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Matthew Parkinson

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Posts posted by Matthew Parkinson

  1. https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.adirondackfolkschool.org%2Fafs%2Findex.php%3Fm%3DCourse%26cid%3D1831%26fbclid%3DIwAR3C7wZShf1775F1n5bC_ZE5pRKh238N7V5DUW2ULCtCidbCyUQRPKssIgM&h=AT1JnQTwYAeZzn-uRmSU-Iibt37Rgv-bX4MDLJg1Cr71haHsMx_lA83vOVfRRb8HYsY-qisESJf5ylMcrXj2neTmYZuS0ynlDZ-eRlTy-4pvBjqgrwjq5O10gNSGx1kA5W3AHEgGWGAPq_zfYA&__tn__=-UK*F

    I have space left in this class at the Adirondack folk school in Lake Luzerne NY. coming up end of July. This is a great beginner to intermediate level class. Ill be covering a forging a flush choil blade, fitting a guard , fitting a sculpted spacer and coffin handles , as well as more general Knifemaking like heat treating , sharpening, hand finishing, this class offers a lot of information that can be applied to a huge range of designs.


  2. My first instinct was to dismiss this as sour grapes. How ever I have been saying many of the same things for years, I even wrote about it in my column. 

    First I will say in hind sight I think  FIF is a symptom not a cause.  The rise and the slow death of most of the forums and then the rise of the facebook smithing groups in there place are just as much a cause as FIF and in fact are also a symptom. 

    a little history as I remember it. I started on the early forums back in 96 or so. The rise of early forums like Anvil fire, CKD (latter Knifenet) swordforums Iforgeiron. in the beginning it was just a bunch of like minded wackos. There was a lot of sharing  and teaching going on. Knowledgeable smiths were known , and judged by there body of work and quality of advice..  then they grew and with that growth came the need for moderation. 

    Moderation is a difficult thing , it can make petty dictators that suppress new ideas or through inaction give equal weight to the loudest  voice even if that voice is wrong. Very few forums managed to find or keep that balance, (this one being an exception) the nature of the Larger groups is such that they become the lowest common denominator. I watched one group implode and kick out every smith with any kind of body of work in a week (my self included) that group quickly became the ignorant leading the blind. 

    youtube has further caused confusion as what gets views is almost never the quality of the information, gaining following is about personality , story telling , and production.  there is great stuff there but it is drowned out and lost in the noise. 

    FIF put a small section of our world out into the public eye, but it would never have been made with out the 20-30 facebook groups with 40K followers. It has grown the base of both customer's and interested party's exponentially and with that growth has come problems. Many getting into sales and business to soon, putting out work of dubious quality. flooding the market with noise. Those with out the background or knowledge teaching, in shops that are at best uninsured at worst truly dangerous.

    There is nothing wrong with the "experience" class, some one that just wants to make a hook or a knife.  when taught well those classes can lead to a more serious interest in the craft, or a larger appreciation for the work involved and make for a better customer.

    The oft lamented flood of new smiths has lead to both good and bad results, yeah use anvil/tool prices are a little crazy but a larger market has lead to an economy of scale  and a lowering of new tool costs. you can buy a brand new anvil for what good condition old anvils were going for 10 years ago, 10 years ago you had all of three or four belt grinders on the market now there are 10-20 really good grinders on the market, some costing less now that a Bader cost ten years ago.  The amount of innovation in tools , material, and equipment has skyrocketed with this influx of new makers growing the market. these are great things. 

    This reminds me a little of the fine wood world 20+ years ago, when you had the home wood shops just explode, pretty tools of rosewood and polished brass, but also rapid innovation of saws and other equipment. 

    It is important to the craft to talk about these things. to find ways to keep the quality of information available to new smiths high. To be the shoulders of giants that other will stand on. but it is also imperative to remember the other side, the opportunities that these  "issues" represent. 

    So often I have heard FIF scapegoated for all the ills of our community many times by those same smiths making a good portion of there living teaching classes. I hear complaints of no one respecting the old guard of smiths (mostly in the blacksmithing side) but there is no effort to sell them selves or even to do some basic marketing.. other then through  groups and clubs like ABANA..  that drive new smiths out with there unwelcoming dated attitudes.  


    just a few thoughts on this 


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  3. Working in Coal I would use flux as well. Especially for odd shaped welds like hawk eyes. 

    its is the consistent soak time at temp that is key to breaking down the scale, I don't know that i could do that in a coal forge with out burning up the work flux would shorten that soak time. in fact to long a soak when using flux and the flux will get full of crud and cause issues. 


    21 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

    I take the mill scale off mild steel, and heavy loose rust off wrought, but that's about it.  I don't tack, I wire.  Since I work mainly in coal, I do use flux.  Makes the clinkers easier to pull out. ;)


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  4. This may sound like it is going against the prevailing wisdom but I swear it is the truth. 

    you don't need flux and you don't need to do any surface prep, for the last 5-6 years i have not used any flux for any Damascus work I have done, this is the method I use. 

    For initial stack I just cut bars to length and weld the corners to hold everything in place on longer stacks I  will run a bead down the middle. I don't prep any thing unless it has white paint (that can stop a weld flat). I weld in a gas forge running hot,  the temp isn't super important hotter is better up to a point. you do want a fairly reducing atmosphere, that is a dragons breath out of the forge. If the forge isn't reducing you will get a excessive amount of scale and a lot of decarb on the outside of the bar. The weld will be unaffected.   

    My best practices for a weld. 1st layers must be fit tightly. 2nd soak time at temp is key 2-10 min 3rd temp and amount of scale dictate length of soak time. 4th set the weld in one go, if it is to long repeat soak and fit requirements. 

    Restacks I will grind for fit but even on mosaics I don't sweat getting every last bit of scale off. 

    I have been teaching this method with hand hammers for the last two or three years, in that time I have not had any student that followed best practices get a bad weld. 


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  5. You didn't mention how you are judging the temps. For 1095 table salt works well it melts at 1474 degf. normalize three times right around this temp to reduce grain size, then quench from the temp the salt melts. heating slowly helps keep everything heating evenly  turn the forge down and go slow.  1095 should be quenched in something like Parks 50, but In thin cross sections like a knife medium speed oils will work though you may get an auto hamon, in a pinch canola at heated to 125DegF or so should be fast enough for 1095. 


  6. 21 hours ago, Joshua States said:

    I especially like how it changes color from Coop's pic to Matt's pic......;)

    don't worry I'll get coop to shoot this one as well .. figured you all would want to see the delay in working on this one.


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  7. I has been some time since I  had time to work on this I needed to finish this commission first, I ship it out to day so I was able to get back to work on this guy. I got the pommel finalized today and set the two bezels, at this point  I still need to finish the scabbard core and etch the blade, then I'll pass the sword on to Jordan to finish. 




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  8. Progress has been slow on this, I needed to set it aside to work on a commission, and progress on that has been slow. I cant remember ever being less productive, or at least it seems that way. any way I forced my self to make some progress on this today. I got the blade polished out the makers marks added, the pommel plates etched , the guard blued and polished and all the stones set in place. .. 

    all I have left before I pass it back to Jordan is to fab the scabbard core, etch the blade, and set the plates in the pommel.  







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  9. Thanks man , i was hoping to have this done , but needed to start working on paying projects as well as waiting on a new container of blueing solution. of course than i got side tracked by the 1 cubic inch challenge... I need to focus..MP

  10. Closer still, I got the grip wrapped , I got the bezel drilled for the rivet and blued the pommel and  guard,  It is a bit splotchy as my bluing solution is pretty old. I gave up trying to get it even and ordered a couple new containers, I'll redo the blueing on the guard and pommel once it comes in.  I ended up evening up the guard a bit more. ... seems like that is a never ending task.  symmetry is the bain of my existence ...


    My checklist to get this guy done, is finish polishing and etching the blade, etch the panels for the sides of the pommel,  rivet the bezels in place on the pommel, set the bezels and set the stones..  getting closer. I may also wire wrap the bottom portion of the grip. I am undecided on that. 







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  11. I decided I didn't like the bezels I had made, so I remade them the base is nickel silver and the bezel is sterling. with the new bezels set I finished the polish on the pommel as well as the two side plates. 

    I am going to drill a few holes and rivet the new bezels in place.  At that point I can etch the side panels and put it together. 





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  12. More slow progress on this sword. I finalized the pommel and got it all polished out to 600 grit. that included a bunch of time with a #4 swiss cut file refinine the lines and getting everything even. I got the nut filled out polished hardened and repolished and got the final stone set. moving on to the side panels today, I am going get the polished and etched , then carefully set them in the silver bezels .. then cold blue the pommel .. at least that is the idea. 




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  13. I took a jewelry / silver smithing class a few years ago, majorly helped me with my technique. I haven't taught though. 

    These are sort of non-traditional, the stones are set in bezels separately and then will be secured with epoxy, I under cut the edges of the steel and put small notches on the bezel where to make a mechanical bond.

    I have been doing them this way for a few reasons, in damascus  or as in this case a blues steel. first it lets me  finish out the steel parts without worry about scratching  them it setting the stones. It also lets me sit the stones lower in that would be possible  if setting the stone in place. in places were i could reach to set it I could solder the bezels in then set the stone.  I have done so with some designs, however cleanup is a real pain on steel as you cant really pickle it.  I can also mechanically set the stone and beazel in place by using a punch around the setting, I have done that a few times and it works well , but would be tough without the stones proud of the surface it also risks cracking the stone.. 


    • Thanks 1
  14. sorry to take so long to up date this , but not much was done on the sword, I got sick then wrecked my back and  had a commision I needed to be working on.  But I made a little time to work on it this week, so we will see how far I can get. 

    the guard wasn't sitting right in my mind  it keep looking off , but  the curves traced the same and a ruler showed then as the same size everywhere.. finally after going after it dial calipers I managed figured out where it was out fix that, tadn repeated the process several more times..  it is funny how even 0.005 thickness in the wrong place just looks off. All in all this has been one of the most challenging guard shapes i have done .. 

    in the end i got them evened up and all looking the same "weight" side to side. I set the bezels for the stones, and got all the settings roughed in. two 4MM Rubies on the end of the quillions and two 6MM star sapphires in the center. guard is now polished out to 600 grit I think i will buff it from here with emory followed by green chrome before I blue it.


    next I'll start to finalize the pommel. 









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  15. What was your year? 

    This year was not what  any of us expected going into jan 2020. 

    All our plans changed with the state of the world, as events canceled my travel was curtailed and I spent far more of this year at home and in the shop. I should have been productive, and in  once sense I was. I have had a good year, my sales were far better than my fears, I filled my orders on time and managed to keep stock made for the online sales. Even so I  worked Far less than normal.  



    Best of 2020 ?

    What is your best work of 2020? Show me! Show me what you are most happy to have done in the last year, learning a new technique or working with a new material? 


    For me only a few pieces come to mind. 

    First is this pair of knives, in mosaic damascus. A local videographer asked to come in the shop and do a mini doc, back in feb, it sounded like fun so i said yes, Evan cam in the shop several times a documented the build on the Koa handled knife, we were slowed by the lockdown so i actually finished the Black handled one first. The video came out great and he just did a 9 min short version for AWE-me  on your tubes well.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd08VFqmUmoParkinson_200428-wweb.jpg


     This set of knives was made for the Damasteel invitational, in Jan i was pretty excited to go to chicago for the event in May, but by the end of march it was clear it would not happen, so damasteel moved the event online. That was an interesting experience and one of the highlights of my year. It was such a unique event that I wrote an article in Knife magazine about it.  

     This was my first time working with this material. I have forged other stainless alloys and am familiar with the particularities.  I forged all the knives (other than the bread knife that was stock removal )  and did all of the heat treating in-house. Damasteel is an interesting material both like and unlike the damascus we make. Sense it is ba based on powder The lines of the layers are not as crisp as carbon damascus, the contrast is bold and the stainless aspect is impressive, the incredibly fine grain of the material makes it cut far more like a carbon steel than almost any stainless I have ever used,  I keep one chef in my kitchen it looks exactly like i made it after 9 months in my kitchen,( no patina!) and I have been extremely impressed with its performance. it is also costly, easily the most expensive steel I have worked with that I didn't make. 


    That was my year show me yours!!


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    • Thanks 2
  16. I heard that Jim Siska passed away on the 18th.

    Jim was am awesome maker, and one of the nicest guys. He was always so encouraging at shows, and always free with information.

    I don't think he was ever a member here but he gave many grinding demos at the Ashoken seminar over the years so many of us may know him from there.




  17. messed my back up , so progress on every thing has been slow, but i got the guard sanded out to 220 and fit the stone settings. I was planning on setting two more stones in the ends on the quillons but I am not sure might be to much.. if I do I will need to order smaller stones these are 6mm and I am not sure they will fit 



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  18. I wasn't able to get to much done on this sword before the holiday, but I did manage to get the guard filed to final shape.  I  had ground out the guard on a 36 grit belt on a 8" wheel just to get it close. I followed that with second cut half 6" round file followed by a #2 swiss cut , I should be able to start polishing at 400 grit other than some piling that galled my finish (old file that I need to replace soon) should go quick at 220 grit though.  I'll get it to 220 before I start cutting the settings for the stones. 




    • Like 5
  19. I got a little more done on this sword after Jordan left for home. 

    I roughed out the grinding on the guard, then I got the handle shaped out and cord wrapped. I got a quitch etch on the pommel panels and ground the pommel closer to finish shape. I started to lay out the stone settings. there will be two rubies and three  star sapphires set in silver on the sword.. 








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  20. The rest of the week was a bit of a mad scramble to get an assembled sword as Jordan needed to head home on friday.

    I stayed on the pommel and got the plates ground to thickness polished to 220 an heat treated. 

    Jordan ground the blade out carefully to match the original leaving just a bit over thickness to polish off later. when he was finished at 220 it was very close to the original less than .5MM change anywhere and other than our blade isn't sabered like the orginal the profile matches closely as well. 


    in grinding the blade warped a bit so we took to keeping the kiln on at the tempering temp and hot straightening with gloves whenever it went out to far. I continued finishing parts for the pommel, carved out a grip core and turned the pommel nut. I also laid out the stone setting for the pommel nut. it is a star sapphire. 

    Finally we were at a place to put it together, so I brazed in the threaded rod and got the tang cut to final length.  we did a quick vanity etch on the blade. weight at this point is around 60 grams over the orginal. both the pommel and the guard need to lose weight as well as a small amount from the blade in final sharpening and polishing/etching 










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  21. Two years ago I got the chance to document several medieval swords with my friend Greg Cimms, it was a epic day in NYC neither of us are likely to ever forget. 

    I have sat on the tracings and measurements for a long time now waiting for the right time / project to use then. 

    A few months ago I invited another friend of mine Jordan LaMothe down to the shop for a visit,  as sort of a Bussmans holiday we decided to do a epic sword build. 

    We began by planning out the build, using the proportions, weight and thickness measurements of the original sword we would build a modern sword. this sword struck me when i first held it with its ballance , Like Oakeshott mentions a a few times this sword felt like a fishing rod in my hand.  With all that is going on in the world I have felt like I have been bouncing off extremes and casting about for ballance, so we decided we would keep to a theme , of balancing extremes. 

    we would start with the damascus. 


    I forged out a 300 layer random bar Jordan forged it to size and split it on the saw, a mosaic bar by my Business partner Jamie lundell was donated, I book batched the bar ground in a serpent  and prepped it to be  welded in to the core we tried several things to get the 300 layer bar to feel like water, the mosaic is a pattern jamie calls campfire. we envisioned a flowing river of fire through calm waters.  

    fire and water. 


    The geometry is drawn around the original tracings,  I had a little trouble figuring out one of the layouts points. the pommel width, I thought I had it figured but it was a odd method so,  out I sent my lay out  to my friend Peter Johnsson for a eye check and he redid the layout from scratch (big thank you to peter!)  using all the same cuts as I did to define things (nice bit of confirmation of the method there! ) but  his layout used a much more logical and elegant cut to define the pommel. 


    I forged out the blade and we heat treated it in my High temp salts tempering in a kiln, a small amount of straightening, was needed several times during the grinding but we ended up with a straight hard blade very close to the originals dimensions. 


    The pommel on the original is clearly hollow, so I began fabricating a hollow pommel the outer plates are mosaic tiles that will be bezel set on the sides this is different from the original, but we keep to the same dimensions and overall form of the original. again the two sides are themed fire and water mosaics


    I need to head in the shop but I'll post more later.   










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