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Caleb Harris

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Posts posted by Caleb Harris

  1. I think Geoff covered most of it. Your life will change when you get a drill press by the way, even just a cheap one is life changing. 

    You'd be surprised that a good number of professional knifemakers don't drill holes the exact diameter of the pins; rather they'll just drill a bunch of have the waterjetted blanks cut out large cavities inside. Of course, this means you can't cut corners on epoxy application; the surfaces of both tang and scales have to be chemically clean before applying the right epoxy. Good epoxy and good application is shockingly effective and if it's done right will outlast the scales. The pins in this case serve as a method to hold the scales to each other so that ripping out the bottom surface of the scales is no longer possible (it's like gluing something to the wall; the paint will rip off the wall, not the glue off the paint). 

    Keep in mind also that there are a lot of strength issues that need to be kept in perspective; for example the old full vs hidden tang debate. Newbie fanatics will take only full tang knives "because they're stronger". Which, as a concept and all else equal, they really are (there's more mass of steel). The clinch though is that assuming the stick tang is well constructed, by the time you apply enough stress to actually destroy the handle, you're A: using the knife wrong (tip; it's not a prybar that you can hook up to a hydraulic press) and B, something else has already failed (wood scales, tip, edge, etc.).

    Being that smaller pins are (generally) sexier, you can probably just stick smaller pins in the holes you already have, drill out the scales to the new pin size, and center them because you have wiggle room inside that larger hole. Or you can just drill new holes; use a center punch to mark a divet in the correct spot so the drill doesn't roll away, and start with a smaller drill bit than intended so you're less likely to roll out of alignment. 


  2. Right on! I reposted it, hopefully it gets some good traction and spread around a bit. A lot of people have recognized and read the book so far. 

    Oh also JPH; there's a young man (about 17) who's got the fire in his belly, who messaged me and said he's in the area you're moving too. It sounds like he'd be very happy to help out what he can with the shop, to support another bladesmith and get some knowledge rubbed off on him. I pointed him to your website so he may contact you soon. 

  3. Ugh. Really feel for you here. I haven't been on the forum at all much lately so didn't see this until now. The stolen tools are a major hit. 

    I have a fairly large and very engaged media presence ( https://www.instagram.com/bladesofbelaq/ ) -  more as a young buck than anything else, but I think I can help circulate the gofundme a good bit. I'm not entirely familiar with the full extent of legacy though and would like to write up a concise but fully encompassing summary on your impact on the bladesmithing community. Is there anyone else here that can fill me in on the full impact? Especially other big names that have been affected by your work and who people would be familiar with. I'm looking into your writing right now

  4. Keep in mind that there are usually a ton of local anvils that just take some digging to find. Never new, but very often in excellent condition and you save a ton getting an antique one. I got my Peter Wright with only a bit of wear, and then over a month period I found more than twenty anvils within a half hour drive more or less suitable for bladesmithing, just after having been aware of them. I forge iron had a good article on finding 'em. 

  5. 1 hour ago, C Craft said:

    Caleb, sounds like you hit the lottery so to speak!! Listen not trying to be an a$$ but that piling of files is the worst thing you can do with a file. They are hard enough without much force you can chip the edge of one file with the other. The best way to store them is to hang them, so that they can't smack against one another.  In lieu of that I reverse them handle to blade and lay them on my work bench. That eats up a lot of space though. I have got to get busy and make a rack to hang them!

    Yeah this is how I picked them up; already in the box tangled up like that. I gotta get a space before I can properly separate them so I'm keeping them where they are to keep from getting more jostled then they already are.

  6. Generally it's like everything else; sandpaper. Otherwise, the best bet is probably dremel bits: jewelers have a ton for every purpose imaginable. I don't do much filework but my go to would be rubber polishing bits, like this one: https://www.dremel.com/en_US/products/-/show-product/accessories/462-rubber-polishing-cone-point . Rubber polishing bits are generally just rubber imbedded with abrasives. It feels like magic when you use them. Only tricky bit would be to keep all the sand lines consistent, but it just takes a bit of practice. 

    Yes, theoretically you could get good enough with a stone rotary bit or a grinding belt, but honestly if you're grinding on a stone (as opposed to a belt) it's faster, easier, and more accurate to use files anyway. Same with using abrasive belts, except it'd technically be faster. Never underestimate the file. 

    • Like 1
  7. 23 minutes ago, Conner Michaux said:

    Whats the best cheap grinder you can buy?

    It doesn't really matter all that much. Heck if I were you I'd just keep my eyes peeled at yard sales, craigslist, or facebook marketplace and buy one cheap there. I've got a dewalt, have used it (and it was used before me) a ton for a good five years now and it's never failed me. 

  8. So I lucked out and bought a bunch of files from a retiring machinist. A bunch of old Nicholsons (used, but well taken care of), averaging about a foot in length and medium to coarse. I didn't get a date but I believe they're pretty old, back when Nicholson was one of the best. I've also got a few brand new unused Simonds; triangle and flats, averaging about 8", most are lathe files. I'll get more dimensions and specifics if y'all are interested. Note that the Simonds are practically perfect condition, wrapped in paper when I got them. The Nicholsons are used and were together in a box when I picked it up. There's a variety of cuts. 
    I'm looking for good needle files (mostly for guard fits and the like), anyone happen to have extras they'd like to swap? I'm also looking for various tools and materials handy in this craft, just seeing what's out there (especially grinder wheels and attachments). Money's tight so I'm shooting for trades as much as possible

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    Thanks all!

  9. On files, I lucked out and picked up a ton from a retiring machinist. Old Nicholson's (from when they were good), used, but definitely still sharp. If you can pay shipping via paypal (like $10) I'll send you one or two suitable for draw filing. 

  10. 29 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

    Cheaper angle grinder work okay, but should be considered a consumable tool.

    I have an upper-end Milwaukee industrial 5" that I got in 1999 and it's still going strong.  It's $125, though.  What I like on an angle grinder is a paddle switch.  A toggle or push switch is not as reliable or safe.  Paddle switches are sort of a "squeeze and it's on, let go and it stops" thing.  And they have a grip safety so they can't start unless you deliberately want it to.

    And get your files from an industrial supply place like MSCdirect.com.  They are higher quality than hardware store files.  Now that Nicholson only makes file-shaped objects, I like Simonds brand.  NOS Nicholsons stamped Made in USA turn up on eBay as well, and they are good.  

    That is a very good point, angle grinders especially it's worth it to get a safer one. Dangerous little buggers, but at least they're scary enough to keep you alert (unlike buffing wheels). I still have two halves of a cutoff disc lodged in the shop wall, gonna frame them when I get the chance. 

  11. Files will work pre heat treat, but after that you can't really use steel tools to grind the blade to final shape. Until you can get a grinder, I'd honestly start out with an angle grinder (like $15 used) fitted with a flap disc, and very (very) gently and carefully grind down from there. You won't get crisp plunges, but you'll get a very good feel for steel; how it acts, how quickly it can heat up (and it will heat up quick), and how to get a feel for angles. Then I'd finish up with sandpaper. 

    (Get comfortable with sandpaper, y'all will be spending a lot of time together).

    For files, depending on the coarseness of course, starting at 120 grit should do fine. Then just go up through each progression until you're happy; a clean 400 is usually on the lower tier of satin finishes. Hardware stores have 'em pretty pricy, but Combat Abrasives (I get all my stuff from them) have excellent prices and a good selection. Just get the cheapest for now. Oh, and two bits of advice for hand sanding: sand in alternate directions with each grit, so you can very clearly eliminate every scratch from the previous grit. Also, be comfortable buying a lot and throwing it out. You'll be happier without continually trying to sand with a worn out piece. 

  12. Now that's a gorgeous setup! Gotta love the orange (not too close to that wall right?). Can't wait to see your work. I find the two hammers (heavy cross and light ball) do pretty much all the work you need, and you develop a bond to them pretty quick. 

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