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James Spurgeon

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Everything posted by James Spurgeon

  1. Very good advice! Thanks. If I do mention anything I would exclusively present my work restoring antiques. Such as: Given the level of research required to accurately restore such pieces, would that be appropriate/beneficial?
  2. Hey all! I am heading to Switzerland for the next week and one of the stops we have planned is to the Historical Museum in Bern, which I hear has the largest collection of Wootz Damascus swords. I doubt they have the entire collection on display, so I would love to see the back room archive. I have seen posts from several members here that were able to achieve that access, some sounded like they just got lucky, but I'm thinking that many had to plan ahead to make that happen. Any suggestions on how I should approach that, or who I should ask to speak with (specific name or usual title)? Thanks in advance! James
  3. Hoping someone has some experience with using Neodymium magnets as clasps for sheaths and/or jewelry. Anyone aware of a source for polymer bonded Neodymium magnets for reasonable prices? Or if I am stuck with nickel plated, how can I prevent the nickel plating from chipping off?!? I have thought about just buying the magnets and re-plating them with additional nickel, but I don't know if that will be effective (at increasing the thickness or making it stronger...) I appreciate any input... James
  4. This is what I love about this place! I like long winded answers, it's where I learn the stuff I didn't realize I should ask about... Besides, you think like me:
  5. Thank you all for the compliments! This is something I "refused" to make a mistake with, so it felt like a very slow process with more time spent researching than actually doing the physical restoration. I have added the final piece of content to the 3rd section above (the chisels I made and the process I followed to stop the blade from binding). Well then, thanks Alan! It's good to know I was at least in the right ballpark. I must say, this is absolutely the cleanest shear steel I have ever seen, if the ricasso had been ground rather than forged to shape, I wouldn't have had a clue. James
  6. Oops, forgot to post down here so people get the notifications regarding new content. I also just noticed that I skipped an entire topic in the restoration. Adjusting the scabbard so the blade could seat without getting stuck once again! I will add that as soon as I can get a pictures of the 2 looooonnnnnnng chisels I made for the purpose. James
  7. I added the 3rd section and the first half dozen images for the fourth....The rest of the 4th section will come tomorrow.
  8. The Restoration process part of this thread concluded with the "English Polish" section above. If anyone wants clarification on any part of it, pop in and ask! This section is for 2 things: before/after images, heavily weighted to the "after". And, to start a discussion regarding the date this would have been made. Became: Became Became OK, no more comparisons...just the finished Walking stick: OK. Best starting point I have towards figuring out the age, would be the fact that style of small sword blade didn't really exist until after 1660 and they don't seem to be common until 1680. So I have an "Oldest" mark of 1660, but it becomes increasingly more probable as we move forward in that range. On the "newest" mark; several aspects of this overall package fell out of favor by 1750. Individually, those aspects aren't solid time markers since many persisted in use for a number of years or even decades. However, collectively I think they make a strong case for that year as the "Newest". First, the blade is a full length small sword mounted in an impossibly narrow stick, so it wasn't cheap. Second, it was clearly designed for the joint between handle and scabbard to be nearly invisible, despite the obvious alignment triangles. These 2 dots are the original witness marks. The notches are less precise and had no finish (shellac) in them before I started. Third, when sheathed and unidentified, this is incredibly plain for a "swagger stick", which takes me on to trains of thought. High quality sword canes from the late 1700s and well into the 1800s were rather exclusive items built into some of the most ornate canes I've ever seen. from the other side of this plain observation, why would you be commissioning this level of weapon under that much concealment... I don't have a definitive answer for that one, there were too many possibilities and my train ran out of steam while I was deciding.... The converse of 3 is that relatively plain sword canes I have seen have all had a crude feel to them, while this was obviously a master work, in an apprentice exterior. Fourth, or fifth, as you can see in the last image of the ricasso, this is a laminated blade, likely for homogenization of a Blister Steel. Crucible homogenization of blister steel was commercialized in 1751. Although it was expensive stuff, the folding process to get blister steel as clean as this blade would easily eclipse the cost. Again, not definitive on its own since some smith's continued to us blister steel and the folding process into the early 1800s, but again, I doubt they were refining it to the level of this blade. To recap: Blister steel; too plain to be a fashion statement and too well made to have been commissioned by someone who couldn't afford a more decoratively worked cane. So, that seems to indicate that it was made in the era where open carry of rapiers and small swords had been banned or severely limited but while a full length sword was still advantageous over the pistol or dagger length "sword" canes. Well having been up all night, that may not be as coherent as I wanted, but it's a start. What do you guys think? (and gals, but I'm aiming for Alan Longmire)
  9. When last we met: A sword had been reborn, but was a little crusty from the passage. Now may be a good time to mention some dimensions: the full stick is just over 36 inches long. The blade is a triangular cross section and hollow ground on all 3 sides for the entire 30 inches of blade! What gets me, though isn't just the length; at the mouth of the scabbard, the stick's diameter is 3/4" and it tapers to just under 1/2" at the cap (and yes, I mean exterior dimensions). Can you imagine drilling (or even burning) a hole 30 inches long through a stick that is only 2x the diameter of the hole? Then mounting a blade into it well enough to be carried for however many years, used in at least 1 sword fight* and eventually getting set aside for a couple hundred years... and still manage to survive a yahoo with a ratchet strap? But back to the restoration: Opening up the scabbard to get it functional, without making it so loose that it would fall off while walking with it: I made a crayon of beeswax and coated the blade then slid it into the sheath until it started to bind. Pull it back out, inspect the wax and very conservatively scrape the scabbard where the wax had been rubbed off. Re-wax and repeat. As it got close, I put the blade in and dropped the whole stick from about a foot off the floor, point down. As soon as the blade would seat itself just by gravity and the momentum of the short drop, I stopped. I made 2 chisels for that whole process. the first is 3/32" and the second is 3/16" and the tape on each rod was the maximum depth they should be used. In addition to the light rust, you can see that the corners of the wood joint have been chipping, but what isn't so obvious is the 1/2" of bark on the scabbard side that has separated from the core, but not yet broken off. I call this section "Hide Glue Patina"... Really, the blade was in much better condition than I had expected, so this turned out to be the easiest part: Super Fine ScotchBrite Belt & Jeweler's Rouge (almost more of a lubricant than abrasive). Most of my "after" pictures show both metal and wood, so I will save them for the end, but there is one thing I want to be perfectly clear from the first thrust: When Done Right: Power tools are NOT going to ruin the steel! Towards that end, I use synthetic abrasives that are super fine, much softer than steel or even bonded oxides (patina) and that are designed to 'clean' rather than shape. Then I follow Bob Lovelace's advice "Grind or polish hardened steel with bare hands. If the metal is too hot to hold; It's Too Hot! Cool it off!" All of the age and patina are preserved, but the active rust is fully removed and you don't have to worry (as much) about 'spontaneous' corrosion kicking off from a missed pocket of active rust. Now for the wood: It doesn't show up in the pictures as well as I would have liked, but you can see a relatively long crack following the grain on the side of the scabbard. If you look even closer, you may notice that some areas of the crack are stained brown, the same look as the tip after the steam bath melted off the hide glue. I firmly believe that the start of this crack is original and the maker back filled it with a putty of hide glue and sanding dust. So that is exactly what I did for this repair: I grabbed a piece of walnut, stuck it in a clean bucket and went at it with a sanding drum on my Dremel. Then I poured the contents of the bucket into a little glass jar. I blended the walnut dust into the hide glue and checked/adjusted the mix until I was satisfied with the match-up before actually applying the putty to the crack: I waited for the glue to start hardening, then I went back and removed the excess and blended it into the grain with a cotton cloth which I dipped frequently into hot water. I did the same, even more carefully to rebond the bark at the mouth, without causing it to crack off as I worked the glue into the paper thin gap. And again... to fill in a couple cracks in the pommel: and All of that done, it was time to start working the finish. My extensive reading lead me to deduce that the finish was shellac, which I confirmed by rubbing it down with an alcohol saturated cotton cloth. The shellac "reamalgamates" and flows just enough to help fill in cracks and gaps where it had been knocked off. I then needed to add a little shellac to build it back to an appropriate coverage, but straight shellac is very shiny, and the stick was almost flat (not shiny). Published in 1906 Research wins again: It turns out that shellac becomes 'flat', without compromising it's strength, with the addition of small amounts of Amorphous silica (in the form of diatomaceous earth). I also wanted to thin the shellac I was using to minimize the quantity I was adding and ensure that it fully bonded with the original shellac. So, with some experimentation, I ended up with the recipe as 2 fl oz of Zinsser shellac; 2 fl oz of 91% alcohol** and 2 teaspoons of diatomaceous earth. Which changed the shellac from this --------------------------------------------- to this Next stage was to fit a natural cork plug in the end to hold the blade steady/quiet, without gluing it back in, and glue the tip back on and re-crimp the dimples. Final stage was to put an "English Polish" on it and seal the tip with shellac to prevent the glue from getting wet if the owner ever decides to take it for a stroll...in wet grass. "French Polishing" is a fancy method of blending fine pumice with the shellac and buffing it onto a surface with a cloth pouch filled with an absorbent material dipped in a drying oil. The simultaneous buffing and application leaves a glass like appearance, but is notably less durable than just using shellac. The English, being (in general) more practical and less flashy took the French Polish and split the steps. Shellac is applied in thin coats, dried and then buffed with an abrasive lubricated in a drying oil. The oil is cleaned off and another thin layer of shellac is applied etc. This method has less flashy results, but is far stronger and more resistant to water than a French Polish. Giving: The camera brings out the shiny more than real life, but it's close enough. TTFN: I will post a couple teaser pictures in the next section, but it is way too late/early to finish the WIP until after work tomorrow/today. (*based on the presence of a dozen or so very subtle strike marks at various points along the blade, a friend that happens to be the "1st Sergeant" in charge of all state troopers in my region, was really tempted to take it to a forensic lab, but preserving history won the debate) (**the book said 92% or better but I already had the 91% on hand, so I gave it a shot)
  10. After pondering the information gleaned; I forged a tiny, spade tipped, pry bar from 1/8" high carbon steel rod stock, pressed out the indentations holding the loose cap to the stick, and inspected the wood covered in an oily looking goop that was actually dry and hard to the touch. [Hide glue] I used a series of drill bits [without the drill, I held and turned them by hand!] to remove the hide glue plug: until I felt a 'tink' and saw the glint of steel: the tip was entirely encased in hide glue, so the next step had to be steam. However, I didn't want to make the wood swell so much that the finish would crack off, nor did I want to allow the handle to be exposed to the steam. [Seriously, I can't fathom how my "traction" setup hadn't already removed the handle considering the tang is only 2.5" long and has no cross pinning or barbs.] I concluded my steam setup would have to use a short "soak" with very high temperature steam: And would have to include a diaphragm to isolate the handle: As a word of wisdom should anyone use this idea: build a stiff frame to support the pipe: I will admit to a moment of panic as I tried to remove the stick before it got jammed in a bent pipe, without knocking my wife's pressure canner off the stove. But, it worked! straight out of the steam, no cleaning whatsoever and it was still sharp enough to shishka-Bob or anyone else: [Restoration work will start in the next post]
  11. I haven't been posting much on here recently, mostly because I've been too busy... BUT, this commission was too good not to share: A regular customer found this "Victorian Briarwood walking stick" in an antique shop. (for $40 USD) [It's not actually bent, my phone just refused to accept that fact.] He of course noticed this: The blade, if there was one, was absolutely frozen in the stick/scabbard and it wouldn't even wiggle. It rattled slightly, but the sound was just from the loose cap at the tip. When he asked about it, the antique dealer said "I bought it in an auction house on my most recent trip to England, as part of a lot of 'pre-1850 antique canes' and I don't know enough about weapons to risk my reputation by saying it is anything more than a walking stick." [I don't recall which auction house, but it was reputable in the business.] Obviously, he bought it, and brought it to me with the instructions to figure out how to get it apart, preferably without breaking it, but considering the price he paid, using whatever means were necessary [within a rather broad definition of reasonable.] I decided to go with the slow and steady approach to start and tied a paracord harness along the full length: I put the handle in the pipe side of my 50 lb bench vise, with ample padding: Then I hooked the loop at the end of my harness to the frame of my barn door with a ratchet strap: And started to apply tension, very slowly and carefully: Absolutely nothing happened! So I cranked a little more, then a little more etc. A couple hours later, the ratchet maxed out and refused to allow me to crank it another notch! [1,000 lb working load rating] So I left it overnight, nothing. So I cranked it a bit tighter... 3 days later [no joke], i gave up on that strategy as it hadn't budged in the slightest. That begged the question, "what was I actually working on?" So it was time to take some fancy pictures: [Disclaimer: Nobody at my full time job would ever bend the rules regarding the use of highly sensitive and very expensive medical equipment... not even at 04:00 hrs. I took the pictures with my cell phone camera, maybe not directly as there was a computer console in the way, but that doesn't have any relevance...] So now what? [After picking my jaw back up from the floor.] Research and consultation, at least a metric ton of each. [Continued in next post.]
  12. Looking good. Open the damper a tiny bit and should look like a supersized pencil torch with a reasonably defined blue cone. What size propane tank are you planning to use with the final setup? (The barbecue tank will freeze over after about 30 min of forging.) James
  13. No problem, glad to help. Another reason I like the Venturi is that it works even if you lose power. James
  14. No need to toss anything... As a blown burner just leave off the mig tip and plumb your air to the open side of the T. Hair dryer could work, but I haven't done much with this design as a blown burner because it works so well as a venturi. The air source info on Geoff's thread (to which Alan linked) should apply directly to this burner as long as the final burner tube is the same diameter. James
  15. Warner, Joel was spot on with his answer to your earlier questions. The quarter turn valve at the burner is a safety feature, but it also helps when lighting it. I use a longneck fireplace/grill lighter that allows me to keep my hand out of the way, but I'm still close enough to operate the valve and air damper. A paper ball or other such solid fuel is a great alternative. Just be sure to turn the gas on slowly so you don't blow the paper back out of the forge. Looks like you have a reasonable assembly for the injector, even if your bushing options were less convenient. Make sure the gas injector extends past the air intake and down into the burner tube. That stabilizes the flame so it isn't as sensitive to random drafts and burns more efficiently. Good luck and let us know how it goes, James
  16. I am passing this along from my local Blacksmith's guild; The coal is located near Richmond Virginia, sorry I don't have the exact location. If you can get there to pick it up this is a nice opportunity. My name is Scott. I have a extremely large amount of bituminous type coal for sale. This was removed from a historic warehouse that had a coal vault room. This facility went up for sale and is being converted to usable space, so this is a one time deal. We have until July 15th, 2017 to get it completely removed from the site. I have a backhoe with a 1.3 cubic yard or 1 ton bucket to load. It will be sold as follows: .10 cent per pound for 1 ton .05 cents per pound for anything over 5 tons If I have to deliver the cost increases to .20 cents per pound within a 50 mile radius of the site anything further will need to be discussed Pick ups will be scheduled on Friday, Saturday and Sunday unless prior arrangements are made. Again deadline for site removal is July 15th, 2017 As a blacksmith myself finding coal here in Virginia isn't easy as it used to be, Sources have closed there doors more recently. I used to drive to Elkton. I hope you share this with others in your associations , staff and fellow blacksmiths. Contact me by email me @ sohrum40@gmail.com OR call, leave a message at 804.349.5829 Sincerely, Scott Ohrum
  17. Old thread, but I finally have real progress. I work in the Emergency Department of our regional hospital doing independent psych evaluations (in the hospital but not for the hospital). Point being, they built a new wing onto the hospital a little while back and had pavers from an outdoor employee break area that had to be pulled out. The pavers all got stacked on a back lot where I've been eyeing them for a while now. I finally went to the VP in charge of the facilities/maintenance etc. and asked if I could aquire some of them. He asked how many I needed and I said my shop area was about 20' x 20', expecting to then ask for a smaller amount. He jumped in "So that would be 10 x 10 of those pavers, do you have a way to haul them? You should be aware they weigh just over 100 lbs each." No charge other than the effort involved! Pavers are 2 ft square (4 sq ft) about 2 inches thick and textured on top so they wont get slick. I already hauled the first load of 42 pavers to my shop and will eventually manage to haul 70 or so more, (100 + a few for error margin). I also purchased about 600 lbs of bedding sand and cement mix to lay the bed for them. Fortunately, the existing gravel is already a good stable foundation and about 6 inches deep on average. Just need to rake it out to be even and level, add a few drainage tubes to ensure the whole floor doesn't try to migrate after I finish it, and then start laying the bedding sand and pavers. (Sounds so easy when I type it out...) Its just me doing the hauling, with a heavy duty dolly since I don't have a forklift or bobcat, so no clue how long this will take to actually install, but I have materials and a plan!
  18. I have 30 throwing spikes and knives stuck in a target near my forge...all are Normalized not hardened! I once made the mistake of hardening one forged from 5160 and giving it a fairly springy temper above 500f. First throw was minutely off of "perfect" and the wood target refused delivery. The knife rapidly became "return to sender" at nearly the same velocity I threw it! Most of my early ones are mild steel spikes and leaf blade patterns I made for forge practice and I lean towards that for any I make for myself. If a customer wants a "better" steel, that is fine, but I will never harden another throwing knife. James
  19. Gabriel, Glad to see you tested it hard before thinking about sending it off. Just curious if you did any hardening sequence tests with extra pieces of the same steel before heat treating the final blade? As to pricing: It's hard to put a price on someone else's work, but since you are asking, I will tell you what I did when making knives for close friends when I was relatively new to the craft. By "relatively new" I mean I could make a reliable blade, but my "fit and finish" were best described as passable. I would make the knife they wanted and give them a minimum price that I felt covered my costs plus a little bit for my time. Then I asked them to use it for a week or so and then pay me what it was worth. If I were pricing this knife in this way, I would have charged $90 - $100 + whatever they thought it was "worth". I can't say I got as much $ as the custom or semi-custom knife market would bear for the same knife by an established maker, but given my skills at the time, I never felt gypped with the "+ whatever". This only applies if you look at yourself as a hobbyist that sells stuff to offset the cost of your hobby, professional smith's have to look at the bottom line and charge enough to keep their shop going for the long run. James
  20. Here are the actual numbers from the test I mentioned earlier. Cactus Juice stabilized block 3/4 in thick (-26 in/Hg; convection oven dried before stabilization) Block sawn in half lengthwise after stabilization, prior to testing 79g ~75ml displacement (slightly long for the graduated cylinder) 79g after dunk for displacement. 80g after 30 min submerged in tap water. 79g after 10 min air drying (room air no fan). Un-stabilized, convection oven dried block 36g 50ml displacement 38g after dunk for displacement. 39g after 30 min soak in tap water. 38.75g after 10 min air drying (room air no fan). James
  21. I have a Turntex chamber that I paired with a 220V pump reclaimed from a heat pump system. Works slowly since the CFM is minuscule, but it pulls -27 (slightly better than -28 when adjusted to sea level). I did a test a year or 2 ago with a piece of Yew. Stabilized a full sized handle section, then cut it in half as handle scales since I wanted to test penetration of the stabilizer. The test was weighing the stabilized pieces and some plain dried wood from the same board then placing them in water for a quick dunk, weigh, then in the water for 30 min weigh again. Air dry for 10 min weigh again. I recall that the stabilized wood gained a minuscule amount of water weight which may have just been trapped in the surface of rather rough cut sides since it returned to original weight in under 10 minutes. I will look on my tablet for the actual numbers and post them here if I can find them. James
  22. Sounds like a solid plan to me. And if you forged the edges of the face without knocking the face off, you welded it quite well! For the heat treat, I would just normalize, or oil quench and imediately temper around 600-700f. You are going for toughness much more than hardness. James
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