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Nick Wheeler

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About Nick Wheeler

  • Birthday 01/09/1978

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  • Location
    Winlock, WA
  • Interests
    all that bladesmithing entails, bodybuilding, family, outdoors.

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  1. Hey folks Finally getting back in the swing of things and making knives to share here This one is clay hardened W2... in fact it's the blade from that thread I threw together about how I've been polishing clay hardened blades. Jim Cooper really outdid himself. I've never seen a photo that displayed both activity in a hamon AND an overall complimentary view of the knife.... My kudos to my friend Coop! 416 guard with copper and black micarta spacers, golden Ironwood handle. MASTER leather craftsman Mr. Paul Long's handiwork here... gosh damn that man is good!!! Thanks for looking
  2. Thank you guys!!! I really appreciate the kind words! Having this invoke any thoughts of Don is the ultimate compliment. Many of you know, Don is one of my heroes as a man, a teacher, and a bladesmith. Ray, I sure hope to pull it off!!! I'd love to attend the Boise show, and will be glad to see you there!
  3. Hey folks Here's one that's been a l----o----n----g time in the making (like around 5 years) This knife had manifested itself into "my Everest" but it's done now and I am very happy to finally have it complete! It now resides in the collection of Mr. Jim Cooper... who also just happens to be the man behind the lens of these fantastic photos! Thanks for looking BTW- it's W2, Afzelia burl, and a 416 ss domed pin. The AMAZING leather work is by none other than Mr. Paul Long!!! This final image is one Jim shot under light that's harsh for the overall look, but helps to show detail in the hamon.
  4. Thanks everyone This stuff is humbling , frustrating , and very rewarding all at the same time.
  5. Nick, I missed you at this years blade show. I think the blade your are polishing is one I saw at the bladeshow several years back. I was excited to see the results and wow what a beautiful blade. Could you share with me the clay aplication and heattreatment, I have had some very good results but also some not so vivid. Thanks for your help and insight.


  6. I think I'd be preaching to the choir here if I tried articulating all the reasoning for this. No??? But for the few here who might not know... A clay hardened blade is a thing of organic and elegant beauty (in my humble opinion!) There is something intangible about it... something about the way it dances around in the light as you move the blade here and there... I have really bad ADD that forces me to approach my work in a very structured, organized manner... or my shop just becomes a mess of chaos in which nothing ever gets done. Because of that, I have come to rely on precision as a cornerstone of my shop practices. There is something unbelievably gratifying about integrating a refined and particular approach to work, and the art that is creating and bringing out a hamon. Hands down, the number one man I have to thank for helping to send me along on that journey is Don Fogg. THANK YOU DON!!! Thanks for looking folks
  7. I REALLY enjoy dedicated tools that were created for a specific task and exist just because of that need. Even simple ones like this little bench block... Polishing with the foam faced block and a slurry of 1500X SiC powder and either oil or Diamond compound thinner. I have yet to decide which one I like better. It seems it always comes down to just my thumb in the end afterall I can feel what the slurry is doing... how it's cutting, is it too thick, too thin, etc... So after the course of about three days of full time work, what do I have to show for it???
  8. Etch again... Polish... then etch again..... A temporary handle to make it easier to hang onto Some of you know I posted about a powdered abrasive applicator recently. Well here's one I came up with and like very much... It mimics my thumb, but saves my thumb a lot of grief!!! Some tools of the trade...
  9. Okay.... it's clean Etching.... warmed up vinegar cut with dish soap. Application is a wad of paper towel. After 10 minutes of etching The finishing bench set up for this stuff First step of removing the oxides... I have really come to like Liquid Flitz... much more than the original blue paste form.
  10. Hey folks... I haven't posted much here in a long time because I simply didn't have anything to share. There are a lot of folks here better at creating and bringing out a hamon than I am... None-the-less, I decided to share some simple snapshots I took in the shop while working on a clay hardened W2 blade. (for whatever it's worth, I heat-treated this blade back in ~Jan 2007, but just finally got around to polishing it last week Aug 2010) Sanding to a super clean 2500X 2500 sure is shiny! It's ALMOST clean enough...
  11. Hi again Shannon I was supposed to get out in the shop but my feet aren't moving me there just yet Unfortunately, I have not spoken with Leon in a good long while. My initial meeting of them was a bit embarrassing actually. I was standing behind my table at the ABS show in Reno with a bowie I had clay hardened and done my best to polish. This small Asian woman with a VERY thick accent, and her husband who was deaf and rather hard to understand... came up to the table and started talking in terms about that blade that were way over my head. They mentioned something about The Craft of the Japanese Sword I smiled and said, "Yes, I have that book and love it." I was so embarrassed about 5 minutes later when it clicked... "These people didn't mention the book because they like it, they mentioned it because they WROTE it!!!" As a funny sidenote, Hiroko told me to keep up with my western style knives with a Japanese flavor and leave the Japanese style pieces to the experts. Yoshindo was a demonstrator at the blacksmithing conference here in Washington a couple years ago... but I had JUST started a new job and couldn't get the time off. As per cleaning up this blade, I just kept at it with the polishing powder from Mager, but I added a little bit of 1000 grit in with the 3 micron and made a paste-ish slurry out of it. I rubbed the dickens out of the blade with this slurry on a piece of craft foam from Wal-Mart glued to a popsicle stick. Japanese tradition meets hoaky red-neck! Then I did the same with the 3micron powder and some Rottenstone. It seemed to be the "magic bullet" as it did almost exactly what I was hoping for. I'm scared to move onto the next blade that I have clay-hardened and nearly ready for final polish!!! Thanks again Shannon
  12. Thanks Dick- Funny thing about your reply. Before I had seen it (but after my initial post here) I had searched for fine felt polishing pads online and got a site that sells fine elk and cow hide pieces for polishing. I thought, "Hey, I've got some real fine buckskin.... let's see how that works." And it worked GREAT. Shannon- Thanks for the detailed response! In all honesty, I need to brush up on my Japanese blade lingo to keep up with you. I'm still hung up on every western smith I know pronouncing hamon as "ha-moan" when Leon and Hiroko Kapp told me it's "ha-mun" LOL To address your reply... I don't think these pics are real accurate depictions of the blades. Coop's photo of my knife is an AMAZING photo... but not sure how accurately it depicts the hamon itself. Coop will be the first to tell you it's hard to shoot a hamon... and he did that blade while AT the Blade Show in '07. The hamon on both blades are actually quite similar. The Js knife was forged from W1 and this new integral is W2. The problem I'd had with this new blade is that it just didn't quite look "CLEAN" to me. It had sort of a muddy look to it. I spent a good while longer trying different things to polish it, and it now has more of the look I was after. It's not really a tangible thing... it just didn't seem RIGHT. It's a heck of a lot closer now.... hopefully I'll have a picture of the knife to post fairly soon. THANK YOU!!!
  13. I should point out that I have only worked in western style blades to this point... but the allure of the hamon has always been stuck in my head so I keep messing with them. My "standard" procedure is to take the blade to 1500 or 2000 grit paper (CLEAN) then start etching with vinegar and dish-soap. Cleaning the resulting oxides off with this blade has been done with Flitz dilluted with oil, 3micron silicon carbide polishing abrasive (in water and also in oil)... and a few other things like pumice and rottenstone. Anyway... it's been etched and polished a bunch of times and this is what it looks like right now. It's getting close, but I wanted something like what I got on this one (maybe I just forgot how I did it three years ago, lol). Thanks guys
  14. Thanks for the replies guys. This particular blade I'm working on is giving me fits. There's a lot of activity in it, but getting everything to look just the way I want is a real beeyotch. Don told me several years ago that every blade is different and every one requires something different. The ADD brain in me with an engineering background craves a set of standards for etching/polishing a clay hardened blade, but I guess I have to come to grips with the fact that every single one I've ever done required some experimentation to get it "right." Thanks again guys.
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