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  1. I use Boride Abrasives "orange" EDM stones in the range of 120-220-400-600-900 before switching to Japanese waterstones...I spend the most time on the #220 and #400 stones, though (like Kevin's experience). ETA: The #900 are not "orange" stones, but special white Aluminum Oxide sticks. They don't last long. Kevin ("perfessor") you should check these out, I've never had any galling issues with these Boride sticks (though YMMV). Thanks,
  2. Hi All (long time, no post), First, let me ask, when you guys say "long 'A'", do you mean "A" as in "rake," or "A" as in "father" (I've assumed the latter for "correct" Japanese pronunciation)? Second, I do not wish to take issue with you Jake, but entertain discussion: It is my own understanding that a spheroidized structure is undesirable in a clay-hardened spine region. The problem, as I understand it, is that spheroidized steel which does not harden, retains most of its "spheroidal characteristics." Meaning, it stays very soft, pliable, and putty-like. From what I have ascertained, such an overly-pliable spine is not acceptable in a modern produced blade (perhaps it is in period-consistent blades?). The spine structure I have held as a goal is a fine-grained, normalized structure which has a higher tensile strength and less pliability. Perchance, would you be willing to comment and enlighten me?
  3. I'd be real wary of straightening after tempering, especially 1095. Seems it likes to crack all to pieces when you do that...Best ways to rid the dreaded warp that I know of (could be wrong, ain't done much 1095 myself): 1. Water's too hot--drop it to no more than 120-140F. 2. "Personal Opinion" - last Normalization should be ~25F above Austenitization (sic?) temp. 3. Shouldn't need to soak 1095 at more than ~1475F for about 5-7mins (surprised you don't have quench cracks galore...) 4. Check your blade/edge thickness. If blade is < 1/8", and/or edge is < 1/32", I can "see" warping in your future. Hope this helps,
  4. Hey "Perfessor," thanks for the tip. I'm loggin' this one for future reference--sounds like a real good way to do some bluing/blackening. Lord knows there's some metal I've been trying to tweak the color of. This sounds like a right keen way of doin' 'er.
  5. Well, I never had much trouble with files, but maybe I need to try to reverse my grip?? When I do "simple" filing, I hold the base (handle) with my left hand, support the tip with my right, and single stroke from bottom-left to upper-right (southwest -> northeast, assuming left shoulder=west, right=east). This seems pretty effective. When I draw file, the hold is the same. But, the stroke is towards me, from extended-arm position back towards me (north -> south). Maybe I've never really "used" a file correctly--any thoughts/wisdom? Thanks,
  6. Hi Shadow, It is my understanding than plain, natural clay most often does not work by itself. As I recall, some have had good luck with terra cotta, but more usual suspects require additional elements such as ash, charcoal (activated carbon), and/or several other concoctions. Here in the states, satanite or Rutland's cement seem to be the best candidates, as they do not fall off in the forge or quench (the bane of standard clays). Steels that readily produce hamon are generally low hardenability steels (low in Manganese [< 0.7%], and low in Chromium [< 5%]). This rules out any high-alloy or stainless steels. Pretty much leaves us with basic carbon-alloy steels (AISI 10xx, W1, W2). Even though some 10xx steels have up to 0.9% Mn, they can be normalized sufficiently to reduce hardenability to produce hamon, albeit less dramatically. A really "common" steel that will work is AISI 1050 (German DIN 1.210--don't have any "EN" standards info at hand). If sanded or scratched, hamons will temporarily "go away," but can be retrieved with re-polishing. The hamon (or hardening line) is actually a crystal-structure effect in the steel, not just a surface phenomenom. Thanks,
  7. That's roughly what I guestimated the size was, and there's nothing wrong with consistency, especially if it's part of your "signature." As to the whitening, I'm still looking for a bulletproof "process" (sort of an unobtanium). Since you've already etched, you might try some polishing paste or #2000 wet/dry. With pastes, I find Q-tips or thickly folded paper towel seem to work best as polishing media. With w/d, be sure not to scrub; use unidirectional strokes. I have had some pretty good results (on 1050, 1060, and W2) by using a polishing paste after the etch/neutralize, and before the wet/dry (in my case, I use baking soda water for w/d lube). The pastes seem to get out more of the dark oxides that ferric leaves behind. Flitz is my "miracle" polish today. There are lots of polishing pastes and rouges out there worth trying, can even find some at auto parts stores. It's no wonder I'm not so good with handles and fittings--can you tell I spend way too much time with blade polishing
  8. Hey Jeremy, Overall, I'd say it looks all right. What are the dimensions? Just a couple of comments: Mind you--this is strictly my personal preference, and may not be "kosher"--but with that blade I think it would look better with your mark back on the flat. Is it just the lighting, or is the hardening line fairly dark? Some folks prefer a dark hardening line, some a whiter line (I'm in the latter group). Don't know how finished you are with the polishing, though... Sorry I can't comment on the handle stuff, I'm just not that "advanced" yet. Still trying to get fairly simple hidden-tangs to look good myself... Thanks, and keep showing the progress,
  9. That's too cool, Dan! If John can get it to work with a water quench, I may have to try this stuff...
  10. If you're seeing some activity around 400 grit, you're probably on the right track. At least with my blades and test pieces, I find that as I progress through the grits, the hardened edge gets a real good mirror polish, but the softer body is not as "clear" of a mirror. At 1000 grit, the actual hardening line does not pop out at you, but in the right light and angles, you can see the difference between hard and soft areas. Etching alone will not make the hamon stand out, there has to be some additional, finer polishing (the pastes, worn 2000 grit wet/dry, etc). The question of ferric versus vinegar is more complex. Both methods work, but yield different final results. Ferric can be much harsher and wipe out fine hamon details. Vinegar may allow more fine details, but end up less robust. As well, certain steels may respond better to one way over another. There's a lot of room and need for personal process experimenting--welcome to the insanity of hamon-chasing! Feel free to post some pics of your progress. Thanks,
  11. While I cannot say this with absolute certainty, "cooking oil" does not seem to be one's best friend for a complete hamon development. I have never used anything but water, but others have used very high-speed oils (Parks 50, Houghton "K", etc...). Personally, if I were to try an oil, I would try Houghto-Quench K over the Parks... Having said that, what of the other steps mentioned have you tried for getting more detail after quench? Thanks,
  12. My Good Man, If I were more alchemical than I currently am, I'd be all over this! Unfortunately, the last time I tried to make thermite (~1990) I failed--Al2O3 was probably way too coarse... Best Regards,
  13. Hi Tim, According to the Heat Treater's Guide, quenching 440C needs an additional cryogenic step (-100 degF). After that, tempering at 330F should give you ~60 HRC, and 375F should give ~58HRC. Thanks,
  14. Al, how are you thermally processing the steel? In other words, what normalizing steps are you doing before the quench? How are you quenching (water, oil, etc.)? How are you "using" the vinegar? Are you looking for a western approach or more Japanese? Just FYI, the correct Japanese term is "hamon," not harmon. I'll try to offer some data from my experience, for a western blade--I'm no expert, I expect others will contribute much more than me. After quenching a well-normalized, clay-coated piece in water, I will take it up to 1000 grit wet/dry. After that, things vary, but if I'm using vinegar, here's how I do it: 1. Heat a mixture of vinegar (9% strength) and lemon juice in the microwave for ~1 min, enough to get it uncomfortably hot, but not boiling. 2. Use a paper towel (white, no coloring) to swab the heated solution over the whole blade, over and over and over again. 3. Repeat until hair grows on your palms--seriously, though, until the metal turns dark brown/black. 4. Neutralize the acids with Windex (ammonia). Wash with dishwashing soap. 5. Polish with a polishing paste (Simichrome, Flitz, Pikal, etc...) 6. Clean/Degrease with denatured alcohol. 7. May need to repeat steps 2-6 several times--it's a function of your steel, experience, and the steel's treatment. In other words, you have to experiment with the iterations. 8. "Lock-in" the hardening line by polishing with pumice soaked in baking-soda water. Vinegar, by itself, seems to take an eternity over lemon juice to etch the steel. Either one takes "forever" compared to ferric chloride, but ferric is more dangerous overall, and more finicky about concentration. Thanks, Brian K.
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