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Bill Schmalhofer

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About Bill Schmalhofer

  • Birthday April 26

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

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  1. I was thinking about trying something like this with garage door spring. Got my hands on four complete springs and have straighted them all out. Cut one of them into 8 inch pieces and bundled them into groups of 16. Was going to tack weld the ends then heat and twist like you would with a piece of cable, all the while fluxing the heck out of it. Once it was twisted tight, getting it up to welding heat and “twist” weld it together.
  2. Almost have the book keeper (read wife) convinced that I NEED a press ( she was talking about a new full set of kitchen knives in Damascus). I don’t have a permanent shop so mobility is kind of important as well as not having easy access to 220V. Was looking at the 16 ton Coal Iron Works press. Does anyone have any experience with any of their machines?
  3. Nico, I unfortunately read your post right before going to sleep last night and the research scientist in me kept me up all night thinking about your question. Having judged science fairs in the past, the first thing you need to keep in mind is keep your project “age appropriate”. Meaning there are a lot of science fair judges out there (usually volunteers in the STEM field) who will accuse the participant of “having an adult do the work” if it seems that the work is beyond the scope of your typical 12 year old. It happened to my son when he was your age, and his project wasn’t anything as complicated as forge welding. As unfair as that is to very talented 12 year olds, it is a possible reality. You may be perfectly capable of doing multibar twist pattern Damascus – but my guess is you would be in the minority . Having said all that, there are still many things you could do involving Damascus and science. Jerrod came up with very good suggestions and I would expand on them slightly (sorry for hijacking your post Jerrod). One question you could ask is “Why is Ferric chloride the etchant of choice?”. Your hypothesis would be something along the lines of “Ferric chloride will etch the same as hydrochloric acid, will etch the same as sulfuric acid, will etch the same as vinegar.” (remember a hypothesis is a null statement that you then preform tests to disprove). Think along these lines and see if you can come up with experiments around that hypothesis. The second thing Jerrod came up with concerning different alloys was great too. Everyone that does Damascus “knows” what you need to get a pattern, but do you (or even they) know why? Question: “What properties /alloys of steel will produce a pattern in Damascus and why?”. Hypothesis would be along the lines of “1080, 15N20, 5160, 80CrV2, etc. will all etch the same.” What experiments could you do to disprove that hypothesis. You could also go into the chemistry of the steel reacting with the etchant to produce the different colors (which ties into the why as well as the first hypothesis above); “What is the chemical reaction that produces the difference in color?”. Now, think of a hypothesis to test… If you are unable to make Damascus (for whatever reason – lack of skill, lack of proper equipment, etc), my guess is, if you put out a request on this forum, there are a lot of people that would rise to the occasion and would be willing to send you bits of cut offs that you could polish up and etch. Or if you go the alloy route, pieces of different steels so you don’t have to outlay a bunch of money to buy different steels. Just get permission from your parents before PMing anyone your address if you go that route. If you do request (and receive) samples from the forum, it is always polite to acknowledge that the material “was a gift kindly donated by _____”. Sorry for the VERY long post. Again, that is the scientist in me (why give a simple one- word answer when 20 will do just as nicely) Lastly, whatever you do end up doing, I personally would love to see you coming back to the forum with your experiment and results and posting them. Good luck and welcome to the forum.
  4. I suppose you could try that, but at least for me, the "unsightly" finish the stones give made it difficult to see that I had removed all the previous scratches. The sandpaper gives a smooth shiny finish that made it easier to see the last little blemishes. It would really stink to make it up to the 600 grit stone, finish with 800 grit sandpaper only to find a 320 grit scratch....
  5. Conner, they seem to remove material slightly faster than paper. They definitely get rid of previous scratches faster. As I and Garry noted, it cut sandpaper time in half. You do need to follow up with sandpaper though because they do leave an "unsightly" finish. Also, I found when I was using an oil as lube the stones did seem to load. When I went to 50% IsoOH, the loading was basically non-existent.
  6. Oh I’ve punched several axe bodies out of 1018 but I’ve been told 4140 is a real bear to work/ punch. Unless someone has information to the contrary ...
  7. Steven, Congress Tools Inc. https://www.congresstools.com/catalog/categories/get-category/id/72 I got the 3/4 x 1/4 x 6 inch Moldmasters - but they have lots of sizes. Roughly $4 each. 80, 120, 150, 240, 320, 400 and 600 grit. I have Alan to thank for that website.
  8. Has anyone else ever used Congress Polishing sticks like wet sandpaper? Following advice I learned from this forum I bought a series of the gray Moldmaster polishing sticks (220, 320, 400, 600 grit) to help with keeping plunge lines sharp. On the current blade I'm working on I accidentally got a "big gouge" in the blade on the last step on the grinder. After going through two sheets of 120 grit rhynowet paper and STILL seeing a line, out of frustration I picked up the 220 grit stone and started using it like a file (there was a bit more in the thought process than this but I paraphrased it). When the stick started loading quickly I put some 50% isopropanol / water on the blade to see if that would float the "filings" away ( I also use 50% isopropanol for my sand paper - found it is less messy than oil and way better than water due to the reduced surface tension). Within 5 minutes the scratch was gone. Seeing how well that worked I went over the entire blade with the 220 grit before going to 220 sandpaper. I ended up using about half the amount of sandpaper I normally use - and the stick still looks almost new. Flush with excitement, I did the same process with the next grit (320). Again, about half the sandpaper used and (more importantly) half the time! With the next grit (400) I first tried using the stick in the same direction as the previous grit sandpaper (if the 320 was spine to edge I used the stick in the same direction first, and then used it ricasso to point - again much more in the thought process to get to that idea). So far it has been a resounding success for me. Have no idea if these stones are "permitted" to be used wet (they may just fall apart on me next time I go to use them), but they are fairly inexpensive and as they have significantly cut down on my sanding time, they are worth it (sanding really aggravates an old rotator cuff injury). The sticks leave a much rougher finish than the sandpaper does which is why I use the same grit sandpaper after to clean the blade up. Sorry for the long post on what was a simple question - just curious.
  9. Gerald, Thanks for this post. I have three pieces of 4140 (1.5x1.5x4) that I bought with he idea of making hammers with. I was just dreading hot punching eyes so I haven't done it. New project on the horizon!
  10. Thanks all for the help. Yep Joel I understood the suggestion and makes perfect sense Mike. Unfortunately I got your suggestion too late Mike. I did three 2 hour re-tempers at 350F using pennies and the warp was still there. I guess a pennies weren't enough of a counter-bend during the re-tempering. So i just got done doing a round of three normalizations and a re-quench. Straighten the warp during the first normalization, and it came out straight after the quench (again ). It's now down in the oven tempering at 350 but this time it's clamped between two large chunks of steel (in place of the sand...). This time if (god forbid!) the warp is there, I will try the counter-bending but use a bit more "oomph". If that doesn't work, it's to the scrap pile... A semi-unrelated question; is it possible for steel to pick up carbon during the normalization and quench like it possible to loose it? I took a suggestion Alan gave me this time and threw a bunch of anthracite coal in the bottom of my heat treat forge and each time the blade came out with a fine coating of carbon. Just curious if steel can "gain" carbon or "just not loose". Thanks again.
  11. Thanks Joel. Pretty sure I understand the suggestion. I don’t understand how I’m picking up a warp in the temper either. I will say that if I had seen this bad a warp right after quench it would have never gone into the temper oven. I would have tried quenching again right away. The picture really doesn’t do “justice” to show the warp.
  12. On my last two heat treats and tempers the blades have developed warps in the tip during the tempering. They both seemed to be straight right after quench. I put them into a pan of vermiculite in the oven within 10 minutes of being cool enough to handle with my bare hand and tempered at 375F ( and they still seemed straight at that time that I put them in). Let it go for two hours, then cooled in the oven to room temp. When I took them out they both had developed distinct warps in the first two inches of the tip. Any thoughts on how / why this is happening? I should mention these have been thinner blades than I’ve made in the past, the most recent one only being 7/64 inch at the ricasso ( practicing for making a chefs knife for my first paying customer). Any suggestions on “fixing” the warps or is it a case of re-heat treat and straighten during the first normalization? I have already tried the three bolt / vice method but it sprigs right back to the warp ( and I flexed the tip until I was sure it was going to snap). Last thing i should mention is the steel is 80CrV2 from AKS. Thanks!
  13. Alan, thanks for the info again, and sorry it took so long to reply. After day three at the classes, it was all I could do to come home, get dinner, and go to sleep. Finally caught up enough to get on a computer. BTW Josh, they don’t have an oven at Conner Prairie. They are pretty low tech. I also don’t have an oven ( although I do have propane forges ) so need to know how to HT the old fashion way...
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