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Ethan P.

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  1. Hey Joseph! This blade has already been hardened? It looks like you've got hardness at both the edge and the spine. Not really bad things, and it's good that you got a soft steel center, so good job on that! A couple of design things, though. Typically, tanto aren't of shinogi zukuri geometry, but what's called hira zukuri, where the blade cross-section is essentially triangular. I'm not used to seeing straight shinogi zukuri pieces. Are the blade and spine parallel? Generally Japanese blades have an extremely subtle taper where they're wider at the base. It almost looks like the spine is curving forward, but that very well may just be the picture. For the kissaki, it looks pretty good. You generally want the edge to follow the profile of the shinogi. There are versions both with a flatter profile and more rounded, so it doesn't matter too much. The final point looks like some material was removed from the spine, which isn't exactly right, but I've been there too. I don't think there's really anything too magical about the hammer or clay. I learned at a hammer in to use a large, flat-faced ball peen hammer to clean up all the dimples that the mini sledge leaves, and that seems to help. For the clay, as long as it sticks, it should be good to keep what's underneath from contacting the quenchant. I put cheap kitty litter into a coffe grinder until it's dust, then mix with water to the correct consistency. If you're really interested in Japanese styles, I'd highly recommend you look at a LOT of examples, so you just get a general sense of what it should look like. Besides, they're pretty! Good job so far, and I look forward to seeing how you finish it out, -Ethan
  2. Here's a talk he did at a Blade show where someone asks this very question:
  3. I know of several smiths that use multiple quenches. On somewhat varying ends of the spectrum, for example, are Tai Goo and Ed Fowler. I believe Tai Goo uses it to form something of a spring temper in his blades, each time dipping the blade deeper into the oil. This leaves areas of varying hardness from edge to spine, as can be seen in some of his camp blades. Here's an example: https://plus.google.com/photos/111314075172198610978/albums/5979148708739297105/5979210091732935378?banner=pwa&authkey=CLyZ2rD5qI_bfg&pid=5979210091732935378&oid=111314075172198610978 Ed Fowler, who has, with the help of others, done more testing than most anyone else on his blades. He developed his system of heat treatment of 52100 through collaboration with Rex Walters, who does lab testing for things like chemical composition and grain size. Ed does typically make the caveat of "with his steel, in his process, with his knives" he gets better results with multiple quenches. Here's a post he did explaining his process: http://knifetalkonline.com/smf/index.php?topic=648.0 It's my understanding that the carbon only redistributes in the cooling portion of a thermal cycle, at least at conservative heat treating temperatures, so if you do one quench, most of the steel converts to martensite, Then, with another austenitization and quench, you get even more conversion, and so on. Ed talks about it in his post. Of course, it looks like he uses quenches at the end of his forging process too, to refine the grain, then again during heat treat for martensite conversion.
  4. Can you show us what you don't like about it? Very impressive work anyway.
  5. Hey Mark! I'm really excited to watch this progress. I really like the pieces you've chosen for inspiration, too! I said this in another thread, but I'd really encourage you to try to replicate what you like about your examples as closely as possible. I especially struggle with the point shape and profile taper (which is really all of it, when you think about it...). It's these details that I think really make all the difference between something that looks "right" and not. I haven't made something that looks right yet, but hopefully you'll have better luck than me! Can you give the name of the book you reference? People are always posting these beautiful books they have with very nice photos, but I don't have any idea how to go about getting one! Thanks, good luck, and keep us posted! -Ethan
  6. The hamon looks nice, but, if you're trying to get down traditional shapes, I would recommend finding an authentic piece, printing it out to full size, and trying to replicate it. That's what I've been up to, and it's kicking my butt. This is my favorite place to look: http://www.aoijapan.com/japanesesword/tanto This way, it makes self-critique much easier, as the piece either looks like it should or it doesn't. Just my thoughts, -Ethan Perry
  7. Well, it looks like it's just as Luke and Alan said. The first time I ground on it to inspect the weld, the spine welded, but not the edge. Since I was pretty sure this wasn't going to work out anyway, and I seemed to be on a roll, I cut that section out and shortened it again, this time being sure to hit the edge first to make sure it welded, then refluxed and rewelded across the rest of the thing. Some grinding later, it looked like I was gonna get away with it, but, after reading the comments, I decided to try bend it a little, and it summarily crunched in two again. The grain didn't look too pleasant, either. My pile of "future damascus" is getting bigger and bigger. -Ethan
  8. So, I finally got that heat treating forge put together, and it rocks. It holds a marvelous, even, controllable temperature. Since it's made from a water heater tank, I was able to fit that o-tanto I've had lying around into it. I welded on a piece of rebar to dangle it, quenched it, tempered it, started polishing. It had a magnificent hamon. It also had a definitive cant to the right. I tried the three-point straightening technique in the vice. No dice. I tried hitting it with a hammer, both right out of the quench and still warm from the temper. There was nothing to straighten this sucker, it seemed. So I decided it was time to crank it down in the vice and lean on it. I had a hard enough time getting it to bed, but then I heard a snap. Further polishing revealed an L-shaped crack that was perpindicular to the edge, then ran parallel when it got to the hardened border. You know the type. I got pretty down about it. I'd had that blade lying around for a while just waiting to get hardened, only to find it was all for naught. I got to thinking about it, and decided to throw caution to the wind. I cut out the section with the crack, polished the sides clean, scarfed the ends, and tack welded it in place. Splashed some kerosene on it, sprinkled some borax, turned the forge up all the way, and tapped it back together. And it seems to have worked! I have to work around some slight design modifications, but no cold shuts or anything. Needless to say, I'm pumped. I know the crystalline structure may not be the best anymore, but doesn't the vanadium in W2 help regulate grain size anyway? Anyway, I just wanted to officially make "Narsiling" or "Anduriling" a verb. -Ethan
  9. Thanks for the great link! I was thinking along those lines, but it really puts all the factors into one place. -Ethan
  10. Hello everyone, There I was, watching knifemaking videos on youtube. when I stumble across Walter Sorrells' channel and promptly made it my business to watch everything there. The last video I watched confused me, though. It was a performance test of a hira zukuri katana he had made, and it stands up to being chopped repeatedly through a 2x4, taking only cosmetic damage. I'm not doubting this test at all, and I have the utmost respect for Mr. Sorrells. The question I have is, if hira zukuri is a perfectly fine blade profile for a long sword, why weren't more of them made? Here's the video: Thanks for your thoughts, -Ethan
  11. I'm about to heat treat something that I can't fit all at once in my forge. It's an o-tanto with about 14 inches of blade, and I can only get about six inches heated at once by putting it in the forge and letting it come up to heat. I've had success turning my vertical forge sideways and getting more length up to heat that way, but it's still uneven, and, with this blade, the tip is surely to peek out the back even this way. So, my question is, how do I pump the blade in and out of the forge to bring it up to heat? For shorter blades, I have a thermocouple hooked up so I can just turn the forge to the heat treating temperature and let it soak. This blade is Aldo's W2, and I usually soak for about 10 minutes to be sure everything under the clay is heated through. To pump, do I crank the heat way up and judge the temperature by eye? Do I have to pump the whole time during the soak? Any other helpful hints or answers to questions I don't even know to ask? Thank you for your help, -Ethan
  12. Gosh darn it! I originally wanted to be a materials engineer, but my college didn't offer it, so I went with chemical instead. Materials science is still my jam, though, so it's nice to see what it would have been like! Looking forward to hearing more from you, -Ethan Perry
  13. This is a question that's been rolling around in my head for a while now. When you polish something with niku, it's acceptable to leave the edge thick before heat treatment, then give it a bevel, then smooth the bevel back to a rounded shape, right? But what about something with a flat grind, like a hira zukuri tanto? I hate to say it, but I don't have the patience to work down that thickness on my grinder, and I doubt that's how it's traditionally done. Past experiments have either had ugly, badly-blended bevels or left the blade too thin to be anything but a fillet knife. Is there some elegant solution I'm missing, or is it really just keep grinding until it forms an edge? Thanks, -Ethan
  14. D-guards aren't completely unheard of in northern India, where the fittings just seem to be mix-and-match at times... http://oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=2129 http://oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=2052 -Ethan
  15. Thanks, Eric, but I want to see antiques. Where is the historical data supporting that that's what a bisento looks like? I'm not arguing with the form or anything, but I just wanna see something with some age to it. Thanks, -Ethan
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