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Everything posted by tsterling

  1. Thanks, guys! I'm stunned by your responses, and humbled by the number of really excellent bladesmiths who have chosen to comment on this tiny thing. I really appreciate the feedback! Thanks, Tom
  2. Well, now for something a bit different. I came up with this idea watching the Lord of the Rings movies, and was picturing the head Nazgul (the Witch King) hanging around the Black Tower playing poker with his minions. I wondered what sort of weaponry such a gambler might employ to deal with a minion who was winning too frequently. I don’t picture a Nazgul as being a very good loser. Here’s the result of that muse…..Oh, yes, it's 8 inches long and made from 1/4 inch square W1 carbon steel and 24k gold. I’ve (loosely) based the sheath on the Bell Dirks. For those few of us not familiar with them, Bell Dirks are contemporaries of of the famous Bowie knives, and were highly decorated, long slim daggers typically carried by gamblers and other “gentlemen.” The sheaths had a “frog” (button) that was intended to be worn by slipping the dagger inside the waistband of the trousers, and the “frog” buttoned into a vest buttonhole, thus keeping the handle of the dagger easily at hand. You can see an ad nauseum, 5-part blow-by-blow description of the process at my blog starting here: http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/?p=2374 Thanks for looking! Tom
  3. I use my little hydraulic press to do some press forming using contained urethane. Here is the start of a multi-part process on my blog: http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/?p=2143 I've been making little pressed copper sheet bird skulls with this method, but it seems to me you should be able to do something similar, then cut the closed end off and have a single piece ferrule. Maybe...but I don't know if it will work with a fly press, having never used one (but I want one...). Pay particular attention where I talk about the folds that form in the sheet metal and how to get rid of them.
  4. From an earlier post of mine about curing wood: QUICKLY! Paint the ends with something that won't let water through. Thick paint, wax, tar, thick glue, etc. The ends are where the moisture will leave first and quickest. Think of wood as a bundle of soda straws - the water will go out the ends quite quickly. The end wood shrinks quickly, the interior doesn't shrink near as fast, and then the ends check (split) severely. Lay the wood somewhere relatively cool, and on smaller pieces of wood so air can reach all the sides. The hotter it is, the quicker the water leaves the wood, outside dries and shrinks, wet inside resists and more cracks. You need a little time for the water to leave gracefully, sort of equalling out slowly. The rule of thumb is it takes one full year to air dry one inch (2.54 cm) of thickness, so 6 inches will take six years. Don't take the bark off. Weigh a few pieces, write down the weight. Periodically weigh them again. When the weight quits changing, they are done. Good luck... Tom
  5. Thanks, Rob! And, this just in, the William Henry folks really got this thing assembled fast, and have kindly provided more really excellent images! Thanks for looking! Again! Tom
  6. Thanks for the kind words, guys! That's pretty high praise in your company. I'm really pleased with how this one turned out, and am looking forward to the next one. Now I'm sitting in front of the confuser prowling through all of my inspirational images trying to coax the muse into action - that bitch isn't always cooperative.... Tom
  7. Many thanks to William Henry Knives for commissioning me to engrave/carve a knife for them (our first collaboration). It is their small B09 model, in stainless steel, and it was a blast to engrave it! I tried for a Japanese flavor in the composition of a deeply-carved koi pond, along with 24k gold inlay. I'm chomping at the bit to see it all finally assembled! Thanks for looking! Tom
  8. Try Gilmer Woods - only bad part is $100 minimum order: https://www.gilmerwood.com/search_results.php?keywords=Boxwood They have lots of other cool woods as well - be sure and browse around. They are located in Portland OR if you are near enough to go fondle the wood in person...I admit I have....... Tom
  9. Just really excellent all around, Petr! I particularly like your faces - you're really getting good at those - ancient looking but unique. Tom
  10. I vote for some kinda norse or celtic hybrid...and done in the style of incised Native American/First Nations petroglyphs. By that, I mean somewhat primitive, not your usual perfect carvings...curse your usual perfect carvings... I've been using a pretty strong potassium permanganate solution (with a tiny bit of trisodium phosphate as a wetting agent) painted into incised/engraved lines. By that, I mean a knife tip of powder, and a few drops of water - a little goes a long way. That will oxidize (darken) down inside the cuts (use a fine synthetic fiber brush, not natural hair ones, don't ask me how I know this). Multiple applications until you're pleased with the depth of color. I like the potassium permanganate better than just inks, since it duplicates aging of the material you put it on, and makes a more natural looking color than ink. A word to the wise - test this on scraps first... Tom
  11. Really beautiful work, Petr! Not much else to say! Tom
  12. Great looking blade, Jake! Well done. Tom
  13. Hi Nate, I think you'll have better results trying pyrography (wood burning) instead of scrimshaw on wood. Modern wood burners aren't anything like the clunky hobby kits greybeards like me remember as kids, and they are capable of very fine work. Here's a link to an eBook I wrote on carving Japanese netsuke, and on page 161 begins a section about pyrography and modifying a woodburning tip to do really fine pyrography stippling: http://www.sterlingsculptures.com/Resources_folder/Netsuke_Book_folder/Carving_Netsuke.htm Did I mention the eBook download is free...? With varying heat, a combination of a knife point and the modified stippler you can get very nice shading effects along with perfect edges, avoiding the "pointilism" look you so often see in pyrography. Maple will work fine, but a nice white holly should be spectacular. Best of luck, Tom
  14. Hi Alan, There's better news than that! A nice Meiji microscope and GRS Acrobat stand will run about $2100, and Lindsay has a nice entry level air graver, the Artisan, with foot control/regulators for $850 (you supply the compressor). Add an engraver's ball vise for $500ish and a few hundred more for graver blanks and simple sharpening system, and you can have a decent setup for around 4 grand. Take a week long beginner class (an excellent one by Ray Cover, $900 for 5 days in beautiful Kansas) and you're set to begin practicing. In a month's time you should be able to engrave something Mom would display on the fridge door, and in a year's time you should be able to engrave a pretty nice looking salable-quality set of knife bolsters or folder scales. Your mileage might vary... Tom
  15. Short answer: No. Those are push gravers, not used with a hammer. To use those in the materials commonly used making knives requires a truly manly man. And MANY years of learning. Read through this topic (Simple Engraving for Knifemakers) for many of the answers you are looking for, as well as an inexpensive way of trying engraving (it's not for everyone!): http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=24166&hl= Then, (if you haven't been scared off!) try asking more narrowly focused questions. My answer here is not intended to be mean spirited or flippant, but engraving is a demanding path, and you can waste a huge amount of time, effort, and money and have nothing to show for it at the end but disappointment. That being said, we are currently in the "Golden Age" of engraving, and modern methods available today can cut many years off the learning curve, alllowing beginners to reach early successes many years in advance of traditional engraving methods. Best of luck in your search! Tom
  16. Those are really pretty, Owen! But they sure look like they would hurt if one was on the receiving end... Tom
  17. Hi Guys, Thanks so much for the great feedback. I'm pretty stoked at the reviews this little guy is getting, and I really appreciate all of you taking the time to comment. Hi Geoff, I've done a bit of NW style over the years, but most of my knowledge of it comes from self study. I generally try to work the "look and feel" of NW style into it, but I've always felt that in art, "The Rules" are more suggestion than regulation, so I tend to morph elements into what I need, when I need it, and where it needs to be. NW style, Japanese blade art, and lately, seaxes all seem to have a set of unwritten "Rules" and I tend to shy away from blindly following those. Sometimes at my peril . Anyway, thanks for the feedback - I really appreciate hearing your take on it. Thanks, Tom
  18. Hi Folks, Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, but here’s my latest knife. It’s a tiny deer antler Orca done in NW Native American style.  The knife is 3 3/16 inches overall, with a 1 1/4 inch long 1074 carbon steel through-tang blade. The antler has been aged with potassium permanganate. The handle is made from the last fork of a really old (and tiny) naturally-shed antler. I’ve been experimenting with engraving and carving antler lately, and have come up with a combination of engraving the edges/outlines with an onglette graver, carving out the background spaces with carbide burs, followed by some special little scrapers I’ve made. Tiny flats help on occasion as well. Seems to work fairly well. You do need to take fairly small repeated cuts with the onglette, or the surface of the antler can tear. With small cuts there is still some tearing out, but it’s microscopic and doesn’t seem to hurt the finished product viewed by the naked eye. I was sort of surprised, because under the microscope carving antler at this tiny scale reminds me very much of carving ivory soap! What seems hard and unyielding with a standard knife is gentle and easy with tiny tools. Anyway, it’s good to be back, and thanks for looking! Tom
  19. Hi Petr, Here's a link to my blog about how I deal with making shibuichi, casting in an ingot mold and rolling out sheet. Part 1 - http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/?p=1266 Part 2 - http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/?p=1277 And the start (part 1 of 21) of a really long series about carving shibuichi knife scales: http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/?p=1298 I use cold gun blue for patination (Birchwood Casey Super Blue) rather than the traditional Japanese rokusho method. But, I'm guessing that brand isn't available in Europe, so maybe you can try locally available gun blue? Also, silver jewellry patinating methods will work on shibuichi as well, but they won't necessarily give the same results as the Japanese tradition. I really like engraving, sculpting and carving shibuichi. Shibuichi also has the "coolness" factor, so that is why I use it in preference to bronze. I also like the color, both raw and patinated, but I do not try to "paint with metal" in the traditional Japanese sense. It works about like bronze (in fact, I refer to it as a precious art bronze), and works much nicer than copper. Depending on how much silver you've added and how much work-hardening you've allowed, it is harder than copper, and carves/engraves much cleaner/smoother than copper. It does tend to work harden quite a bit, and will crack easily, so anneal it often. I usually leave it work hardened after the last trip through the rolling mill, because I feel it engraves better when work hardened. I find casting ingots in an ingot mold works fine for my purposes, but if you need large pieces of it then consider the water casting method Jesus talks about above. Once I've rolled it into sheet, the oxygen porosity you might get hasn't seemed to bother me - also I usually end up cutting off the top part from the ingot casting where the majority of the porosity would be. I also don't look for the little silver grain properties (not fully mixed) that traditional shibuichi can provide. Good luck! Tom
  20. Those are really pretty, Saign. I've been enjoying your chasing videos, and I'm looking forward to the hammer how-to. Thanks for the effort! Tom
  21. These are (sort of) on the way: Edinburgh Castle Don't miss Hadrian's Wall http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/housesteads-roman-fort-hadrians-wall/ York - walk the town walls and see the cathedral, the Viking Museum Fountains Abbey near York - the prettiest ruins in the UK Stratford on Avon Cambridge Tower of London These aren't on the way, but well worth a visit if you have time: Stonehenge Avebury Glastonbury Tor, Glastonbury Abbey and the Chalice Well in Glastonbury (be sure to drink the magic water) Roman Baths at Bath hoist a pint at the Eagle and Child Pub (Oxford - Tolkein's hangout) Canterbury Cathedral Dover Castle and the white cliffs That's a real hard week of driving and sightseeing, the Brits are nice folks and most of them speak English. You might still need an interpreter, however. Enjoy your trip!
  22. Don't be too quick to dismiss a lathe - lathe turning a tenon that has the diameter of the semi-major axis of an oval (the long diameter of an elliptical shape) tenon will eliminate a fair amount of the carving work, leaving only the narrow sides for hand carving. It also establishes nice square shoulders on the handle, with a lot less carving required. It will also help to make certain the sides of the tenon remain square and parallel. If you look for a decent second hand metal cutting lathe (which eats wood effortlessly) you'll also have the ability to use it for all sorts of bladesmithing related metalwork. You can also use it to facing cut your horn ferrule so you'll get a seamless fit with the handle. A metal cutting lathe will also bore the horn ferrule hole to any diameter you want, without being limited to drill bit sizes. Metal cutting lathes can also be adapted to light milling, as in the shoulders of the blade-tang junction.
  23. Don't forget that horn (not antler...) can become malleable with heating. With some careful tenon carving, measuring its circumference so you can drill the proper sized circular hole in the horn, then heating the horn, a circular hole in the horn should deform enough for a tight fit. Just remember the horn can deform quite a bit, but won't stretch much. If you force it to stretch, the horn will split. I can't tell by your photo whether the Japanese-made knife example has an oval tenon, or a circular one. If it is circular, then they probably just used a lathe to form the tenon, drilled a circular hole in the horn, assembled and just sanded both down together. In cases like this, unless you're just planning to make a one-off knife, it is probably worth your while to just purchase the proper machinery. Every machine you acquire opens up whole other horizons in possibilities.
  24. tsterling

    Tribal spear

    Hi Dan, I like the look of your knife - a cool little sticker. A 15 inch long knapped spear? What a beast - I'm looking forward to seeing that! Tom
  25. Thanks for the kind words, gents. Glad you like it! Tom
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