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Christopher Price

Knifemaker Interview Series, a biography workshop

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<_< Sheesh, reality keeps interfering with my virtual typing – I’m going to answer this in parts so Chris doesn’t think I killed his thread.

Keep the questions coming, though, if any occur to you – I’ll have reality in check soon. :wacko:

 

The Viking period is definitely where I have focused most of my research and really tried to get inside the head of the ancient smiths to figure out what they were trying to do. At that time, swords were evolving quickly in effectiveness while retaining their aspect as a production of individual skill, soon after it seems to me the improving production technology and changing military requirements moved the sword into a more mass-produced, less interesting territory – though I may be subjectively reading too much into the loss of pattern-welding as a construction technique. I also like to work in the Japanese methods, the clarity of form and design as well as the skilled application of technique is inspiring and humbling at the same time; and some of the crucible steel sort of demands to be worked into the adventurous blade shapes of the Near East – and then I get to free-associate amongst all these blade traditions, which is really great too. I’m all over the map. ^_^

That “Pringelrii” sword was a milestone for me, in that I chose to follow through in incorporating all my study of originals and research into the old construction & finishing techniques, and not cop out when it came to the hilt. I’ve been working on the theory that you can discover what the pre-industrial world was like to a craftsman, and make a ‘truer’ historic sword, by using the old processes and techniques, and try to recapture the mindset of the smiths of old. This time it worked – I recently heard that a noted collector of original swords got depressed after getting a good look at that sword, because a couple construction details he used as fool-proof fake detectors were done correctly, so he feels he can no longer use them to weed out modern swords pretending to be old. And that is about as huge a compliment as I can imagine getting on that sword! My Japanese-style stuff still feels too American to me, though, that might be a more difficult cultural gap to bridge in some way, or require more focused study…or maybe I just don’t need to go there, the Japanese-influenced American knife is one of my favorites of contemporary bladesmithing.

 

Usually I have one project on the front burner that gets my focused time, and three or four in less critical phases that are waiting to take center stage but still moving towards completion.

 

More on research and Crucible Steel soon!

;)

Edited by Jeff Pringle

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I was going to give it one more day before I said anything... :P

 

Wow, though, thank you Jeff. Can't wait to hear the rest.

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Just a final question while you expand in your answers about research and steel making and then I will pass on the baton to you: what is the next step for you in your bladesmithing path?

 

Thank you again Jeff for agreeing to be interviewed.

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Reading up on stuff is a big component of how I like to gain an understanding of a topic, so as I get into something like steel making or swordsmithing the search for something to read on it is automatic. With swords it was interesting because there is almost no useable info for a swordsmith in the first books you find as a person interested in early European swords (Oakeshott, Davidson), and almost no first millennium European swords in American museums to study firsthand. I must have learned about tracing down original sources in school at some point, though I don’t remember when, but it was when I realized that my forgewelding & smithing skills were up to the task, and that I had no local guide to tell me how these swords were shaped in three dimensions, that I remembered the scaled drawings in Sasche’s “Damascus Steel” by Jaap Ypey. The bibliography gave me titles, the internet (thank god this was post-internet!) brought them to my door. No matter the text was in Dutch (though Netherlandish is not too hard if you took German classes at some point), those clear, scaled three-view drawings and x-rays told me more about basic sword construction than the trip to European Museums at about the same time did. And the articles by Ypey had bibliographies, too, and the books he referenced had them as well; pretty soon I was hooked - archaeological reports, museum catalogs, conservator’s findings, as close to the object in the dirt as possible. Get the info before some influential academic who visited a blacksmith shop once publishes his theory on how & why they were made, that then gets repeated for three or four generations with increasing certitude…I started robbing Quickie Marts to feed my habit, chasing down ever more obscure sword references in Czech, Polish – taught myself how to Google in Kanji when I hit the wall on European stuff…okay, the quickie mart robbing didn’t happen, but I did find tracking back through bibliographies fun, and quite useful initially; next I have to find the key that unlocks current academic research, since there is a wave of interesting sword stuff going on right now that could have more clues.

…since I’m mostly process-driven in my craft, I try to look at process from many points of view and understand it on physical, emotional and intellectual levels, researching the history of a particular process or the way it was achieved in various cultures gives me a few of those points of view to which I can compare my experience of the process, hopefully deepening my understanding and allowing me to fully use that process to make objects of greater intrinsic power.

Hopefully you know what I mean? More tomorrow!

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If I’m documenting opinions in my posts, it is an attempt to make clear where the opinion is coming from, so that anyone interested can judge the source and my reading of it and decide if it makes sense or not - especially with the crucible steel topics, where I’m delving into chemistry & metallurgy that I figured out because I was trying to understand the crucible steel process, and where there is such a long history of people talking nonsense, it seems important to keep things clear that way. Plus, so much of internet discussion seems to be groups of people who don’t understand what they are taking about repeating other people’s (who also may have not understood what they were talking about) opinions as fact as they go on for pages… :rolleyes: I’m exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean (for some reason this site manages to stay free of that nonsense - Thanks, Don! B) )...it is good to keep the facts and opinions clearly marked, and with crucible steel it might help solve some of the mysteries, or at least cut back on a little confusion.

My interest in crucible steel developed as a side effect of my interest in smelting, which was where my imagination landed after I felt I had pretty good control of pattern welding. My desire to really understand ALL the processes that lead to ‘knife’ was coinciding with a deepening interest in the history of those arts as well as a bit of disillusionment with our increasingly homogenized & disposable consumer culture where no one makes anything, or knows where any of the stuff they buy came from, or how it was made – smelting was inevitable, and doing it in a crucible was a short cut that Ric suggested when I was having trouble getting metal from the first few bloomery smelts.

With crucible steel, figuring out what to research and how to gain a little bit of process control was difficult because there was no information that was not wrong or suspect on ‘wootz,’ outside of Verhoeven & Pendray’s Scientific American article in January 2001, so I started out randomly reading any text about steel making, in the hopes of picking up some useful bit of info that could be scaled down to backyard smelting. It took a while, but eventually I homed in on the pre- and early Bessemer period as having the most understandable & adaptable processes. Since I’m smelting ore, not re-melting known quantities of known materials, since I am pretty casual about measuring out ingredients and since my furnace gets replaced ever few runs due to slag boil-overs and/or heat damage, I’ve given up on the concept of total process control (not that I ever had a real chance at that, too many un-measured and barely understood variables) and learned to love figuring out the ingots by how they behave under the hammer, with occasional lab analyses to check against – which ultimately is what I was asking for when I started smelting, that is how pre-industrial smiths interacted with their material; the steel has a bigger say in what it gets used for and you have to pick up on that, bring out the best the steel has to offer and make it into something that suits those characteristics.

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Thanks,Jeff,itwas great to read all that.I've a tremendous respect for you,and all the others,who manage to make the time to delve into such fascinating aspects of metalworking as smelting and the like.Much luck to you with all that.

And thanks,also,to everyone who continues to make this topic the classy read that it's been.The technical information on this forum is outstanding,and adding the personal touch to it thusly is the icing on the cake.

Best regards,Jake.

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Thanks, Jeff, for the insight. I have a couple quick questions, if you don't mind...

 

As you discussed the “Pringelrii” sword, you mentioned some details that occur when you try to use historical methods, that according to your anecdote, are not in common use. Can you expand that thought a little? Details would be nice, but if you consider them propriatory, then a more general thought on the place that ancient technique has in modern work might be nice; I'm specifically interested in how you gauge the interest of collectors in the little historical details, that only non-industrial methods can achieve.

 

My last question: What do you do for a living, and how does it affect your bladesmithing? Is your "real" life complimentary to your craft, or are they 2 different worlds? How does the competition for time in making a living stack up against your work with steel?

 

 

Thank you, and I look forward to the next interview!

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It would be hard to gauge the interest level of collectors (in general) in the degree of ‘historicalness’ displayed by a sword or knife, since there is such a broad range of interest, ‘eye for detail’ and knowledge of original artifacts. Since I’m looking into history for selfish, internal reasons, I haven’t explored it much, though it is great when someone picks up on a small detail or the feel of the whole piece! I suspect there are not all that many people currently interested to a non-industrial degree. It does seem like more and more people are educating themselves on what swords were, historically; combine that with a growing number of smiths doing steelmaking of one sort or another and it could lead somewhere… B)

 

I think it is safe to say any given customer would rather have an actual sword than a reproduction sword, and that dovetails nicely with my drive to understand the history of bladesmithing and pre-industrial metalwork through the processes in use then – the sword feels more ‘real’ to me while I’m making it, and somehow this is conveyed through the object to other people, via close inspection or internet photos. If you use working methods that date back to when time/labor was cheap and materials were costly, you connect with the blade you are crafting in a different way, and if you back that up with close observation of blades that were crafted back then, details of shape and finish occasionally jump into focus and make you think ‘Aha, I know why he did it that way!’ There aren’t very many techniques used in bladesmithing, or blade finishing, so it is not like there was a lot of old-school stuff to learn. Digging into the pre-industrial side my focus has been on the more telling finishing half, which is also where the greatest differences are - though there are some things you can do in a solid-fuel fire that don’t work well in a propane forge. Using files or scrapers vs. disc or belt grinder; stones & powdered abrasives vs. sandpaper & buffer is 90% of the difference.

In some cases using an obsolete method can be helpful, for instance when doing a welded wire inlay down a blade – once the inlay is welded in to the blade blank, you have to forge and finish the blade while keeping the inlaid area flat and in the plane of the finished blade surface; since the inlay is only ~1/16th of an inch thick the slightest deviation will cause the letters to disappear pretty fast. It makes sense to use files and stones for finishing in a situation like that, if you know how to control them, the added sensitivity and slower pace (and no dust mask & safety glasses separating you from the work :blink: ) give greater control than is possible with machinery (in my experience/opinion, of course, I’m sure there are people out there who can grind to the thousandth of an inch when they need to).

 

On the other hand, it may have nothing to do with antique process, it could be that my slight dislike of electric motor whine serves to put enough distance between me & the blade during belt sanding that the blade ends up missing some spirit at the end? I don’t think so, since I still use a belt sander on most knives, and they usually feel ‘connected’ to me. I think that not only surface texture but significant aspects of shape are determined by choice of tools. It should be possible to perfectly mimic the geometry of a forged and draw-filed blade with ye olde KMG (that sounds like a cool experiment, might have to try it!), but most belt-sanded blades look like they were done that way (even if you use non-electric finishing to erase the surface traces), so using historic methods is the direct way around that dissonance you might feel when you see a sword in the style of the 9th century wearing a suit of 20th century tool marks. Totally not a problem if it’s a 21st century sword, or knife, of course, it does not look wrong in context. Not that belt sanders are all that anachronistic, circular grindstones go way back, and if you have a variable-speed belt with a large contact wheel you can make pretty similar marks…but the experience feels quite different, to me.

 

 

My last question: What do you do for a living, and how does it affect your bladesmithing? Is your "real" life complimentary to your craft, or are they 2 different worlds? How does the competition for time in making a living stack up against your work with steel?

 

 

So I can remain relatively compromise-free in my bladesmithing, I cover the rent with work in architectural (and occasionally sculptural) metal restoration, everything from restoring patina on 100-year-old bronze, or making newly installed brass look like old bronze, to developing non-abrasive ways to clean or remove corrosion from high-end stainless steel cladding – both lives feel ‘real’ to me and they are complimentary without a great deal of overlap, so it works pretty well. I know an awful lot about abrasive finishes, corrosion and patinas from architectural work that I use in knives, and “The Craft of the Japanese Sword” gave me some ideas I was able to use in designing a mirror-finish stainless scratch removal process, there’s that kind of overlap. There aren’t too many time conflicts since both schedules are fairly flexible (and I don’t have a TV – very important, THROW YOUR TELEVISIONS AWAY NOW! You will not believe the peaceful, productive calm ^_^ ), just rare hard deadlines in one or the other cause tension between the two.

 

To answer Jesus’ last question - In the future, I hope to capture a few more techniques involved in the production of swords of the 9th to 11th centuries, add them to the processes already understood or in hand, and refine my execution of them all. There’s a lot of work left in that area, each artifact or technique I study closely brings new questions. I also hope to get inside the theoretical brains of the old wootz makers and work out some of their intentions & processes, getting parts of that puzzle figured out would be really rewarding.

 

If there are no more questions, I will serve up the next interview this weekend!

Edited by Jeff Pringle

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Thank you Jeff!

 

I have really enjoyed reading your posts. Just adding my voice to the applause, sine you´ve touched upon those aspects of the craft I´d like to discuss with you. I hope that our roads might cross some day. If you happen to travel to Sweden, do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to help arrange some study visits to collections or museums around here.

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Okay, without further ado, I’d like to continue the thread by introducing a friend of mine, Jim Austin.

Jim is a blacksmith and a bladesmith with a remarkably deep understanding of steel & how to move it with a hammer, some interesting ideas on blade design and a great talent for figuring out processes in the forging of iron & steel.

Jim, How did you find your way to forging, and bladesmithing in particular, and can we see some photos of your work?

B)

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Okay, without further ado, I’d like to continue the thread by introducing a friend of mine, Jim Austin.

Jim is a blacksmith and a bladesmith with a remarkably deep understanding of steel & how to move it with a hammer, some interesting ideas on blade design and a great talent for figuring out processes in the forging of iron & steel.

Jim, How did you find your way to forging, and bladesmithing in particular, and can we see some photos of your work?

B)

 

 

Although I am now an architectural blacksmith by profession my experience with blades predates my experience with any sort of hot metalworking due to my early interest (we're talking 1970's) in bayonets which I collected with my father for several years back then. The military aspect of this was no doubt due to my father being an engineer in the field of armored vehicle development, and we put together a great collection of bayonets which he still holds. I also learned a lot about general metalworking around the same time while making (fireable) model artillery (usually ½ scale) based on U.S. pieces from the Revolutionary to Civil Wars. My first experience with tool steel was a blade for my father which I made in 1980 by stock removal from O1 before I had any experience in blacksmithing, and while I was in the studying chemistry at UC Berkeley. When I quit chemistry two years later it was because I got the chance to start a blacksmithing apprenticeship in Bavaria near Munich (Note to parents: do not get your kids subscriptions to National Geographic every year from age 9 to 16 or so and then be surprised when they are romanced by travel abroad). I served dutifully as an apprentice and then as a journeyman for 6 years in the shop of Walter Spensberger starting in 1982. My personal focus during that whole time was traditional decorative blacksmithing and tool making, but I did turn out one small pattern-welded blade during that time. (Regarding pattern welding: I also traveled to meet Heinz Denig who might be known to some). I should mention that I was pretty much on my own with forge welding back then as I had no local help in learning it while I was in Germany. After returning to California in 1988 I worked solely as an architectural blacksmith for about 15 years before I made my third blade. This was a pattern welded sword, much of whose execution you oversaw and which introduced me to many of the techniques I have thus far used in blade making. Since then I have only made 5 or 6 blades, but I have put a pretty good effort into each one and have been inspired both by your work and by pieces I have seen on this forum.

 

Here are a couple of pictures of a blade I did for my dad on his 75th birthday. It was inspired by Mauser bayonets of the early 20th century. The partial-length pattern on the back of the blade is two-sided (i.e. opposite twists on each side of the blade) done in 1018 and 1095 (about 15 layers total) and the main blade stock is about 250 layers of 1075 whose "pattern" is solely due to welding. The handle is iron wood from the Sonoran desert. Together with the butt and crossguard it takes down with two screws. The tang is flush with the top of the handle but concealed on the underside of the handle, so I call it a "half tang".

JA1_09.jpg

JA1_20.jpg

JA1_31.jpg

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Jim,i hate to disrupt the flow of the interview format,but just have to ask:there appears to be a number of small black dots that look like pitting,in the lower,the 1075,part of the laminate,would you please,very briefly,go into the reason of why those occur?I presume that you've induced,or at least allowed them to remain,deliberately,but am very interested for my own reasons in their nature.Again,sorry for the interruption.Respectfully,Jake.

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Bayonets are cool, and for me a little sad; the last functional large blades in military use, they’re in effect the ‘curtain call’ for edged weapons in the age of the gun. I love the sword-ness of the Chassepot & similar recurve bayonets, with just the latch on one side and a machined feature down the back of the grip to reveal their integration with modern weaponry.

If I remember correctly, the hilt of your father’s birthday knife had some unusual interlocking functionality between the pommel, tang and grip –can you describe how that worked, got any photos or drawings of that feature?

The apprenticeship in Bavaria must have been weird! Since most bladesmiths probably hear stories about Japanese apprentices tasked with chopping up charcoal and nothing else for the first year of their ten-year stint, could you expand a bit on how the apprenticeship system works over there, how the learning is structured, is it really descended from the medieval guild system? …and do you think it is still possible to do an apprenticeship like that, in Germany or elsewhere in Europe? I’ve looked at your journeyman test (graduation?) piece many times and I’m still not sure how you forged it & assembled it!

I’m surprised to hear you had to develop forgewelding on your own, I kinda assumed that was part of the old-world knowledge they were carefully handing down through the generations over there, since your understanding and control of that process is much deeper than one usually runs across.

[Okay everybody, think back to the third blade you forged, then imagine that your blade # 3 was a 4-bar core interrupted twist (different on both sides of course) Viking sword with edge wrap, all flawlessly welded and finished off – my #3 wasn’t quite that nice! Even with someone talking you through the steps it is still an awesome display of welding skill and understanding of how steel & hammer interact]

What aspects of your European education and/or work in architectural smithing do you feel enrich or enhance your approach to blades, or blade processes like design or pattern welding?

Edited by Jeff Pringle

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I'll have to get to the grip on the above knife a little later when I can get some pics.

 

As to apprenticeships in Bavaria, they were pretty much the norm when I was there for any young person (i.e. around 15 to 16 years old) going into a trade which could include anything from fabricator to sales clerk. I believe that it's pretty much still the case but the modern economy is probably putting some pressure on the system. I understand that the guild system as it is currently constituted arose in the late nineteenth century after the original medieval system broke down earlier that century. The old system was pretty much an anti-competitive throwback and did not survive the onset of the industrial age. It was revivified as a teaching system for the trades to standardize education and emphasize best practices. Since its basic purpose is to provide well trained workers for the modern economy it does not necessarily preserve old methods if they are no longer considered economically feasible. Such is the case with forge welding, although it is no doubt taught in certain shops that do restoration work or simply pride themselves in that technique. But it is not common.

 

A classical blacksmithing education influences my bladesmithing by allowing me to make use of many blacksmithing techniques and tools to solve a given bladesmithing problem. With the emphasis on hot work I tend to forge a blade fairly closely to shape with all of the appropriate tapers and fullers before I start to grind. Since I have some heavy forging hammers and other machine tools I can readily make specialized tooling for bladesmithing (for instance to forge the fullers and bevels for a sword). Along with the innovation involved, the making of new and efficient tools is one of my favorite parts in any metalworking project. My interest in the many techniques of structural forge welding and traditional tool making also keep me interested in ancient edged tools and weapons which had complex shapes such as carpentry axes and winged spears (the latter interest for which you are responsible and which I soon hope to pursue with you).

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Hey, Jake – the spots on that blade are residual pitting from the etch, IIRC Jim did a bunch of light etch/hand polish cycles to get a good degree of topography and those are what remained after the last polish step – martensite tends to etch non-uniformly compared to pearlite, and be more resistant to polishing of course.

 

Jim – coming from a background of minimal infrastructure it has been good for me to see your more tooling-intensive approach. When we started looking at the Frankish spears, you focused right in on the blade/socket transition as the critical geometry to plan around, imagined back from the finished spear shape to a pre-cursor geometry that would give the right mass in that location, then designed a top tool for the Nazel that would imprint that shape into a bar of iron so that the rest of the forging could take place with that critical geometry established. B)

I’ve found that after seeing you do this a couple times, my ability to, for example, look at a piece of historical pattern-welded material and deduce how it was worked between billet and object has increased quite a lot; can you give us some thoughts on this four-dimensional visualization skill as it relates to knowing where to start to get a desired metal shape, as well as the design of tooling to get you there with speed and repeatability?

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During my apprenticeship in Bavaria I had the opportunity to look at a lot of artistic and utilitarian forged work done between the middle ages and the 18th century. I was absolutely fascinated by this stuff – by its bygone aesthetic, its no-nonsense workmanship (not always the best) and its spare use of material. Some of it was in old churches and chapels where I could look at it up close and photograph it in detail. I was always on the look-out for traces of how it was made. While at the same time acquiring many basic blacksmithing skills I developed a knack for decoding the likely sequence of steps required to make a given object or feature I had seen in the old work although I was sometimes stumped. Often my interest in a given piece was great enough to attempt to duplicate it in the smithy after hours. This was a great way to verify or correct my guesses in the field. My greatest interest finally settled on old German carpenter axes (broad finishing axes) which kind-of remain the Holy Grail for me as they are supremely beautiful, have very cryptic traces alluding to their techniques of forging and remain (as yet) unattained-in-the-making by yours truly (……of course since I have gotten to know you my TRULY ideal German woodworking axe WILL have to be made from home-smelted bloomery iron.

 

What I have found is that you don't really "know" how to start making a new (or perhaps very old) shape in iron, but you can sort out some of the most likely paths to get the work done and thus figure out what material to start with and what tools will be necessary. A complex finished shape often depends on a crucial, interim form which is sometimes hard to figure out or is hard to select among competing possibilities. The historic use of forge welding means that it can be difficult to figure out how many pieces were joined to make a certain object. And given that forge welding is not necessarily easy to detect in old objects of crude wrought iron or bloomery iron (since the material itself was forge welded together) the ability to settle on the steps used by the original smith can be quite difficult to sort out. Nevertheless the exercise of thinking about forging sequences this way is useful in becoming a better smith both creatively and from a historical perspective.

 

As I mentioned earlier I love to make tools for the smithy. Blade making offers me a new field of practice to use my imagination in tool design. This usually starts when I come to a step in the process of forging which seems particularly laborious or prone to error. The problem at hand, such as forging a beautiful sword fuller on a power hammer, will normally have a fairly simple solution in terms of a basic tooling approach (in this case a set of dies for the Nazel). What interests me more though is taking a step back from the immediate problem and seeing if I could design a tool or even a system to solve other related problems with the same set up. In the case of the fullering tools I came up with a die holding system that allowed me also to forge the bevels on the sword with interchangeable dies and an adjustable stop to keep everything nice and parallel. As you may remember the set up worked great. What I expect in any such tool is that it be of high quality workmanship (as I expect to use it for a long time), that it works so well that it almost guides you in its use, and that it looks cool. All along the lines of "if it's worth doing it's worth doing well".

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Jim,at the risk of sounding ungreatful,would you,by chance,have a picture or two of those axes?And,maybe,the very briefest of your own thoughts on the possible construction methods?And,less selfishly,for probable reason of being of interst to more folks on the forum,a picture of a fullering device?

I appreciate all that you've already said immensely,and in no wise would want to impose,but...couldn't resist asking.Respectfully,Jake.

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Jim had to head for the hills for a couple days, so I snuck in to his shop and got photos of his fuller/bevel die set. I believe the axe type he is referring to are of this sort, an asymmetrical design that is smooth and slightly convex on the back side –

89d9_1.jpg

 

With a welded-on steel edge and a socket that is also forge-welded together from multiple pieces.

 

The die set is a modular concept that is based on a pair of sub-dies that are designed to hold tooling and dies, which replace the standard hammer and anvil dies normally seen. I think Jim made them originally to handle a variety of specific, repetitive forging operations that are required in architectural work. These now have a pair of smaller sub-dies that bring the tooling closer to sword-scale; they have slots to hold the dies that will do the work, here pictured with a pair of fullering dies installed [edit - 'installed' is an exaggeration, obviously we are looking at the lower sub-die in place and the upper die not installed but upside down next to it, nothing attached to the Nazel] and a pair of beveling dies on the anvil in front.

tool01.jpg

The adjustable stop on the side has a basic adjustment via spacers under the bar where the mounting bolts go through, and fine adjustment via the cam effect of the off-center hole through the side stop.

tool02.jpg

tool03.jpg

On a very controllable hammer like the Nazel they work remarkably well, I took the set up for a test drive on a finished sword blade (renn fair type thing someone gave me a while back) that was missing its fuller, and had no trouble keeping the sword straight and depth even. Using the side stop made the fuller smoothly tapered without having to think about it, this is as-forged:

P8040004.JPG

 

Cool tool!

B):D

Edited by Jeff Pringle

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Thanks much,Jeff.That set of dies looks competent as can be,as does your skill with them.The photo of that goosewing is one of the best ones that i've ever seen.Awsome tool.

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Thanks for sharing those pics.

 

A lot of that about the fullering tool went way over my head, but that is some serious tool. That last pic of the blade with fuller as forged looks very crisp

Edited by Monty

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I'll try to get photos of them on the hammer, in use - that will make everything very clear.

If using a big air hammer is like having 4 apprentices with sledges, a set of dies like these ups it to those apprentices with a couple journeyman smiths directing them :D^_^

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I'll try to get those dies on the hammer this weekend, otherwise it'll be after Labor day!

 

So Jim, I’m handing the interviewer role over to you, but before I go, what do you feel is in your edged future, aside from the home-smelted broad axe? A few months ago I saw you working on a Northwest Coast ceremonial mask carver’s knife, are you heading in the direction of esoteric edged tools?

 

Here is Jim's first attempt at swordsmithing... :o<_<:D

The hilt is pretty cool too, but I don't have a photo of that...

 

5polished.jpg

 

 

P1010007.JPG

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First attempt?

 

 

 

(grumble grumble grumble)

 

 

Excellent work. I can't wait to see who you interview... let's keep this rolling!

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To answer your last question Jeff:

 

I find that I am consistently attracted to pattern welded blades in the machete to sword range of size and to edged tools (especially woodworking), which is how I would categorize the carving knife which you referred to. I would also like to try out some utility carry knives with forged modern tool steel blades. I don't have many set ideas on the types of blades I want to make but I always find blades on this website which stir my imagination. The only thing which I'm really missing is time to try it all.

 

I will conclude this interview with a few random pictures of work from the shop…

 

Here are two photos of a long seachs which I sold to earn the money for an espresso machine (the most used machine in my shop). The blade is about 300 layers of 1075 and the back twist is about 30 layers of 1010 and 1095. The upper and lower guards are inlaid with copper and silver wire (a la Jeff) and the handle is covered with sewn pig skin.

 

Seachs.jpg

Seachs_handle.jpg

 

The next picture shows a friend welding his first packet of 1010 and 1095 on a large punch press. The process takes place in 2-3 seconds and contact time with the dies is about 1/2 sec.

 

punch_press_welding.jpg

 

Here are two shots of a packet of pattern welded steel ready to join together for a machete blade. Notice the detail of the forward scarf

 

Bayo_packet.jpg

Bayo_point_weldment.jpg

 

And last but not least are two pictures of experimental forge welding to explore possibilities for making a winged spear:

 

Winged_spear_parts.jpg

Winged_spear_weldment.jpg

 

I hope you enjoyed the work.

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Now that sir, is some fine and skillful work :) I enjoyed reading your interview. It was a nice fresh view :)

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