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Bill Schmalhofer

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About Bill Schmalhofer

  • Birthday April 26

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    Carmel, IN
  • Interests
    Family, Blacksmithing, blade smithing, woodworking, camping

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  1. You made some of these same suggestions on the critique of my last knife. It's great to see pictures of the process. Interesting to see how you finish the handle off the knife. Was wondering how to get everything to stay together while working it. Simple solutions... What do you use if the tang is thinner than a drywall screw diameter? Just smaller screws? And what is the smallest diameter that is practical?
  2. Has anyone made and used aluminum bronze for knife fittings? Benefits of the material? Downsides of the material? Percentages of aluminium and copper for best results? Ease of casting? Thanks!
  3. With as nice as the press worked, next time I am going to try without flux. But I think I will still use the coal. I liked the lack of scale .
  4. Yesterday was a decent day (as my smithy is open air) and I took off work to finally play with my new forge press. I was wanting to start a new billet of damascus but was worried about flux eating the bottom out of my forge (I'm not quite brave enough to go fluxless on the first weld). I've only ever made damascus in a coal forge when taking classes at the local living history museum. On a whim (figuring it couldn't hurt - I put it in my tall forge when heat treating), I threw several large chunks of anthracite coal that I had in the forge with the thought that it may add some protection to the bottom and suck up some of the flux. It quickly broke apart into rice coal sized chunks and I was able to spread it out as a nice glowing bed of coal to rest my steel on. Six nut coal sized pieces lasted the 5 hours I was working and really seemed to do the job I had hoped. No visible damage to the forge floor. As an added benefit, the amount of scale I produced was greatly reduced. So my question is, has anyone else ever tried this?
  5. FWIW is gold. Thanks Josh for the very through analysis. I've said before that I have learned a lot from your WIP's and the challenge post. I really appreciate all your post describing the tricks of the trade. Some comments about your comments (not excuses, just where I was in the thought process and several of the items off of the list I made to question #1 you asked): I think the reason the etch looks washed out is that I use 80CrV2 instead of 1084/1095 for the counter to the 15N20. I like the combination for a variety of reasons, but it never deep or dark etches. This one was etched 6 times for 10 minutes each etch with agitation in 1:3 FeCl3. I don't know metal chemistry, but my guess is the chromium in the 80CrV2 resists the etch just enough so it doesn't get real dark. Oh, this blade also spent 48 hours in 5x instant coffee (didn't do a damn thing...). The pin hole IS off a bit and it is one of the things from your original question #1. that I need to change. It is these "tricks of the trade" from you that I was talking about. Everything that I have read has said "drill the pin holes before HT". Great; so that's what I did. Now trying to line that existing pin hole up "blindly" and have everything remain tight is what made this the fourth handle that I had to make for this knife. Thanks for the insight. I assume you draw the temper way back on the tang to make drilling the hole after HT easier? BTW, there isn't a gap around the pin on the one side. It looks to be reaction between the wood and the nickel silver, the epoxy, or something making for "stains" in the wood. If you notice the dark ring around the pin in the last picture. It is actually just a big bit of staining. I like the wood but this is the second time I have had this issue with some kind of staining. Yeah, I'm finding nickel-silver is not that great. It does seem too soft for lasting shine. This guard was only taken to 600 grit and then I used a buff wheel loaded with pink and it came out this shiny. Chalk it up to being too soft... The hiccup at the top is another item from question #1. That happened as I was sanding the finger groove in the guard. Happened unintentionally and I was kicking myself when I actually noticed it. If you look in the first picture in the second set I uploaded, you can see the "hiccup" actually extends the whole way around the guard - the guard actually flares out a bit when going from the handle toward the blade. On the list of things to improve: don't get so lost in the zen of sanding. Regarding the finger slot and choil; What I was shooting for was to have to choil "curve" into the arc of the finger groove. Didn't quite work out the way I had wanted. Noted on the spacers and guard. Interesting comments on the flow of the handle...I can picture the "three curves". I like it. I was sanding to fit comfortably in my hand and lost sight of the aesthetics. My guess is the thing that bugs you about the curved choil is what I alluded to earlier. It was meant to line up with the curve of the finger guard. It doesn't, so the line is broken and it does look "off". On the list from question #1...Either cut the choil a bit higher (couldn't because of spacing on the tang), or drop the finger groove (already noted). Thanks again for the critique. Already started on the next. Piece of cable damascus with the same basic shape. Trying to make it better.
  6. 1. Yes. 2. I would appreciate as detailed as you want to give. As requested a few more pics.
  7. Here's my latest piece that I would like to get feed back on. 180 layers of 80CrV2 and 15N20. 4 inches from tip to guard. Nickel silver guard and pin with G10 spacers. Patagonian Rosewood (also know as curupay) handle. First hidden tang that I've done and first time using spacers. The handle looks like it has a big bulbous butt, but it is actually not.
  8. Well it arrived March 19 and had a few issues with storage - it took my parking space in the garage for a few days as it seems this model comes as a "some assembly required". As you can see, it came shipped without the casters on. The instructions say "just use your heavy machine lift to pick it up using the provided hole at the top of the press and attach the caster..." One small problem - no lift! So the instructions go on to say if you don't have a lift just slide the "500 pound press" (my words added) to the edge and put the casters on one at a time. Any one have any idea how difficult it is to slide 500 pounds across a sheet of plywood when there are no really convenient handholds? Then came the issue that the pallet was just SLIGHTLY too low to easily get the casters under. But with the help of my wife and son I was able to get all the casters on. Now that it has its casters on it has been moved to a temporary storage place until I can get some time to rearrange the garage. Baring the minor inconveniences of the finish assembly, it seems a really well put together machine. Can't wait for some nice weekend days to get the forge out and try it out.
  9. The source of this steel was Alpha Knife Supply and it was forged. It was the blade I posted about that developed a warp during the tempering ( pretty sure you commented on that post ).
  10. I had the exact same thing happen to the last knife I made out of 80CrV2. Was driving me nuts trying to get a nice shine to it. After god knows how many sheets of sand paper I finally just gave up and put a handle on it. Glad to know it (most likely) wasn't my sanding technique.
  11. Mine says the EXACT same line! I do want to add that I did soften her up to a degree when I bought her a compound dissecting microscope from Nikon complete with a dual LED snake lamp and microscope mounted digital camera for her birthday (she's an ecologist that studies spiders and has been wanting a good scope for YEARS). I can now hold over her that she has the most expensive "tool" in the house. The fact that I will be able to use her scope to take pictures of grain patterns and Damascus patterns NEVER played into my thought process...
  12. Nope. It IS only about 45 minutes away, but they have "free shipping" in the C-USA. So why put myself out when I can have a truck with a lift gate drop it off at my front door? I had thought about contacting them to see if they would swap a die set in lieu of shipping if I came and got it, but then I decided that if I had issues with getting it home (it's not light ), they could probably claim no warranty coverage.
  13. My wife has ulterior motives. She saw the Damascus kitchen knife work I was doing and asked why I hadn't made us any Damascus kitchen knives. I told her that I only can make Damascus when I take classes at Conner Prairie because of the access to power hammers. Otherwise it is WAY too much work. All the Damascus I have made is already spoken for by paying customers. Plus I have established (through our long marriage) that when I say there is a tool I need for a job, I'm not just saying that to get a tool. I honestly really need the tool. Wants (what she wants) and needs (what I need to get done what she wants)...... It's a beautiful thing having a understanding wife.
  14. Absolutely gorgeous. I agree with Joshua - total eye candy!
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