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Brian Vanspeybroeck

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    Moline, Illinois
  • Interests
    Electronics technician by trade, I make knives and swords, train and teach Japanese swordsmanship. I'm a dog lover and enjoy flight simulators as well.

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  1. Always the dropper tube. Not that any other type is "bad" just that I started using this stuff many years ago, found what works for me, and never experimented after that. I have been inactive as a crafter for some time and unable to connect with my artist inside but that seems to be falling aside and ideas are again flowing. I use the super thin CA glue and after a bit of experimentation in application I find that the effect rivals anything else I have ever used. I'm fondling a tanto made in 2007 potted with super thin CA on the paracord at this minute. It's as good as I left it 5 years ago - tight and beautiful and weatherproof. I have several swords and such done over tha last 15 years or so that use various things. The CA potted ones have held up the best and are functional, durable, beautiful and really appeal. So, as I contemplate re entering the crafting of Japanese style cutlery I have settled on using super thin CA as my potting solution of choice. It works for me. Brian
  2. Having tried lots of different things like epoxy on my handles and ended up sticking with super thin CA (super glue) as my final solution. Try it but remember to use the super thin stuff as it is thinner than water and soaks in instantly and is invisible. It will degrade in the presence of strong solvents like acetone but it works very, very well with paracord and water/blood etc. Used properly it is invisible and the wrap maintains a very natural look - it doesn't get glossy or "wet" looking. This is CA potted paracord with the guts pulled out of the cord to make a flat nylon tape. It looks very natural but it is tough as nails. You might get frosting (A white frost like substance) if you aplly it in high humidity so experiment a bit before using it on an expensive piece that has to go out the door in 3 hours. There is a learning curve to using CA for potting paracord handles but it is worth the effort. Good luck! Brian
  3. I have a little leather case that holds a variety of ceramic rods...triangular, round, square, etc and they are all about 5 inches long or so. I always used them to dress the edges on my swords and they work exceptionally well. The key is to not alter the shape of the cutting edge or establish a bevel trying to make the blade "razor sharp". I always found the diamond sharpeners to be a little coarse for me. Wish I could remember where I got the ceramic rod set...probably at The Woodcraft Shop. Anyway, I recommend the white ceramic rods for edge dressing. Brian
  4. I finished a tachi style blade by Randal Graham back in 2006 that had way over an inch of sori in like a 28" or 29" blade...it looked a little different and was very odd in the swing but cut like a bandit. At first I really thought of it as a kind of cartoon blade but when mounted and finishd it was quite full of character and very effective (albeit extreme) as a weapon or training tool. A lot of how the final product will look depends on the mount and the tsuka length/curvature. This one was not the kind of weapon I would choose to train with but it was very attractive and functional despite a very deep koshi sori that made it look very much like a Koto style tachi. I have books with pictures of tachi and the specs show several blades with sori in excess of 1 1/4" (30+mm) so it is uncommon but not in the realm of disbelief. Brian
  5. I think we are all mostly on the same page. The only additional point I'd like to make is that different steels need different etches to bring up the possibilities. W1 that has been differentially heat treated using clay will give the best view of the various ctrystailine structures using a different final finish/etch than the same steel that has been soaked at a very low austenitizing temperature and then quenched and letting the steel harden only in the areas where it is thin enough to harden...making a hamon without clay. Same steel - different type of hardening routine with different types of structure present in the hard areas. So, they will need to be etched and final finished differently to get the most bang for the buck. This is very subjective and can require years of experimenting to get what we want. I use 5160 and some O1 yet I still want to see as much contrast and "goodies" as I possibly can in the finished blade. To treat it like clay hardened 1050 is silly - it will not work. So, my point is to become open to "jiggling the handle" and maybe doing the etch a couple of times with different acids over higher/lower grit finishes to maximize the results. I have found that my etch over a 400 grit final finish gives a subtle but different effect (on the same blade) than doing the same etch over a 2000 grit final finish. Both are nice but they are different and can be appreciated almost as two completely different blades. I am always cautious of recipes with etching routines. The steel type and alloy, the heat treat, the activities present, and the final finish before the etch (as well as other things/factors) can drastically affect the outcome. Brian
  6. On etching acids...I'll add that there is no doubt that ferric can etch a blade quickly but I have found that different acids bring up different activities differently. On the W1 blades Randal Graham used to make you would ruin the appearance by using ferric...it would eat out some of the more beautiful aspects and leave some of the coolest stuff unseen. On etching, there is no "one size fits all" and I have found even on blades only finished to 220 grit (blades to be used hard or as EDC)and etched more cool stuff comes up with weaker acids than comes out with a very strong etch. Of course, everyone has a vision and if ferric gives you that "look" then you should by all means use ferric. I finally settled on a dilute mixture of acetic, phosphoric, and citric acids in roughly equal proportions and heated to near boiling. The acid is cut with dish soap to increase its wetting ability and reduced in strength with distilled water. On the lines issue I think Don has hit it right on the head - I learned a long time ago to harden after a decent finish was put on the blade with all the scratches going the long way. I finished to 220 grit before hardening as a general practice. Brian
  7. I have had blades shipped to me pierce the shipping boxes no matter how well wrapped or secured with bubble pack or how stout the shipping containers. I have had more than one of the blades I shipped off end up arriving with their points sticking out thru the end of the box. My solution has always been to get a 1/4" board and run a screw thru the mekugi ana with a rubber washer on it into the board and then box the board in a shipping container. If they are polished then they need to be wrapped to protect the finish. This is the only way I have been able to consistently ship long blades without damage to the carrier or the blade. I did sucessfully ship some long blades that had been wrapped in that tool box liners super rubber stuff that they use for pads to open jar lids. It really sticks to the blade and is rubbery enough that if you wrap the blade and then secure it with a tight couple of cable ties it can't slide when the box is dropped on it's nose. Finished swords are always shipped in the saya/scabbard and wrapped in shock absorbent material and then locked in a plastic gun case Secured with cable ties. At one point I was actually including a top of the line Pelican case with every blade I sold and shipped as it was a classy way to protect an expensive investment and provided a lifetime home for it. Brian
  8. Awesome video...thanks for sharing that link as it makes my whole day. Makes me wanna get in the shop and make something. I have seen handmade bonsai shears and scissors that are truely heirloom quality/handforged. It is something we don't see much in the West anymore..people buying handmade specialized tools designed to be used for a lifetime and be precision investments that are passed along for the next generation. Somehow this appeals so much more to me than the stamped out/throw away scissors and tools we commonly see. It's kinda like when I studied swordsmanhip and true, well made/handmade Shinken were so expensive and hard to justify owning when you could buy a cheap factory made blade. Cool stuff. Brian
  9. I use an 18 quart roaster oven as a quench/temper tank. It is about 3/4 full of NitreBlue and it took me about 2 full 20 pound pails of salt to get it filled to this level. Very heavy to move as the salt is fairly dense. The good thing is that 35 - 40 lbs of molten salt has enough mass that once it settles in at temp. it *stays* at temp. Usually less than a 5 degree drift as it cycles over a long hold for austempering. Expensive to fill but it lasts a long time. The lid of the oven has a hole near the middle and I slide a high temp thermometer in there and can monitor my temp. with the whole thing closed up. With new NitreBlue it has a pink color to it in the pail and you have to melt it and then skim the pink scum off the top...so you lose a little volume this way. Also you should have a little extra as there is always drag out and over a period of years you will need to top it off every so often. And like everything else that is granular it seem to shrink in volume as it melts down...I was surprised it took 40 pounds of salt to make the tank 3/4 full but a single 20 lb pail only gave me a like 4 or 5 inches of salt in the tank. You might consider filling the bottom of the tank with something dense (Rocks? Glass Beads?) to get thermal mass and then using less salt. Seems I tried that once for a while and it works just fine...used to temper in hot sand in the roaster oven and that works really well for 10XX as well. Brian
  10. I use Brownell's Nitre Blue as a quenchant and have bought the plastic pails from Brownells to fill my tank. Can't say enough good stuff about it. It is expensive (it was expensive years ago) but it has lasted for many years now so it was really cheap. We are going on 11 years with the same salts in the quench tank. What job are you trying to do? Brian
  11. Sad to hear this. I only met him once but he was so personable and sincere I could not help but like him. I told him my swordsmanship Sensei was Obata Toshishiro and he and I were instant friends. He gave me (as in gratis...free) a video tape of Obata Sensei test cutting with one of his swords. I still have it. Obata Sensei has owned and owns swords of the highest caliber. True Nihonto treasures. But when visiting Sensei's house he always showed us his Hartsfield blade and told us it was the sharpest sword he ever held or used. It was the only sword I ever heard Sensei describe as "Scary Sharp" and I was always impressed. Rest in Peace, Phill. Brian
  12. Sweet stuff, Howard. Folders?? Brian
  13. Try saving the remains of cutting oil and fine polishing paper. I always scoop up the dark oil left over after using 1500 - 2000 grit paper and cutting oil and use it as color/nugui. I save it in a glass vial and use it as a final polish after etching and all that...works as an ultra fine polishing compound and gives some color. For some reson I saved some dark black oil ued to polish some wrought iron and in steels where there is pattern or openish grain it adds a lot of color/contrast if applied to a cotton ball and rubbed like hell on the blade. Brian
  14. So Sweet...awesome. Thanks for sharing the pictures! Brian
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