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Francis Gastellu

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Francis Gastellu last won the day on April 17

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  1. After the window was opened up, I used a *hand hammer* to break some of the hardened concrete spills from the outside, and I could hear some of the wall flaking off inside the barn. Some parts of it were pretty bad... We call it "torchis", I think it's called "wattle and daub" in English? The whole house is made like this, though the other walls are in MUCH better shape, this one was battered by wind rain and insects. Amazing that it lasted this long really.
  2. Today I resumed work on a tanto blade I started over two years ago, just a few weeks before my life was going to change more than I knew. I mean, the blade has issues for sure, but getting to this point feels pretty good. First, because I originally really struggled with copper contaminated tamahagane (original thread), so I'm glad I've managed to get *something* out of it, but also because it took a lot of effort to rebuild my shop in the last two years in order to get back to this point. I posted a few photos of the process of coverting an old farmhouse barn into a moden shop in the Photography forum if anyone's interested. Cheers!
  3. This has been a very long two years moving back to France from the USA, where I had lived for over 10 years. This was quite an adventure, as I had a shop to move, a cat, a dog, and a fiancee who had never left the bay area before and spoke no French. This took a while and we lived out of my parents' house while looking for our own. We found an old "landaise" farmhouse built around 1825 which ticked nearly all our boxes, but it needed quite a bit of renovation to make it work, so I had to focus on that for a while. The barn (large doors on the left) was going to be my new shop. The place had been used to house donkeys for years, so there was a lot of shit to clean up, literally. After the initial cleanup, I decided I needed additional access, a door to the inside of the house so I wouldn't need to go into the rain to get to shop, and a backdoor and window to improve ventilation. Once that was done, we got married, yay! Then we poured a reinforced concrete floor ... and then we realized that the roof tiles were porous, so we had to redo the roof, ouch. The thing about those old landaise houses is that the outer walls are made of dirt, literally. Not fired bricks, just dry dirt mixed with hay. Although most of the walls were in really good shape, the barn wall was not, as the previous owners had neglected to do the repairs that would have prevent it from being exposed to the rain. I would have loved to keep all the walls as they originally were but unfortunately we had to rebuild part of one with cinderblocks. With this done, it was time to coat the walls, so they wouldn't slowly crumble with the vibrations of the power hammer. Next, I installed some better lights This side of the roof of the house is oriented due south, and is pretty large. We decide to invest in solar panels, but I was concerned about the old framing taking the weight, so I decided to add 4 pillars for safety. I went with oak so that they wouldn't look out of place. Oh and we redid all the electrical, so I got a LOT of outlets installed. Finally I gave it 3 coats of paint to seal the concrete. At last I started unpacking the rest of the shop, whih had been in storage for all this time. Some of the tools were a bit rusty, but everything cleaned up nice. First heat! A few weeks later, we moved the power hammer in and the rest of the big toys. I'm not gonna lie, there's quite a bit of work left to do in the house itself (I'll spare you the story of all the work that happened there!), so things will still be slow for some time. Still, this realy feels like a milestone! Cheers!
  4. Also, files and stones. Gesswein makes very good ones. Some of their stones are suitable for soft non ferrous metals, and can be used to bring back a background to a perfectly smooth surface after the inlay work, if you have the patience. Some are so soft that they will quickly take on the shape of what you are polishing, which is quite useful for curved surfaces. You can also shape the stones to reach into tight spots. If you don't have the desire or the patience to go all the way to a smooth background, you can stop halfway and give deliberate and consistent texture, though that can also have its challenges. This is a good first try, and you can make it even better
  5. Lovely! As others have stated, the A203 layer works very well! I do not see a pin in the bog oak and obviously no ito to secure the kashira, so I am curious. Might I ask how you constructed the handle? I imagine that the oak was pierced rather than split in halves? Does the nakago still have a traditional form? Did you extend it through to pin or thread the kashira?
  6. A lovely piece with just the right mix of style and function. No nonsense yet beautiful, this is one I would proudly wear on my belt every day, if it were allowed.
  7. I had missed this earlier post, that handle is really (really) lovely!
  8. Mastery in elegance. Such beautiful work from both of you... Thank you for sharing, Jim.
  9. I absolutely love seeing those test plates and following your progress sculpting those complex designs. Thank you for sharing your journey!
  10. What an incredible beauty! Very well done.
  11. I find habakis to be incredibly finicky. Getting them to close up "just right" is a challenge that barely gets any easier with practice. You're been doing a lovely job on the big blade in spite of your setbacks (which imho only make it more impressive), can't wait to see it completed!
  12. What a beauty... Like Doug said, it really makes you want to pick it up an feel it in your own hand. I wish I could. Excellent work!
  13. That is such creative and beautiful work! Thank you for sharing this.
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