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Doug Lester

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Everything posted by Doug Lester

  1. The best source of clay is plain clumping kitty-litter. As I remember, I used something like 2 parts kitty-litter, one part builders sand, one part wood ash, and a couple hand fulls of straw. If you live by yourself and well outside of town, you could even try recycling some used kitty-litter . Doug Lester
  2. Owen, I respect you're opinion and realize that you know the British mood far better than I will, living on the other side of the pond as I do. However, I didn't come up with people not feel safe on the street, this was posted by one of your countrymen on a British web site. It comes down to a matter of preception. In general, I immagine that the UK is a lot safer than the US, but there may be areas where people don't feel as safe as possibly you do where you live. That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with reality, it's how people preceive how safe they are. For example, a lot of people think that our schools it the US are dangerous places do to violence. Actually, children are in more danger from violence in their own homes. Schools are actually one of the safest places that they can be. It's just been a few highly abnormal and widely, and wildly, publicized incidents that have cause this preception. Doug Lester
  3. The easiest forge welding flux is just plain ol' Twenty Mule Team Borax. If you want to make it anhydrous borax, put it in a pan and bake it in the oven for a while. I think that I did my last batch at 300 degrees and just left it in there for a good while, maybe an hour or so, probably the so. This seems to be the flux that just about everyone seems to come back to, though others might have their favorites. Get the steel that you want to weld up to red and sprinkle the borax on, plain borax will sputter a bit, and return to the forge until it's up to welding temp. It's not fancy, but it beats trying to find the right kind of clay and charcoal or the right type of white sand. If it absorbs water, which it will, all you have to do is bake it again, though I haven't bothered to do that with mine yet. It got me out of a tight spot with the knife that I'm making. I got quite a gutter formed where I was drawing the bar out and I didn't want to just hammer it back and get a cold shunt so I just put some borax on it, brought it up to a bright yellow heat and just welded it back down. As far as forges go, gas is cleaner thus less likely to cause inclusions in the welds. Especially with venturi burners, however, they are harder to get up to welding temperature. Charcoal forges can easily get up to welding temperature, you just have to inclease the air blast. Just be sure to have plenty of fuel over the tuyere and cover the steel with fuel also to hold the heat in. The downside of charcoal is that have to keep the crud brushed off so that it doesn't get between the welds. Doug Lester
  4. I was thinking maybe "Queezy Rider" . Just kidd'n. Doug Lester
  5. Now how did I miss that , I'm usually the one harping on studying reference material. The most important tool a knife maker can have is a good reference library made up of both books and videos/DVD's. Learn the principles of what you want to do and you will make understanding your individual situation easier to deal with. If you're interested in eventually making knives, try "The Complete Bladesmith" by Jim Hrisoulas. Doug Lester P.S. 8/6/07 I just read over my post and I realize that I should have said that if you are interested in eventually making SWORDS, get "The Complete Bladesmith".
  6. I would recommend a charcoal fired forge. As said above, it doesn't need to be large. It is easy to build. I used an old charcoal grill to build mine but it need not be anything more complicated than a hole in the ground. The air supply needs to be about 2-3" below the top of the fire to reduce the O2 level and thus keep down the amount of fire scale formed. Black pipe can be used for the air tube, or tuyere. The refractory material can be made of 2 parts plain clay cat litter, one part builders sand, one part wood ash, and a hand full of straw. I use a hair dryer for a blower. For fuel, use real charcoal, not charcoal brickettes. The brickettes have a binder in them that can cause trouble. You can even use wood, as long as it's not pressure treated. Some smiths have even used things like cracked corn and dried manuer. If you plan to use coal or coke in the forge, you will have to line the adobe with something like a refractory cement or cover it with fire brick. With a good thick layer of refractory to protect it, a wood box can even to used to build the forge. Be sure to let the adobe dry before building a fire in it or coating it with a refractroy cement. Then build a low fire in it to cook off any remaining water. Any cracking that occures with use can easily be repaired with more adobe. A solid fuel forge is pretty flexable. It is easy to control the area of the bar to be heated by how you arange the fuel around it. The heat of the fire can be adjusted by changing the amount of air being supplied. It is also much easier to heat an area in the middle of the bar than it is with a gas forge. The upside of a gas forge is that it is generally cleaner (but who minds a little dirt ) which makes it easier to weld with. The down side it that gas forges are more expensive to build, generally speaking. Doug Lester
  7. Part of the answere is that we have to get our message out before the public like the anti's are. One thing is that we can point the rediculous and the blatantly false. Like the anti-gun crusader who came up with some number of children killed by guns some time in the '50's and claimed that the number had doubled each year since. A little math would show that that number would have exceeded the population of the United States and was gaining on the population of the western hemisphere at a rapid rate. Another way would be to put things in perspective. Again using guns as an example, children's deaths by firearms pails in comparison to children's deaths in bicycle accidents. Then there is the falsehood that death by firearms are increasing, actually they are falling, especially for children. Then we can try some one-on-one education. Not too many months ago we had a 15 year old boy shot and killed as he was trying to car jack at gun point. Unluckilly for him he picked an off duty sheriffs deputy. One of the nurses at work said that she had a real problem with the officer shooting to kill holding that he should have shot to wound. I tried to point out to her, calmly, that the deputy was in an immediately life threating situation that required instant action to avoid the possibility of being the victim of deadly violence. Shooting to wound was a good way to get himself killed; he had to shoot to disable. Unfortunantly, disabiling shots have a high rate of lethality. I stayed away from periferal issues such as the young man had a long criminal history already, that he was on house arrest, and that he had removed the monitor from his ankle so that he could go out to steal cars. I don't think that I made a convert that day but at least I may have opened the door a crack. I know that these example delt with guns and not knives, but the tactics that we can use go counteract missinformation are the same
  8. What are you heating the blade in? Is it giving an even heat? Don't guess, get a magnet, they're cheap. Didn't take me long to learn that judging temperature by color is unreliable and I learned it by using a magnet on steel that I thought was hot enough, it stuck. How hot was the oil? It might have been too hot. The references that I have said not to to over 160 degrees. How long is it taking you to go from the forge to the quenchant? You only have a second or two, more than that you may have too much cooling on the way to the tank. As for right now, I'm tending to go with Wayne Goddard's opinion that the type of oil does't matter much. I've used a modification of Goddard's Goop, a combination of skillet drippings, vegetable oil, parafin, and a couple of old candles in a pan for edge quenching and peanut oil in a quenching tank and both have done real well. Doug Lester
  9. I found out one real good reason to bolt an anvil down to the stand when I had to dodge a falling 110# chunk of steel. It hit nothing but dirt so it wasn't damaged. Shortly after I found a section of tree trunk laying on the side of the road where I had a place to pull over and pick it up. Must be a couple of other smiths around here that I don't know about because sections of that tree trunk kept dissapearing over the next few days. I secured the anvil to the trunk section by going down to the hardware store and getting a two foot length of galvanized chain and four of the largest spikes that they had. I cut the chain in half and layed a section over each foot, stuck a spike through each end and drove them into the trunk as tight as I could get them. I have noticed that having the anvil on wood instead of the concrete end caps that it was on has quieted it down a good bit too. Doug Lester
  10. Both are deffinantly looking good. I think that you will fall in love with charcaol forges. It's nice to be able just to heat the section that you want to hammer on and they're great for odd shaped pieces that don't want to fit into an inclosed forge. Doug Lester
  11. Kris, there are too many people who know what they know and resent anyone who tries to confuse them with facts. It makes perfect sense to them if some one carries a knife on them for protection because their neighborhood is unsafe to take away that knife. After all, they don't need a knife in their neighborhood so why should anyone else and this is the 21st century, no one uses knives as tools these days. It's also obvious to them if one restriction doesn't solve the problem then the solution has to be more restrictions. Doug Lester
  12. Mike, this gets scarier. They also want to ban any cooking knife with a point that is over about 1 1/2" long. A group of British doctors is behind this one, supposedly. The reason that I say "supposedly" is that there are some extremist groups who claim support from the medical community in this country, such as some in the anti-gun movement, that have only a small minority of it's members who are physicians or surgons. Mothers Against Knives is just another group who insists on treating the symptoms instead of the disease. Granted, there will always be thugs who will prey on people but, from what I understand from reading a board from England on this very subject, a lot of people carry knives because they feel the police cannot protect them (of course they can't own, let alone carry, a slab sided .45 ACP). That's on top of people who use knives in their work. Reading that board was a real eye opener. Many of the posts from the anti-knife bunch were purely crazy; a life sentence for illigally carring a knife was one of the milder suggestions. All that I can say is that I'm glad that we won the revolution. Doug Lester
  13. I think that you have to look at the total package. I have 3 layers of 1" Inswool covered with a coating of Mizzoue refractory cement in my forge. It has a rather large fire box, around 4X5X18" and I can get it hot enough to weld 1080 cable, but just bearl, with a single venturi burner. Would I get different performance if the Inswool just had a thin coat of Satanite? I have no idea. It was also built in a mailbox instead of a length of schedule 40 pipe. Does the difference in the mass of the body make any difference? Again, no idea. Would the performance be different at 3000' instead of 30' above sea level? Probably, but how much I don't know. Doug Lester
  14. Any idea of what the carbon content of the ax mill steel is, like low, medium, or high? Doug Lester
  15. I made a gas forge out of a large mailbox. The height was is more than 10" and was about that wide. I just added more Inswool until the walls, top, and bottom was 3" thick. then I lined it with Missoue refractory cement. I was able to get (bearly) into welding temp with it with a single venturi burner even though the forge is 18" deep. I do, however, live just a few feet above sea level. I'm not clear on what type of gas burner you intend to use but give a blown burner consideration. You can get everything off the shelf and there are not internal parts such as the mig tip in a venturi burner. Thus you don't have to install any set screws to adjust the tip with. Only the burner tube itself needs to be black pipe (that should probably be more correctly an injection tube because you don't want any combustion to occure inside it), the rest could be made of galvanized pipe or even PCV pipe. The only part that can be expensive is the blower. My information is that it only needs about a 60 CFS output and you may be able to obtain one second hand or through salvage. There have also been some good prices on sales at web sites, but I managed to miss out on those. I got one off Ebay for $50 which is probably on the mid to upper range for regular prices from dealers on the web. If you are intending to switch to an oil burner, you will need to have a blower anyway. Doug Lester
  16. You don't need a great with a bottom shot forge either if you use a pipe tuyere. You just have to have a way of opening up the ends of the pipe so that you can clean the ashes out occasionally, which I've yet to have had to do. Charcoal is a lot cleaner burning than coal or coke and doesn't leave a heavy ash. Doug Lester
  17. That's a great looking knife. A large seax is one of the future projects that I'm thinking of. What is the width and thickness of the blade? Are you putting much of a taper in it? I'm sort of torn between putting a curve in the handle, like a sketch of one I saw in one of Oakeshott's book, and leaving the tang straight and using a moose leg bone for the handle. Might have to do it both ways. The things we have to do to learn this art. What can you say!? Doug Lester
  18. Not to be contradictory but I have an elongated fire box as in Tim Lively's design with the tuyere across the bottom and one of the advantages is that I can have the fire long or small. Tim use some wet clay mix to block off part of the fire box. I haven't found that to be necessary. I just pull the burning charcoal together into one pile so I can just heat about 3-4" of steel or I can spread out the fuel and heat treat a knife up to around a foot or so total length. Remember, it is not just the burning charcoal that you have under your work that will bring it up to a red heat or higher. You also need charcoal covering the work. Controlling the amount of your work covered by the charcoal will control the area of the steel brought up to working heat. Doug Lester
  19. I built a forge in one of those Aussie Walkabout charcoal grills. I made the tweyere out of 1" black pipe that I grilled holes in about 1/2" inch appart or so in a staggered line. I used a mixture of approxamately three parts clay kitty litter (you could recycle some used stuff if you live far enough out in the country and your forge is a good distance from the house ) one part sand with a couple of good handfulls of straw. I packed it tight up against the tweyere, and under it, tapering outward to about 4-5" at the top. I let it dry for a few days in the hot Virginia sun and then, as an after thought, lined it with some refractory cement that I had left over from making my gas forge. I ran the ends of the tweyere a few inches past the sides of the forge and keep plastic caps on the ends so the I can slip them off and clean it out as needed. I've used a few things for an air supply. I started out with a raft inflator that looks like a bicycle pump on steroids that pushes air on both the up and down strokes. It works well for just forging but I don't think it will cut it for getting up to welding heat. That can be useful for not overheating my steel. I can get the steel up to a bright red but no more. The down side is that it is slow to heat/reheat the blades and it is tiring. Both serve to cut down actual time at the anvil. I've also used an eletric raft pump but that pushes too much air. Wide open, it eats up the charcoal and brings the steel up to a bright yellow real fast so you have to have to put a valve in the line to regulate air flow. I've already burned out one eletric pump and my next idea is to do what I was told to do in the first place and get a cheap hair dryer. I did buy a hand crank air pump or about $45 on ebay. The only reason that I got it that cheap is that the seller said that he thought that it had a bearing going out. It did. Now I'm saving to have it repaired. I know that Tim Lively, in his video, stated that you could get one for about $25. That was then. Now you can put a "1" in front of that number and stand a chance of getting one, maybe. Doug Lester
  20. Almost a shame to cover that wood with a cord wrap. That is one outstanding knife and I like the way that you did the sheath too. Doug Lester
  21. First forged knife AND first forge welding, with cable none the less. Outstanding. Personally I think that it takes real skill to make something simple like a blacksmith's knife and not have it come out looking crude. Your blade has a real "right" look to it. Doug Lester
  22. Absolutely outstanding!! I love the dagger. That is one very well earned master's stamp. Doug Lester
  23. Try Boone Trading Company at www.boonetrading.com. I got some oosic scrap to play with from them a couple of weeks ago but they have large sections and even entire oosic. They also have quite a few other things that look like could make good handles, like fossil ivory and Hippo teeth. They also carry pre-ban elephant and walrus ivory, even some narwhale tusk. I had to place my order by phone but the service was good. If they can't come to the phone when you call, remember that they live in Washington state, they will call back if you leave your name and number. Doug Lester
  24. May the memory of the good times that you had with your grandfather be a comfort to you now at this time of loss. He will live on through you and your baby. May God give you peace. Doug Lester
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