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Benjamin Gitchel

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    Aurora, OR
  1. Well, the washtub forge works GREAT! The fir/cedar charcoal I made also burns really hot and clean (I was surprised -- no smoke) without popping, and I used an old crank blower I found that really pushed out the air, so I didn't haven't to resort to using a hair dryer. All that said, I never even made it to quench -- the clay from around the spine came off in the forge with a little 'tink.' Here's what I THINK happened: I put the blade on the coals spine down and moderately kept the coals burning with slow cranks of the blower, hoping to creep up on it. The coals started to get down there and instead of just pouring more on top (should I have?) I picked the blade up and held it a couple feet above the forge as a friend put more coals on the fire. Did this exposure to the cool breeze (it was about 45F outside with wind about 5mph) and then setting it back down in the heat cause the metal to shrink/expand too quickly for the clay, and cause it to break off? Anyways, I shut it all down as soon as I heard the 'tink' and after letting the blade cool to the air (I put it on the side of the forge), I scraped the remaining clay off and the blade seems fine -- no cracks. It was just the sound of the clay coming off. So I could really use some suggestions here on what I did wrong and how I could do it right next time. It wasn't all a complete loss since now I know my washtub forge works great, and the blade didn't crack, so it's just a matter of reapplying and trying again. (I guess I get to re-do the clay afterall ...)
  2. So do you add salt or other ingredients, or just the 'good amount' of dish soap? Also, once quenched, how long would you hold it under? Should one swoosh it around at all? Take it out, put it back in? Or just once and hang up somewhere? I've read about heating the spine back up near the fire, or putting it in the oven at 400 for an hour afterwards -- do you have a preference or other idea?
  3. I'm always open to a good rant! Would you mind telling me about the benefit of adding soap to the quench? I read something online about a 'super quench' using dawn dish soap, salt and 'shaklee' -- but I also read that this is more for mild steel, not something like w2.
  4. yup, that's the plan! Forward and down, slightly tip first.
  5. I was thinking just water, heated with some hot rebar first? Yeah, I'm hoping the sori comes through the quenching, but I'll probably need to finesse it to make it match the bamboo.
  6. It's been a few months but here are some updates on the project. Ended up getting that micrometer and measuring the ensure the blade was a dime's thickness all along the edge. Also, used Rutland's to put clay on the blade, tried to emulate a midare-choji pattern. I mixed the Rutland's Black with some powdered white river bed clay I collected years ago in Iowa, and used the mix (only added enough to lighten it to gray) to mark the hamon area, then went over the spin and ashi with unmixed Rutland's. Not sure if this was a good idea, but it seemed like it at the time -- my biggest worry is that the first coat is too thick. Thoughts? Should I do over? I'm aiming to temper it next week, when I have some more time! Again, probably way too ambitious for a first blade, but I'm learning a lot.
  7. Thanks, J. That's sound advice. I'm currently taking a break from chopping up the second batch of charcoal I've made ... I used VG fir and red cedar that I had laying around as scrap and off-cuts. It's very light, almost like packing peanuts at times -- I can tell it's very different than the hardwood charcoal I used to bbq some elk last weekend!
  8. hey Wes ... well, I'm nothing if not determined, and patient long way to go still but I'm hopeful. I'm actually more worried about fitting it into the bamboo than anything else!!
  9. Ah, thanks Gabriel! Yeah, why not have one at that price, but I do say I was able to get rather precise dimensions -- at least as precise as my wooden mock-up. Now whether those were correct to begin with? I just scored a line on each side for the spine bevels, and one in the center of the spine, and used a belt sander to move into those lines, then I scored a line for the edge and sanded (about) half a dime's width to either side. The score line gave a really good indication of where I needed to be!
  10. My edge is not that much thicker than a dime! I do have a grinder -- will a belt sander not be sufficient after HT? I'm still trying to figure out Gabriel's post -- are you saying that I should get a micrometer to check the edge thickness to ensure a uniform measurement?
  11. So I've shaped the w2 to just about where I want it, and left the edge a hair thicker than a dime. I wonder if I should have drilled the pin hole before shaping the bevels? As far as I can tell, I'm ready to start putting clay on for the hamon. I have the black Rutland cement, but I think I also have most everything on hand to try a traditional recipe so I'm not decided yet. To my understanding, the thin slip that goes on first is river bed clay, ground sand and charcoal dust, and the clay for the spin and ashi is river bed clay, ground sand and iron oxide?
  12. excellent resource, thank you. Glad I'm figuring this out in cedar first!
  13. So I'm not entirely sure about the tang design here, could use a suggestion or two. I decided to make the blade out of cedar first, which really only took 30 minutes or so, and it gave me a sense of some of the lines. I think having a double bevel works well (on each side, it comes down an 1/8", so with a 1/4" thickness, it makes a right angle along the top. This doesn't make the cutting edge too wide, I think, and adds a nice element. What about the tip here? It's not a very complicated geometry, and I'm still learning the precise terms here. What do you think? Should I get to grinding?
  14. Just an update. Moving forward like a frog a hoppin'. After a couple hours and a few hacksaw blades (and a lot of wd40) I brought my piece of steel to a local company and had them use their water jet to cut it into three equal pieces of 12" by 5/8th", so I have three attempts at this blade I'm trying to make. I'm trying to decide on the geometry of the bevels now before I start removing stock. With such a narrow blade, would it be better to do a single bevel on each side? [edit: hira-zukuri, I believe is what that's called.]
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