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Donnerstag, 10. Juli 2014

A hike with CUTIE;-)

 When I was in Marburg, the magic troll and I set out to do some hike to our favourite place... it has become sort of a tradition to have a look if things are all in place... and those Marburgian hills are simply beautiful.
 In case you wondered how she gets all her gear around, the 4 - people tent is in her bag as well as a car, a railway station, a chainsaw, an entire goldsmithy, a carpenter´s shop, and some other things to be treated discreetly, including a worm hole and another universe. She told me the secret, but I have sworn to keep silent. That much I can say that she once had a friend called Aoífe...

She loves chicken...*ggg*
 The light was radiant and warming our hearts... we do not want any gems of treelight...
 ...for it´s there all the time.
 This is the view towards the Marburgian castle. It is nice to dream that artists and writers like Clemens Brentano, the REAL Grimm brothers, Goethe, Schiller, Hermann Hesse and many more went for a stroll into the same hills. I find Marburg breathes this atmosphere still. The fairy tales are alive and well there.
Take for instance this horse head. Okay, so you all know it from other posts, but I am just fascinated by the idea that someone just gets out into the woods with his chainsaw and does some fun carving and then leaves it there. In my hometown few even consider doing this (most are not even capable of spelling their own name correctly, let alone doing something with their hands not ordered by the long-time-unemployed-integration program), and most certainly would not do it for free. If they would, the authorities would hunt them down as easy prey, for they are just artists without being licensed and could be jailed much easier than the professional criminals (bankers, head citizens, pimps, drug dealers).

Over here, someone just gets out and does it, and does it lovingly. Of course there was a tiny badge advertising you could buy stuff like this, but hey, that´s a small price to pay for a bit of enchantment in the woods near the city. And everywhere around people keep telling tales and legends, doing it naturally and consciously, telling and listening. Talk about culture and cultural diversity without sacrificing the soul to Mammon. paying tribute, maybe, but doing no shortcuts. This is beautiful.
 As is this;-).
 We took to the deeper woods, and who might be living here?
 Found some spruce sprouts for syrup and tea.

 Hello, ancient, how do?
 There was a birdhouse in the stem of that old tree and a stand for watching and servicing it.
 Beside the trail a spring waited with blossoms of Iris...
 Over hill and yonder dale we went....
 It is traditional to ahve a cuppa tea, and here´s one of those shots...

And beside the trail I found some Jasper for applications in knife handles or summat...


 And home again we went, through those green, green meadows....
A beautiful stroll. Thanks, my wonderful magic troll, for those wonderful outings...

Short review of a Sampo Puukko

On a recent medieval reenactment fair near my home I had the opportunity to get me a Puukko cheap. It´s distributed by Sampo corporation, and according to Klaus, whom I met on the fair, and who is the owner of the shop, is made by hand in Finland. It costs 77,00 € when purchased regularily. It´s made from beautiful birch burr and reindeer antler. The tang is peened over a brass disc and the reindeer buttcap, which shows the natural surface at the end. The blade is 90x3,5mm, made from some unspecified carbon steel, but it appears to be something with manganese in it. Even as is, it would have been a good enough buy, but the surprise came when I checked the hardness on the edge. I estimate it to have 62 - 63 HRC IN THE EDGE. I emphasize this, because this appeared to me that someone got off his rocker on a production knife and cut short on the heat - treating process, until I realized the blade gave that familiar ringing sound only selectively tempered blades have. I then checked the spine hardness, and it came in at an estimated 49-52 HRC. At this prize, this is frankly insane! Out of the box the knife came wickedly sharp. Without any work by myself, it was hair-splitting sharp, and this after being transported all over Germany and lying in the heat, and the cold, and the rain, and the cold again, being fingered by thousands of customers and such. As is to be expected, it´s a most able whittler and even should stand up to quite an amount of abuse. If you use it for light batoning, it should even handle this, but remember that no rat-tail-tang is made to be pounded with a heavy baton through knotted hardwood  burr constantly. The sheath is made from top - grain leather with a plastic insert that is actually molded into shape, not just some piece stuck into the leather as with those Roselli sheaths. One complaint is that the belt loop could be more caringly put together and drilled together. 

For most any bushcraft and camping tasks, however, this is one knife you can bet your arse on. It´s also a great first knife for beginner viking reenactors, and, last, but in no way least, it´s a beaut.

And best of all, there´s plenty more of them, including Saami sets, Leukus, whittlers and whatnot.

Sampo also sells those wonderful reindeer hides... so pay their site a visit!

On the bench- another Fimbulmuk from crap steel

This is something I have in the works to date. This design is becoming a favourite of mine, and I prefer to call it a Fimbulmuk;-P, for there are some minor differences to your common Nessmuk design. First and most obviously, the blade is offset to make it easier to use in a kitchen application. That way, slicing onions or processing herbs is a cinch. But there´s always some kind of downside to an offset blade, as e.g. the Grohmann Canadian Belt knife, which is good enough. But I find knives like the Grohmann a bit awkward when whittling. I thought long and hard about that, and one of my all - time favourite backwoods whittling knife is the Roselli carving knife with the 85 mm blade, closely followed by this one:

So I found out that a knife whittles best when you can draw an imaginary axle through the butt and it is in a straight line with the tip. Also, if you draw this axle through the blade, the major contact points of the hand should not be too far off. With the Fimbulmuk I think I solved the problem by radically curving the handle. Take note that both edge line and handle silhouette follow a whiplash line, which I think makes for more dynamic cutting. To put the balance point on the finger tip, however, I had to shorten the tang a bit, because drilling out the tang was not an option with the shallow silhouette. I solved this one problem with a cigar - shaped end, and the knife will get a short lanyard fitted with those lovely lanyard beads by my CUTIE *ggg*magic troll (she always get mad when I call her cutie, and she´s so cute when she gets mad*ggg*). The blade is made from an old wrench I found in the woods, apparently out of crucible steel, 85mmx3,5mm, olive wood handle, screwed and glued on with a screw cut / rolled into the tang and scales. Convex bevel, that will see a lot of polishing still.

The other pic, by the way, is of a knife I made years ago from cold -rolled file steel, selective temper, Scandi grind, elkhorn handle with brass fittings, 90x4mm blade. I tested it hard these years. The handle has minor cracks towards the end due to constant exposal to the elements, but is trustworthy as a rock still.

The more I get into knifemaking, the more I get interested into the finer points and details. Peter Johnsson did a lot to promote my thinking geometrically when blades are concerned. What´s good for a sword can´t be bad for a knife, if you know when to apply geometry. And the principle of the whiplash line fascinates me ever since I first heard about its use in the art nouveau movement which far transcended mere art.

Still so much to learn;-). As is, I am content with the outcome. If you want elegance, look elsewhere. But I think I can safely say that I am nearing the point where I can make knives that actually work.;-)

Mittwoch, 9. Juli 2014

Some of the things I did in June...

 So, long time, no post, I know. It´s just that I am a bit undermotivated to date for blogging, what with no real camera, no ressources whatsoever and working hard and most of the time for next to nothing. It just seems I always struggle the best I can (and get a lot of positive input for my work), but the money seems to avoid me as if I had the plague. I am to date thinking about starting a business with knifemaking and blacksmithing tutorials for children. But the market is definitely down to next to nothing for knives. I could sell a handmade knife with a spring steel blade that cuts mild iron and chops antler, complete with stag handle and sheath for 35 €. We´re talking handforged here, and that´s not a price at all. When I sell knives at all, I just make blades to be finished with a Paracord wrapping and no sheath. My day job´s stuck at a dead end of course, no career in sight. My mother wanted to sell my property flat while I looked away just once to an estate speculant at a ridiculous price. So, not exactly an easy life at the moment, but now everything´s under control (as far one could say that for any life) again, and I can concentrate on the nice experiences again. And at the beginning of June I stayed at my love´s for holiday, and while there  were a lot of beautiful days spent together, here´s just a short account of the highlights. Hikes into the hills, getting up late, having fun, meeting, friends, having great food and some greater music, great weather, and a beautiful city. Oh, and "ain´t she sweet?"...
 ... The hills above Marburg...
 One day Daniela, a friend of ours, the magic troll and myself drove out towards the Goldborn spring. We went there for meditation and spiritual practice. A local legend says that he who sits by the spring for three fullmoon nights in a row without speaking, will find a golden treasure. We did not stay for three months;-), but we spoke little. It was a very peaceful atmosphere with the creeks singing and golden light seeping through the leaves. We first went on our respective ways, and it was great to be with people, regardless of our way of acquaintance, with whom this is possible.

The song of the creek and the trees merged into each other, and there were voices from the deep sounding up into the world of man and beast and tree. It is difficult to describe, but if you are still enough, you might be able to relate to the experience. If you don´t, there´s no way I can make this plausible to you.

When I returned from my solitary journey, I found the magic troll sitting with her feet in the water and chanting a gentle song, so low I could not hear much. She has a lovely voice, sure, but most impressively was the voices that rose from the creek and that blended into her singing. It was certainly one of the most beautiful things I have heard in my whole life.

Then Daniela returned and took to playing the flute sitting on a rock in the creek, and that was another very beautiful and touching thing. In the meantime, the magic troll and myself prepared some food and we said our thanks and had a feast on handmade cheese and bread and cake and water melon and a cuppa tea.   
 Suddenly all was over and we drove home with a heart full of peace and joy. On Friday then Erich came, the magic troll´s father, and a great guy to have around. Especially when some beer is involved. And, no, I am NOT ashamed ;-)
 We prepared for combat with a black beer helmet, for it was Münzenberg reenactment fair ahead, and we had still to train for full contact martial arts. We chose an enemy of mankind to be fought. Alcohol. I am glad to say that the enemy was utterly defeated!
 The magic troll in assault mode...*ggg*
 Off to Münzenberg.
 I could rant on endlessly how great it was, how friendly the people. It was great to meet with Jonny again, and talk away the hours with Lotte, his wife, to trade weird jokes with Heika and André, and Steffen and Dipali, and Meggy and Peter and all those other great people on the fair. Erich bought himself half a ton of bronze axes;-), and some pretty Birka jewellry for the girls. I also had the privilege to meet with Danuta, his new companion girlfriend, another great person I was glad to meet. We enjoyed this quality time together.
 Oh, and the fights? Look here to see some real fighting, no sword ballet:

Click

Clickclack

And a great vid of the Polish national team


We drove home to prepare for the next day*ggg*.
Kidding aside, when I got home I took out Íshakùthr, ye olde viking swordie and gave it some polishing up. Blimey, I have to forge some armour...;-) some real armour, that is.

News from the magic troll´s shop;-)

 Now this is a blade I made for the magic troll...;-) A Seax, three layer laminate, carburized spring steel / mild steel, 120x 3mm or something. This is after she polished it some.
 In the meantime she made this at Susanne´s shop...Susanne is a friend of hers, a gold smith tutoring her a bit... and seeming to learn summat, too;-).
 Then the magic troll made this out of my crappy steel;-).
 I LOVE those carvings.

 ...lost for words...


Am I proud? BOY, am I!!!!;-)

Montag, 26. Mai 2014

Historical swords and cutlery in the Klingenmuseum Solingen-and the quest for the Brackersfelder Knopmetz


You all have read my post about the Knifemaker´s Fair in Solingen Klingenmuseum which I had the pleasure to visit this year again. And as usual a pleasure it was, meeting with old friends and browsing the aisles, apparently making new ones (Hi, Peter, this one´s for you, even if you already know!) and simply relishing in all the new projects by pros and amateurs alike.







But an even higher asset is the museum in itself, for there you can find properly documented and lovingly presented blades from Solingen and all over the world, from Luristan bronze and ancient Persian bronze axes through Celtic swords and long knives up to the medieval ages. The museum therefore is a must-see for anyone seriously interested in the study of blades in history.


I, for one, am still on the track of the so - called "Brackersfelder Knopmetz" (See another post), a short dagger or knife native to the region I live in which is said by many to have legendary metallurgical and artificial properties.

Thusly, I was impressed by the presence of those  knives. Left is a dagger that might as well have the looks of the "Knopmetz". How it actually looked, is still a mystery to me. I presume there were two varieties. One, referred to as the "Brackersfelders dehhen" in judicial documents and archives of stock of the time in question, would have been a dagger. For an example of the "Knopmetz", however, look here. The knife in question looks as if it were single-edged, has a "Knop" (pommel) and was often made with precious mountings. The "dehhen" presumeably was double-edged. The photo above shows a "Hauswehr" (home-defence) in the middle and a utility design very common in the North of Germany, albeit with very precious handle materials. The knife to the left is typical of the "Holbein" variety. If you compare it to the "Brackersfelders Knopmetz" in the article you can see several similarities. Crucial to the Knopmetz is therefore:

-a long, small, single-edged blade (whether the long ricasso is characteristical, remains to be examined)
-an ornamental crosspiece
-a pommel (hence the name)
-a special steel alloy which is due to the alloy resulting from the iron ore found in the mines around Breckerfeld, which I estimate as containing iron, a high carbon content, and manganese and silicium. This steel was said to have superior characteristics, to an extent that there was a legal affair in 1490 concerning the faking of the Breckerfeld sigil marker on steel that actually came from the Siegerland region. It is quite obviously stated in the documents in the city archive of Breckerfeld that the Siegerland steel (which was renowned in the entire known world in 1490 for its quality) was inferior by far to the quality of steel smelted in Breckerfeld. Which leads me to the question, what would a bladesmith regard as superior in 1490?

I guess there are two facets of the question. A steel that was at the same time taking a good temper as well as retaining a high amount of flexibility was rare, but since the excellent experimental replica of the Ulfberht swords we can quite safely assume that while the crucible steel smelting process might not be commonplace in the medieval ages, there might have been smiths still knowing the how - to in 1490. Many Frankish swords have been suspected to be made from crucible steel. Refined crucible steel is one way to achieve a blade that is taking a high temper as well as maintaining an amazing amount of flexibility. Having had the privilege to work with historical (pre-1920) tool steel, I can say the mechanical properties are quite amazing and maybe even up to par with the famed Wootz or the Russian or Turmenian Pulad. My theory now is that the Brackersfelders Knopmetz actually was made from a variety of steel that was similar to Wootz. It could be, since Breckerfeld was a Hanse community then, and the Hanse traded throughout Europe and, over small factories in Russia, maybe even from Asia, that the technology was transferred from Russia, if it were not known in the region in the first place. You can find quartzite in the vicinity of Breckerfeld, this might have been used as a cooling medium, and, in the process, added Silicium to the alloy. The iron ore found seems to be often "contaminated" with Manganese, which, when smelted and refined, would make for a steel with properties similar to modern 1.2842 or spring steel. There´s still much to investigate, and there´s a goopd thing!
Eloquent short sword from 1600.
A disc-pommel dagger with a triangular blade.
The blade in good condition.
To the right is a Renaissance sword, a so - called "Cinquedea" or "Ox tongue" for the width of the blade, originally an Italian weapon.
A most eloquent example of a Rondel or "ear dagger", presumeably used in a reverse handle grip with the thumb resting between the two pommel discs.
An unusual example of the "Grosses Messer", a sword popular with German mercenaries throughout the medieval age.
Rapier, "Katzbalger" short sword and left-hand dagger.
Above you can see a utility peasant knife, made from massive steel. Knives like these were cheap and tough and ideally suited for hard working on a farm.
With the strengthening of civilian culture there was also a movement towards table culture. A set of table cutlery from the 17th century.
17th century table cutlery. A royal decree demanded that knives for table use had blunted tips.
Table knives since look this way.
Although here you can see a fine example of a personal wayfarer´s traveling set.
...
...

...
And another ensemble of sabres and "Grosse Messer".


As I might have illustrated, if you are interested in historical developments of arms and cutlery alike, this is the place;-).

Visit this museum, it´s well worth it;-)...















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