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AJ Chalifoux

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About AJ Chalifoux

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    Swords, Knives, Polearms, Daggers, Western Martial Arts, Over-Engineering Stuff...

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  1. You need a "bowl" to trap the heat. My first forge was nothing more than a pile of wood ash that I had wetted down. In the center I made a bowl maybe 12-18" I diameter and 10-12" deep. I stuck a hair dryer in the side and let it crank. It got so hot that I once put in a room temperature bar of mild steel and left it in for a minute and a half or so, and when I pulled it out it had started to melt... A friend of mine used to use the bottom half of a propane grill through the bottom of which he had ran a pipe with 1/4" holes drilled along the length. He lined it with patio bricks to make a "V". The dimensions were maybe 10" deep X 15" long X 10" wide at the top. He used anthracite coal, which has no sulfer and burns forever and is cheap to boot, but getting it lit is equivalent to lighting a rock on fire. We had to build a small wood fire in the center and carefully turn the air on while slowly piling the coal on top... Man, propane forges are great.
  2. Heating it will be inevitable in order to harden all of the blade, just try not to quench it past 1/2 inch or so onto the tang. Since I have to temper all my swords using a propane torch and some patience, I'll stick the torch onto the tang about 2" from the blade base and watch until the colors turn a purple-blue color. That way I know if any of the tang hardened it's at least tempered and very tough. Round shoulders are critical, but remember you don't have to go crazy with it. The diameter of a chainsaw file is generally sufficient. Some makers do more, some less. The same is true of historical examples. As long as there's some radius and a beefy tang, it'll stand up (especially with 5160).
  3. It won't crack anything unless the tang is hardened, the shoulders aren't rounded enough, and/or the slot is too narrow. It's good to have a tang profile that is an even width for the first inch or so from the blade and then tapers in toward the pommel. It gives you a nice even seat for the guard, and as Alan said if you want to stake the guard from the backside it gives you enough material to do it.
  4. Some are also fine with guards that just slide right up to the blade shoulders and then they slide the grip over to hold it in place. Usually, this kind of fit is done on take-down constructions involving threaded tangs and pommels/pommel nuts, so it can always be tightened more. I've never been big on these as they tend to rattle and come loose easily after heavy use, and prefer to drill and file or else mill the slot so that the slot width is slightly less than the tang thickness. I test the fit as I go to make sure I don't remove too much material. As soon as I get to the point where I can drive the guard all the way up with a 3-4 pound hammer, I remove it and don't drive it on again until the final fit. Repeatedly driving it on and off will widen the slot and make the fit more loose.
  5. Actually, I just realized the custom belts can be cheaper. A standard 2x72 ceramic belt of 60 grit from one vendor is $5.99, which comes out to $0.0832/in, whereas a 2x82 belt of the same type was quoted by the same vendor at $6.80 per belt, or $0.0829/in. Perhaps something for everyone to keep in mind should the need arise.
  6. Thanks for your response, C. To answer a few questions, it's made by a company named G&P Machinery. Motor is 2HP 3 PH, and adding a VFD is no big deal as long as it runs (no plug, no way to test...). It's currently 2x72, but adding a 12" contact wheel without modification to the arm requires a 2x82 belt. Getting quotes from a few vendors revealed that custom belts cost almost the exact same amount per inch as standard belts, so I'm not losing anything. That revelation actually may have convinced me to give it a go, as adding a flat platen is cheap and custom belts are, too.
  7. Hi All, Trying to wrap my head around something. I'm looking at a belt grinder (see below) with a 6" contact wheel and, 6" drive wheel. It was made to specifically have this setup, though I'm pretty sure swapping the 6" drive wheel for a 4" would let me have up to a 10" contact wheel. The price is right, so this is extremely tempting. My concern is trying to fabricate a flat platen setup for this. The contact wheel also serves as the tracking wheel. Is there a downside to swapping the contact wheel for an idler wheel and setting up a flat platen right above it? Will the tracking throw the belt off so it won't sit flat on the platen? Are there any other solutions? I've looked into making another arm, but that may get pretty expensive. If I can't, are there any good places for custom belts? What kind of prices would I be looking at for something in the 2x75 range?
  8. Thanks guys. Steve, I believe the handle is jobillo, but I'd have to retrace my steps to remember what the scabbard is. Wes, yes that's exactly what I did haha. Coated them in nail polish, drew designs and scratched them out, then let them sit in a salt water bath while hooked up to a battery to etch. Brass is very stubborn when it comes to etching, so I had to let them sit in the bath for about 10 minutes each.
  9. This sword was from a little while ago, though I thought some of you may enjoy it. This was a commissioned piece. It is a traditional Chinese Jian. Primarily due to the extreme distal taper, this sword is an absolute joy to handle. Light and thin at the tip yet stiff, much of the weight is concentrated in the hilt and first two-thirds of the blade. This allows the balance to be placed far from the grip, giving the blade a surprising amount of cutting power while remaining fast and responsive. Overall, a fantastically fun sword with surprising power and quickness. The brass guard and pommel are salt water etched, and the blade is 5160. Specifications: Weight: (forgot to obtain; roughly two pounds) Overall Length: 35.125in (892.18mm) Guard Length: 1.804in (45.83mm) Guard Width: 3.152in (80.05mm) Pommel Length: 1.977in (50.21mm) Handle Length 7.5in (190.5mm) Blade Width at Base: 1.339in (34mm) Blade Width at Tip: .663in (16.84mm) Blade Thickness at Base: .261in (6.64) Blade Thickness at Tip: .114in (2.89) Center of Gravity: 3.74in (95mm) Forward Pivot Point: 16.75in from base (425.45mm) Center of Percussion: 17.75in (450.85mm)
  10. As long as the transition doesn't line up with the gap between guard and tang, there won't be any shear forces on the cross-sectional change. I.e. there will only be shear at the sections where the guard ends and the tang begins. I love being able to mix my engineering and bladesmithing backgrounds
  11. Thanks guys. Kevin: there's quite a bit of distal taper, but there's also a lot of blade presence so it ends up feeling both very fast and very powerful. When I gave it to its new owner, his response was "oh yeah, I could take a limb off with this..." He then proceeded to hack into a piece of firewood at their reenactment camp. Doug: there's a hole going through the guard and tang through which the pin of the nagel goes. Unfortunately since I don't have a lathe I found getting a tight fit was nearly impossible. So I got it as close as I could and hoped that when I peened the other side the expansion would be enough to cement it in place, which it was. A.J.
  12. MAN it's been a while since I've been here because of school and work. In any case I thought you guys might like my latest project: another German großes Messer, which has inadvertently become my favorite style of sword to make. This one was designed with cutting power in mind, and the construction of the hilt was kept as rugged and tight-fitting as possible; both the guard and pommel had to be beaten on with a sledge hammer. The heat treatment of the blade was tested by cutting down saplings after which the blade required neither straightening nor resharpening, and the edge was frequently buried in logs while the sword was being made just for the fun of it. The design was closely modeled after numerous historical examples, including its tang which tapers toward the blade and its Nagel to protect the wielder's hand. The end result is a broad, rigid blade that is also relatively thin and very light and fast. Specs: Weight: 1lb 15.2oz (885g) Weight with Sheath: 2lb 14.0oz (1304g) Overall Length: 29 7/8" (759mm) Blade Length: 24" (610mm) Grip Length: 3 7/16" (87.3mm) Blade Width at Guard: 1 5/8" (41.75mm) Blade Width at Widest Point: 1.91" (48.6mm) Blade Thickness at Guard: 0.182" (4.63mm) Blade Thickness at Tip: 0.076" (1.94mm) Point of Balance: 4 1/4" (108mm) from guard Center of Percussion: 15 1/4" (387.35mm) from guard Forward Pivot Point: 13" (330mm) from guard Aft Pivot Point: 9" (229mm) from guard Blade Material: 5160 Guard & Pommel Material: Mild Steel Grip Material: Padauk Pics: A.J.
  13. Really cool. I love the pattern on that blade...
  14. Had to think for a while on which one I liked more. I'm going to go with the first, purely because the "random" pattern in the blade looks like leaves to me, and combined with the burl makes for an extremely harmonious whole. Regardless, stellar work on both! Whenever I see you've posted something new I always bring out my bib... I swear when I get back to the states I'm printing out pictures of every knife you've shown us and pinning them up as as a reminder of what's possible. Might just give me a kick in the rear!
  15. I've done the propane torch thing and also found that it works okay. You really do have to watch the colors, but I've gotten some pretty good flexibility from it. Also the book is right; removing from temper and quenching to cool it down shouldn't hurt any. The steel has to undergo a shift in crystalline structure in order for it to be hardenable, which is what you're doing at the critical temperature ranges.