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Everything posted by VaughnT

  1. Shoot, I know a guy in Goldvein that'd likely take all 7 of them.
  2. That's a pretty brilliant solution! I'm not sure I'd be allowed to use it since it seems too easy. Usually, I have to cuss, spit, throw the piece out the back door and start over from scratch.
  3. I keep saying I'm going to write an article on this, but I keep forgetting. Anyhow, having injured my elbows moving thousands of boxes of coins, paying attention to ergonomics has become something of a big deal for me. Studying how the body works and interfaces with my tools.... well, that happened real quick once my blown elbows let me know that they didn't much care for swinging the hammer. Some key things to think about: 1 - Never wear a glove on your hammer hand. I don't care how tight it is, the glove is still creating a sheer plane and forcing you to grip the hammer harder as you try to maintain control of the thing. You might not consciously "feel" like you're gripping especially hard, but the thing about repetitive stress injuries is that you never feel like you're doing anything particularly awful while you're doing it. It's a tiny little thing that adds up over time. And it's important to note that not wearing a glove won't magically cure you because the glove isn't necessarily the only factor at play. 2 - Handle diameter in relation to head weight. If your hammer is under 2lb, a standard type of handle is perfectly good. Not great, but certainly okay. Over 2lb in head weight and you need to start using a sledge-hammer handle for your hammer. Cut it short, obviously. 3 - Hammer head weight and it's distribution relative to the handle. I see a lot of people clamoring for 4lb hammers because they move a lot of metal fast. Yes they do, but they also put a ton of strain on your body. Again, repetitive stress injuries are not something you notice right away. You might be feeling fine as you swing that big lump of steel, but the reality is you're putting a bunch of hurt on yourself the whole time. In the 20 years I've been forging, I've used a hammer that's less than 3lb and never felt lacking. When I use my 4lb hammers, I feel fine for awhile, but that damaged elbow lets me know real quick that it disapproves. Unbalanced heads will only add to the problem. Consider the standard ball-peen hammer for a moment. It's design means that the main face is heavier than the ball end. This is great if you're using that main face for your work, but if you have to peen a lot - like when making bowls - you'll quickly get a sore wrist because you've put the heavier end up over the handle. This will induce twisting forces in your swing that you are always fighting to stabilize with your hand/wrist/forearm/elbow. Look at "drilling" hammers or the double-ended ballpeen hammers used in dishing and sheet metal work. They go to great lengths to make sure the heads are balanced around the eye because they are peening thousands of times in one operation. Getting the main working face as close to the eye as you reasonably can means there's less of a lever to twist your hand/wrist/elbow with every strike on the work. Long headed hammers have their place, I'm sure, but for general work I think it's best if you keep things as compact as possible. 4 - Going back to the idea of using store-bought handles with that traditional palm swell that looks remarkably like what's on a carpenter's hammer.... stop doing it. Businesses make hammer handles by the truckload and they make them to a pattern that's general. Can't fault them for that, but you need to remember that you're an individual and everything about you is unique. Your hand will naturally gravitate to the palm swell because you're subconsciously searching for the best grip, but there's no saying that palm swell is in the right place for you, specifically. This is one of the reasons I recommend using sledge hammer handles. You're physiology is unique, so expect to have unique needs. You won't know what you need unless you experiment. The weight of the head and the measure of control you have over it is directly related to the distance between it and your hand. Imagine a 1oz head on a 10' handle. The weight of the head is negligible on paper, but in practice it would be a real pain to forge with. Well, even a standard handle can put your hand too far away from the weight you're trying to control. And when you choke up to get better control, you're now stuck trying to grasp the matchstick neck of the handle.... which only creates its own set of problems. Personally, I have found no better handle than the sledge hammer handle. Even though my main smithing hammer is a run-of-the-mill cross-peen I picked up at a flea market, and weighs less than three pounds now that I've ground it down a good bit, the sledge hammer handle has great thickness on both the x and y axis. I can choke up or down depending on what I'm doing, and the thickness doesn't change. The larger circumference fits my hands, but more important is that it gives me more surface area to grab onto. I'm not having to grip hard just to control the head of the hammer because it isn't thin as a matchstick and forcing me to grip hard. Remember, every time you swing that hammer, the head is wobbling constantly. When you hit the steel, the head wants to bounce one way or another. You might not perceive it, but you can bet all that tiny little movement is being transmitted into your joints and it adds up quick. I'm rambling so I'll end it there for the time being. Try the sledge hammer handle and see if that doesn't make a noticeable difference. Remove the plastic coating with a wire wheel to create the best gripping surface you could imagine. Watch where you naturally grip the handle to see how it differs from where they put the palm swell on store-bought handles. See if you like the thicker cross section. If you have to grind on your heads to bring them closer to the handle, do it. You'll be happy you did.
  4. My camera died right before Christmas, so I had to borrow one to get a shot of the finished candle holder. Otherwise, not much going on. Work is work, and all the production forging doesn't leave me with much energy to do things for fun.
  5. One of my latest pieces - I do more blacksmithing than knife-making, so....
  6. Totally forgot about him. He does some great videos, too. Like the ones I mentioned, he stays tight to the work, minimizes nonsensical jive, and turns out a very nice finish on his pieces. Two thumbs up!
  7. Mark Aspery definitely sets the gold standard in terms of video quality. Craig Trnka is probably the single best resource for learning how to effectively move iron. I'm not a farrier and have no interest in making horse shoes, but this guy is simple amazing. How he can get that steel to move under his hammer is almost miraculous, and to have everything come out so wonderfully clean is something to be seen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6sRXurRsBs Another good one is Elchschmiede. He doesn't speak english, but I speak blacksmith and can follow along quite nicely. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGIwSDb66oE All three smiths turn out videos that are high on quality, tightly focused on the work, and don't have annoying soundtracks you'd expect from cheesy porn flicks. No rodeo clown antics, harsh edits, etc. Just good solid ironworking. If you haven't seen the Devil's Blacksmith series put out by Master Huber, you're really missing out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAEzHsTPuqg
  8. I'd love to get one of those old anvils just to say I have it in the shop and can keep her working. My Fisher is from 1896 and it's a hoot to sit there pondering what all it's seen. Can't imagine having an anvil from the Old World.
  9. No blades to work on at the moment, but I did manage to get a few dishes done for folks.....
  10. Those are/were produced in India or thereabouts. A fellow over on the IFI forums managed to get a few pictures when he was doing missionary work in the region, thinking it was a Nazi relic. Turns out that the same design is a sign of good luck, prosperity, etc, in that area and there's at least one company that used it on their anvils and such products. I don't recall if the company is still operating, but it was an interesting lesson in history.
  11. I really enjoy watching guys do things with their hands, even if it's something I'll never try to do myself. I can't count how many vids I've watched on hit-n-miss engine rebuilding and the like! I'll look forward to seeing your videos.
  12. A great loss. I've always used his work as the standard to match when trying to do traditional leather and beads. Really a great guy.
  13. Almost reminds me of an automated type of those cards a spinner uses to align the wool before spinning it into thread. I love guessing games like this; the hardest part is getting your mind out of the modern era.
  14. Kevin's a great guy and a fairly decent knife maker. But only an idiot would think you could use a rooster as a substitute for a swallow, compensating for the gross discrepancies with some fancy arithmetical equations!
  15. I've been in adze mood lately and have spent more than a few hours searching the internet to see how others are making theirs. Imagine my surprise when I found a video from way over in the old world that just happens to feature an anvil made famous by this forum's very own Bogdan Popov. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyLjZ8N9_dc It's a long video that does a pretty good job of demonstrating how they make their version of the adze. Doing the split-n-weld type of eye is something I haven't tried yet, but it certainly looks interesting. I'll likely try that after I try making some of their old-school hammers. Bogdan's anvil shows up at 23:09 if you want to fast-forward to it.
  16. I like it. What kind of stain/treatment did you do for the handle?
  17. Gorgeous anvil! Use her regularly so she doesn't feel like she's being ignored or unappreciated. Give her a light coat of oil when you leave for the day. I keep an oily rag on hand and just wipe mine down with that, being sure to thank her for helping while doing it. I wouldn't make any changes to her until you've used her for at least a year and have some idea what would help and what wouldn't. Too many folks just right into dressing the edges and such, but I'm a wait-and-see kind of fellow. Definitely a great find. Be sure to take that widow a bit of good ironwork to repay her kindness.
  18. That's definitely gorgeous. I hadn't thought about backfilling one to give deaden the sound.
  19. Spectacular. The lines, decorations, pattern... everything's spot on.
  20. I want to call it the Dragon's Molar, but that really doesn't have the pop and sizzle that folks seem to like. Right at 7" long and almost a pound in weight. Taken from the rear lower mandible of a wyrm and still covered with putrified dwarf and whatever else the beastie managed to catch unawares. Got a few hours of cleaning to get her ready for display. This is the fourth or fifth Dragon's Fang I've made. I use whatever scraps are sitting around the shop and call to me. This particular tooth was originally from a crucible used to pour steel in the foundry. No idea what alloy they'd use for something like that, but I'm positive it wasn't A36! Absolutely the weirdest stuff I've ever forged or ground, and I'd love to get more of it just so I have it.
  21. A bullet puncturing the fuselage won't cause any problems. That's a myth as old as airplanes themselves. Still, always good to have a guy onboard that knows how to take the fight to the bad guy.
  22. That's a good link. I particularly like the little reflectors he built. Hadn't thought about that, and will have to give it a try in the next few days. Using a tripod is a good idea, but you can also get a very steady shot by using your neck strap and pulling it tight against you. With your elbows tucked in, or resting on the table, and the neck strap snugged up, it's a surprisingly stable platform. Nothing quite like being able to step back and snap off a shot, though. If you get a chance, upload a photo to picmonkey.com and play around with the various settings they have. Between them and pixlr.com/express, I'm not sure which is better or more intuitive. I've found that I can save a lot of my photos by tweaking the settings in post-production rather than fret about getting it right at the photo shoot. My next project is to create more backdrops and collect some interesting pieces to put in the photos with my ironwork. Being creative sure isn't easy!
  23. Some really nice operations going on here. I think I'll refrain from showing the mess that is my shop. I don't have any fancy tools or such, and sure can't seem to get things organized and cleaned up. Maybe one of these days, but no today!
  24. Beautiful photos, Gerald. I like how the product seems to be almost floating in space. I use a Canon G10 point-n-shoot camera for all my pictures and have to do a lot of post-production tinkering with pixlr.com's website. It's free and pretty easy to use, especially their "express" version. The nice thing about the G10 is that it was supposed to be the best small camera on the market, fully capable of doing some really great shots but not requiring a whole bunch of different lenses and such. Sadly, I don't seem to be able to get the most out of it. I'm so not a techno person and all the buttons and dials really confuse the snot out of me! Next step for me is to build a light box so I can get better lighting and control over the shadows.
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