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Todd Miller

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Everything posted by Todd Miller

  1. Thanks for the responses. I'll check my thermocouple and try soaking longer. Those seem to be the most likely culprits. Todd
  2. A little more detail on my process. Like I mentioned the first weld of the stack seems to go easily. I just use the steel the way it comes from Kelly Cupples. The 15n20 is shiny and the 1080 is cold rolled so it is pretty clean too. After the first weld Then I draw it out and grind it down to clean metal which goes blue from the heat. After cutting I stack and tack weld the corners. Heat to glowing and flux with borax. Heat to 2150ish and give it a light squeeze on the press. Heat again and squish harder with the press. Heat again and hand hammer around the edges. Then I have gotten paranoid so I often grind it some to see if it has welded. If it hasn't completely welded then I repeat the above in no particular order, just trying everything. Usually that eventually works but not on this feather billet.
  3. Yeah Dave, that's what I find frustrating they should be easy to weld. I don't think flux entrapment is the problem. In fact where I welded the split back together it is welded in the center but not the edges. The Ws are holding up fine. Do others let their billets cool between welds so there is no oxidation?
  4. Brian- I am using 1080 and 15n20 and the. 1080 is on the outside.
  5. I haven't been on this forum for a long time but I am now getting into making kitchen knives. I have welding problems with my Damascus blades. The first weld of a billet goes smoothly. I have done it both with and without flux with little trouble. But the second and subsequent welds tend to be problematic. I always grind the scale off and the only thing I I don't always do is let it cool completely before stacking it. So often there is blue oxidation when I try subsequent welds. I am using a reducing gas forge and weld between 2150- 2200. Usually I can get it to weld to set but it takes far more effort than I think it should. And the last feather pattern I made I can't get it to completely weld after it is split with the wedge. Any thoughts? Thanks Todd
  6. Amazing piece of work. I needed some inspiration and that sure helps. Thanks Todd
  7. This doesn't really answer the original question but I thought it was germane. We were in Japan a couple of years ago and there was a big swap meet/farmer's market. This booth was there selling nothing but sharpening stones. Go figure. They were expensive. BTW I use Japanese water stones that I have had for years. A couple of mediums and a very fine. They are synthetic and not too expensive. Todd
  8. It's a real job. Maybe everybody in the world has already seen this but I thought I would share it here. Sam??? http://gothamist.com/2014/09/17/blacksmith_wanted_nyc.php Todd
  9. Thanks, it's better to make a small knife than no knife at all. We just got back from the wedding too. Todd
  10. I haven't posted anything for a while, as I haven't made anything for a while. This is a little wedding present. Kingswood handle, random damascus. Todd
  11. It was their dog. At the time my wife who can slerp through anything, told me I'd find it funny eventually and I guess do. It is their country after also who am I to complain.
  12. My wife and I spent three weeks in Iceland this summer. This was a blog post I wrote about one experience. Hope you enjoy it. Todd Children, Camping and Insomnia in the Land of the Midnight I have trouble sleeping, not so much getting to sleep but rather staying asleep. When asked, I euphemistically say that I have sleep issues. My son calls them my night terrors. But whatever you want to call the condition, nine out of ten experts agree that when one has trouble sleeping it is important to maintain a regular sleep schedule. So that is what I tried to do on our recent trip to Iceland. One thing that is really refreshing in Iceland are the children. They play outside. If it is cold, and this being Iceland that is not unusual, they just bundle up. You see them outside in the drizzle or the sun, or in the howling wind. They run and skip, and there is chalk drawn on the sidewalks where they play hopscotch. Our first morning in Iceland we watched a large group of kids sailing and rowing boats in a cold windswept harbor with just a couple of adults in inflatables keeping herd on them like goslings. I was wearing long johns while I watched them. Arriving in Akereyri, the second largest city in Iceland, we learned there was a mixup on our room and it wasnt available that night, so we set off for the local campground. It was a large one with fifteen grass fields for camping. Being the recluses we are, we found a nearly empty field with just one other tent. We set up camp well away from them and settled in. In my effort to stay on some sort of regular sleep schedule, at about 10:30 I got in the tent to read and then hopefully go to sleep. As I am winding down I hear a diesel truck coming roaring towards the tent. I am inside so I can only hear what appears to be happening. It sounded like it circled our tent three or four times and then stopped and went back and forth at several attempts to find just the right spot before coming to rest. The doors slammed open and a swarm of children burst forth. Minutes later another vehicle comes dashing into the field honking its horn at the children who were now running in all directions, apparently including in front of the second vehicle. This car stopped and another gaggle of kids jumped out joining their pals. Together they are all yelling, shrieking, bouncing soccer balls off each other, the tent trailers, the cars, and pounding the ground like a herd of wildebeests. They were having the time of their lives. Then someone starts playing a guitar badly. I finally unzip my tent to see what is going on and there is one teenage boy, two or three preteen girls, and somewhere between five to seven first graders (they never slowed down enough to actually count) careening around like they are in a pinball machine, poking each other with sticks, going in and out of the cars and making sure the doors are slammed securely every time. There are three adults whose job seemed to be to yell at the kids now and then and at the tent trailers they were trying to assemble. The quietest one of the bunch was a big black lab that was tied to the first tent trailer. He probably knew that any noise he made was sure to be drowned out by the general din, so what was the point? In Iceland in the summer at 10:30 PM it is bright enough to do brain surgery, so it was hard to blame them for all the commotion. I am sure they were just like my family when we went camping with my cousins as children. And they were dashing about with so much energy I expected them to crash at any moment from exhaustion. No such luck. At about midnight, it being still light enough to do an emergency appendectomy, they were still going strong. I wasn't. I gave them my best stink eye to no avail. I hated Icelandic children. I wished I could have handed out smart phones, earbuds and Big Macs to the lot of them so they could quietly text each other and play video games like good American children. Finally at about 12:30 a.m. I stuffed earplugs into my head, strapped on my eyeshade and while I felt a little like I was embalmed, I fitfully fell asleep with the thought that at least everyone would sleep in in the morning. Well the dog wasn't having any part of it. At 7:30 am sharp he barked just enough wake me and several of the kids up and the whole thing started again. Ahh...traveling. Two naps later I was almost back to normal and we pressed on.
  13. How about Shindaiwa? I'm not trying to get into a debate either. When my son was a senior in high school he got into the Battlebot craze. He picked up a mid-sized Shindaiwa at a garage sale, paired it with a 24" diameter sawmill blade and went on to some fame and a little fortune with "Sunshine Lollibot." He was just a kid and he did really well considering and got to the eliminations where his match was featured on TV over and over because he lost in such a dramatic fashion. Here is the most famous of his fights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN24y-FJeMQ Well for the next season he approached Shindaiwa and they gave him the biggest powerhead they make. He built another bot that didn't do as well and since he was in college he couldn't get as involved and then the show went away. In any case my chainsaw was stolen so he gave me the powerhead which was nearly unscathed and I added a 24 inch bar. I had never used a serious chainsaw before, wow. What a difference between that and my homeowner's Stihl. Todd
  14. Thanks for the input. Last week was the end of the semester and with grading and all I haven't had a chance to reply. I think next time I'll recommend one tuyere. The reason we went with two was that with the last smelt I did on my own I had some trouble with a single one clogging up. So I figured that having two would be a backup. Unfortunately the angle was wrong and I think the air didn't burn the charcoal down low enough and so it allowed the slag to build up in front of it. The reason he was poking it in the frosty picture was that was he had just lit it with kindling. In the later picture he was trying to break through the layer of slag. We were hoping to burn out a lower pocket for the slag. Live and learn. He is up for trying it again and since he quit early we still have quite a bit of materials. I'll keep you posted. Todd
  15. A couple of years ago I offered my Materials Science students extra credit if they wanted to build a bloomery and try to smelt some iron. I showed them a video of one of the times I tried it and there was some initial interest but it soon faded away. Last year I made the same offer and one fellow, Josh, got as far as mixing up DARC dirt from Spanish Red iron oxide glaze. Josh liked the class well enough to take it again this year. It seemed silly for him to just repeat it so I asked him if he wanted to try the smelt again instead of most of the normal classwork. So he built the furnace, broke up the charcoal and last Friday he tried it out behind the high school greenhouse. I got a substitute that day so I could supervise him and I had my classes come out and he explained what he was doing. In MatSci we are studying re/dox reactions so this was a perfect example in action. The other classes just thought it was cool to play with fire. He got a few small chunks of iron but we called it quits after only going through about a quarter of the materials. We had a lot of trouble keeping the tuyeres from clogging with slag. I think the angle on them was too low making the hot zone too high. So instead of the slag pooling below the tuyeres it built up in front of them. We cleaned them over and over but it seemed better to quit and regroup. Even with just a bit of iron he is completely stoked to try it again and I am sure he will. It is great to see him take the initiative on this. I will keep you posted. I only got a couple of pictures. He started early on a frosty morning. Having lunch. Here is a blog about the original offer. The Allure of FIre Todd
  16. Todd Miller


    Simple is so hard to do and you do it so well. Todd
  17. Hello all, This is a post from my occasional blog I thought some of you might enjoy. Todd I’m the first to admit that I am not much of a fisherman. I don’t have the patience or the skillI and I’m think I’m slightly ADHD. My friend Mark used to take me salmon fishing but when I spent my day propped up against the side of the boat reading old National Geographic magazines, and only casting an occasional eye toward my rod tip, he got disgusted and has seldom asked me again. But I do like to eat fish. So when my wife and took our sailboat to Alaska for the first time I was excited, Alaska was a place where the salmon were so plentiful that even a rube like myself should be able to catch his dinner. And I didn’t come entirely unprepared, I had the fishing pole I owned since I was a kid, and an oddball collection of tackle, lures, spoons, flashers, hooks, lines and sinkers. And a few jigs. But things didn’t go well. After a week of dragging assorted gear through the water and nothing to show for it except lost gear, I was getting discouraged. We had traveled almost 100 miles through pristine Alaskan waters and while I hadn’t fished all of it, I had given it some serious effort. No old magazines here. We reached Petersburg, a bustling fishing town, and tied up among the fleet of commercial fishing boats, some clean and shipshape and others barely afloat. Right next to us was a dirty white troller its deck littered with gear, which while afloat, did not look like the highliner of the fleet. No one was aboard her when we arrived and we left and toured the town.
 When we returned we heard the banging of tools deep in the bowels of the troller. Soon an older fellow, unshaven, hands greasy, in a dirty sweatshirt and pants emerged from the fish hold. We had met our neighbor. Like almost everyone in Alaska, he was ready to talk. After hearing our story, he spied my salmon rod attached to the backstay and asked me the fateful question,”How’s fishing?” I actually felt relieved that I could unburden myself and tell him about my failure at one of the manly arts. He immediately offered advice. First he asked where we were heading, and I told him west, around Kupreanof Island. He said, “Here’s what you want to do, when you get to Pinta Point, about this time of year the silvers should be there, you’re gonna troll with a white hoochie, six ounces of lead with a little piece of salted herring wired onto the hoochie. I guarantee you’ll catch fish. You can tell Mama to fire up the canner.” He asked me if I had any hoochies, I didn’t. So he immediately took out a new white hoochie out of his gear, carefully measured a leader, tied a hook on it, took a piece of salted herring out of a Ziplock bag, cut off a thin strip and wired it in place. He gave me this rig and said, “Now have you got any herring,? You’re gonna need some more.” I didn’t. He said, “Not to worry, just get yourself a herring jig and you can catch some right off the dock.” Finally, here was my chance to show him I wasn’t entirely unprepared, I had jigs. I rummaged around in my tackle box and pulled out what I understood to be a jig and held it up for him to see. He gave me a look as if he had asked if I had a hammer and I’d handed him a wrist watch. It turns out jigs have hooks that are sized proportionally to the size of the fish’s mouth. I’d shown him a halibut jig, a herring would have had to drive itself full speed onto this hook in a suicidal frenzy to even have a chance of getting caught. With this he handed me his Ziplock bag of salted herring with a sorrowful look that one might give to a fool heading off on an errand saying, “Here, you better have these. I can get some more.” I thanked him and tried to assure him I would do just what he advised. But I’ve never been sure he was convinced. We did go west and at Pinta Point I did troll that white hoochie with six ounces of lead and it’s little strip of herring tied to its belly and sure enough I caught salmon. We didn’t have a canner, so Mama never fired it up, but we ate salmon for the next few days and I am forever grateful for his help, advice and grace. Now, I may not know fishing, but I do know woodworking. My fishing tackle collection pales in comparison to the tools I own. Had my neighbor actually asked for a hammer, he would have been impressed by one of the several I had onboard or the couple dozen I have at home. And like those who fish for the thrill of it, not the eating, when it comes to tools I struggle with just when enough is enough. Recently we visited Japan and I came across a second hand store with a wooden crate filled with an odd selection of old tools. Since we had to carry anything we bought I limited my selection to just a small two ended square faced hammer that is used for carefully tapping on chisels. I already had a larger one but I liked this one for its size and more importantly because its wood handle had the silky polish that comes from years of use by some unknown craftsman. At home I cleaned it, tightened the head and tried it out. The heft was perfect but for some reason I could never seem to hit the chisels just right. I fussed with it, roughing up the faces, and I tried other hammers to see if my aim was off. But it wasn’t me. Examining it closely I noticed that the previous owner had carefully customized the handle. It had a subtle twist carved in it instead of the normal symmetry of a hammer handle. It was made to fit in the left hand. It was a left handed hammer. I never imagined such a thing could even exist. And it made me think that there are a lot of other things, ideas, and ways of thinking out there that I’m just as ignorant of. I am a teacher and to those of us who teach, our students come to us right handed and left handed, tall and short, beautiful and plain, troubled and content, rich and poor; and prepared for what we are trying to teach and unprepared, or at least unprepared for what we feel is important. There are kids who fail in science class but excel in woodshop. For some a halibut jig may be more relevant or important than the difference between a proton and a protein. As teachers we know we should individualize instruction, and I try my best. But the hardest part for me is to notice, and accept in the first place, that there are kids who work best, not with the tools everyone else uses, but with the left handed hammers. And for those kids, like the fisherman helping a hapless sailor, I also need to show patience, understanding and grace.
  18. The adventure continued. We head toward Craig Alaska, stop in and see a pretty amazing native carver and gear up. More of our Alaskan Summer Travelblog http://quilbilly.blogspot.com/2013/09/sailing-alaska-in-27-ft-boat-on-to.html#links
  19. Well thanks, I spent about ten years thinking about it and designing it. I started with a little model and worked my way up. At one point my son said the models kept getting bigger and bigger, so I might as well just build the boat. It took me four years of after school and weekends. It was my mental health project after teaching all day. That's what my knives are for now. Todd
  20. Dave, It was a good time. I have actually thought about shipping the boat by barge to Cordova or somewhere. It sits on a trailer all winter so it would be easy to ship. It would be a long drive otherwise. I would love to cruise Prince William Sound but that big stretch of open water across the Gulf of Alaska gives me pause as far as sailing there. I'm with you on the safety. We pick our weather carefully and I spend most of my time tethered to the boat. While we were on the inside of Baranof Island we heard a Coast Guard radio exchange with the survivor of a capsizing. It was about fifty miles away and the CG was asking mariners in the area to help look for two men in the water. It was really sad and sobering to hear the repeated requests for help, realizing that after the first hour the odds were pretty slim of them being found alive, if at all. Thanks for the compliment on the boat, I designed and built it so I've got no one else to blame. Todd
  21. Now we continue our circumnavigation of Prince of Wales Island. Our next stop is Hydaburg and then Craig where we visit a native carver who is working on replacing the totems in their totem park. http://quilbilly.blogspot.com/2013/09/sailing-alaska-in-27-ft-boat-on-to.html#links
  22. Here's the next installment of my travelblog. We have left Ketchikan and are heading south around Prince of Wales Island which is the most remote place I have ever sailed. http://quilbilly.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-tiny-cork-on-lonely-ocean-ketchikan.html#links Todd
  23. It really is an amazing place. I would encourage anyone to see it. While traveling on a sailboat is one way, there are all manner of ways to do it ranging from the pretty cheap, take the Alaska State Ferry from Bellingham Washington and literally camp on deck. People duct tape their tents to the deck. To large cruise ships that are a reasonably priced vacation, to small chartered cruises that cost thousand(s) of dollars a day. The view is pretty much the same from any of them. I come back reenergized and hopeful that there are places in the world that are still unspoiled and pristine. Todd
  24. Over the summer knifemaking took a back burner while my wife and I took the sailboat I designed and built to Southeast Alaska this summer. If you haven't been there it is an amazing place. Dave, I hope I do your neck of the woods justice. Now it's time to get back in the shop. Here is the first of a travelog/blog of our trip. Todd http://quilbilly.blogspot.com/2013/09/north-to-alaska-trailer-sailing-inside.html#links
  25. Very nice lines and execution. That is a great knife. Todd
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