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James Helm

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James Helm last won the day on September 15 2017

James Helm had the most liked content!

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About James Helm

  • Birthday 06/10/1982

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    San Antonio, Texas
  • Interests
    God, blacksmithing, history, art, cars, self relience, etc.

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  1. Last bush swords of 2017

    I finished up the bush swords I showed forged out in my last post. bushswords01 by James Helm, on Flickr All are 80CrV2 steel, between 14" and 16" blades. This longest one had a hemp cord wrap with black paracord Turk's head knots, and a raised false edge. eosword01 by James Helm, on Flickr eosword02 by James Helm, on Flickr This one with tan and black paracord had a short, fully sharpened top edge per the customer's request. kusword01 by James Helm, on Flickr kusword02 by James Helm, on Flickr And finally, the shortest one. I liked the way the butt end of the handle had forged out, so I left it exposed instead of rounding it out and wrapping all the way around. cvsword01 by James Helm, on Flickr cvsword02 by James Helm, on Flickr After having it for a few days, the customer commented, "I can't believe how light and responsive this is for such a large blade. Awesome work my friend! I just can't get over how freakin' awesome this bush sword is. I am sore from swinging it so much. Destroying everything in its path so far. Thank you." Always glad to have happy customers.
  2. There And Back Again

    Very cool! Congrats on the new gig.
  3. Cheap Sword Quench Tank!

    These are good for big blades too: https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/getproductcartdata?ID=662798&PromoCode=WX2
  4. Small-ish knives

    While I've been working on a variety of blade sizes and types, what I've actually finished up lately have been on the small side for me. All are 80CrV2 steel with marine epoxy-impregnated paracord wraps. This first is the smallest of the bunch at about a 5" long blade. A fellow contacted me about making a knife for a friend of his who is going on a big hiking adventure in New Zealand. He liked the looks of a smaller knife I had done several years back that appeared in an article by Joe Flowers in the final issue of "Tactical Knives" magazine, which featured retina-searing neon lemon cord for the underlay. I happened to have some of the cord still on hand, and built an updated version of the one from several years back. nz01 by James Helm, on Flickr nz02 by James Helm, on Flickr I was able to get finished up and in the mail in time to get there the day before the friend was to leave, thankfully! The rest of the bunch were forged to demonstrate for various shop visitors at different times, then claimed on Instagram. They are all a bit longer than 7" blades, two long drop points and two tantos. A couple of them went to repeat customers, which is nice, and the others to new customers, which is also nice. smallblades01 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades02 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades03 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades04 by James Helm, on Flickr smallblades05 by James Helm, on Flickr And now I'm working on finishing up bush swords. bushswords01 by James Helm, on Flickr
  5. Thanks, guys! I ground and heat treated the last batch of old-style Benghazi Warfighters tonight. Zeb - That's a perfect description. Doug - I just use the bottom wheel on my platen and lightly knock off the sharp edge at about a 45 degree angle.
  6. Some more recently completed work. A forged camp chopper, 80CrV2 steel and TeroTuf handle slabs. The blade is about 10 5/8" long. The customer wanted a large finger choil for choked-up work. It's not the biggest blade I've made by any stretch, but everyone who handled it agreed it was a beast. tw04 by James Helm, on Flickr Kydex sheath. tw05 by James Helm, on Flickr The customer requested an exposed skullcrusher tang and a dedicated lanyard hole. This was a first for me, to build a slab handle with a notch to accommodate a lanyard hole. I say "dedicated" because the flared tube rivets also afford lanyard attachment points. tw06 by James Helm, on Flickr I've been in the very long, slow process of trying to launch a mid-tech stock removal line based on my more popular forged designs. I haven't posted too much about it because I wanted to have everything ready to roll first. I'm finally approaching that point. Along the way I have had small batches of blades waterjet cut and have tweaked my design a bit as I go, getting everything zeroed in to the final product. I have a very small handful of the older style blade designs in various states of completion, most of which are already claimed, before doing a full launch of the line. This set of three Benghazi Warfighters was bought by fellow for himself and some family members. The blanks are waterjet cut from 3/16" 80CrV2 steel, ground and heat treated by me, and handle slabs shaped from TeroTuf using jigs and a series of router bits. bw04 by James Helm, on Flickr The blades have a Caswell black oxide finish (the final version will have a coating) with the touchmark laser engraved. The sheaths are standardized, one will fit any of the blades. bw05 by James Helm, on Flickr A couple of hours after picking these up, the customer called up and laid claim to one of the older-style Little Rok mid-techs in progress.
  7. The Neal Farm Knife

    That is one of the cool things about a custom knife: you can integrate elements from family history. Well done, Noah!
  8. Some mid-sized blades finished up a while back. All are 80CrV2 steel. First up is a small meat cleaver commissioned by a customer. He liked the looks of a cord-wrapped cleaver I had forged for the Blade Show and wanted one with a TeroTuf handle. I liked the results well enough I traced it out to have a reference if I do future versions. It's about a 7" blade. cleaver01 by James Helm, on Flickr cleaver02 by James Helm, on Flickr It was picked up at the Usual Suspects Network Gathering knife show, and I didn't get a chance to get good pics before traveling, but here are a couple of interesting shots of it. The first is during thermal cycling, after forging and before stock removal. cleaver03 by James Helm, on Flickr And a picture from the customer himself, just prior to cutting up these ribs. According to him, the cleaver "went through them like they weren't there". ribs by James Helm, on Flickr And speaking of cutting up critter parts, another customer had this pic of his drop point processing out rabbit along with an ESEE. rabbit by James Helm, on Flickr This bush dha was another casualty of having to get everything ready for the show. These are the only pictures I managed to get. It was originally intended to be a different blade shape, more of a bolo, but sometimes you have to work with the steel rather than boss it around. It's about a 12" blade with a handle of hemp under paracord. dha02 by James Helm, on Flickr I did get an awesome shot of it with the infamous Ed Calderon, the Taco Ninja. Got an interesting upcoming project with Ed. dha01 by James Helm, on Flickr And this 12"-bladed Persian fighter was originally planned to be on my table at the Blade Show, but ended up missing out because I was running out of time. It went to the Gathering with me and came back where it was claimed once I posted it on Instagram. The blade is about 12", and the top edge is unsharpened. I'd consider this to be about as close to doing a fantasy piece as I do. persian01 by James Helm, on Flickr persian02 by James Helm, on Flickr The customer requested a mild steel trainer to be predominantly used on his BOB training dummy. That was a first to me, but I agreed. I used 3/16" mild steel and trimmed out the shape on a bandsaw before cleaning up on my belt grinder. The handles of both are hemp under paracord, and it took three tries to get the wrap to feel almost the same as the original. Then I worked on getting the balance the same as the original. persian02 by James Helm, on Flickr The result was a trainer that's a bit lighter than the original, but due to having the same balance it feels very close to the same. persian01 by James Helm, on Flickr persian03 by James Helm, on Flickr
  9. By the Pricking of My Thumbs...

    Wicked! Something I've wondered about but haven't taken the time to experiment: Have you ever tried forging in the fuller and then bending the curve to the blade? How practical would it be?
  10. Rusty

    I like!
  11. A couple of knives that went out into the world not too long back. Forged 80CrV2, approximately 6 1/2" blades, marine epoxy-impregnated paracord handles, Kydex sheaths. The usual from me. First up is a long drop point bushcraft knife that went to a bushcraft school owner. busa02 by James Helm, on Flickr Then a Mean Little Sucker tanto to a LEO. mls02 by James Helm, on Flickr mls03 by James Helm, on Flickr mls05 by James Helm, on Flickr And some pics that past customers have sent me recently of their blades set up on their gear. A Ranger sniper. sniper01 by James Helm, on Flickr A Texas SWAT team member. swat01 by James Helm, on Flickr And a fellow who helped with dealing with Hurricane Harvey's aftermath took this prototype Fire Chief rescue 'hawk with him. Untitled by James Helm, on Flickr
  12. 18th century civilian hanger

    That looks like one heck of a chopper!
  13. Thark bush swords

    Thanks! I dig 'em both, they both will chop well but have a different feel in the hand.
  14. Dunno What to Call This

    From my days of educating young minds: "Mr. Helm, what do you call thus and such?" "I call it a 'woobideewoobideezingzingzingsnergledefloogen', but people look at me weird when I do." "Mr. Heeeee-eeeeeelm!!!!" I've seen similarly-shaped blades get called a seax. Gorgeous work, whatever you call it!
  15. Thark bush swords

    These are a couple of bush swords I forged at the same time that are kind of linked in my mind, though they went to different customers. The top one was ordered up by a fellow on an archery forum who was directed my way by a guy who uses blades extensively, who wanted an 18" blade. The bottom one was a first for me in that the customer had no e-mail or smart phone that I could send him pictures of it before shipping it. He had based his decision to ask for a bush sword from me on an article by Joe Flowers in the final issue of the lamentably-out-of-print Tactical Knives magazine. Since it had been several years since I had made the blades for that article, I let the customer know that what he got would, of course, be a bit different and hopefully better. tharkforged by James Helm, on Flickr What links them in my mind is that when I had forged them out and had them laying side-by-side, I immediately saw them as Barsoomian short swords being wielded in the lower limbs of a Thark to ward off any blows that might slip through larger, longer-range weapons wielded by the top pair of arms. Very different blade shapes, but kindred spirits, if you will. These are also a jumping-off point for me as I have been making bush swords for years now with integral socket handles. While I still feel that they make great handles if done correctly, I think that I have refined my multi-layer cord wrapping technique to the point that it is more comfortable than what I am able to do with the integral sockets. I still built them with Turk's head knots fore and aft to provide a good mechanical lock in the hand. The longer blade has a black-over-black wrap and a thin false edge that could have a secondary bevel added to sharpen it. The customer initially wanted a 21" blade, but I felt that I could give him better balance at 18" and he let me go ahead. thark04 by James Helm, on Flickr We set up his Kydex sheath for baldric carry, with a double-adjustable, quick-detach shoulder sling like I use on my tomahawk sheaths. thark05 by James Helm, on Flickr I believe the blade may have picked up a bit of negative sori during the quench as the slight recurve seems more pronounced in the post-heat treatment photos. thark06 by James Helm, on Flickr The shorter bush sword has a 15 1/2" blade. The top edge is fully sharpened. thark01 by James Helm, on Flickr The wrap is tan over black, with a tan Kydex sheath. thark02 by James Helm, on Flickr I have to say that I firmly believe that the customer got a better bush sword than the one in the article that caught his attention. He was certainly happy with it. Couldn't ask for more than that. thark03 by James Helm, on Flickr