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Martin Brandt

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  • Gender
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    Oregon
  • Interests
    Bladesmithing,blacksmithing,indigenous blades and tools, and learning what makes things and people tick.

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  1. Aiden CC, Wonderful work. I'm especially inspired by indigenous blades also. Have been working on Puukkos and Leukus lately. I have also used the soft steel for better peining of the tang end as well, but I learned from my knifemaking mentor to silver braze the soft iron to the blade. The joint is as strong as the steel if done correctly, and heat is more isolated, and no large grown grain as in forge welding, however it's not period correct for older knives. Common nails are an easy source for almost pure iron, less carbon than mild steel. Nice work.
  2. Russ Evans, Flooring installers for oak, and other hardwood scraps. It's hard and pretty dry, and already has one good flat side. I do service work around town so I stop at many tree trimming jobs during or after to ask about taking some pieces of hardwood. Many hate to see so much great wood be fed into the chipper, and being hands on working guys, will sometimes cut a few pieces for you to take, or some leave good wood at curbside here for others to take for firewood. Be polite and explain your interests to the workers, or homeowner, and many are happy to allow you to take wood. As a rule no wood that is unstabilized and dry makes a good knife handle if it is easily grooved by your thumbnail. That rules out things like cedar, poplar, pine etc. If your thumbnail will groove it easily so will everyday bumps and knocks ding and gouge it. Many hedge woods make great handles. They grow slow and strong, are very hard and fine grained with no porous rings like oak and are excellent woods for carved handles as well, so watch for boxwood, laurel, redleaf photinia, and others. Split down the center if you can, or better yet bandsaw down the center pith and cut to firewood length, then paint the ends and dry in cool area 1 yr. per inch of thickness. After that they are ready for the drybox treatment. There is great wood everywhere unless you live in a desert. After bad winter storms if you have a chain saw, or a good greenwood pruning saw people are happy to let you cut a few pieces of downed branches blocking their sidewalks. Winter is also the best time to cut wood as it is the driest them, as far as greenwood goes, as the sap has gone down into the root system for the winter. It's out there so have at it. If you cut enough, you will learn how to cut for more figure and turn boring wood into much nicer looking handles, the same goes for selective dyeing wood as well.
  3. I learned from my friend Wayne Goddard (50+ yrs. a knifemaker) that no wood is ever to be considered dry until it has spent a year or two in your dry box, or in side the house exposed to your furnace warm air vent, even if the seller swears it has been cut for 10 yrs. If a large block of dense wood like ebony, snake wood rosewoods etc. better to cut them up to useable sizes before their (quarintine) in the dry box or the inside pieces may still have an unexceptably high moisture content. Having cut and dried hundreds of pounds of local woods myself, (oak crotch, maple, holly, walnut, and osage,) that some woods would dry to 7-10% moisture in the summer out in the shop on a shelf, then soak up ambient moisture to close to 20% in our damp Oregon air in the winter. So shop shelf dry is not to be considered dry. My dry box is a old shop tool plywood box standing on end with a wire mesh protected 60 watt bulb at the bottom connedted to a thermostat and a humidistat. The t-stat is set to keep the box at 60 degrees, and the humidistat at about 30%, all of which keeps the wood dryer than anyplace except the desert. I also use the microwave to dry some small pieces if I'm in a hurry and they can stand the warmth without checking. Do it slow never getting too warm to hold comfortably. The harder denser oily ones, read that expensive, I do not do there as they are prone to checking. Practice on scraps though not expensive exhibition grade handle blocks. All my hammer handles are dryed in the microwave until they no longer steam the micro window after nuking. That way they are dryer than they will ever be in the shop and they can only expand in use. They never get loose. Some woods will tolerate being nuked to quite hot without checking, while others only to just barely warm, they all react differently. Ash and hickory hammer handles are pretty tolerant, but our local white oak likes it just barely warm. You gotta experiment.
  4. Regarding welding hardenable steel. Bring the steel up to tempering temp. 400F or so, then weld and let cool. A second heat and temper wouldn't hurt for safety. The weld puddle will be over the quenching temp for hardening and without pre heating the surrounding steel in effect acts as a heat sink and quenches the puddle and surrounding steel and hardens it, but with large coarse grain and no temper. A pre heat at least tempers the new martensite and reduces stress a bit. Triple normalizing should relieve stress and reduce grain size even more, and if you can overweld and forge it down to size, then triple normalize, that to me would be the best for strength.
  5. RobToneguzzo, That great flexing butter knife most likely has a hardness of about Rc. 45. I've tested several old and newer ones and that's about where they test out. Great flex as they are "spring tempered". Not the best for super edge holding, but hey that's what butcher's steels are for. Many butchers prefer a softer blade that will steel easily and the wire edge is what is doing the cutting.
  6. Alex Middleton, The burl needs to be completely dry before stabilizing. A piece can be dried in the microwave oven carefully if one's in a big hurry, but this is not practical for many pieces. Look up microwave drying of wood in wood turning sites for info.
  7. Ha, I'm from Springfield too, only in Oregon. Your first try at San Mai looks a lot like my firsts to. My core was all over the place, on one side on one edge, and running out to the surface the other way on the other edge. My hammering isn't as uniform as I'd like. My next ones I just forged it as bar stock and ground to shape checking the centering of the core as I went and those worked out better. Your use of the cable as the outside is wise as small diameter cable will be rather low carbon after forge welding, and this will make better sides for pattern and flexible strength. Next one you might leave it a bit thicker to leave more for grinding past forging defects to leave cleaner sides. It's always learning as we go along. Fun experimenting..
  8. Did you forge to shape, or forge just to a bar then stock removal? When I tried to forge to shape I found I had trouble keeping the core centered. This process really exposes how much my strikes are different from one side to the other. I had to just forge to flat bar/spatula shape then stock removal, checking for core centering as I went. Your choice of materials sure created a stark contrast. Great experiment, and good job.
  9. Just cut them off and if you have a band saw cut to size or just a bit oversize for knife handle blocks. I usually orient the best looking areas so that the eyes are on the sides of the handle block. You cannot do that to all of the burl, but I try to get the densest and nicest pieces cut this way. Seal with a wax emulsion available from Woodcraft Supply and let dry stacked with separation for airflow in a cool shaded place with no breezes for at least 1 year per inch of thickness. This is for average woods like maple, however some woods like Madrone or Oak can have high levels of stress in them and will twist and split badly in drying even when coated. These woods I have found respond well to being boiled as soon as being cut up. About 1 hour per inch of thickness. This releaves the stresses and they seem to dry a bit faster afterwards. I have dried Red Mulberry with minimal splitting checking so yours may dry well.
  10. Aiden CC, Good luck on your birch bark sheath. There is one good tutorial on youtube for a bark sheath. He copies an old sheath he has. It is very good up until the end where the sheath narrows down, and he ends there without showing you how to finish the very end of the sheath. I figured out that you need to cut your strips a bit narrower there and weave them in and around the bottom. Also a heat gun is really a big help to soften and make more pliable the strips for certain areas. Heat softens the tars in the bark and helps prevent breakage, especially for tight bends, and where you are needing to slip under another strip without over stressing it. Also plan for a nice well greased leather thong the same width as your strips for your belt hanger. Also try to maintain a tight fit of all your strips as you go or you'll have big gaps between the weave later. Mine turned out real nice for my maasepan puukko with a masur birch handle, and a drill and burn in stick tang with old fashioned pitch glue. If I can ever figure how to post pics I'll post it.
  11. Thank you for the picture George. The puukko is nothing more than an EDC knife from many years ago, little more than a stout paring, fish cleaning, small bird and trout, minimalist hunting and whittling knife. The Leatherman of its day. So many indigenous knives are so similar to this with small differences in local style. The exposed shoulders of many old maasepans nothing more than showing that that was as far as they could drive the blade in after burning it in and driving the pitch glued tang in. They weren't concerned about how the collector market would view their imperfections, they drove it in as far as it would go and it stuck tight and wouldn't come out and there it stayed. So many maasepans I've seen had handles that were little more than narrow potatoes or carrots in shape and the handle tang not quite all the way in, with the blade sharpened and worn away to a fragment of the original. I can just see the farmer, or herdsman asking "what for I need a new knife, this one has life in it still". In the past many rural folks had little money for fancy knives, or a "collection", they bought blades and put their own handles on then to save money. Bolsters and horseheads and extras came after more civilization and more commerce and money and spare time were available to more than the upper class. Everyone had access to a piece of wood, it was a good blade the rural folks needed. Just my thoughts.
  12. You might try a simple wax resist, salt water, and transformer etch for a mark. Wayne Goddard shows how in his book, The Wonder of Knifemaking, pg. 72.
  13. Last of all are you certain that was mild steel, (Spark tested), for lack of a more certain pedigree. If more carbon than mild it would be even more prone to cracking if forged tool cool. just my 2 cents worth. In either case it looks like forging too cool.
  14. A nice little knife. The blade looks a bit out of alignment with the straight handle though, and you might reconsider your makers mark. It is a bit huge and overpowering. Suggest looking into a simple wax resist and a saltwater and battery charger etched mark as taught by Wayne Goddard. It's simple to do, and costs next to nothing to assemble. My first setup was an old charger that melted down from some ones malfunction. I had to put new wires on it, but got it free. Another option is a professionally made stamp of appropriate size. I like the etched mark as I can size it for each knife. Also there are the stencil makers for etching a mark. They cay design very nice looking marks. For starting out the battery charger and salt water etcher is the cheapest way to go. Also you can make your own stamp out or 01 rod, file to shape and harden. I also enjoy forging used materials quite a bit. Working on a parang from some old farm hi carbon steel, and a large puukko from some 100+ yr. old buggy springs. They turned out to be shear steel. Have fun forging!
  15. Coming along nicely. Be sure to post when it's done.
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