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I just picked up my first chisle set off Amazon for $20.

I am new to the carving game myself, but i've gotten pretty good at carving rope. It helps if you start with cutting the shape with the V chisle, and cut out the relief with a rounded flat chisel and you can really dome out the top of your snake shape by turning a crescent chisle upside down and carving like that. 

It might be a nice touch if you could carve out the bottom of the snake some also. Sort of making it look like he's on the wood not in it. Just my 2 cents. Looks good so far! I saw by the amount of trashed handles that you were trying to get this perfect, so I figured I would help if I could. Hope this helps!

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I have to admit, there is a shelf above my workbench, right up by the ceiling.  This is where the broken, twisted, burned, and otherwise malformed knives go that I have deemed unsalvageable.  A couple

Just a tip for forging daggers or or other blades with a diamond cross section. Start with square stock and forge it on its bias. This gives you your bevels and ridge.

So I get this Chrome plated box in the mail... A duct tape clad box. I open it up and this letter is inside  and this wicked cool puzzle thing is inside.  Here it is solved.  Ol' Alex,

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Thank a for the input Zeb.  I have a loooooong way to go before see anything close to perfect.  If this handle doesn't work out, I am planning on at least trying to round off the edges on the next one.  I've already bought the Dremel bits that I think I need.  I'm pretty new to carving, so just getting something that looks remotely like what I'm after is considered a success, and a major syep for ward for me.  I'm also thinking about in laying some sort of red stone to make eyes for the snakes.  At some point though, I'm going to have to say enough is enough and move on to the next project.

Edited by Alex Middleton
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Alex:

You're doing this right.  I think the trick to moving forward in this craft is biting off more than you can chew (and then chewing it)!

I especially admire the way in which you've scraped "almost good enough" elements and started over. It took me a really, really long time to learn that lesson. Throwing away a flawed element and starting over is, ultimately, much faster than trying to work around the gaps, asymmetries, etc. of a screwed up bit of the build.

And finally, yes: At some point you need to say enough and move on . . . but my advice is this: Make sure you finish this piece before you move on, even if you're unhappy with it overall. Don't quit until you just can't stand looking at it anymore.

I keep old pieces of mine hanging on the walls of my shop. I imagine that they whisper to me while I work. They complain and nag at me that I left imperfections on them; that I rushed through the build to get to the end. I glance up at them while I sand or file away at whatever I'm working on now, and they inspire me to be patient, so maybe the piece I'm working on now will leave me the hell alone when it's hanging on the wall . . . 

Luck in the quest. Good job so far, man!

Dave

 

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"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt

http://stephensforge.com

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3 hours ago, Dave Stephens said:

get to the end. I glance up at them while I sand or file away at whatever I'm working on now, and they inspire me to be patient, so maybe the piece I'm working on now will leave me the hell alone when it's hanging on the wall . . . 

That is awesome Dave. Lol! I thought I was the only one with voices in my head (or shop). I chuckled at this because I do the exact same thing.

Alex, you have to finish that piece with the components you set out to do. The dagger and their edges are amazing. The ferrule, I hope you can get that out of the wood it sounds like it was embed in. That ferrule was incredible. And the new handle with the snake is amazing. Make this happen! I would LOVE a piece like this, so pull up your bootstraps and get ‘er done! I have been watching through the whole process, the good, bad, and ugly, and I feel as invested as someone not doing the project can feel. I really can’t wait to see you put this one over the goal line. You have worked too hard to not reach your goal! Make it happen!

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I have to admit, there is a shelf above my workbench, right up by the ceiling.  This is where the broken, twisted, burned, and otherwise malformed knives go that I have deemed unsalvageable.  A couple are stuck right in the edge of the shelf so that I can easily see them and they act as a constant reminder of the things that didn't turn out the way I expected.  It helps me to keep from making the same mistakes over again.  I have a feeling that this oak handle will end up there when I get home tomorrow.  The more I look at it, the less I like the way it's turning out.  The overall form is just fine, and the carving turned out good as well.  It's just the surface quality of the wood that isn't up to par.  Like Jonathan said, I'm getting to be damn near an expert at making these things by now, a couple of extra hours worth of work to remake it out of a better piece of wood won't kill me.  LOL

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I took a few hours this morning and remade the handle one last time.  I'm pretty darn happy with the way it turned out. 

20180217_114115.jpg

After glue up and ready to start applying the finish coats.

20180217_162949.jpg

It may not be the most perfect thing that's ever been made, but it's a huge step forward for me.  I want to thank everyone for their help and encouragement.  If you guys hadn't pushed me a little bit, I don't think I'd be anywhere near as happy with it overall.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll be redoing the handle on this one more time.  I'm just not happy with the way the finish turned out.  In my mind it needs to be smooth and jet black.  I attempted a lacquer finish but by the time there was enough coats to fill in the grain structure of the wood, the detail in the carving was washed out.  I picked up a piece of African blackwood today.  I'm  going to try my hand at remaking this thing one last time out of that.  Hopefully I'll be able to get the finish I'm looking for without killing the detail at the same time.  

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If you wanted jet black army surplus stores used to sell black boots dye which was an alcohol-based dye, now I've been out since 2006 so things may have changed.  I have to say sir I really commend you on all the work you put in on this. It's gotta be somewhat disheartening redoing the same thing over and over again but I have no doubt your hard work will shine through at the end and be all the better for the extra effort . 

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I appreciate the compliment Jonathan, but it's more my stubborn streak showing through than anything else.  I would have called most other projects done a long time ago.  For some reason this one is different and I'm not sure why.  I just hope I can figure it out and get it to a point where I let myself call it done.

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19 hours ago, Alex Middleton said:

I appreciate the compliment Jonathan, but it's more my stubborn streak showing through than anything else.  I would have called most other projects done a long time ago.  For some reason this one is different and I'm not sure why.  I just hope I can figure it out and get it to a point where I let myself call it done.

Alex, I think not only have you been bit by the bladesmithing bug, but now the venom is in ;)

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"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card

 

Nos, qui libertate donati sumus, nes cimus quid constet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Aaaaaand, doneish.

The blade is 3.75" and .125" at the thickest point of the spine.  OAL is 7".  She's tiny, but wicked.

I ended up going back to the original furniture for this thing.  The African blackwood did the trick for the handle.  I have to work on the buffing a little bit, but this is how it sits after sanding it to 400 and buffing with red rouge.

20180317_141623.jpg

Thanks again to everyone that helped me along with this, I don't think I would have taken it this far without you guys pushing a little.

Alex

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Very nice Alex. Loves it.

"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card

 

Nos, qui libertate donati sumus, nes cimus quid constet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just stopped in to see what was happening in the KITH this year, and I have to say that's been a wild ride Alex. Glad you hung on and finished with something you can be proud of.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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Thanks Joshua.  Unfortunately the ride isn't over yet.  I couldn't resist doing some touch up sanding on the handle yesterday and dropped the damn thing on the concrete and dinged up the point.  Now i have to go back to the grinder to touch it up and then repolish and sharpen.  :angry:  Lesson learned, keep the blade taped up and protected until completely done.

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On ‎3‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 5:28 PM, Alex Middleton said:

Thanks Joshua.  Unfortunately the ride isn't over yet.  I couldn't resist doing some touch up sanding on the handle yesterday and dropped the damn thing on the concrete and dinged up the point.  Now i have to go back to the grinder to touch it up and then repolish and sharpen.  :angry:  Lesson learned, keep the blade taped up and protected until completely done.

Ouch! I hate when that happens.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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  • 3 months later...

Took this off the shelf today and gave it another look.  I'm still pretty happy with it overall.  I've been toying with the idea of a phase 2 to this build and since I don't have any projects going at the moment, I decided to start on it (I just can't let the wife find out, the honey-do list is only half done :lol:).

If everything goes as planned, it should add a little bit of mystery to the magic.  I'm gonna keep the details under wraps for now, but I got far enough along today that I thought I'd throw a teaser out.

More to come!

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Phase 2 is coming along well.  I'm definitely not on the level of Jacques Sauniere, but I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out.  No pictures though.  I think it'll be more fun (at least to me, lol) if it's a surprise to the recipient of this dagger.

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On ‎7‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 6:34 PM, Alex Middleton said:

the honey-do list is only half done

You got halfway? Congrats. I never get past a third.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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