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Matthew Freyer

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About Matthew Freyer

  • Birthday 08/24/1980

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Flagstaff Arizona USA
  • Interests
    my wife and son, blacksmithing, knives, traditional woodworking tools, axes, wood working, wood turning, clay pipes, living history
  1. Hey Everyone, I have spent most of my learning in blacksmithing and am only recently moving over more to bladesmithing. I have had a fair bit of successful forge welding but am very new to welding billets together. Flux is often recommended for forge welding in blacksmithing circles (though I have met several British Smiths such as Richard Bent and Adrian Legg) who do not use any flux when welding, even when they are using a coal fire. I have been reading the threads under hot work on "flux less" welding. However, for those folks who are much less cool and are still figuring out how to make good pattern welded billets , what kind of flux would you all recommend for beginning blade smiths first starting out with pattern welding? Are some fluxes better than others in terms of cleanup and inclusions? It seems as though the flux less welding would be ideal but is probably not a great starting point for blade smiths in the beginning... or do I have this wrong. One flux talked about in the Arizona blacksmith group is "Black Magic". This flux seems to be much easier on the refractory components of a forge such as the firebrick and kaowool, ITC-100, etc. Yet would this work well for pattern welding? Thanks for your thoughts in advance. -Matt
  2. Hi Miles, I don't have any pics of my own handy (but I can take some later if you like). But here are a couple of pics of different hold-fasts used for wood working benches. The first pic is of one with a simple curve at the back, while the second is the same type of small English bent foot hold-fast but the corner has been upset and forged to a 90 degree (I think this does in fact make a difference if you are being really picky) and was the traditional approach to making hold-fasts for woodworking. The last pic is of a group of holdfasts that Peter Ross forged and you can see the giant Roubo holdfast in the middle. It is a monster!!! There is actually an episode of the Woodwright's Shop with Roy Underhill from PBS where he visits Peter Ross and they show part of the process of making a couple of hold-fasts for woodworking. That might be worth a look in your preparation for making one if you want. I really like Gary Huston's work (the second video is of him making a "spring" hold down). He is a great teacher and does some really neat stuff! It is his first try at a hold-fast and he does a really good job. He gets it to stick in the hardy hole, so it does indeed work. And that is really the goal right? If you are trying to make a hold down quickly so you can get on to other stuff then good enough is certainly good enough. If you are trying to make the best hold down you can with the purpose of selling a really quality piece to a discerning crowd (like hand tool woodworkers) then you might want to experiment with some of the angles and designs to get just the right fit for the hole you are going for. I use my hold down in my pritchell hole, but I have a pretty large pritchell at about 3/4". A 5/8" mild steel round bar works great for making a hold-fast for my anvil, but some anvils may have a really small pritchell leaving the hardy hole as the most feasible choice.
  3. Jerrod, is the name you are thinking of: Hold-fast? That is the name used for them when they are used in woodworking. The bent foot and mushroom hold downs are designed to go in the Pritchell hole, right? I haven't seen any hold downs (yet) that are designed to go into the hardy hole itself. I would think that the square hole might produce too much drag on the leg of the hold down (if it had a square leg), resulting in it being very difficult to get it out when you wanted to. If it had a round leg in the square hole, I would think it would take too much work to get it to stick in place (essentially not enough drag). The bent foot hold downs used on anvils are almost identical to the English bent foot hold fasts used when working with hand tools on a traditional wood bench like a Roubo (he even had his own designs for VERY large hold downs for his benches). They are awesome because if they are designed correctly a light tap on top will hold your work in place and a light tap on the back will release it, allowing you to secure your work and proceed with punching, chiseling, etc. without losing heat. When I put my hold fast on my planing bench I can pick up the whole bench with the hold fast. Yet a VERY light tap will release it. I made one for my anvil too (but I can't pick it up, it is 270 lbs). Not hard to do and very effective. C. Craft: Quite the photo! I agree with you about losing your lunch... At first when I saw it at the bottom of your post I thought that it was a normal part of your signature line. It made we wonder about what kind of person you were!!! I then read your comments and agree that I would have to be well lubricated prior to digging into to those nails. Brian is a better man than I am!!! I think I would try to enlist a striker with a 14-pounder for that job!!!
  4. Wow! Now that I can actually type after laughing so hard... "Canukistan"? Perhaps I am a bit sheltered, I have never head that before and it almost killed me (some of my close friends are Canadians)! Thanks Randal! Several former Canadians are about to be treated to that (if they haven't heard it yet). I have to agree with Mike about SG's XX. Alan, you are truly a "man among men" if you regularly partake of that particular pipe weed. The last time I tried it I couldn't handle it, and the wifey wouldn't come near me for a couple of days. Considering that I am blessed with a wonderful marriage, that was a bad thing! And I am pretty into english blends and strong Virginias. Speaking of the "other smoke" I don't know about you guys but I can't tell you how many times people thought I was smoking the other stuff when I had a pipe on campus as a college student. Just because I wasn't smoking cherry nyquill flavored cavendish (no offense meant to aromatic folks...), people thought I was smoking dope. Honestly, Rattray's Hal O' the Wynd does not smell anything like Ganja!!! Speaking of Hal O' the Wynd (one of my favorite pipe tobaccos, also strong like XX but in a different way) I would highly recommend smoking it while reading Sir Walter Scott's "The Fair Maid of Perth" if you haven't read it yet. One of the main characters is a 14th century Scottish Armourer a man of "usual share of strength" after whom that particular pipe tobacco from Charles Rattray was named. It is a very engaging story, pity that it has not gotten even a fraction of the attention that Ivanhoe got. It is based loosely off of a historic battle in Scotland (the battle of the North Inch) in 1396 weaving the story into the holes in the historical knowledge of the battle. Sometimes I think we should recreate the battle of the North Inch with members of Congress to see who would win... Sorry. Shouldn't have gone there!
  5. Hi Tyler, Whoa, it is very obvious that you know a WHOLE lot more about ceramics than I do. I hope you weren't bothered by my feeble attempt to express the benefits of bisqued clay for pipes! I laugh when I think about your comment on how most sane people who do real ceramics (ok, my paraphrase) don't do it with wood firing unless they know what they are doing very well. It reminds me of a story of one of my close friends going to an archery store requesting to purchase a 150 lb long bow . His reasoning was simple: "That is what Robin-Hood used and so that is what I want to get". Needless to say that the store owner steered him towards a more reasonable choice for his first bow... I tried the down-draught wood fired kiln because that (or something similar) is what was traditionally used to fire clay pipes in many parts of the world and it is a really fascinating idea. I had no clue what I was getting myself into . I found a guy on craigslist who wanted to get rid of half-a pickup truck bed full of hard and soft kiln brick. I made a small scale kiln that fired for about (as you suggested) 8-10 hours and I used self supporting cones to monitor the firing. It actually worked pretty well all things considered. Not a very bright idea in a neighborhood either though... I have since dismantled my little downdraft kiln to use the components for other projects like my solid fuel forge (and have been happy to have the kiln firebrick for the forge). I am not a ceramicist, and I have simply pursued clay pipes because I love how they smoke. There are very few made these days that are truly designed with a pipe smoker and not a wall hanger in mind in my opinion ( very small bowls, brittle slip cast, very small smoke channels that you can't get a pipe cleaner through, etc). I have read up on a lot of history relating to clay pipes and their manufacture (in fact everything I can get my hands on) yet am by no means an expert on them at all. In addition I really have not explored ceramics much outside of the world of clay pipes. I talked with one of the local ceramic instructors and told him what I wanted to do and he gave me a couple of pointers but did not suggest that I take a ceramics course. I now use a homemade propane kiln that has worked well for me so far. The process is certainly much easier and more consistent. I appreciate your advice on using a clay like EM-100. I will have to give it a try. I am also really interested in your recommendation on the imitation meerschaum material. I am excited to get any info I can to improve the process and make better pipes. I love smoking the ones that I make now, but there is always lots of room for improvement! Thanks! -Matt
  6. Miles, Wow, tragic loss. I would love to see a picture of the type of mold you are describing some time if you ever happen to come across one of yours or something similar. Interesting that it came with ivory stems to use with the pipes you produced. Thanks J. Arthur for the kind words on the clays. Will be interested to hear an update on the fermentor at some point. Hi Tyler, I use a few different clays, this one in the photos is an off the shelf Laguna earthenware (EM210 I think). In addition to some commercial clays I also play around with some of the local clays to try to make a nice body for pipes in particular. I really only use clay for pipes and for refractory purposes, I am not really into other applications for ceramics, at least yet When you ask how I fire them, I am guessing you don't just want to know about the fuel. I have built a couple of kilns (including a down-draft wood fired kiln) and have even fired pipes in my charcoal and propane forges. A good old electric kiln is convenient if you have one. Now perhaps, to what you are driving after... With clay pipes you want to fire them to basically just a bisque temperature. You do indeed sacrifice some potential strength in the pipe, but the benefit is why clay pipes are such a wonderful smoke; the bisqued clay is highly absorbent. With any combustion process in the temperature range we are talking about you are going to produce some water. This water can mix with byproducts from the combustion of tobacco and produce a bitter flavor (as well as a gurgle sometimes). By only firing the clay to bisque temperatures, the absorbent clay removes combustion moisture from your smoke and gives you a nice clean dry smoke. So the optimum firing temperature for a particular clay is going to give you the best blend of absorbency and strength. Traditionally pipe makers fired their clay pipes to somewhere between 900-1000 C. A little higher than you can get in a typical pit fire but well within reach for a well built kiln using solid fuels. At the time that these temperatures were used higher temperatures were certainly available, so they definitely "under fired" the clay to get the best smoking properties. Did this answer your questions? Best regards, -Matt
  7. I pressed a few clay pipes tonight. These photos show one of the designs. It is not an exact copy of any original artifacts, but the dimension and style is not inconsistent with reed stem pipes made in this country in the 18th through early 20th centuries. It is very humbling to make these, as It takes me about 4 minutes to press each pipe and do the initial finishing of the surface. A professional pipemaker in a factory in his or her (yes even in the victorian era this was an occupation that women did too, sometimes more than men) heyday could have pressed upwards of 600 pipes a day! Ithe third phioto shows a finished pipe with a fitted reed stem.
  8. Nice Post Matt, I had not seen this video before but really enjoyed it. Boy would that be sweet indeed to go there in person. I think I feel a family vacation to Arkansas coming on... Now I just need to find a scrapbooking convention for the wifey to go to near the museum and we are all set!
  9. Awesome. Looking forward to seeing those photos from local Tennessee potters! Safe travels back from the UK.
  10. Hi Don, It is indeed a pain that many clays have a very small smoke channel. I tend to try to make the channel on mine around 1/8-5/32" both for a good draw as well as to pass a pipe cleaner through. I now focus on making reed stem clay pipes where I can easily pull the reed out and run a cleaner through both the read stem and the hole in the bottom of the bowl. Would you like me to send a couple your way? -Matt
  11. Hi Scott, The main challenge with making a good pressed pipe is making a mold that can handle the pressure required to press the pipe. Traditionally original molds were made out of wood (very early on) and later metal (brass and bronze followed by cast iron and steel). Typically the making of the molds involved a blend of carving a master to cast the mold around and then engraving fine details in the final mold (like those seen in some of the excellent figurals like those from France such as Gambier and Fiolet pipes. For making my pressed pipes I have been learning how to cast metal to make the molds, starting with aluminum due to the low temperatures and ready availability of the material. I have also been playing with bronze as well. My first press mold I hand carved out of wood. I have also been able to get my hands on an original early 19th century Dutch bronze mold for hand pressing. The originals are really hard to come by and when you do, they are very expensive! This has been what has lead me on my quest for casting a good mold. Hi Miles, Very interesting. What type of material were these slip molds made of? Usually slip casting molds nowadays are made from plaster or some other absorbent material to pull the water from the slip. If it was a metal mold, that was indeed a tragic loss! Those are very hard to find and there are no reproduction metal pipe molds on the market today. I would be happy to connect with you and hook you up with some clay pipes though if you would like! Thanks also to Brian, Robert, Don and Josh for your comments about growing tobacco. I think M. Cochran has the right idea for me... especially since I live in Arizona. There is a reason they grow tobacco in the southeast and something tells me it would be far more work than value out here in the sandy west!
  12. Fascinating! I have wondered about growing my own tobacco for a while but have never given it a chance. I live in the high desert, so I don't expect too much from my garden. How did you learn about the process of growing tobacco? Are there any resources you recommend, or have you learned from experiment? I agree about Pipes and Cigars .com. They have a killer selection and good prices. Russ comes up with some really neat blends too!
  13. I have to agree with you guys! It's a fun show (my favorite episodes are when they blow the cement truck up and crush the car with the rocket propelled rail car) but they tend to be really light on the science. Positive/negative controls? Representative samples? Sample size larger than 1? Not so much. And no, I'm not just jealous (ok, well in the interest of full disclosure maybe just a little bit .
  14. Hey Everyone, As I have been reading through various messages on the forum I have noticed several references to pipe smoking. How many of the folks on here smoke pipes? How many make their own pipes? In addition to beginning to learn the fine art of blacksmithing (and more recently moving towards bladesmithing) I have been working on making my own pressed clay pipes. I have found clay to be my favorite material for smoking and have them strewn all about my backyard smithy. I find most clay pipes available nowadays are slip cast and really don't smoke (or hold up) as well as a good pressed pipe. I have smoked pipes for many years (getting close to 20 now, and no I am not 38 yet ). I like mostly good aged virginias and english blends though now and then I will puff on an aromatic if the mood strikes me. I host the local pipe club (in my smithy) and we have a great time getting together and puffing on new blends and quaffing pints and hammering on a bit of iron. So how about you?
  15. Awesome everyone. Thanks for the input! I appreciate the sage advice on the advantages of propane giving more time to focus on bladesmithing itself. I am judging based on the responses that most people do not believe that there is any advantage to charcoal forging blades, which if I am correct they would put this in the same category of "hype" as forging blades only during a full moon, quenching while facing north and chanting ancient norse nursery rhymes during tempering. On another note I am very interested in Jesus' comment on the ability to carburize in an open forge environment. It sounds like the fuel is not as much the issue as is the technique if I am understanding his comment correctly. I love this forum! -Matt
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