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More Hearth Steel

Aiden CC

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On 9/7/2022 at 9:19 AM, Alan Longmire said:

This continues to be an excellent thread!  Thanks for updating it.  B)

Thank you! I've been trying to post daily on Instagram, I think some folks here might enjoy that #seax is quite popular there these days. It has been a challenge with 0-3 bladesmithing sessions per week, but it does mean I have a lot of pictures and I wanted to make a point of continuing to post here. It's nice to have a place where content more than a day or two old still gets seen by people who might care about it! Anyways, on to the work from the past few days.



The left is a knife inspired by iron age finds I saw in the Danish national museum when I went there with my (very patient) partner on a recent vacation. The right is a short Viking Age inspired knife that I intend to handle and sheath with some puukko like features. Both are made from leftover scraps from the narrow sax I made too large because when an archaeologist says a "blade" is 45 cm long, they mean that the blade and tang are 45 cm long together :rolleyes:



I started making hearth steel because back in 2020 when I made a tanto for the KITH I wanted to be able to do some different things with the hamon. Now after a bit of dabbling, I have a few blades that really are digging into that style. Both are kobuse with the 12 fold material and anchor chain. At the spine there's a lot of iron, but the steel gets thicker and the iron gets thinner down towards the edge.



Here they are at the sunobe stage. In the left picture there is a sheet steel kata with a ~10" blade and the right is a quick test blade I whipped up out of W2 based on a (very beat up) sunobi tanto I bought a few years ago. These have taper in width and thickness, and after the photo I cut a reverse tip into each so the hearth steel flows with the edge and has god steel at the tip. 



Both are hira zukuri (no ridge on the blade) which made turning the sunobe into a blade pretty straightforward. I did the math for these, and used the weight of my W2 test blade, and I was suspicious at first, but I was able to get adequately sized blanks for two large tanto out of 700 g of hearth steel, which was nice as quite a bit of time went into that material! That's all for now, I may have time to grind and heat treat these tomorrow, or it may be a while yet.



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  • 2 months later...

Both of those tantos ended up with issues, one became a kogatana and the other is now languishing on a shelf. I decided to take a break and make a bunch of s(e)axes so I’ll post a bit of that here:



These two are cut from the same sanmai bar, the core steel is exposed only at the very edge, but the iron around it actually got carburized to a fair degree based on sparks while grinding and what it did to my chisels for the second blade. 


This was an attempt to try a multi-bar blade, which I actually like quite a bit. There will definitely be more of this!



Finally, a Honeylane-ish seax. Wrought iron from an old, broken, vise and a square bare of hearth steel. The profile needs a bit of tweaking, but the weld seems to be good, I’m looking forward to this one. 

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18 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:


I like the shape!  I mean, I like them all, but I've always had a soft spot for that one, and your as-forged profile looks really good.  B)

Thank you! I’ve wanted to make a blade like this for a while. It’s tricky, since if it’s too narrow by the handle, IMO it looks almost cartoonish, but some of that effect is important to get the right look. I think I’ll end up taking a little bit off of the belly and lengthening the clip a bit too. Once I cut in the shoulders I think it will make it easier to get a sense of what the profile needs, if anything. 

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  • 3 months later...

A section of bad weld in the Honeylane seax meant the edge got cut off and used as the center of sanmai for some later medieval knives based on pieces in Knives and Scabbards, so I’ll hopefully make another blade like that soon!



That seax blade plus one other scrap gave rise to these three: a clip point, the classic “old hidden tang knife” and the start of a later medieval knife, which will get a bolster, butt plate, etc. 



Another tanto, as the previous “autobiography” blade had some fatal flaws show up in grinding. It’s 12 fold, kobuse construction with a hamon blending a number of different styles. Initial grind looks good, but time will tell. 


Finally, the latest run. This was about 25 lbs of feed stock and about twice that much charcoal, a mix of pieces all from one link of anchor chain, and the ever growing pile of scrap. Every time I run the hearth, I do more and more consecutive burns, since I get reminded of how much activation energy it takes. That’s it for now!

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Looking really good Aiden.

“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.  





J.States Bladesmith | Facebook



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  • 2 weeks later...

Sweet, keep the updates coming!

Also, I love the blade on this one from earlier in the post. The patterning turned out VERY well.


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