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Carlos Lara

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Carlos Lara last won the day on December 6 2023

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  1. Sorry no prize, but I guess as you said, politics! It's a gorgeous knife, that's all that matters. Could you pass along some of that wisdom you gained at great price to those of us who will probably never make it that far?
  2. That's super cool. Sorry I'm a bit later to the party, but you could have wet the surface of the wooden molds to help release more easily. Usually a kiln has insulated sides to help keep the heat inside more easily (or you fire them in a pit!). Overall though, I think you're doing great!
  3. That's a fair point! There are a lot of US/Canadian artisans (like Dave Friesen, Doug Blaine, and Jim Kelso) that focus on a primarily low grit progression for polishing, whereas traditionally in Japan they focus more on fine grits. They can both produce a very fine polish, but the method employing low grits tends to give the surface a "faceted" look. I've noticed this in person looking at Doug Blaine polished swords, and looking at Dave and Jim's work online. Both the US and Japan have meaurements that are roughly "grits per inch," and that's what I'm talking about, whereas the european standards are rarely encountered here. There's not a perfect range, but I find that 4000 is the finest grit that isn't polishing (there's a distinct visual difference when you go finer than that). There's a lot of overlap between chu nagura and koma nagura grit stones, so those are more of a spectrum. Also the range between kongo/binsui/kaisei is more fluid, though you need at least three to span the gap. Uchigumori and suita in general are fine enough that on most steel you can't see scratches, but if you polish copper with the same stone you'll still see them.
  4. What are you planning on making with the bronze? At least with the copper alloys I've used, the approach depends on what you're making, and what the alloy is. I have read that brass with high zinc (naval brass) or silicon bronze are forgeable, but that doesn't mean it's easy! They have a relatively narrow working temp, and break higher or lower than that. You need to always have it at the right colour, so they suggest forging it in a dark workshop. My preference would be to cold forge. I've done a fair bit of that with copper, shibuichi, shakudo, and a yamagane with tin and zinc. You have to anneal often, but it's easy to do, heat up to a dull red with a torch and quench in water, and I feel it's a bit more forgiving. Depending on the alloy, you can still get cracks though (very common in shibuichi). Apparently Silicon Bronze is a nightmare to machine, because it likes to split off into tendrils rather than to break, so it might not be too easy to cut. Sounds like it's pretty ductile though, so fairly easy to roll into sheets. So, if you have a roller and want sheets to make sword parts, I'd roll it all into sheets. Should be pretty easy. Jeweller's saws would probably be more forgiving here than high speed tooling. If you'd rather have billets and rods, I'd try to either cold or hot forge it into shape. There's probably ways to cut it using hot forging I think that would be preferable to a saw. They say water cutting is the best if you have someone near by with one of those setups. Apparently it burns up if you get it too hot, so watch out for that! It sounds to me like another rabbit hole to get caught in as well! Brass is pretty easy to work, and is at least a lot easier to machine! I've machined a fair bit of brass and it is a delight. It files and cuts like butter, and polishes super well. It doesn't cost that much and is pretty easy to get. It has loads of options for patination, and you can even make it look like bronze. The downside is you don't already have it! That would be my first choice for non-ferrous fittings. My second choice would be pure copper! The Japanese have used a lot of this. It's not that strong, but a lot of fittings don't have to be. I cut plain copper on my band saw, and I can get some nice sheets from copper pipes fast and cheap this way. Also really easy to cold forge using frequent annealing. It polishes nicely, and can look great with rokusho patination. It's not that easy to get a gold colour if you need it, but it also plates like a dream (though some metals benefit from a bit of nickel first). All this starts to be another rabbit hole though!
  5. Haha, thanks Jim! I'm a big admirer of your work and grateful of all the details you posted on your site! I'm a scientist by training, so I'm always trying to figure out what is going on. But I think I also love this work because there's so much mystery!
  6. You're right most of them are ivory, but I agree there's a later type A sort of sword with a pommel made of Lapis lacedaemonius, and a type A dagger with a crystal pommel on the same site. I believe Salimbeti is a university professor of some kind, so I would regard his work as reliable! In any case, there's no way I'd be able to make one of ivory. Soapstone isn't totally accurate, but it was what I was able to get! Thanks for taking a look in your files if you can, that would be helpful!
  7. Interesting, sorry to hear the loss of your dogs. The polish turned out quite nice. I haven't seen a broken katana blade prepared this way before, but I like how it turned out. I assume you put a new heat treat on it, which is sensible. Otherwise the tip would probably be of softened metal! Traditionally on Japanese blades, the hardened part of the blade is presented pointing up.
  8. Thanks! Yes, recently I've been cutting natural polishing stones a lot, which releases a lot of dust, and I've always been wearing a P100 respirator! From what I've seen in my studies of rock carving, if you're going to carve indoors you need a proper mask pretty much no matter what rock it is.
  9. Thanks! That's an interesting discussion for sure. Some sadly broken image links, but some that work. It looks like stone pommels were more used than I thought! I thought they might be heavy, but as they say in the link, many stones are less dense than steel. In this case though, usually bronze pommels were hollow I believe, whereas ivory, stone or wood pommels were not hollow. It looks like many of them were the same size as the standard pommels of the day, so maybe I should get inspiration from the pommels of other material that have been done.
  10. Here's another bronze related question I've been having trouble with. The particular type of sword I'm going for is a Type A sword, and I know they could have a variety of materials for the pommel. For instance, wood, bronze, ivory, stone. The one that appeals to me the most is stone. I talked to my uncle who's a rock hound, and he recommended some soap stone, since it's easy to carve, will be strong enough, and polishes nicely. I got the stone and the tools to carve it, but I'm wondering how big should it be? There's clearly some variation in the pictures I've found online, but I'd like a number or two to go by if possible. Here's a picture from Andrea Salimbeti's website: Does anyone have any leads on how to get some numbers? These ones are from some of the Mycenaean shaft graves (I'm not sure what museum they're in!). There's a handful of other pictures online, but none of them appear to have any dimensions or information about what museum to go looking into. Thanks!
  11. I'd go for the raffir or the platan, which one depends on your market! If they usually are more conservative and don't buy anything too outlandish, the raffir. If they like attention-getting knives, the platan! Nothing wrong with the bog oak or spalted beech, but this knife has personality, and they don't have as much.
  12. The chasing looks good. It's not easy! You have to get used to working with the pitch, depends on the ambient temperature and the hardness of your particular pitch. My shop is usually pretty cold in the winter, and I find I have to heat several times until the pitch is malleable enough deep enough to get a good hold on the piece. Different recipes have different properties though. I'd say the original was probably chased, but I can't find a decent picture online! Both chasing and repousse go back to the bronze age though, I believe.
  13. Haha, I don't think there would have been many kings wanting to lose such a fine jeweller!
  14. Thanks! Ah, that helps a lot. I'll take a look at that site! Jim Kelso's recipe is here: https://www.jimkelso.com/tutorials/ironpatina.htm It's a weird one with iron oxide, sulfur, copper II sulfate, potassium nitrate, and iron bearing clay. It's pretty easy to use, mix it up to yoghurt consistency, paint it on, then heat it with a heat gun, wash off in water. It smells strongly of sulfur when you use it. It may well be adding ferrous oxide, but sometimes it's more of a deep brown, which I understand is more likely the oxyhydroxide (both are oxides of iron though). Not sure why this mix sometimes favours the oxyhydroxide, that's part of the mystique I guess. I knew about the zinc, but I thought there was also a white patina formed when steel undergoes alkaline corrosion from chlorine in a solution with high pH? I thought that was FeCl, but I could be wrong. It's hard to find information about that, because as you say, most online info focuses on the alkaline corrosion of zinc. Anyway, there are some etches that make steel white, like polishing with the hazuya. Not sure what that is, but I was assuming FeCl, because it is pretty white as a crystal.
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