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Training yourself to see


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Training yourself to see

I'm trying to reduce the boxes and buckets of STUFF I have piled up in my store room.  Lot of stuff I started and never finished and hundred of tools I've made, 
but no longer use.  I came across this and thought it a good example of “Not seeing”  It was intended to be a monkey tool for 3/16 tenons.  Side one is nice, but 
when you look at side two, the hole is twisted.  If I made this today, it would have immediately gone to the scrap pile, but the fact that I saved it, 
tells me that when I made it, my eye had not developed to really look and see.  I find getting people to SEE is one of the greatest challenges I have teaching.  

On the other hand, here's a Cutler's hammer I made years ago and I still like it.

Picture 3123 Large e-mail view.jpg

Picture 3124 Large e-mail view.jpg

Picture 3121 Large e-mail view.jpg

Picture 3122 Large e-mail view.jpg

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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Gerald - I get what you are saying here, and it is a very good point, but I have a tangentially related question.  Before asking, I need to preface with hammer head making is very intimidating to me and I have never done it.  With that being noted, why would you scrap this piece rather than fix it?  I would think a good bit of work went into it so far, and it wouldn't take much more to correct and save it (or possibly change it to an axe head or something).  So am I wrong in the amount of work to fix vs just starting over, or is there something else you know that I don't (which is certainly true about many things, but I mean in regards to this specifically ;)).  

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seeing is very difficult, especially trying to tell if a blade with a full convex grind and complex tapered blade and tang and no flat spots anywhere. but i think there is an emotional reaction to it when its right, i look at the blade with it pointed at me like im about to get chopped to check straightness and if the blade is intimidating then its usually pretty straight, if you point a bent blade at yourself you will see that the tip isnt pointed at you and it wont be intimidating. 

 

i tried to straighten a hammer or ax eye once, it was a miniature forged out of half inch round stock so that didnt help but it was hard to keep track of which cheek needed to be drawn out tall and which needed to be drawn long. 

 

another thing is that you have to be looking for flaws, you cant expect to just catch them all by chance, a failed weld in a layered steel bar could just show up as a slightly cooler spot in the billet which you might not notice if youre busy heating and beating the thing. if you make a knife with no ricasso its easier to have to have the cutting edge of the blade not be centered because there isnt that reference point. 

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1 hour ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Gerald - I get what you are saying here, and it is a very good point, but I have a tangentially related question.  Before asking, I need to preface with hammer head making is very intimidating to me and I have never done it.  With that being noted, why would you scrap this piece rather than fix it?  I would think a good bit of work went into it so far, and it wouldn't take much more to correct and save it (or possibly change it to an axe head or something).  So am I wrong in the amount of work to fix vs just starting over, or is there something else you know that I don't (which is certainly true about many things, but I mean in regards to this specifically ;)).  

 

The first bit is out of 1"square mild and aside from heating, has only about five minutes of work.  It was going to be a monkey tool, so the misaligned hole actually doesn't matter, but since students look at my tools, I always want to present the best tool I can make.  The hammer is good enough for me to show :-)

 

The subject of fix or redo is always a call.  For some simple things, it's easier and less work to scrap and start new.  How much work is invested and how long would it take to fix vs starting over.

 

Don't be intimidated with hammer making.  It's actually much easier then bladesmithing :-)  All there is to it, is slot punching a hole and drifting it out to form the eye.  If you haven't already, get Mark Aperey's first book (the black one) it covers punching and drifting for hammers in great detail.  In his basic class, he has the students forge a punch and drift, and then use them to make a monkey tool.  Since a hole is all that's needed, if it's not straight, still OK and it's a nice bit of practice.

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It is the tooling (larger tongs, drifts, etc) and especially the need to punch straight holes that scares me the most.  I don't get a lot of shop time, so when something goes wrong it is an emotional killer.  I like the idea of drilling a couple guide holes then slitting and drifting from there.  Some day I'll get around to casting a drift (because I can), as well as a few hammer heads (mainly wanting to try a dog-head).  I can cast tooling out of the same material we make anvils out of, which just sounds like fun to me.  

 

I guess I also didn't know what a monkey tool is and Google wasn't really helping me out here.  I found this post from Niels over a decade ago.  That let me know it was for tenons, then I could piece the rest together from there.  I was thinking it was going to be used like a specialty hammer, but it is not.  It is more in line with tooling like a nail header.  

 

Thanks for explaining your thought process.  

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Monkey tools are great for a lot of tenon-related things.  Not only do they clean up and flatten the face of a tenon shoulder, they can also be used to upset that tenon shoulder into the bar, making for a more organic-looking joint.  Or you can upset the end of the bar before you forge the tenon, the tool doesn't care.  I just hate to upset something I'm just going to draw out later.

 

Bladesmithing content: you can use a monkey tool to clean up the tang-ricasso junction if you're very careful about using copper or aluminum jaws in the vise so as not to mar the blade.  Saves a bit of time with the file guide, but I regularly forget to do it. This post just reminded me.  I used to do that a lot twenty years ago, I guess I forgot about it when I went hawk-only for a while.  

 

This is why I recommend taking blacksmithing classes.  All we do as bladesmiths is make flat bars with tapers.  Once you learn scrolling, tenons, collars, punching, etc. everything else gets a lot easier.  B)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mr Boggs- Thanks for posting the thread- Im trying to learn to "see" and this is very insightful. (pardon the pun) as usual you have helped me add another tool to the list of "stuff to make/learn"

 

I dont really post all too often- as I am still learning the ropes- but I appreciate the time as a student- to see good tooling. Im trying to learn good practices and having clean examples to work to are always awesome. 

 

Thanks

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Posted (edited)

Glad to be of some help :-)  I know I'm a stuck record on this (pretty soon no one will know what that means) but if you haven't already and can afford to, get Mark Aspery's first book.  That and connect with your local blacksmith group, which is the Tidewater Blacksmith's Guild http://www.tidewaterblacksmiths.com/index.html

There are some very talented smiths in that group.

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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  • 2 weeks later...

I already joined ABANA and my local guild- one of the first things I did was try to source info locally- and everyone I have encountered there so far are good eggs- My job keeps me dynamic with shift changes (rotating nights/days odd weeks and such) so I cannot attend often- but still enjoy the group!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have the same experience. Trying to finish blades with an eye to detail according to my skill has certainly changed the way I look at knives.

Recently I handled production and custom knives I have owned for years and noticed details and/or shortcuts that I had not noticed before.

 

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I have a hard time seeing and an even harder time believing. This is probably why my scrap bin is so full. I have a hard time seeing the potential and an even harder time believing it.

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I consider myself blade-blind right now and just barely opening my eyes to things blacksmithy, so take this with a grain of borax, but I do know a thing or two about "seeing."

 

The best advise given to me by a mentor (potter, I am a backslidden' potter) was to look at every pot I could get my eyes on. Go to shows. Go to museums. Check out books. Look at pots, touch pots, eat pots until they drip from the corners of your mouth. That is how you train yourself to see.

 

You are taking care of the doing, right? Every day, something? Anything? Always the doing, but also always the looking and, for crafts, the touching. I've dozens of pots in my house. I look at them every day. I fondle them most days. Some of them are my early crappy pots. Be sure to save a few of those.

 

Everything I've read in this thread tells me that y'all are doing just fine and well on your way. You too Jeremy.

 

I can't wait to start collecting blacksmithed stuff!

 

Yee haw!

 

Taylor

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