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Mike Johnston

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Mike Johnston last won the day on March 15 2018

Mike Johnston had the most liked content!

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    Forest Grove, Oregon
  • Interests
    Hunting, fishing, boating, scuba and everything involving knifemaking

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  1. I find a mustard finish appealing, both ascetically and for giving a somewhat rust resistant patina. This was a favorite finish of my recently departed mentor, Wayne Goddard. He would hand sand the blade to 600 grit in a swirled non-pattern, then apply a very light coat of yellow mustard to the blade. Wayne then used any number of items, usually his finger tips, to dob on random heavier spots of mustard on the blade. letting the blade set overnight gives a good etch. The blade looks terrible when you come back in the morning, but take heart, it's ok. Gently wash the blade with soap and hot water. Where the dobs are heavy, the blade doesn't etch as much. If the "pattern" isn't to your liking, repeat the process without removing the first attempt. I lightly heating the blade with a hot air gun and coat it with a light coat of oil (I use spray canola oil on kitchen knives). Another way to change the aspect of the finish is apply cold blue to the blade after the mustard finish is done
  2. The blade is wonderful, The whole knife looks like is would be a joy to use. I had been told that 304 stainless is difficult to forge weld in san mai. Did you do anything special to forge weld the layers together? Did you use flux or no flux? I have a ready supply of 304 stainless bar stock but haven't tried it yet.
  3. Thank you, It was quite a learning experience forging and heat treating this blade. I will certainly build an open top vertical forge tall enough to accommodate most if not all the blade length. I had a little drooping issue when trying to bring the whole blade to it's quenching temperature in my birdhouse forge. This is a shot of the open end of the scabbard. I'm not sure if this is the way the original scabbards were built, but it looked better than leaving the end open.
  4. It has been a long time since I posted anything. I have bee quite busy in the shop, but have only lurked rather than posted. I was commissioned to make a Roman Gladius by a former employer for a gift. It is loosely based on a Mainz style gladius with a wasp waisted blade, 23 1/2 " long X just over 1 3/4" width at the guard and behind the tip. The blade was hand forged from a pickup leaf spring and tempered back to 54-55 Rc. It was hand sanded to 2000 grit and finished by hand rubbing with Mothers Mag Polish, then Flitz. The guard and pommel are lathe turned from black walnut. I used a piece of cow bone for the handle shaped on a drum sander. The ends of the bone were recessed to accept the radius of the guard and pommel. A round brass tang extention through the pommel was peined over a brass "washer". The total weight of the sword is 2.4 pounds. The scabbard is a two piece wood liner, carved to fit the blade with felt inside. The wood is wrapped and glued with calf skin leather and hand stitched up the back. The brass work was formed over wood and steel mandrels that I shaped to size for the scabbard. All the brass was low temp silver soldered together.
  5. AT LEAST A DUST MASK!!! I spent a couple minutes with some blackwood on a very slow speed 36 grit belt friday without my respirator. Tuesday I finally got over the symptoms of bad food poisoning (it wasn't food poisoning). I guess I can't say I never work without my mask, but its a hard reminder. On a good note, If you can find a local wood distributer that carries reject clarinet bells its a great source of blackwood. Gilmer Wood in Portland Oregon ships anywhere in the world and are great people to work with. Their wood is all photoed and numbered on their website. Their "scrap bins" are well worth digging through if you are close enough to go in.
  6. My brother-in-law made knives for years in his apartment spare bathroom. He covered the bath tub with plywood as his workbench for the grinder etc. He vented everything out the ceiling vent. You can imagine where he sat to work. It was HIS SHOP!
  7. My oldest daughter spent lots of time with her Grandpa woodworking and working on motorcycles when she was quite young. She "graduated" to working on our family vehicles with me, then her own cars and pickups thoughout her life so far. She was the best welder in her high school class. My younger daughter spent half her time in the shop with me and half in the kitchen with mom. Her senior project in high school was to do a complete restoration of the family 1959 Austin Healy Sprite. The ONLY thing she didnt do herself was the paint. On the way to the airport going home to Alaska today she commented on how it was so nice being able to diagnose her husbands automotive and motorcycle problems, then fix them herself. I always vowed my children would not be helpless or stranded. Both have used their knowledge often for themselves, their friends and strangers.
  8. I have had very good success with old spring tooth harrow springs. I treated them like 1080 at about 1525 degrees with 130 degree canola oil after 3 normalizing cycles. I have clayed the spines and got some decent hamon activity. I tried a new harrow spring and it was totally different. I made a good hard blade, but gave no indication of a hamon with the same treatment. Test each piece of mystery steel. Spark, forge, quench, break, temper. Don't assume its the same because its from the same source.
  9. A rifle barrel boring tool
  10. Stainless steel steam table pans that restaurants throw away after they scorch the bottom to often work great for edge quenching. they come with lids so if things get carried away you can put out the fire. The lid also keeps things clean. For a vertical tank I cut the top off an aluminum 80 cubic foot scuba tank that failed inspection. It holds 3.5 gallons and is about 30" tall.
  11. Sorry, didn't read this before I sent you a PM. Thanks for being on top of this person.
  12. Geoff I am not sure what steel he was using, but I had a face to face discussion on this subject with Thad Buchanan which he was using.
  13. Correction on the name, it's Alaska Brass and Copper. If you go into their shop you can look through their cut off racks for "small remnants. During a Northwest Blacksmith Association conference, one of the demonstrators said that three of the four places that produce bronze have gone out of business. She has problems finding the dimensional bronze for her business and never knows what they will send her when she makes an order.
  14. I dont know where you are in Washington, but Alaska Bronze and Copper in Seattle should have the bronze you are looking for. The outlet in Portland Oregon have a little bronze, but they usually have to order it from their Seattle warehouse.
  15. J.D., The striped spacers were an experiment on this knife. I had mixed feelings as well as mixed reviews about the spacers. Kevin, I am using 1080 because I have a large supply and it works nice for me. I am still work with 5160 for hard working knives, but the 1080 gives a nice clay treatment hamon. I still have a lot to learn about 1080, but it seems to work for me.
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