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About Amra

  • Birthday 04/19/1979

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    it would be quicker to put the things I have no interest in.
  1. Hmm. Perhaps we should define machine? Some people would say any mechanical tool that uses energy to perform a task is a machine. In which case, the line people seem to be drawing is about where the energy comes from. For example, a hand cranked tool, such as a hand drill, is still a machine by most accounts. Compare that to an electric drill. The difference is that the energy of a hand drill is provided by the user, where there energy for the electric drill is provided by batteries or the power station. The smith still pays for the energy, whether paying for food to get the energy in order to turn the crank of a hand drill, or paying the electric bill to charge the batteries. In both cases I would expect the cost of that energy to be passed on to the consumer... the question is whether you want the price to include several weeks of groceries, or just a few hours of electricity. It doesn't matter how far back in time you go, smiths have always made machines to offset or reduce the amount of energy they need to expend in order to accomplish a specific task. This increased their efficiency, and reduced the cost to manufacture goods. Its no different today. Electric drills, belt grinders, and power hammers are to the modern smith what hand cranked drills, foot pedaled whetstones and apprentices where to historical blacksmiths, just as punches, various stones and heavier hammers where to the earliest smiths. I can almost imagine people decrying the use of a foot pedaled whetstone as "cheating" given how much easier it made grinding and sharpening tools compared to the previous methods.
  2. Thanks for the responses, and appreciate all the really great information. I suppose my biggest concern is similar to Gary's, in that non-smiths will watch the show and believe what he says, which unfortunately perpetuates these old wives tales for yet another generation. Then, of course, these same people will go to the fair (or a faire), and meet some real smiths, then offer to share some tips and tricks or let them know some of the things they are doing "wrong"; all the things they they learned on shows like this one. I suppose there is the slight possibility that hes spreading misinformation on purpose. So that when people fail using his tips and tricks, they will just call and have him do it instead... though its more likely he actually believes what he is saying. I only do this as a hobby and I am still pretty green, but can't imagine buying and take the risk using unknown leaf spring steel when I could just buy 1095 or 5160 from Aldo. Of course, Alan has a great point that a lot of them really were good steels, but to me as a beginner they are, and I think should be, really old mystery steel, lol.
  3. Yeah, He seems nice enough, and while I am not a fan of Duck Dynasty, I have seen a couple episodes and can see the correlations. I was a little sad at how little of the forging and actual metal work they show, but figured maybe since he does the same stuff over and over they decided it would be best to only show a little each time, though I wish they wouldn't fill the rest of the episode with cliches and drama. Although, is it just me or did that cable damascus blade look pretty rough? It seemed to have a lot of pits/inclusions/voids. Was that because he only uses hand tools? I dunno, I just wasn't that impressed (his bowie had a lot of the same, but figured he did that on purpose to make it look old). Trying to give it a chance, but just not feeling it yet, between all the misinformation and drama.... *shrug* Anyhow, thanks for the replies!
  4. Has anyone seen this show? I've watched the first four episodes and already I am really confused. In episode 2 he claimed that old steel, such as you would find from old leaf springs is "better" than modern steels for knifemaking as they didn't contain alloys and were higher in manganese, etc. I know they are typically good steel, but "better"? I was under the impression that older steels such as those made from the bessemer process tended to have higher impurities (esp phosphorus), and were often still alloys as they contained things like chromium to help prevent rusting (eg 5160). In episode 3 he says that railroad spike knives hold a good edge I thought most railroad spikes were low carbon/wrought iron, which makes them non-harden-able steel. I know there are some high carbon railroad spikes, and maybe he uses those? In episode 4, he claimed that you have to quench your knifes pointing north to keep them from warping, and also claimed that damascus was originally designed to pierce armor because regular steel wasn't up to the task. I was under the impression that warping was caused by uneven heating of the metal, and so as some parts contract faster than others during a quench causing a bend, to which the solution is learning to heat the knife more evenly during the heat treat, not pointing it north to that the magnetic pole pulls the knife straight. I also thought damascus was the same as far as performance for a homogeneous steel knife, and that the reason it was designed was because high carbon steels were extremely difficult and expensive to produce reliably, so it allowed a smith to create higher quality blades using lower quality more readily available steels, at the expense of greater difficulty in forging, to make blades that performed on par with good quality homogeneous steel blades that would have otherwise cost a fortune to make. Seriously, I thought we let these kinds of myths die decades ago, but maybe I am wrong. I don't want to be unfair, so I thought I might ask, is there any factual basis for any of these claims (not necessarily talking about the railroad spikes here, as it is possible his are high carbon and can be hardened) Given my limitations in knowledge on these subjects, I thought I would ask the more knowledgeable people on this site! What do you all think about this show? What about these specific claims? Should I just stop watching now, or is he right and I am the one mistaken? Thanks!
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