, I'd immagine, about 100 years but you do see them on the market occasionally, often they have a steel face welded to them. Hammers can be gotten about anywhere, with exceptions. A mom-and-pop hardware store has machinist hammers in 2 and 3 pound weights which are good starting weights and I've seen smiths with plain ball peen hammers in about the same weights. You only need two tongs to get started. I'd recommend V-bolt tongs. The jaws, viewed from the end form a V. They are good for holding both round and flat stock. I prefer them over wolf jaw or fire tongs but you'll eventually develope your own tastes. You'll need something like a 5 gallon metal or wood bucket to use as a slack tub. The purpose of it is to cool over heated tools and burned parts of your anatomy in. Also makes a good fire extinguisher for burning hats and other articles of cloathing. Seriously, you shouldn't have a fire going without a full slack tub. I made my quench tank from paint cans epoxied end to end. Bit of advice though, don't cut the bottom out of the bottom can . I use vegetable oil for quenching but you can find all sorts of recipes. Brine can also be used for some of the simplers steels and the W steels but few recommend it but some love it. I was given this piece of advise when I first contemplated my first forge. A forge is nothing but a hole in the ground with an air supply and a fire in it; all else is just elevation. A little over simplystic but still a good thing to keep in mind. A picture is worth a thousand words so go to www.elliscustomknifeworks.com and click in the forge gallery for some example of gas forges. How much gas they take will depend on the design, how well they're insulated and how effecient your burner is. Charcoal, or any solid fuel forge, is probably cheaper to make and more flexable but they're dirtier and probably a little trickier to use. Too much for me to go into in one setting. Please do yourself, and us, a favor and do a little homework. It will make things a lot easier on yourself and it's a lot easier to give help to someone who has some idea of what s/he doesn't know. Doug Lester Oh ya, by-the-by Tim Lively has his plans for a $30 anvil on the Tool and Tool Making board if you haven't noticed it already
  24. I grew up in central Illinios and my interest in making knives goes back to my teens when I made a dagger out of one of my Dad's old files and heat treated it myself. I was deposted in the Tidewater of Virginia when I got out of the active duty Navy and I retired out of the Reserves as a Corpsman first class. I now work as a lab tech in a walk-in care clinic. I didn't realize how thoroughly I was tainted as a Corpsman until several patients addressed me as "Doc". I always correct the patients' impressions that I might be a physician but when I'd tell these people that I wasn't the doctor, they'd say something like "ya, but you're a Corpsman". I hope to move back to Illinois in the next few years after I get my retirement from the Reserves and I hope to be able to make at least a little extra money making sharp things. At least it will keep my hands and my mind busy. Doug Lester
  25. Comments on the tread about insulation has gotten me thinking about verticle forges again. I have a horizontal gas forge and a charcoal forge. I like the charcoal forge because of it's flexability but one problem that I have is the smoke and odor that it puts out. I live in a townhouse complex and my neighbors don't appriciate, quite understandably, their laundry smelling like a cookout after they hang it on the line to dry. Twice reciently I lost a day of forging because neighbors had their laundry hanging out. I don't have that problem with gas but I don't like heating up more of the steel than I'm going to be working that heat. Would a verticle forge be an answere to my problem? I have an old horizontal forge that is now nothing more than a stand for my current horizontal forge that I built out of a large mail box. The fire chamber is approximantly 5" round and 15" deep. The body is made of insulating brick and it is lined with Mizzoue refractory cement. My idea is to turn in on it's end and fill the bottom with refractory cement to seal the pass through opening and make the bottom a little thicker. I could cast a block of refractory to seal what would then be the top. I would then cut two holes opposite each other to stick the steel through and another for the burner near the bottom. Then I'll coat the outside with more cement. The reason for the latter is that I have to keep my forges outside and I found out through experience that if the insulating brick gets wet it must be dried out before the forge can be used again. Most of the heat will go to cooking off the water otherwise. Does it sound like a plan or is it back to the drawing board? I will probably keep the charcoal forge because of it's ability to handle odd shaped pieces but a gas forge will probably work better for me as my main forge in the enviornment I work in. Doug Lester
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